The recent unsuccessful visit of Haitian President Rene Preval in Washington is one more example of the traditional inadequacies of Haitian officials to deal with their foreign counterparts. A look at the delegation’s membership that traveled to Washington recently indicates a lack of knowledge and understanding of opportune ways and timing to initiate such approach.
It does not seem that the Haitian ambassador had made the preliminary contacts with the appropriate personalities at the State Department. It is often important to establish good rapport and cultivate the officials from the Haitian Desk to the Secretary of State; and as a good practice, involve the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in initial conversations. The president’s visit should come after presentation through diplomatic channel of a well planned document showing the efforts already made by the Haitian government to remedy the country’s areas of needs and justify the necessity for additional funds for continuous improvements.
Moreover, the ambassador and his associates should be given the means to cultivate key members of Congress and White House personnel who can facilitate a favorable action for Haiti; providing that all these people have on hand pertinent information about Haitian efforts and additional needed help. Ambassadorial contacts with some key persons at the White House could even permit a short handshake with President Obama who already said, as much as he wants to help developing countries (like Haiti) they must show how much they do for themselves.
That what he is trying to do here in these United States. Working incessantly to improve the country’s deplorable current economic condition, he includes, in his billion dollar package, substantial portion for education and health insurance, in addition to individual and commercial tax reliefs, as well as funds for school buildings, roads and bridges. With regards to education, he insists on the importance of teaching mathematics, sciences and languages in order for the United States to compete advantageously with countries like China and India and increase productivity that is essential for sustained economic development.
Small developing countries like Haiti should take lesson from the talk and deed of the 44th U.S. President, and realize the time has come for small countries to organize thoughts and actions towards a 25 years program of economic development based on the pursuit of self sufficiency generated primarily by the citizens of the country who must be willing to call upon the able Haiti’s children living abroad to come home and contribute the knowledge and expertise they have acquired in their adopted countries.
However, the success of such cooperation depends on expert planning and efficient coordination sustained by honest public service dedication. As much as those coming from the Diaspora should never give the impression that they are the only ones who know, those who remain in the country must recognize that they are not always the best informed or are insufficient in numbers.
The Haitian private sector must engage itself in a more meaningful and constructive way for the building of a more solid economic path for sustained development. The country will not progress as expected as long as the private sector and the government are at two antipodes, instead of being partners in a continuous effort of national economic development.