Above: the Royal Oasis Hotel in Petion-Ville (CJ Photo)
By the Caribbean Journal staff
Haiti has officially begun the 11th Council of Ministers of PetroCaribe summit, which is taking place this weekend at the Royal Oasis hotel in Petion-Ville.
It is the first time Haiti has hosted the conference, which brings together Ministers from all members of Venezeula’s PetroCaribe programme.
This weekend’s summit is covering the proposed constitution of the proposed PetroCaribe Economic Zone, which was agreed upon by member states at the seventh PetroCaribe summit in Caracas in May.
“We are proud to be both actors and witnesses of the birth of this new mechanism for regional solidarity, supporting economic growth and employment to combat the exclusion that affects millions of people in our region,” Haiti Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe said in a statement.
Haiti President Michel Martelly officially welcomed the assembled delegates to the conference, which will also cover areas including transport, tourism, trade and integration and production chains, among others.
Haiti has been designated as a “facilitator” at the conference to develop three sub-categories, including a centre for community integration, a “PetroCaribe University” and cultural activities within the bloc, according to a government statement.
Rose-Ann Auguste, Minister Delegate for the Promotion of Human Rights and the Fight Against Extreme Poverty in Haiti, said the designation offered Haiti the chance to focus on its “cultural wealth,” and to give a different perspective of Haiti.
“We have much more to gain than to lose in this economic zone,” she said.
Haiti will also be putting on a cultural heritage show for the attendees, and will be holding a fair highlighting local products like coffee, sugar and cocoa.
That is similar to the display Haiti put forth at the CARICOM conference it hosted at the Karibe Hotel in February.
Haiti has been steadily strengthening ties to Venezuela in recent years, even going so far as to name a new airport being constructed in Cap-Haitien for the late Hugo Chavez.