Haiti’s man in Washington, an ambassador with seven years under his belt defending his country’s image, has been recalled.
At a time when Haiti is facing critical issues that need representation before the Trump administration, Paul Altidor, received a letter on Tuesday informing him that his services will no longer be needed. The recall was effective immediately.
“We accomplished a lot here at the embassy,” Altidor said.
He took Haiti’s diplomatic mission on Embassy Row in Washington from a place where Haitians only went to get passports and resolve document issues, to a cultural hotspot where visitors can bask in Haitian culture from art to cooking to artistry.
Altidor, 45, had submitted his resignation to President Jovenel Moïse a year ago. But the president had asked him to stay on, and in recent days had found himself fielding calls from concerned U.S. lawmakers and their staffers about the ongoing violent demonstrations that have rattled Haitians and paralyzed major cities.
Since Thursday, thousands of Haitians have taken to the streets in Port-au-Prince and other cities throughout the impoverished country to protest against skyrocketing prices, double-digit inflation, currency devaluation and corruption. In their anger and frustration, they’ve lashed out at businesses and demanded the resignation of Moïse, who has insisted that his five-year presidential mandate is not up for debate.
A former adviser for the World Bank’s International Financial Corporation and vice president of the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, Altidor came into the ambassador’s role with no public diplomacy experience during president Michel Martelly’s administration.
Determined to change the narrative of his crisis-plagued country, he opened up the embassy to congressional lawmakers, fellow ambassadors and Haitians. Among those who have visited the mission: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Georgia Democrat Rep. John Lewis and media executive and entrepreneur Cathy Hughes of Radio One.
“We opened the embassy up to the outside public,” Altidor said, noting that instead of going to meet members of Congress on Capitol Hill, they often came to him. And very often these meetings were held not in the top floor office, but in the bottom-floor kitchen where Altidor often invited lawmakers to join him in a meal of Haitian cuisine as they discussed topics relevant to Haiti. Continue reading