NEW-YORK – Haitian President René Préval came for a five day visit to Washington this week, his first trip since his American counterpart, Barack Obama was sworn into office.
But Preval did not come to Washington simply to be in the company of the historical president. His visit was largely full of circumstances and less pump as his country is reeling under serious financial problems. The Haitian president is looking for increased aid from the American government.
On Tuesday President Préval and his 12-member delegation had a one hour meeting with World Bank President Robert Zoelick as well as IMF general director, Lavy Strausskahn. While the exact nature of the discussion is not known. It was surely about the economic hurricane that is sweeping Haiti these days. The country is facing severe gas shortage because Venezuela, which now provides Haiti with most of its oil under a special program, is cutting that largesse because of the falling world prices.
Remittances from Haitians living overseas, a major source of economic stimulus in Haiti, has dropped about 20 percent, according to bank officials. These new problems are in addition to an already precarious economy that has experienced little, if any growth in the last several year.
The Haitian delegation
When ask if the president has a specific requests from the international donors, Haitian Ambassador to Washington Raymond Joseph said:
“Hati is going through very difficutl time we [the government] need to find people to support us in getting more funds for the house.”
Preval, and his delegation- which includes Finance minister Daniel Dorsainvil, Planing minister Jean- Max Bellerive and Central Bank Governor Charles Castel – is expected to meet On Thursday with the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Mr Préval will also meet with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell.
According to sources close to the White House, President Barack Obama will speak at this Thursday’s annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington. The breakfast has drawn the sitting U.S. president every year since the Eisenhower administration, according to an organizer who would speak about the event only on background.
It’s customary for the president to address the gathering. The event’s planners are forbidden to talk publicly about the breakfast,
The National Prayer Breakfast is held every first Thursday of February and was founded by Frank Carlson, a former US congressman, along with the Hiltons of the Hilton International chain, and Billy Graham.
“There’s excitement about Obama’s because it’s not the first breakfast he’s attended,” said one organizer. “He’s not coming in cold.”
In addition to the presidential address, the National Prayer Breakfast features scripture reading, prayers, and a keynote speaker, all selected by a bipartisan congressional. committee.