Preval in the Diaspora - by G. Simon

G. Simon - March 28 2006, 12:29 PM

25 Years Need For Real Progress: Haiti's Preval

By Gergana Koleva
HBN New York

Hardbeatnews, QUEENS, N.Y., Tues. Mar. 28, 2006: Haitian President-elect Rene Preval came to Queens, N.Y., yesterday with a reality check for nationals here who may expect a rapid transformation in the poverty stricken homeland they left behind.

Addressing about 1,000 nationals at York College, Preval said the country will need at least 25 years before real progress will be seen.

The President-elect, who addressed a mixed-crowd of Haitian students and professionals in Kreyol, stressed that Haitians should not have unrealistic expectations for an immediate solution to the woes affecting Haiti since it would take at least 25 years for changes to show visible results.

But he stated that his top priorities remain the improvement of electricity as well as the country's infrastructure, education and health sectors.

Preval, who was elected on February 7, also urged nationals in the New York Diaspora to invest in Haiti and to return home to help rebuild the country.

He also encouraged nationals to help stop the brain drain and "to start coming back" to Haiti.

"Money alone cannot fix problems," said Preval.

"We need the expertise.

We need serious staff in the executive branch of governemnt and I'm looking for those people."

Commenting directly on the crime and kidnapping that has marred the country in recent months, he noted that it is imperative that Haitians at home "stop the killings and the kidnappings" inorder for the government to attract investment.

And making several references to neighboring Dominican Republic, which he recently visited, the new Haitian leader said that the next step is to look at the DR the way that Japan looked at other countries after World War II and rebuilt itself.

"It's been 20 yeas since (Francois) Duvalier left and we're still playing around.

We need to start having results," he stated, adding that Haitians need to raise exportation standards.

Pointing to the country's exportation of mangoes to the Bahamas via the U.S., Preval said he will seek to change that plan to ensure that the exportation is done directly.

He revealed that in meetings with President Bush today, he will discuss way to create a favorable economic program for Haiti, especially as it relates to the clothing-manufacturing sector.

The L'Espwa (The Hope) party leader also urged local politicians, including senators who will make up the country's parliament after April 21, to be more open to ordinary peoples ideas and inputs.

"There's no monopoly on competency," he said, sharing jokes with the audience who in turn cheered profusely and caused the small-framed popular leader to step away from his dais to the very front of the stage, as they snapped hundreds of photographs.

Preval, set to be sworn in on May 21 following the legislative election of April 21, however, gave no indication to New York Haitians of his choice for prime minister.

His two-hour speech also was devoid of any mention of his former 'teacher,' Jean Bertrand Aristide.

Preval, in the lead up to the election, and to date, sought to prove that he is his own man and no longer in the shadow of Aristide.

Aristide for his part has said he will return to Haiti following Preval's inauguration.


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