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Tuesday, September 26, 2023

René Préval was the guest of honor at the Haiti Tourism Development summit in Miami last Sunday

By Yvon LacroixCSMS Magazine Staff writerIt was before an audience of about 300 guests at the second annual Haiti Tourism Development Summit that the Haitian president, René Préval, spoke about Haiti and about his grand plan for the country for the next twenty years. However, while his message of reconciliationbellowed through the banquet hall at the Deauville Beach Resort, some in the audience could not contain their discontent with Préval at an event that they considered to be “more of a photo-op rather than a real business gathering. The summit was designed to showcase Haiti as a tourist heaven, an islandwith thatch hut bungalows, tropical drinks, sweet music, crystal sand and turquoise waters, according to the organizers.              Flanked by Janet Ann Anderson, the newly appointed U.S. Ambassador to Haiti, former United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young, Illinois State Sen. Kwame Raoul and other guests, Préval was emphatic and relentless in his everlasting unity message.  “It’s not up to me to know where I want to go,” he said, speaking in French while a translator translated into English. “It’s up to all of us to know where we want to go. And wherever we go, we want to go together,” he continued, softening his voice to project the image of a president in full control of his presidency.            Noticeably absent was Florida Governor, Jeb Bush, who, according to Sun-Sentinel, “was slated to attend the summit, [but] was not present [instead] provided a letter of support for the program. Marie Bell, chairwoman of the governor’s Haiti Advisory Committee, said the governor had a scheduling conflict.”            René Préval, a former Aristide PM, heavily emphasized the need for peace and security as “the only hope for my country.” He hopes to “create a safe environment, not only for citizens and visitors but also for investors.” He stressed that his government would make “tourism a top priority by addressing the need for adequate roads.”            All the great pillars of the Haitian bourgeoisie were present, including the Bakers, the Bayards and all those who, just few months ago during the last presidential campaign, castigated him in lavish gatherings throughout Coral Gables and Kendall, throwing blows after blows at him and at the masses they believed he presented while landing their tacit support for their natural kin, Charles Henry Baker.                At some point, one had the impression that he/she was held hostage and was forced to face a nightmarish past: the vexing reconciliation between Aristide and the Haitian bourgeoisie in January of 1993 under the auspice of the then Prime Minister, Robert Malval at a lavish ball in Coral Gables. Préval, who lived in exile during those dark days, staunchly opposed the move. And he was right. It was the same people who, two years earlier, staged a bloody coup that resulted to thousands dead, tens of thousand fled into exile and about a million internally displaced.            It is hard to imagine that Préval could swallow his own principles to conform to the norm. In reality, the last weekend summit on tourism had more to do with appeasing the Haitian elite and its foreign partners than it has with helping the poor in Haiti. And Préval would go out of his way to make this appeasement an all truism in his quest to realize his dream of reconciliation, including shunning the very people who whole-heartedly supported him in Miami during the last campaign.            According to CSMS Magazine’s own sources, Elizabeth Delatour, event organizer and the main drive behind Préval’s visit, had originally handpicked Fritz Bazin, publicly known as an anti Préval, to formulate invitations to members of the Haitian community. Bazin was removed from the job when and only when the Veye Yo and Lespwa people, Préval’s own supporters in Miami, bitterly protested.                 But Préval visit did not end on Sunday morning along the corridors of the Dauville Beach resort in Hollywood. The party dragged on throughout the day and ended at the Joseph Caleb Community Center on 54th street, just three miles from Little Haiti heartland. There, before a crowd of jubilant supporters, Préval said “the 4 million Haitians living abroad contribute about $1.3 billion to the nation’s annual economy, representing about 25 percent of its gross national product. They account for 80 percent of the tourism in Haiti and spend $5 billion as tourists in other Caribbean countries. He said his government hopes to bring that money back to Haiti,” according to Sun-Sentinel.It is difficult to know where the President found these figures. It is true that money sent to Haiti by Haitian nationals living abroad constitutes a big chunk in the country’s gross national product. What is not so certain is that $5 billion dollars he mentioned that Haitians spend as tourists in other Caribbean countries each year. For ninety percent of Haitians living outside of Haiti, we all know that it is a daily struggle to survive under harsh and sometimes humiliating conditions.   Then he returned with the duo nationality issue—something that, in CSMS Magazine, we have already demonstrated as a charade, a ploy used time and time again by traditional politicians whenever they want to inject a little bit of awe into the heart of the Diaspora—those white lies that have no real meanings. (see Will Haiti Ever Regain Its Sanity?https://csmsmagazine.org/news.php?pg=20051030I49)              Continuing with the reconciliation blitz, the President announced en grand pompe Haiti’s reconciliation with CARICOM, the 15-member Caribbean regional group that lifted their economic sanction against the country due to the return of democratic rule. In fact, Préval is scheduled to deliver the opening speech at the organization’s meeting next month in St. Kitts. Préval is now in route to Paris, where he is expected to address the Haitian community, there.According to our correspondent on the ground in Haiti, the masses are willing to give the Haitian president some time to show that he is willing to tackle the basic necessity problem. So, success or failure of the Préval presidency will depend on what he will accomplish on the behalf of the deprived masses, not on what he will do to appease a recalcitrant bourgeoisie.

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