Altidor: Haiti’s Diaspora “Must Play a Critical Role” in Development


Above: the Global Haitian Diaspora Congress (OAS Photo/Juan Manuel Herrera)

By the Caribbean Journal staff

Organization of American States Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza addressed the opening of the Global Haitian Diaspora Congress in Washington on Friday, highlighting what he saw as the efforts of Haiti President Michel Martelly to plan long-term projects and work towards political stability in Haiti.

“We have a strong and willing government under the leadership of President Michel Martelly and Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe, a functioning parliament, political and institutional stability, all of which are assisting in the country’s long-term recovery and development,” Insulza said, emphasizing that “Haitians cannot live forever in transition, where a series of short-term actions are taken constantly to meet urgent needs.”

Insulza said the OAS was reaffirming its commitment to strengthening Haiti’s governance and public administration.

“Haiti stands today at a crossroads: a period in which, for many years, or even decades maybe, is one of the most propitious for all actors to come together in the long-lasting efforts to support Haiti,” he said. “I have no doubt that the 2012 Diaspora Congress will be forthcoming in addressing numerous issues of the utmost importance for the continued engagement of Haitians living abroad, as well as for Haiti itself.”

Insulza was the first speaker to the Congress, which meets until Saturday.

The SG said that the OAS’ efforts in Haiti had largely flown under the radar, particularly an ID project.

“Since 2005, the OAS has actively participated, hand in hand with the Haitian state, in the registration of nearly 5 million of its citizens — the majority of its adult population — which has enabled many, for the very first time, to hold a national identification card made with the latest biometric technology,” he said. “To have been able to undertake such a challenging project — one of the most important and largest scale projects the OAS has carried out in the past years — is, for us, a major source of great pride and satisfaction.”

Joseph Baptiste, president of the Haitian Diaspora Foundation, urged Haitians at home and abroad to help Haiti.

“The time has come for all of us to move in a new direction,” he said. “We must embrace a new era of engagement based on mutual interests and mutual respect and our work must begin now.”

Haiti’s Ambassador to the US, Paul Altidor, lauded the contribution of Haitians to the diaspora in the United States, whether in sports, entertainment, medicine or other sectors.

“It is very important for Haiti and its future,” he said, that Haitians in the diaspora “play a critical role in the development of Haiti.”

According to Daniel Supplice, Haiti’s Minister of Haitian Living Abroad, remittances from Haitian migrants to Haiti now reach $2 billion each year.

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