UPDATE on MONTREAL Mtg. on Haiti: Haiti PM Bellerive Throws a Left Curve

Posted on January 25, 2010

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Three articles follow:

As of 6:00 PM EST

UN to Host Haiti Donors Meeting in March

People walk through rubble in the market area in Port-au-Prince, on Jan. 18.People walk through rubble in the market area in Port-au-Prince, on Jan. 18. (Gerald Herbert/Associated Press)

International donors will meet in March at the United Nations headquarters in New York to continue discussions on rebuilding the battered nation of Haiti.

Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon made the announcement Monday at the conclusion of a daylong international meeting in Montreal to assist Haiti’s reconstruction after a massive earthquake on Jan. 12.

Cannon said the meeting produced the beginnings for a “roadmap towards Haiti’s long-term reconstruction, and a clear and sustained commitment to follow through.”

Cannon said he was confident that the Montreal conference had come up with “one plan that ties us all together.”

The conference brought together foreign ministers from more than a dozen countries, notably U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, along with eight international bodies including banks and six major non-governmental organizations.

Earlier Monday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the international community should be prepared to make a sustained, long-term commitment to the rebuilding of Haiti.

“Ten years of hard work, at least, awaits the world in Haiti,” Harper told reporters.

“The task ahead of us is great, but our determination to give hope back to our Haitian friends … is even greater,” said Harper.
Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive at the Montreal conference on Monday.Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive at the Montreal conference on Monday. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

“Canada as a world leader is taking its role very seriously,” Harper said, adding that the harmonization of international efforts in Haiti would be essential to success.

“In order to do the greatest amount of good, we must work together,” Harper said.
Immediate need remains: Bellerive

A long-term commitment is vital to the future of Haiti, said Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive, but there is a continuing and immediate need for emergency aid.

“We need it now, just as we needed it yesterday,” Bellerive told reporters. “The emergency which has been declared over will continue for some time.”

Currently, Haiti needs 200,000 tents to house people who were displaced by the earthquake, Bellerive said. More than 400,000 families are also in need of health care, he said.

Bellerive predicted it will take four to five years to get Haiti back to where it was before the earthquake.

    ‘The prime responsibility of our future lies in the hands of the Haitian government.’ —Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive

Harper said he hoped the one-day conference would “set the stage for broad international action on reconstruction that will mobilize the will and resources of all of Haiti’s partners.”
Haiti to take lead role

Many attendees, including Bellerive, agree that Haitians must take a lead role in rebuilding the country.

He told delegates his government has set up six committees to deal with the crisis, including sanitation and energy problems.

He told CBC News that it’s important “to recognize there is a legitimate government working with the support of the Haitian population.”

“We are fully conscious that the prime responsibility of our future lies in the hands of the Haitian government and the Haitian people,” he said.

“The problem is there is a confusion about the fact that we don’t have any buildings, we don’t have public servants at our disposal,” he said. “The government is functioning.”

Some banks and gas stations have reopened and the government is working with the private sector to clear the streets of rubble and debris, he said.

“We are rebuilding it slowly, but we are rebuilding it,” he said.
Technology key to recovery

Cannon said technology will be an important element in bringing the Caribbean country back from the earthquake that has left much of it in ruins.

As a result, wind power, which could reduce the country’s dependence on fossil fuels, could play a key role, Cannon said.

Haiti and those helping in its reconstruction need to seize on the opportunity to make the impoverished country better than it was, he said.

Some 200,000 people are believed to have been killed in the quake, including at least 21 Canadians. Another 171 Canadians are missing.

 

As of 2:00 PM EST

Several countries, including Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia, have boycotted the conference to protest US military presence in the Caribbean.

 

Haiti wants to be in charge of recovery process – Update
Posted : Mon, 25 Jan 2010 18:39:51 GMT
 
 
Montreal – Canada has called for participants in an international conference Monday on Haiti’s earthquake recovery to consider debt forgiveness as a way of supporting the poor Caribbean country. Foreign ministers from 20 nations began were meeting in Montreal to start laying the groundwork for the massive task of reconstructing post-earthquake Haiti.

Haiti’s Prime Minster Jean-Max Bellerive outlined the devastated country’s intention to be in charge of the recovery process, and to develop its own future with input from citizens.

Among other issues conference organizers have identified are how to proceed in the reconstruction of Haiti’s crushed infrastructure and the laying of plans for a larger conference in the coming months.

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner are among those in attendance. Foreign ministers from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Uruguay, Mexico, Costa Rica, Spain, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Japan are also participating.

Several countries, including Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia, have boycotted the conference to protest US military presence in the Caribbean.

Conference chairman Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon urged the international community to wisely allocate the massive amounts of donations collected by governments, the private sector and citizens from around the world.

Rebuilding the Haitian economy and infrastructure, while respecting “Haitian sovereignty,” he argued, was essential.

At a press conference on Sunday, Cannon said that the Montreal conference was intended to provide “a road map” to Haitis reconstruction. He said forgiveness of Haiti’s nearly 1 billion dollars in foreign debt was “certainly something that will be considered among the different options that are available.”

Bellerive, in his first trip abroad since the January 12 disaster, assured delegates that despite the current disruptions to government operations in Haiti, it was indeed still functioning and capable of defending the interests of its citizens.

“[The Haitian government] is working under precarious conditions but it is in a position to assume the leadership role expected by its people in order to launch the country on its path to reconstruction,” he told delegates.

Addressing the humanitarian crisis was paramount in the short term but looking ahead was equally crucial, he said.

