Last week with great emotion I set foot on the tarmac of the international airport Felix Houphouet-Boigny in Abidjan, Republic of Côte d’Ivoire. Beyond the fact that it was the first time that a Haitian leader was welcomed in this country, I was especially touched by the very idea of getting closer to our African roots because we must not forget that Haiti is Africa in the Caribbean.
With great joy I met my Ivorian counterpart Daniel Kablan Duncan. Following our meeting our whole teams including myself were immediately put to work! I was accompanied by Pierre Richard Casimir, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Maxime Chérestal, Chief of Staff at the Ministry of Planning and External Cooperation, Fresner Dorcin, Secretary of State for Crop Production and MP Descollines Abel, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Lower House of Parliament.
During this short three-day official visit our government signed several cooperation agreements with Côte d’Ivoire (link to the press conference) in addition to the links established with the Ivorian business community at a meeting organized by the Centre for Investment Promotion in Côte d’Ivoire. In my view, these meetings are vital to the economy of our country because they connect us with investors and they create the interest in Haiti that will lead to job creation and the recovery of our country.
The trip also allowed us to learn from their expertise, especially when we visited a cocoa processing plant and the Autonomous Port of Abidjan. I also had the opportunity to meet the small Haitian community living there. It was a great honor for me to meet with our Haitian brothers and sisters who have made this African country their new home.
But the trip would have been very different if we had not gone through the cultural site of Grand-Bassam, designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage site. There we were greeted by the chiefs, a truly memorable way, in my opinion, to reconnect with our African roots through its rich and abundant culture and abundant. It was very moving! At one point, while I watched all the charm of this historic city and its cultural site, I thought about Jacmel and the great tourism potential that our government intends to develop for the benefit of all of Haiti. Without a doubt, this first fraternal and historic voyage to the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire will be unforgettable in our Haitian hearts.
In my view these are extraordinarily important trips for Haiti. The meetings we hold with the highest dignitaries of other countries can lay the groundwork to transform the lives of thousands of Haitian people. Our trips serve to strengthen diplomatic ties but more importantly they open opportunities for improved trade, investment, and even greater cooperation in a variety of areas as we strive to rebuild Haiti. International ties, trade, investment and cooperation will greatly contribute to the development of a modern Haiti.
During our visit to Cote d’Ivoire, it became very clear to me that Haiti is closer to Africa than any other nation in the Western Hemisphere. We have many things in common with Côte d’Ivoire and we can help each other. Haiti wants to work with the best in the world because we too are the best!