Thursday, February 23, 2012

Haiti: 'Haiti Closer to Bringing Long-Term Democratic Governance to Its People'

SOURCE Ministry of the Interior of Haiti

Haiti's Minister of the Interior, Thierry Mayard-Paul, speaking at Florida International University (FIU), stated that for the first time – perhaps in the history of Haiti – President Martelly's administration can close the gap between what people want from democracy and the government's ability to deliver on its promises and bring long term democratic governance to Haiti.

As the guest of FIU's Latin American and Caribbean Center, Mayard-Paul addressed steps that the Martelly administration is taking toward nation building and establishing national sovereignty while overcoming Haiti's development concerns.

Pointing out that Haiti's challenges include overcoming historical legacies and vulnerabilities to natural disasters, the Minister said that Haiti is now laying the foundation for long-term sustainable development of communities throughout the country saying, "We are developing a plan that will enable us to more effectively deliver state services such as health, sanitation, education, public safety and disaster preparedness to Haitians across Haiti."

Explaining that President Martelly's vision is to achieve economic growth and sustainable development through decentralization, Mayard-Paul noted that his country has benefited from exchanges with current and former heads of state such as President Leonel Fernandez of the Dominican Republic, President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil, and former U.S. President Bill Clinton, to share their insights and best practices.

"Engaging in constructive dialogue, knowledge and experience-sharing will not only help us strengthen relations with our neighboring countries, it might also help us identify ways to build a stronger and more democratic Haiti," said Mayard-Paul. "I welcome each and every opportunity that will allow us to do better for the people of Haiti."

Eager FIU students from an array of countries took advantage of the Minister's appearance at FIU, and asked questions on various topics of interest. Issues ranging from dual nationality, decentralization, democratic governance, and reconstruction were put on the table. Dual nationality was of particular interest to a student from Haiti who finds himself at a crossroads, having to make a decision about his legal status in the U.S. "After the mandate from the election, and in keeping with our promises, we are working on constitutional reforms that recognize dual nationality," responded Mayard-Paul.

A student who was in the army and was deployed to Haiti after the earthquake to aid with recovery efforts wanted to know what had been done since then to increase government outreach and improve government response efforts. Minister Mayard-Paul outlined Haiti's steps for strengthening national security and emergency preparedness, including ramping up the police force and building a new national security force. "The goal is to have a security body that can assist in national disaster situations. We are taking all the rights steps to ensure that we take our destiny in our own hands, always having the well-being of our people front and center."

Members of the audience inquired what Haiti was doing to encourage investments and create jobs. "We are taking bold steps to make Haiti more business-friendly and reduce bureaucracy," said Mayard-Paul. "Most importantly, the world needs to know that the rule of law will be enforced in Haiti. We have taken key actions so that investors can feel confident, since we know that private sector investments are the engine that will fuel job creation