Haiti is back on track, that was the message delivered by its plenipotentiary representative to Caricom, Peterson Benjamin Noel when presenting his credentials on Friday in Georgetown.
Remembering the tens of thousands of persons who perished in the devastating earthquake four years ago, Noel, Haiti’s new envoy to Caricom, stated that “Haitian people, hand in hand, are working very hard to rebuild the country stronger than ever. The economy is growing at a positive rate, the business climate has improved as well as the security environment, as you have witnessed during your recent visit in Haiti. Haiti is back on track, `Haiti is open for business.’”
Noel, accredited last Friday as Special Envoy Plenipotentiary Represen-tative to the Caribbean Community, noted that the Republic of Haiti had just celebrated its 210th year of independence on January 1, and emphasised the importance that the government of Haiti puts on its participation in the regional integration movement.
He quoted from President Martelly speech during the 24th intersessional meeting of Caricom, “Haiti should be seen and treated as an opportunity. Despite its difficulties, it represents a good opportunity for the region, an opportunity for each Caricom country. We represent a market of nearly ten million inhabitants; we have unexploited natural assets, and process a rich cultural heritage that can provide a meaningful contribution to the wealth of our economies.” He also said that a Haitian economy that works will best serve the interests of Caricom and will help expand the regional market and opportunities.
In this context, Noel took the opportunity to encourage persons from the region to take full advantage of Haiti’s accession to the Community. He reassured that all efforts were being made to fully integrate into the Caricom Single Market and Economy and to diversify Haiti’s trading partners.
He also highlighted the importance of the full integration of French as one of the official languages of the Community, along with English. He said that the achievement of this goal will benefit the people of the region.
Noel reiterated Haiti’s support for the finalisation of the New Strategic Plan for Caricom, which will drive the whole integration process over the next five years.
Caricom Secretary-Ge-neral Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, in his remarks, mentioned the considerable progress made by Haiti as it continues its reconstruction process following the catastrophic earthquake of 2010. He pointed out that even as Haiti marked the anniversary of that catastrophic event, three Caricom States – St Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Lucia and Dominica are dealing with the aftermath of the devastating effects of climatic events that hit hard during the Christmas season.
He said that natural events – earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions and torrential rains and floods – destroy lives, property and infrastructure but they also bring out the best in the Community, “our solidarity.”
LaRocque took the opportunity “to say to our brothers and sisters of the affected countries, as we had said to Haiti in 2010, that the Community is here for every Member State and every CARICOM citizen, and it is here most especially in times of distress.”
He highlighted an issue which has brought the Community’s solidarity into sharp focus – what he said was the unjust and discriminatory ruling on nationality made by the Constitutional Court of the Dominican Republic which retroactively strip-ped tens of thousands of its nationals, mostly of Haitian descent, of citizenship, rendering them stateless.
He said that the Bureau of the Conference of the Heads of Government on behalf of the entire Community had condemned this ruling which violated regional and international human rights obligations. He assured that the Community continued to accord this matter the highest priority and called on the Dominican Republic to right this terrible wrong. He affirmed that the Community will also continue to provide support to Haiti as it fights for the respect for the rights and citizenship of members of its diaspora. Haiti and the Dominican Republic – which share the island of Hispaniola – are in talks on the matter.