Dozens of Haiti experts will discuss post-quake challenges this week at a Miami Beach conference called Sustainable Haiti.
BY TRENTON DANIEL
The future of quake-damaged Haiti will be the topic of much discussion at an ambitious three-day conference in Miami Beach this week.
Starting Wednesday, leaders from volunteer groups to the Haitian diaspora will examine how Haiti can recover from the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that pounded Port-au-Prince and surrounding cities on Jan. 12 and claimed more than 200,000 lives.
The experts come from such fields as agriculture, banking, microfinance and tourism.
The business-card swapping, idea-exchanging event at the Miami Beach Convention Center is part of the larger “Social Venture Capital/Social Enterprise Conference, Miami-2010,” which boasts of having 275 speakers and 135 panels on what’s billed as “Sustainable Haiti.” It ends Friday.
The event is also one of several conferences in the United States and Haiti in the coming weeks that aim to take a long view on post-quake Haiti.
“I think it’s going to be a different crowd and a different vibe,” said organizer John Rosser, of Tampa.
Rosser has never visited Haiti but, like so many others, he felt compelled to act in the earthquake’s aftermath. Haiti then took center stage for the prescheduled “social enterprise” conference.
“I think everybody felt the call to do whatever it takes,” he said. “My call to action was to do the biggest, most comprehensive conference on Haiti.”
The event will bring in not only well-known Haiti experts, such as Robert Maguire, a professor at Trinity University in Washington, D.C. It will also attract speakers who will focus on social venture capital — that is, a way of investing with businesses deemed to be socially and environmentally responsible.
Panels will also look at property rights, education programs, housing, reforestation, and corporate responsibility.
Among the most prominent figures scheduled to speak is Haiti’s former prime minister, Michele Pierre-Louis. The seasoned technocrat is slated to talk about Haiti’s need for decentralization — a renewed call to develop government services in the long-neglected countryside.
The proceeds from the conference will go to a Los Angeles nonprofit called VIE Water, which seeks to provide clean drinking to children in Haiti and elsewhere in the developing world.
Let’s hope this isn’t another one of those talk sessions that don’t go anywhere.
There was a glitch two weeks ago when it was discovered that a large segment of Haitian society – basically the middle class – had been ignored. An American Congresswoman stepped in and shot a torpedo in the general direction of the organization’s upper level. She said that the future would be different and that the middle class would make some money this time around. It would no longer be the chosen few.
The jury is out on this one.
At this very moment, in Haiti, money making is the major focus, with rehabilitation of Haiti as a secondary goal.
It is wonderful and stimulating to see the giant Michele Pierre-Louis, President Rene Preval’s old business partner, long-time friend and puppet prime minister speak of what someone in the present and future should do to help Haiti recover. She really cannot speak from experience since her period as Prime Minister was one of absolutely nothing accomplished, unless it was to allow ex-Prime Minister Jacques Alexis free rein in her office, to the effect that Alexis took some $500,000 per month from her treasury, plus a dozen armoured executive cars, to support his Presidential Election later this year.
Pierre-Louis, the giant of Haitian politics, could also be asked why she never lifted customs and port fees – officially, and in writing, so that foreign donors would feel safe in shipping their donated goods for Hurricane Relief in 2008. She should explain why her office – coordinating the relief projects – with an e-mail address – never replied to e-mails. She should also explain why many containers were never cleared and remain frozen in customs until this very day. These include ones shipped to Behrmann Motors by their Korean suppliers.
Pierre-Louis should also be asked why her promised explanation – as to what happened tpo the $198,000,000 stolen from Petro-Caraibe funds to support Gonaives 2008 – was never made.
There are many other things that the giant Pierre-Louis could be asked but she will give a polished talk about positive things that required dedicated actions when she has never had any experience in the field.
Her only salvation would be found in a honest and straight-forward explanation of how her cabinet was, in fact, controlled by Jacques Alexis, and her actions were blocked by President Preval, Leslie Voltaire, Elizabeth Delatour – and her many family members – Jude Celestin and a band of other dangerous criminals.
Pierre-Louis could save her nation from a predictable future – if Preval is not stopped.
She could be honest and give an insider’s view of the murder, kidnap and corruption.
But she will not do any of this.
Instead, she will do her best to mislead the world – yet again – as to the ailments that affect her nation.
And the patient will continue to die.