Above: Haiti Prime Minister (right) in Santiago (Photo: OPM Haiti)
By Alexander Britell
Haiti Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe visited Santiago, Chile, this week, attending the inauguration of President Michelle Bachelet and urging deeper ties with the Latin American region.
In a phone interview with Caribbean Journal, Lamothe said the relationship between Haiti and Latin America was at its “highest point” in years, pointing to ongoing projects in Haiti being led by countries across the continent.
A number of Latin American nations have deployed forces to the UN’s MINUSTAH peacekeepign force in Haiti, he said, and nations like Brazil in green energy and infrastructure. Others, like Ecuador, have been offering training in security and tourism, while Argentina has been working on developing Haiti’s agricultural sector.
Of course, Venezuela, which has become a significant patron to Haiti in recent years, is a “powerhouse in terms of development for Haiti,” Lamothe said, from a redeveloped airport in Cap-Haitien to housing development.
“The relationship [with Latin America] is at an all time high, and we want to keep it that way,” Lamothe said. “There’s a long history between Haiti and many countries in South America — whether it’s Colombia, whether it’s Venezuela, Panama … when [Simon] Bolivar came to Haiti with the dream of the liberation of the Americas, Alexandre Petion helped him with guns, with boats, with soldiers to go and to liberate Venezuela, and liberate several other countries in Latin America. So there is a long history between the two, and one they cherish a lot and so do we.”
Chile, which, like Haiti, was rocked by a major earthquake in 2010, has been offering its assistance to Haiti as the latter seeks to rebuild.
That help has manifested itself in several ways, including collaboration on models for construction codes and disaster management.
During a meeting with Chile’s leadership this week, Lamothe also discussed cooperation on early childhood development programmes and technical assistance in the mining sector, he said.
In Santiago, Lamothe also met US Vice President Joe Biden, similarly visiting Chile for the occasion, and invited him to visit Haiti.
Lamothe said Caribbean-Latin American of cooperation was simply a necessity, Lamothe told Caribbean Journal.
“I think we have no choice [but to integrate,” he said. “There’s only one way to move forward – the integration of the people of the Caribbean and the people of South America.”