“What we are speaking of is relaunching our country on the path of development,” he said.

Before the conference opened, he told Canadian Broadcasting Corporation that he was not in Montreal to “simply ask for help.”

“We have a plan,” he said, that calls for the future to be “clearly delineated by the Haitians for the Haitians using democratic means.”

“It’s not a question of going back to the status quo. Reconstruction will affect the country as a whole,” he said. “We need to do more with less and we have to work in a different fashion [from before].”

Haiti has long been plagued by poverty, crime and social discord and is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

President Rene Preval and his government, Bellerive said, were willing and able to lead this vision. “Money is not enough to meet the needs Haiti faces right now and will continue to need as it rebuilds a nation that has been confronted with unparalleled challenges,” he told the conference.

“The good will must now be channeled into a deliberate effort that is founded on sound and strategic planning and that builds on the Haitian government’s priorities for relief, recovery and reconstruction,” he said.

At least 112,000 Haitians died in the magnitude-7.0 earthquake on January 12, which affected as many as 3 million people.

An estimated up to 1 million Haitians are believed to have lost their homes and most of the economic and social infrastructure of the nation has been destroyed or badly damaged.

“Even now in the midst of inconceivable devastation, we must begin to plan to give hope where there is despair and to join with the people of Haiti to develop a common vision and plan for a better life and future,” Cannon told delegates.

But development should not be the only priority, several humanitarian organizations have noted.

Oxfam, the international aid organization, and the World Council of Churches have both called for cancellation of Haiti’s foreign debt, currently 890 million US dollars.

“Expecting Haiti to repay billions of dollars in foreign debt as the country struggles to overcome one of the worst natural disasters in recent memory would be both cruel and unnecessary,” Jeremy Hobbs, Oxfam international director said earlier Monday.

Several groups had announced plans to protest Monday’s meeting but the demonstrations appeared not to have materialized.

 

As of 12:30 PM EST

“In the face of the real demands we have, our debt is minimal,” Bellerive told CBC before the meeting started.” 

— Jean-Max Bellerive, Prime Minister of Haiti

Say what???  Very clever.  Getting the PM of Haiti to say he’s not worried about cancellation of  Haiti’s debt right now effectively shuts down the debt cancellation movement for Haiti.  Jeez, the folks at IMF and World Bank must be at the liquor store now stocking up for a champagne party this afternoon.

 

UPDATE 1-Stay with us for long haul, Haiti asks donors
Mon Jan 25, 2010 11:12am EST
Related News

 By Randall Palmer

MONTREAL, Jan 25 (Reuters) – Haiti needs the world to stick with the Caribbean country for at least five to 10 years after its devastating earthquake, Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive said on Monday as he sat down to an aid conference.

“The people of Haiti will need more and more and more in order to complete the reconstruction,” Bellerive told the conference, intended to survey immediate needs and then to begin plotting Haiti’s long-term recovery.

The one-day meeting brings together U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and others to start a strategy to rebuild from the Jan. 12 earthquake that killed up to 200,000 people and left the capital Port-au-Prince in ruins.

“Even in the midst of inconceivable devastation, we must begin to plan, to give hope where there is despair,” Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon told the opening session. “We stand ready to help.”

Officials say it is too early to turn this meeting into a pledging conference and basic questions need to be answered first.

“There’s the question, for example, of whether we’ll rebuild on the present site of Port-au-Prince,” Cannon told CBC television, saying geological fault lines had to be considered.

Oxfam called on the meeting to cancel Haiti’s foreign debt, which it said amounted to $890 million, but Bellerive said this was not his country’s main concern although it would free up resources.

“In the face of the real demands we have, our debt is minimal,” Bellerive told CBC before the meeting started. “What we’re looking for is a long-term (development) commitment… At least five to 10 years.”

DONOR CONFERENCE

Clinton, speaking to reporters on her plane before taking off for Montreal, said she expected a donors conference where pledges would be made would likely occur in 30 to 60 days.

“There’s a tremendous desire to help but we’ve got to create the mechanism so that it can be done effectively and we’ve got to get … the Haitian government’s capacity to lead put together,” she said.

Asked earlier about complaints that the U.S. military had dominated the relief, she said effective aid would not have succeeded without additional military assets.

“It’s just easier for the United States to get there first because Haiti is our neighbor. We appreciate the very positive endorsement of our efforts that we have heard, not just today from the foreign minister, but over the course of the last 10 days,” she said.

Clinton said in response to a question that the United States was looking at the possibility of increased immigration from Haiti as one of many options, but Bellerive said in Montreal that Haiti should be able to settle its own people.

“We don’t want to create an exodus,” he said.

Bellerive made the point that before the quake, Haiti had already put forward a development plan and would like to relaunch the country on that path. “It’s not a question of going back to the status quo,” he said.

Haiti’s neighbor on the island of Hispaniola, the Dominican Republic, proposed to international donors last Monday the creation of a $10 billion five-year assistance program for Haiti.

In addition to hoping for concrete progress on Haiti, to a certain extent leaders may also be trying to be seen to be active, so as to avoid the sort of criticism of being slow off the mark that characterized relief for the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami or Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

The conference will also help Canada’s Harper focus domestic attention away from what had been scheduled to be the resumption of the Canadian Parliament on Jan. 25. He arranged last month for its suspension until March 3 after the Vancouver Olympics, coming under heavy opposition attacks for doing so. (Additional reporting by Arshad Mohammed and Andrew Quinn in Washington; editing by Mohammad Zargham)

Posted in: Canada, Haiti, Imperialism, UN, US