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samedi 29 août 2009

The courting of Haiti by the international community

Published on Saturday, August 29, 2009

By Jean H Charles

Haiti, along with Cuba, is shunned by the American travel industry. Europe and Canada have succeeded in circumventing that boycott in the case of Cuba. Haiti is still visited only by its own nationals living abroad and by missionaries and international workers. Yet, lately a constant flow of major international conferences have chosen Haiti as their venue to ponder and reflect where they have been and what else they can do to reach their mission with a new vigor.

Jean H Charles MSW, JD is Executive Director of AINDOH Inc a non profit organization dedicated to building a kinder and gentle Caribbean zone for all. He can be reached at: jeanhcharles@aol.
It was first COPA (Confederation of Parliamentarians of the Americas, and the Caribbean), the legislators from Latin America and the Caribbean descended unto Port au Prince. They met during three days, the 19th to 22nd of August 2009, at the beautiful Montana hotel. Montana is certainly not the Jade Mountain of St Lucia with a swimming pool in each room facing the Pitons but it is coming close. At the Montana you feel like tempting God. The world is at your feet; scintillating at night, with an aroma of jasmine at your nostril and an attending staff ready to fill most of your desires.

The theme was: the objective of the Millenary for the development and the challenge for the Antilles and the Caraibes. Experts from Haiti and from the region debated subjects that ranged from the environment and its implications for small islands, migration the common problems and solutions for the future, the partnership for development.

The show was stolen by the international expert from Cuba, Professor Esther Maria Guilera Morato. She advocated with numbers to prove her point the power of the South–South cooperation. My personal intervention reaffirmed her contention. Most of the delegates coming from Jamaica, Trinidad, Honduras or Argentina, must pass through to Miami, Florida to reach Port au Prince, Haiti. The colonial route is still the preferred highway of the world, in spite of the emancipation that now dates centuries for some countries.

In terms of south–south cooperation, Cuba has produced more than 6,000 medical doctors for the Caribbean; it has equipped the Caribbean with efficient light bulbs in all the homes. For this the delegate from Jamaica, Honorable Othneil Lawrence representing North West St Ann, thanked the people of Cuba on behalf of the people of Jamaica.

The delegate from the Dominican Republic lamented the culture of supplication of the presenters. After all, they are authorized to bring about concrete change as legislators, it was important to create a permanent bureau that would bring about change for the areas, such as a weekly ferry that would go from the Bahamas to Guyana with regular stops in Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica, Antigua, St Lucia, Dominica, Barbados and Trinidad. The flow of goods and people through the ferry service would certainly change the mores, the values and the boredom in the area. It was my proposition. Hoping some attentive ears have taken up the suggestion.

In the same week from the 21st to the 23rd of August, at the Karibe Convention center, another majestic setting in Haiti, was taking place, the conference on the Haitian revolution and its universality for the concept of human rights. It was sponsored by the Commission of the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Haiti was not only the grandfather of the issue of human rights through its revolution two hundred years ago that set slavery as a cruel and inhuman institution, it was also the incubator in 1948 of the articles 62 and 68 of the Charter of the United Nations that called for the fundamental rights of human beings. The Haitian delegate, Emile St Lot being the reporter of the third Commission of the General Assembly of the United Nations saw most of its language enshrined into the final document that was ratified on December 10, 1948. He was inspired by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who came out a champion from the darkest of human spirit, the Nazi doctrine, to instill in people the voice of liberty of expression, liberation from needs from fear, need for equality and justice for all without discrimination in terms of race, language and religion.

At the conference, experts such Robin Blackburn of the University of Essex, Carolyn Fick of Concordia University and Charly Gabriel M'Bock of UNESCO put the emphasis on the role of Haiti in seeking to internationalize the right to auto determination of people and nations. Haiti provided direct help to Venezuela, Columbia, Africa, Belgium, Greece, Libya and Ethiopia in their struggle for independence.

I tried to inject the idea that Haiti since 1820 has stopped its saga of proud revolutionary nation in terms of human rights. Its culture of social, economic and political exclusion against its rural world, its culture of legal political exclusion against its Diaspora and its de facto political exclusion against the mulattoes put the country in the rank of pariah state. The hour was into the celebration of the Haitian contribution, Professor Pierre Buteau; the coordinator of the Conference did not care to delve into that area.

The brethren from Africa wanted to bring home solutions and ideas to continue the struggle to make life more hospitable to their citizens in the continent. I told them, in a-parte the best solution I could find so far is the Renan Doctrine that prescribes the obligation of the leader to leave no one behind in the process of nation building.

Haiti was also at the same time the host of the City of Miami in the representation of its Commissioner Michelle Spence Jones. She has become a champion in helping the city of Port au Prince to obtain surplus material from Miami to clean up the city. She has found an able ally in the persona of the Mayor of Port au Prince, Yves Jason. They have signed a sister–sister city agreement between Port au Prince and Miami. Miami is the home for the third largest concentration of Haitian people after Port au Prince and New York. It was fitting, said Commissioner Jones, that Mayor Jason of Port au Prince is also her mayor (hors les murs). She brought with her a well refurbished garbage truck with all the paraphernalia, gloves, uniform, bags, and brooms to help in the cleaning of the city. Five more trucks are on the way, to seal and enhance the international cooperation.

I have been advocating for the case of the city of Cape Haitian, the tourist capital of Haiti. She needs a champion like Michelle Spence Jones to help this historical jewel to reclaim her splendor of the past. I have sat down with the director of the municipal historic iron market who is seeking only an amount of $8,500 per year to keep the market in a complete hygienic condition. I am an eager volunteer to make the connection with this Maecenas of the world who will help half a million Haitian people who claim the city as home to enjoy shopping in a setting where human rights and proper public hygiene are a natural staple of life.

Human rights must come down to the daily enjoyment of the different aspects of life, sleeping in an adequate setting, shopping and eating in a place where public hygiene and wholesome food are ordinary. Work creatively and well compensated for such labor.

Haiti will have to clean up its own room in making its nation hospitable to most and than reclaim its tradition of leadership and service in the Caribbean.

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