Above: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Haiti Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe (Photo: US Department of State)
By the Caribbean Journal staff
United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Haiti Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe met in Washington Tuesday for talks on the country’s reconstruction progress.
The US has been supporting a number of new projects and initiatives in Haiti in recent, like the Feed the Future Initiative, which has helped 10,000 farmers in Haiti access seeds, fertilizer and introduce techniques for better productivity.
Clinton said the US has focused its work in four key areas: agriculture, healthcare, infrastructure and the rule of law.
“We are excited by the progress we’re making,” Clinton said following a meeting with Lamothe. “We are clear-eyed about the challenges we face, but we look forward to a future where every single Haitian has a chance to live up to his or her God-given potential in the country they are from and love.”
Clinton said she had made Haiti a foreign policy priority since coming into office as the United States’ Secretary of State, working to “change the way that we partnered with Haiti, moving from working in Haiti to working with Haiti.”
The discussions included Haiti’s upcoming elections for local and Senate officials, along with security issues such as police reform and border security.
Clinton, whose husband, former President Bill Clinton, has been deeply involved in Haiti with his foundation, said that while the US could be “helpful,” what was really important was “building the capacity of the Haitian government and the Haitian society so they can have the means and the experience and the expertise to solve their own problems.”
“The US is doing a lot of good things in Haiti,” said Lamothe. “The respect that you give to Haitians is very important to us. The respect that we get from you, from your government, will go a long way and has.”
Clinton said the United States was working to help Haiti’s youth to stay in their country and change what she called “the leading country in the world for brain drain.”
More Haitian college graduates have left Haiti per capita than any other country in the world, she said.
“When you think of the talent that Haiti has produced that benefits us and others, what we want to do is make it possible for any bright, young, ambitious Haitian to stay home and to build his or her country,” she said. “And we are excited by the progress we’re making.”
Clinton also addressed the issue of Temporary Protected Status for Haitians; the Secretary of State said that her office was watching TPS “very closely,” and that there is a a “very vigorous effort that we are still engaged in to ensure that the Haitian people are not put at a disadvantage going forward.”
She cautioned that she did not get the final decision on the matter, however.
Lamothe said his government was working to shift Haiti from its reliance on international assistance — such as working to increase the collection of its own revenues.
“Haiti’s government[s] in the past have made a lot of bad decisions as well about governance that created a situation where Haiti depends on international assistance for just about everything,” he said. “Today, w’ere making decisions away from that.”