ALBA countries working on roadmap to rebuild Haiti

News from Cuba | Saturday, 4 February 2012

Google translation of a Telesur report edited by Norman Girvan

The countries of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) are developing a roadmap to assist in the reconstruction of Haiti, prioritising health, education, energy, food production, infrastructure and training of qualified personnel.

In the XI meeting of the bloc, held Saturday February 4 in Caracas, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez outlined the road map; for which the ALBA countries will collaborate in Haiti’s reconstruction by means of the operational mechanism ALBA-Haiti. Rodriguez affirmed that "Latin America has a commitment and a special responsibility to the Haitian people; and for that we should provide resources for development and reconstruction” .

Rodriguez announced that ALBA will hold a special summit on Haiti on the March 2-3 to review and further develop the plan of work. He highlighted the need to create an ALBA-TCP Fund for Haiti. Recalling that Cuba and Venezuela were already giving their support to Haiti in the health sector before the 2010 earthquake, with 14 million medical consultations made, he disclosed that in the first weeks after the earthquake emergency, 350 000 patients had been treated and over 8,000 surgeries performed.

For his part, Haitian President Michel Martelly explained that since 2011 it had been possible to cover part of the basic needs of the Haitian people. However, the country is still struggling against the formidable obstacles of extreme poverty, unemployment affecting 50 percent of the population, a housing deficit of more than 400,000 and more than eight percent of the population living in subhuman conditions. In the education sector, 903,000 children had been incorporated into primary schools and "we want to offer free education for all," he said; although the educational program costs approximately $ 81 million. However, only 19 percent of schools are public with the remaining 81 percent being in the private sector. On

taking office in 2010 (sic), Martelly said, he found 600 000 children out of school and only 3 percent of children reaching sixth grade; while 70 percent of the teachers in primary schools had not finished seventh grade.

Martelly stressed that 100 000 mothers were guaranteed pensions to acquire food for their children and 250, 000 Haitians have become literate, through the collaboration of Cuba and Venezuela. He said that the fight against cholera is coming to an end “thanks to the Cuban doctors." The aim was to build ten polyclinics over a two-year period. In the food sector, Haiti aspires to become self-sufficient again; since for example it presently imports about 80 percent of its rice consumption.

Finally, President Martelly issued an invitation to all to a Summit of Solidarity with Latin America to be held on March 12, 2013, when it is estimated that part of the reconstruction infrastructure will be opened.

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