Hillary Clinton Meets With Haitian President-Elect Michel Martelly
April 21, 2011 By Staff
Today in Latin America
Top Story — Haitian President-elect Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly met Wednesday with senior U.S. officials in Washington, including Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, to discuss continued reconstruction of the earthquake-battered nation and reestablishing an army in the country.
Martelly said a top priority of his administration was to relocate the hundreds of thousands of earthquake victims living in tents.
“It’s been 14, almost 15 months since the earthquake, and little effort has been made” to help the displaced, he said, according to The Washington Post. More than 600,000 people still live in camps after last year’s earthquake.
After his inauguration on May 14, Martelly plans to impose a a five-cent tax on phone calls into Haiti to raise money for reconstruction and will also be able to use the $260 million in debt payments forgiven by foreign lenders.
Martelly also stated his hopes to reestablish the army, which was disbanded by former-President Jean-Betrand Aristide. He said the new, “modern army” would guard the borders, help in natural disasters and fight drug-trafficking.
Also on Martelly’s list was combating the cholera epidemic, which began last October, and boosting agricultural production.
However Martelly said that the pace of reconstruction in Haiti is “desperately slow” and that he is counting on the U.S. to ensure international aid would be used effectively.
Clinton admitted that the rebuilding of Haiti is a daunting task and revitalizing the country “takes leadership.” She added, however, that the U.S. was excited about Martelly’s presidency.
“Now he has a chance to lead and we are behind him,” said Clinton, according to The Associated Press. “He is committed to results. He wants to deliver for the Haitian people. And we are committed to helping him do so.”
Martelly also met earlier in the week with leaders of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to discuss food prices, job creation, education and the improvement of the business environment in Haiti.
“My new vision for my country is to begin all the useful and necessary reforms,” Martelly said, according to AFP.
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- The Guatemalan government on Tuesday declared a nationwide “nutritional risk alert” to avoid a food crisis in the country’s poorest areas where thousands of people don’t have enough food to survive.
- U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said on Wednesday he is confident Congress will approve free trade agreements with Panama and Colombia but they are likely to be submitted in separate bills.
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