Haiti: A Leader in the Caribbean

Last week Port-au-Prince was graced with the visit of nearly 20 heads of state or government.  We welcomed the members of the Association of Caribbean States (ACS) at the 5th summit of this important organization. I am very proud of this accomplishment, as the organization of an event of this magnitude requires efficient logistics and flawless security arrangements.

That over a dozen heads of state attended the summit without incident is something that bring me great pride.  Other nations with more resources and without the kind of reconstruction woes that we have faced have often complained about how difficult it is to coordinate the visit of so many dignitaries.  There were even those who were counting on our failure, noting that this was not something that we ought to embark on because we could not guarantee the safety of our visitors or even have adequately places to house them.

The successful conclusion of the 5Th Summit of the ACS is an enormous step forward for Haiti.  We showed the world that Haiti is a safe tourist destination and our infrastructure is ready to accommodate travelers. Indeed, dignitaries, delegates and visiting journalists covering the event were accommodated in Port au Prince’s brand new international hotels.

I was thrilled to hear from each and every participant, especially from the heads of state in attendance, how much they appreciated our hospitality and how impressed they were with the organization of the event and the direction that our country is taking.  Haiti’s progress has not gone unnoticed.  I am not violating any confidentiality by sharing with you the comments of presidents of Mexico Enrique Pena Nieto and Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia who congratulated us for this tour de force.

The Summit was not only a place where we showcased how far Haiti has come since we assumed office.  The meeting allowed countries to discuss and agree on several issues, including the preservation and conservation of the Caribbean Sea, tourism and the economy, natural disasters and finally the interstate transportation members.

More important, the Fifth Summit of the ACS was an opportunity for the Martelly / Lamothe administration to assume a leadership role in Caribbean Affairs.  Haiti consolidated its relations with countries such as Cuba and Venezuela– that have provided significant assistance to us as we recovered from the 2010 earthquake.  I would also like to acknowledge the visit of Sebastian Pinera the Chilean President,  as an observing member of the summit.  President Pinera,  has always been very generous with the Haitian people and we were delighted to host him.  Earlier in the week we also received President Correa of Ecuador who did not attend the summit but came to tour sites where Ecuardoean troops are performing duties as part of the MINUSTAH force.  I realized this week that we have a broad range of important friends around the Hemisphere who are enthused about our progress and optimistic about our future.

All this augurs well for Haiti and for Haitians.   For too long our country was absent from crucial regional discussions.  In successfully organizing last week 5th ACS Summit we made it clear that Haiti is assuming its rightful place in regional discussions and that it is indeed moving forward at home.