OAS official urges greater support for Haiti

WASHINGTON, D.C.: Assistant Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Albert Ramdin, is urging CARICOM countries to provide greater support for Haiti.

Speaking at an OAS press briefing last week, Ramdin said there was a moral obligation for CARICOM to show more political commitment and support to Haiti, as a member of the regional grouping.

“I know that Caribbean countries cannot offer the kind of development assistance others can, but there are little things you can do,” he said. He hoped ‘people to people’ contact between Haiti and CARICOM would be improved, with Caribbean politicians visiting that country.

“There is a lot of commitment on the Haitian side, when I speak to them about CARICOM. But, at the end of the conversation, there is always the disappointment that, while they are members, they are also not seen as being a full member,” he said.

Ramdin said the OAS is seeking to send a mission to Haiti by September, which will include representatives from several multilateral organizations, as well as Caribbean leaders. He shared that the OAS would also take members of the media to the country, in an effort to showcase some of the positives in Haiti.

“We hope to take four or five media outlets so that when they come back, they can broadcast some of the good things. They can make documentaries, they can have short news clips, so that people can see,” he said.

Ramdin said the OAS was looking to showcase Haiti as a country with opportunities and a future, especially since the country is currently going through a period of relative stability.

“It is seen too much in dark terms, as a country in crisis, a country with problems, a country with no options,” he said, as he rejected notions of Haiti being a ‘failed state’.

Ramdin added that the OAS is also planning an inter-American program to create a framework to help Haiti, after United Nations forces pull out. He also disclosed that the OAS was considering a proposal from Trinidad and Tobago to establish a hemispheric development fund.

CARICOM foreign ministers recently endorsed Ramdin’s candidature for re-election as OAS Assistant Secretary General in 2010. Surinamese by birth, Ramdin is a former Assistant Secretary General of CARICOM responsible for foreign and community relations. (JIS)

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