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Thursday, March 30, 2023

Stephen Harper visited Haiti

CSMS Magazine Staff writersCanadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, was in the Haitian capital yesterday, visiting the Cite Soleil, a shanty town near downtown Port-au-Prince. According to Canadian news agencies, the Canadian MP said he saw signs of progress in the impoverished Caribbean nation.Harper was the first foreign leader in years to visit Cite Soleil, which was a safe haven for gang leaders during and after the rebellion that ousted Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004. He headed to Cite Soleil directly after arriving at the nearby airport in the capital, Port-au-Prince.”This morning, I saw firsthand the progress achieved on the security front by the Haitian National Police and the U.N. troops during a visit to Cite Soleil,” Harper said later at a news conference with Haitian President Rene Preval at the National Palace.Canada has committed over $500 million in assistance to Haiti between 2006 and 2011, making it the country’s second-largest donor behind the United States, Canadian officials said. Haiti is the second-leading recipient of Canadian aid behind Afghanistan.Harper visited a slum hospital that received assistance from Canada, donating a blood-analyzing machine and shaking hands with children who came to receive medical care.”We thank the prime minister for his support because this hospital is our life,” said Marlene Joseph, a 22-year-old mother with her 4-month-old daughter on her lap.Canada’s popularity among Haitians took a heavy blow during and after the 2004 ouster of Aristide, who rose to the presidency by championing Haiti’s poor masses but was later accused of despotism and corruption.He fled on Feb. 29, 2004, in the face of an armed revolt and under intense international pressure to quit. Aristide’s supporters accused Canada of joining the United States and France to push him into exile.Preval lauded Canada’s aid efforts for Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas and a key transit point for South American cocaine being shipped to the United States.”Canadian aid is very important to us. It is respectful and non-arrogant and we are very grateful,” said Preval, who promised to intensify the fight against drug trafficking and corruption.Harper’s visit to Haiti was the last stop in a Latin American and Caribbean tour.Also see Rene Preval to meet George Bush at the White House

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