President Elect meets with Secretary Clinton

Earlier in the week, the President Elect met with Secretary Clinton to discuss the two countries’ future relationship. Clinton emphasized her strong support for Martelly and the people of Haiti.

“I am very encouraged by the campaign that Mr. Martelly ran and the emphasis on the people and their needs…We are behind him. We have a great deal of enthusiasm. This is not only a goal of our foreign policy, but it is a personal goal of mine, my husband and many of us here in Washington…The people of the United States will be with you all the way.” – Secretary Clinton.

In response, Martelly highlighted Haiti’s biggest needs and request for help from the US government.

“Despite the generous donations of the American citizens, which have reached $1.2 billion received by 53 NGO’s, and in spite of the donation by the government of the US of $1.5 billion, we still have 1.7 million who still live under tents despite 15 months of waiting… These were the complaints that were the complaints expressed by a desperate population throughout my election campaign. This is why recovering and restarting the economy is a fundamental necessity for my government. This is why I plan on working relentlessly on the framework of international aid, to give new light to the business sector, and to develop the capabilities of government institutions and of civil society.”

View the full press conference here:
http://www.c-span.org/Events/Secretary-of-State-Hillary-Clinton-Joint-Press-Conference-with-Haitian-President-Elect-Michel-Martelly/10737421028-1/

Although it is encouraging to know that the US is ready to renew its commitment to Haiti and that President Elect Martelly prioritizes the needs of women, civil society and vulnerable people in IDP camps, concern still exists over the mechanism for actualizing development. Both Martelly and Clinton put a heavy emphasis on business development, export growth and the need to take on new loans in order to accomplish these goals. Debt burden, however, greatly limits the Haitian government’s ability to provide key safety nets such as social housing, free education and support for local agricultural production. Furthermore, a heavy emphasis on export markets has the potential to devalue and marginalize the crucial work and income generation of peasant farmers, especially women.

Of course, foreign direct investment and business generation have a role to play in Haitian development. Haitian peasants’ movements, women’s groups and grassroots networks must be front and center in the development process in sustainable change is to become a reality. Therefore, we must continue to repeat this same question in the months to come: How is this administration going to ensure a stronger voice for grassroots and civil society movements in the reconstruction process?

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