An international conference on Haiti scheduled for Monday in Montreal will lay the groundwork for the long-term reconstruction of the earthquake-ravaged nation,Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said Sunday.
Cannon will serve as host of the Ministerial Preparatory Conference of the Group of Friends of Haiti.
The meeting was organized this past week and will occur less than two weeks after the 7.0-magnitude quake struck.
The confirmed death toll from Haiti's devastating earthquake has risen above 150,000 in the Port-au-Prince area alone, a government minister has said. The Haitian government estimates that hundreds of thousands more have been left homeless and in dire need of food, water and medical attention. Communications minister Marie-Laurence Jocelyn Lassegue said the count was based on bodies collected in and around the capital by state company CNE that has been collecting corpses from around the capital and burying them in a mass grave north of Port-au-Prince. Many more remain uncounted under rubble in the capital and elsewhere, including the towns of Jacmel and Leogane.
Cannon told reporters in Ottawa that the meeting "is an initial, albeit critical, step on the long road to recovery."
Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive is scheduled to attend Monday's meeting, along with representatives from the Group of Friends of Haiti, the Dominican Republic, the European Union, Spain and Japan.
"Together with the government of Haiti we need to roll up our sleeves and begin to lay the groundwork for the enormous task ahead," Cannon said.
Also attending are officials with Organization of American States, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the UN, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, among other organizations. Several non-governmental organizations will also have representatives in attendance.
Cannon said the meeting has two objectives: to establish a commitment from the attending nations and organizations on "responsibility, accountability and long-term engagement," and to identify key priorities for aid in the weeks and months ahead.
He said Monday's meeting will also lay the foundation for an international conference on Haitian reconstruction.
"I look forward to a successful outcome of the Montreal meeting," Cannon said. "I trust it will provide a clear sense of the next steps ahead, restoring the lives and livelihoods of the Haitian people and, as Prime Minister Bellerive put it, building a new Haiti will be foremost on our minds."
The real story will involve corporate disaster-profiteers grabbing the richest share of relief and reconstruction funding.
The interests of US-based capitalists are far removed from the interests of the population of Haiti.
Participants at this meeting will include foreign ministers and delegates from the following countries and organizations:
Group of Friends of Haiti: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, France, Mexico, Peru, United States, Uruguay.
Other major donors and key regional and multilateral partners engaged in Haiti: Japan, Spain, European Union.
Neighbouring Caribbean country: Dominican Republic.
International organizations: United Nations, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Caribbean Development Bank, Organization of American States, CARICOM, International Monetary Fund, and Inter-American Development Bank.
And where is Cuba at this conference about Haiti?
About 150 kilometers of sea separate the two countries, and Cuba has been the largest supplier of medical support for Haiti for the past two decades, with 400 doctors on the ground on the day of the quake. The fact that Cuba has not been invited shows that this conference is about politics, pure and simple.
And by the way, "Friends of Haiti"?
Countries don't have friends, they have interests.
Actions by the US, France, the UN, the World Bank and the IMF contributed to the pre-quake conditions in Haiti and now they are going to save it.
They will allow the Haitian Prime Minister to attend even though he did not provide much leadership during the greatest disaster in the history of his country.
The President of Haiti must still be sequestered at the Port-au-Prince airport under US military control.