Last week, the U.S. State Department updated its Travel Warning on Haiti and recommended that Americans defer non-essential travel until further notice.. Travelers are strongly advised to thoroughly consider the risks before traveling to Haiti and to take adequate precautions to ensure their safety if traveling to Haiti. This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning dated April 30, 2008, and is being issued to remind American citizens of the destructive impact of a series of hurricanes in 2008, to provide updated information on country conditions, and to alert Americans to ongoing security concerns.”
This is indeed a rather disturbing, frustrating and unfriendly announcement that irks most Haitians in the Diaspora and those in Haiti who will learn about it. However, the U. S. officials will tend to justify their comments saying that they are simply carrying out their responsibility to protect U.S. citizens who can take them to court if anything were to happen to them while visiting a country and were not warned of potential danger.
Nevertheless, as much as such announcement may cause some possible U.S. visitors to hesitate and postpone their visit to Haiti, it may as well stimulate the benevolent initiative of hundred or even thousand of others always ready and willing to go wherever and whenever help is needed. Sadly, more often, most of them are not Haitians from the Diaspora.
Fortunately this does not discourage a number of returning Haitians to establish worthwhile programs in their homeland, in spite of local reluctance and abusive difficulties. Several urban and communal educational centers, including training and traditional elementary schools, are now established in various areas of the country, unfortunately without coordination or guidelines from the ministry of National Education.
Still, the larger goal of attracting serious investors remains elusive to Haiti because of these continued warnings. Haiti is no more dangerous than Jamaica, Trinidad, not to mention most Latin American nations. But these warnings are not as explicit. Could it be that Americans don’t have much business interests in Haiti. In Jamaica, the owners of the resorts would throw a fit and walk to the embassy and demand that such a warning be revoked immediately. Haitians have never allowed Chiquita or any other multi national corporation turn it into a place of cheap labor or a playground for rich American and European tourists. Perhaps, this is not such a wise move. But we find that continually warning people not to travel to Haiti is not friendly at best and hostile at worst. We urge the Obama administration to look at this policy and the restriction that discourage foreign private capital in Haiti be reconsidered. A Haitian national wishing to gain capital from an American financier or government funder is warned not to do so. It’s time to stop this stranglehold on Haiti.
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