The First Lady recently visited Haiti (read: Port au Prince), visting the well known GHESKIO (Haitian Group for the Study of Kaposi's Sarcoma and Other Opportunisting Infections) Center as well as a school, education being one of her personal priorities. The last visit by a first lady to Haiti was by Hillary Clinton in 1998. Politics aside, this is a sign of progress. You can more about the visit in the New York Times.
According to the Brookings Institution, "Threats to international peace and security often come from the world’s weakest states. Such countries can fall prey to and spawn a host of transnational security threats, including terrorism, weapons proliferation, organized crime, infectious disease, environmental degradation, and civil conflicts that spill over borders." The Index of State Weakness in the Developing World ranks 141 developing nations, including Haiti, according to economic, political, security and social welfare. It is interesting to glance at, but how useful is it?
The South Florida Sun Sentinel ran an article concerning the failure of reforestation efforts in Haiti. While little progress has been made to date, there have been small successes. We can learn a great deal by examining the programs which are doing well, asking ourselves why, and then replicating them.
Canada is a significant donor for international development programs both in Haiti and worldwide. The country has a large Haitian population and high ranking government officials who were originally born in Haiti. During a recent trip to Haiti, the Canadian Foreign Minister reaffirmed the government's long term committment to Haiti and new activities for partnership - activities which we believe could have a positive impact on Haiti's development.
I have seen several articles lately concerning the clay biscuits that the poorest of the poor in Haiti eat to make the hunger pangs subside. This is not a new phenomenon. Much of that clay comes from an area in between Hinche and Thomonde, where I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer. We all know Haiti is desperately food insecure, but with hunger being such a complicated issue, do we know what to do in order to respond? What would a Haitian “war against hunger” be like?
Haitian leaders tend to get bogged down in ever-unstable Port au Prince. It is a matter of political survival. However, most of Haiti is rural and certainly most of what is good about Haiti is to be found outside of its largest city. Recently President Preval made a public tour of the Central Plateau. We were happy to see that public health was a recurring theme of his trip. Regardless of one's political beliefs, we can all agree increased attention to public health is essential. When a person has health, a person has hope. Where there is hope, there is also the possibility of development and a better future.
Haiti's roads are awful. When I was a volunteer, a peacekeeper told me that the only worse roads he had ever seen were in Nepal. The lack of infrastucture has affected people's ability to do business, seek health care, visit relatives, and to travel in general. But there is good news - For the first time in a long while progress is being made on Haiti's road system.
Haiti made the USA Today. The article begins by noting Preval's annual sppech before a joint session of parliament where he said the country loses badly needed revenue by allowing contraband in while charging exorbitant fees to businesses that import merchandise legally.
Is a Constitution a living document? If it cannot be changed, does this make it more relevant or does it become less relevant as a people, country, and its government changes? There is a tradition in Latin America of scrapping and re-drafting Constitutions entirely. Some countries have had more than fifteen in their existance.
After the Presidential election of February 7th 2006 Haiti has fallen off the media’s radar. Equally as important as the Presidential elections are the Parliamentary elections, the runoffs of which are set to take place this Friday April 21st. The positive aspect of this decline in media attention is the fortunate decrease in kidnappings that once held the Haitian population at bay.