On February 7, 2006 Haitians again risked their lives to vote and elected Rene Garcia Preval. We firmly believe that President Preval will help his people. The following is an excerpt from the Miami Herald, March 29, 2006.
Thus, on Feb. 7, nearly two million Haitians braved doomsday scenarios and organizational lapses to send a message to the world: We, too, want to live in peace and dignity and build a better life. They queued in the hot Caribbean sun for hours to demonstrate to the world that violence is not, as it had been too often written and uttered, a ``Haitian trait.''
Now I have become the 57th president of my troubled nation. Here is a thumbnail sketch of our predicament:
- An astonishing 50 percent of our population lives under poverty line.
- The infant mortality rate is 61 per thousand.
- The unemployment rate affects more than one fifth of our labor force.
- After years of willful neglect, our infrastructures are quasi nonexistent.
The challenges are great. I know that we are a resilient and proud people nurtured by a glorious past, but we have failed to take advantage of many opportunities to turn the tide. Now, we must reconcile and reunite to avoid getting deeper into this abyss in which we find ourselves.
The first thing that the government that emerges from parliamentary elections and I must do is to reach out to all our compatriots across the political and class divides that have paralyzed our country for two centuries. To that end, I have already begun consultations with many leaders of other political parties as well as those from society at large. Their positive response has, thus far, encouraged me to continue that dialogue and work on a positive agenda:
- Develop an environment to attract investments from local entrepreneurs, from Haitian living abroad and from international investors. That environment constitutes a prerequisite for job creation in the private sector. Providing security and building our basic infrastructures are key to that end.
- Create a truly independent justice system and a national police force that serves community interests.
- Restore our environment while affording farmers means to feed our children.
We cannot accomplish much of our goals alone...
A brighter future
We are aware that all the assistance in the world cannot make up for poor governance. And, as the state has grown to be the country's largest employer, corruption and lack of efficiency have permeated all levels of government. This must change.
Though ravaged, Haiti is not the wretched land as so often described in the media. It is a land of hope for more than eight million people. I cannot achieve miracles, nor have I been promising any. But I feel I have the responsibility to the Haitian people to open doorways on a brighter future: less poverty, less inequality, more wealth, more hope.