Last weekend it was my pleasure to host a great leader of the Haitian Diaspora in the United States Mr. Stanley Lucas. He has been my special guest on a regular radio show on Sunday's for the past two years where we spend few hours addressing the challenges that Haiti faces. His proposed solutions have always amazed my listeners -- and struck them as rational solutions to complex challenges. This event was an exciting opportunity to get out and talk with the Haitian community of Orlando! Despite the torrential downpour, more than 500 people turned out. Clearly, there is tremendous interest in the direction of our country and a growing sense of frustration about the lack of progress addressing the earthquake and some of Haiti's bigger issues, such as corruption, education and poverty.
Mr. Lucas spoke for about an hour on the current situation in Haiti post-quake and addressed in broad brushstrokes the political, social and economic priorities for our beloved country. He highlighted the failure of the government to develop a disaster preparedness plan in spite of clear and specific warnings about the eventuality of an earthquake. He talked about systemic challenges, including rampant corruption and endemic poverty. And he covered the less than impressive earthquake response -- both on the part of the Haitian government and the international community. Mr. Lucas proposed a range of practical solutions to each of the areas covered. On the economy, he talked about job creation in the short term coming from earthquake recovery efforts as well as revamping business regulations to make it easier for entrepreneurs to start businesses. Additionally, he talked about the need for access to credit and building out the microcredit system. On social development, his main point was on education and about how we must invest in our greatest resource in Haiti -- the people. He also talked about the need for healthcare reform and, most importantly particularly given the upcoming hurricane season, the need for a real disaster and emergency management plan. On the political side, Mr. Lucas states that corruption is at the root of all Haiti's political problems -- and economic and social as well. This must immediately be addressed with better anti-corruption laws and enforcement. He also talked about the upcoming elections (for additional information on this issue see http://solutionshaiti.blogspot.com/2010/06/senator-lugar-calls-for-haitian.html) and the need for several reform efforts to be put in place prior to holding elections -- or they will not be credible.
We then took questions from the audience. Most focused on the failure of Preval's government to address the country's problem prior to the earthquake; the failure of both presidents Aristide and Preval on emergency preparedness during eight years despite the fact they received an official report from Bureau des Mines on October 7, 2002 announcing that the country face earthquakes; the management after the earthquake by Preval and the international community; the role of the Diaspora; and the state of the economy and the next presidential elections.
It was inspiring to hear someone speak so passionately, frankly and hopefully about our country. Mr. Stanley Lucas knows, as we do, that our country is in a bad place, but that because of the uniqueness of the Haitian spirit, we can and will rebuild better than before -- and we have an opportunity to do that now if we seize the moment. We need strong leadership, strong institutions and a strong vision, and I'm delighted that Mr. Lucas brought all of these attributes to our event. For the past 25 years, Stanley has been working on political and economic development programs in Haiti -- and throughout the world from Latin America to the Middle East. He has built relationships with leadership around the world and as a result he brings a well rounded insight to Haiti's unique challenges. In fact, many people asked Mr. Lucas if he was a candidate for President and urged him to run. His messages and passion resonate with people -- in person and on the radio -- and provide the hope and vision that we need to rebuild. I join in their calls for him to run -- it's high time that Haiti had someone that was looking out for the people -- and not himself!
We look forward to many more opportunities to engage our listeners in the future. In the meantime, please call us with your comments and questions every Sunday night between 9:00-10:30 pm EST on www.radioclassiqueinter.com . We look forward to hearing from you!