Wanted: A few good diplomats

  • Posted on: 10 March 2006
  • By: Bryan Schaaf

handsHaving completed its presidential elections, Haiti moved toward local elections. Soon, it will be be time to assemble a government. Assembling a coalition government is easy, maintaining it is another story. It is our hope that the most qualified individuals, regardless of past affiliations, will be able to play a role. Career diplomats who have the ability to work with the international community are very much needed now.

Renee Préval has taken steps in the right direction. His first international visit was to the Dominican Republic. While there, he met with both the President and opposition parties. The visit played well in the press and sets the stage for concrete actions to improve the relationship between the DR and Haiti, which we've discussed on this site before.

Préval will need a strong Prime Minister with managerial skills and political savvy. He should not shy away from appointing someone from the Diaspora, if that is where the best qualified candidates are. A great deal must be done to empower rather than alienate Haitians living abroad, the country's best untapped resource.

Haiti is in a difficult situation now. False speculation that HIV originated in Haiti destroyed the tourism industry. The only tourists to Haiti these days are Diaspora and missionaries. Embargos wrecked industry. There is hope for more foreign direct investment, but it will take time. This leaves agriculture, and the country needs a great deal of environmental rehabilitation to be productive. Further, the infrastructure will have to be developed in order to be competitive with other Caribbean countries.

Haitian diplomats, who can do their job without fear of being fired on a whim, will be needed to secure resources for the country and establish strong relationships bilaterally (DR, US, Canada, France) and regionally (CARICOM). Haiti needs humanitarian assistance and will for some to come, but to at least make steps toward self-sufficiency, trade will be crucial.

It will take strong diplomacy on the part of the President, the Prime Minister, and other country representatives to maintain aid, encourage trade, and rehabilitate both infrastructure and environment. These diplomats should have good reputations and be held accountable for their actions.

These are just a few thoughts. We would be curious to hear your thoughts on diplomacy and leadership.


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