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Bruno Rodriguez at the UN: "The Reconstruction of Haiti is a Pending Task"

NEW YORK, APRIL 6, 2011.

Bruno Rodríguez

Just one year ago we, more than 50 governments and other international actors, committed ourselves at UN headquarters to provide substantial cooperation directed at the recovery and rebuilding of Haiti following the disaster caused by the earthquake of January 12th of that year.  In terms of statements, it was a commendable show of solidarity.

The committed sums of 9 billion dollars for rebuilding, of which 5 thousand million would be paid in the first two years, plus the valuable additional offers in kind, even though they were insufficient, were demonstrating the undeniable will to cooperate.  The declared principle of channelling this aid with full adherence to the priorities of the Haitian government, so as to strengthen the authority of the State, involved the universal respect for the sovereignty of this beleaguered nation and the prerogatives of its government authorities.

There appeared to be a universal will to provide aid to this heroic nation, the first nation to break the colonial yoke and to abolish slavery in the hemisphere of the Americas.

Unfortunately, what has happened since has not been consistent with the spirit ruling that conference on March 31st of 2010.  Nevertheless, many of the self-proclaimed “principal donors” continue to dedicate exorbitant resources to war and military intervention.

The sums for financial and material aid that were committed to, although insufficient in the face of the problem’s magnitude, have not been paid.  The will of the Haitian government has not been respected, nor have its priorities been attended to.  The rebuilding of Haiti, to which all of us committed ourselves, is a task which is still pending.

In the months following the terrible quake, Haiti seemed to be ripped apart by the governments of the most powerful and industrialized countries that were distributing their aid, in an arbitrary and arrogant fashion, via their voracious companies and some of their wealthiest NGOs.

Even today, what continues to prevail is the channelling of funds and resources outside of the programmes and control of the Haitian government, leading to waste, corruption and the satisfaction of very marginal or selective interests.

Cuba shares the concerns expressed by the CARICOM Heads of Government in the communiqué issued by its Inter-Session Meeting last February 26th, when they critically referred to the Recovery Fund, the Interim Commission for Haitian Recovery, their working methods, to necessary respect for the priorities of the Haitian government and the insufficient flow of committed resources.

Cuba has concentrated its efforts in the area where the greatest impact could be achieved, public health, a key element for the social sustainability and stability of Haiti.

In complete coordination with the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA, as it is referred to in Spanish), and under the indications and priorities of the Haitian government, we have been tirelessly working to implement a program to rebuild the national health system whose essence lies in satisfying the health needs of 75% of the most needy population, with a minimum cost.

From January 12th of 2010 until today, almost 2 million patients have been cared for, more than 36,000 surgeries have been performed and almost 8,500 babies have been delivered. More than 465,000 patients have received rehabilitation treatment.

Services are being provided at 23 reference community hospitals, 30 rehab wards, 13 health centres, 2 ophthalmologic surgery posts and the Public Health Laboratory.  Throughout the 10 departments in the country, a Comprehensive Programme for Hygiene and Epidemiology is being developed.

The cooperation programme promoted by Cuba today has 1,117 health collaborators, of which 923 are Cuban and 194 come from the various countries graduating students in Cuba.

The resources generously provided in solidarity by President Hugo Chávez Frías of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela have been essential.  We have also been working closely with Brazil via a Tripartite Agreement with Haiti.

Cuba has also received the backing of several countries in order to carry out this health programme.
Namibia, Norway, South Africa, Australia and Spain have contributed, along with group of individual donors, something more than 3.5 million dollars.

We are ready to work, in a strictly humanitarian fashion, with respect and in full coordination with the Haitian government, with any and all countries and organizations which have the will to take part in the rebuilding and development of its health system.

At the same time, Cuban doctors have confronted a serious cholera epidemic.  For this purpose 67 units were set up, looking after more than 73,000 patients, a third of all the cases in the country.  Of these, only 272 died, for a death rate of 0.37 %, 5 times lower than in the rest of the institutions in Haiti.  Looking after patients has demanded selflessness and the spirit of sacrifice, especially during the nights.  In the last 77 consecutive days, our medical and nursing personnel have seen no deaths due to cholera.

The creation of Active Survey Groups called “Subcomuna Adentro” was a new experience permitting the study of almost one million and seven hundred thousand people living in communities without access to health care services, and to diagnose more than 5,300 cholera cases in their very own homes.

I mention these data with all the modesty of our people, merely to argue with practical examples in support of our conviction that what Haiti needs is substantial and impartial aid, closely coordinated with the government that contributes to its development and to overcome the immense socio-economic difficulties and disparities that affect the country and impede stability and progress for its people.

Haiti does not need an occupation army; it is not, nor can it become, a United Nations protectorate.

The role of the UN is to support the government and people of Haiti in strengthening their sovereignty and self-determination. MINUSTAH forces have been in that country for a very specific mandate to promote stability, and this should be rigorously respected. MINUSTAH has no political prerogatives to get mixed up in internal affairs that are just for the Haitians; nor should it do so.  Its participation in election options cannot be acceptable; nor can it be acceptable that it applies pressure on sovereign authorities in one way or another. Nor does it have any right to speak on behalf of Haiti.

Cuba is steadfastly convinced that Haiti’s humanitarian situation is not a topic corresponding to the Security Council but rather to the General Assembly whose authority it frequently usurps, as now. It is not a matter which threatens international peace and security, nor is it resolved by military troops conceived for peace-keeping operations.  The serious consequences of the omissions, excesses, double standards and anti-democratic procedures afflicting this Council are also well-known.

The problems of this sister-nation are, in essence, caused by centuries of colonial and neo-colonial pillage, by underdevelopment, by the imposition of one of the longest and bloodiest dictatorships our region has experienced and by foreign intervention.

The inalienable right of the Haitian people to independence and self-determination ought to be, finally, respected.

Haiti needs resources for rebuilding and resources for development. It needs humanitarian commitment and not interference or political manipulation.  What we need is a minimum of generosity instead of so much egoism.

Thank you very much.