In Depth… cont’d
Martelly’s uphill battle (part 2)
Soon after taking office Martelly visited Miami and New York City the weekend of June 25. During the trip billed as “Diaspora Weekend Appreciation” the president encouraged the participation of the Haitian Diaspora in rebuilding efforts. Haiti is “open to investment,” Martelly said, also speaking in support of the dual citizenship that would afford members of the Diaspora greater involvement in national matters.
In addition to addressing tourism, investment and repatriation, President Martelly called for financial support of the National Fund for Education and its ambitious goal to provide free education for every child in Haiti.
Rebuilding and relocating the displaced
A year and seven months later, half of the 1.5 million Haitians living in makeshift tent and tarp houses since the 2010 quake still live under these same conditions, according to the International Organization for Migration. Yet, as the illegal and at times violent evictions at the Sylvio Cator Stadium on July 18 demonstrate, the decreasing number of tent city dwellers is not a sure sign of progress or just remedy.
President Martelly has immediate plans to relocate those living in six highly visible camps including the downtown Port-au-Prince soccer stadium. However, the slow pace of building construction and lack of housing provisions for those being evicted fuels doubts as to the humanity and justification of these camp closings.
Since the Sylvio Cator evictions that drew outrage from the UN and humanitarian groups, the president recently said, “I want to reiterate that my government is against forced evictions that do not respect human rights.” Advisors have proposed moving the 30,000 people living in the six camps to 16 neighborhoods to be prepared for habitation.
The Haiti Reconstruction fund has agreed to reserve $30 million for relocation plans approved by the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission.
To date, The Interim Haiti Recovery Commission approved 87 reconstruction projects with a total value of $3.26 billion, according the U.N.’s Office of the Special Envoy, former U.S. President Bill Clinton. The mandate for the commission – set up months after the January 2010 earthquake and headed by Clinton and Haiti’s outgoing PM Jean-Max Bellerive – expires this fall.
President Martelly is asking for a yearlong extension of the IHRC’s mandate, that the commission may provide continued assistance in recovery coordination. With billions of dollars at stake, perhaps the commission’s presence will help assure international donors that their donations will help accomplish envisioned projects and tangible results in Haiti.
Months into his five year term, the challenges for Haiti’s president are plenty, but some would argue that opportunities are also there for the taking.