As Presidential elections loom past the summer period, we realize there is still much more work to be done to facilitate a future that works for Haiti.

As Presidential elections loom past the summer period, we realize there is still much more work to be done to facilitate a future that works for Haiti.

Michelet NestorToday’s connotations of Port au Prince, much like those of our beloved Haiti, are not what they used to be.

The once vibrant, colorful metropolis has suffered immeasurable destruction from the 7.0 magnitude earthquake and seismic aftershocks of 2010; we witness today dilapidated infrastructure, widespread poverty, unabated diseases such as cholera, and subsequently the resurgence of serious crime, in-part out of collective distrust in governance, given the lack of adequate relief response.

To be sure, this is not to suggest the Republic’s socioeconomic trajectory was previously laid out for us, stifled solely by natural disaster. Indeed, we Haitians acknowledge that this was far from the case. However, I believe there is hope for our tiny yet culturally diverse community. And that a roadmap to tangible prosperity and emerging market competition is closer than the international community may recognize.

Further, I believe that our resurgence should be buttressed by international assistance, but only if it is earned through a transparent democratic process, as U.S. Senator Marco Rubio has recently and rightly suggested.

Before the earthquake, Haiti was 145th of 169 countries in the U.N. Human Development Index, the lowest in the Western Hemisphere. In its 2012 report, Human Rights Watch noted that due in part to the weak capacity of the Haitian National Police (HNP), our nation had “…been plagued by high levels of violent crime for years, contributing to overall insecurity”.

Despite this, we foresaw change and lasting development. Port au Prince, in addition to our pristine shorelines was an attractive, frequently visited tourist destination. We envisioned ourselves as a strategically positioned hub for Latin American and Caribbean trade, with bountiful and diverse natural resources such as bauxite, copper and hydropower.

Indeed, no matter our disillusionment in an unresponsive governmental administration, business was unwaveringly set to boom.

Or so we thought. Then came the earthquake.

Millions suffered from the catastrophe that was the earthquake of 2010. A post-apocalyptic environment would be an appropriate reflection on what remained of our beloved Capital.  And so from bad, our condition transformed to far worse.

However, the international community provided sensational assistance in relief, playing a prominent role in increasing stability on the ground and donating funds, time, energy and resources to a Haiti in desperate need.

Partners such as the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC), for example, provided the necessary capital to allow for the state of emergency law that Parliament passed in April 2010 to hold and continue to operate without fail through most of 2011. The IHRC, comprised of dignitaries including former US President Bill Clinton, executed its mandate to oversee reconstruction aid and to conduct strategic planning and coordination among donors, NGOs, and the private sector.

As Presidential elections loom past the summer period, we realize there is still much more work to be done to facilitate a future that works for Haiti. We must direly improve the water supply while restoring infrastructure such as adequate drainage systems. In this light, we must provide for cholera treatment facilities, treating thousands of Haitians across the country. We must invest in agribusiness, providing tools and seeds to help the tens of thousands of people in farming households that support themselves and their families. We must elevate our literacy rate and invest in our future through enforced, streamlined educative curriculums. Our teachers need to be paid and on time.

And lastly, we need to prove that we are ready to reengage globally through the political maturity of free and fair elections.  Our collective reputation has long been tarnished by allegations of corrupt practices, self-serving politicking and a climate of ambivalence in the face of disparity.  We have an ideal opportunity to step forward with open arms and allow for international investigation and analysis on how we allow the people to decide their dream of Haiti’s future through its leadership.

As we continue to work with our international partners and collectively climb from the rubble and indeed prepare for monumental Presidential elections that will bring about such new leadership, we must showcase a transparent spotlight for the world that earns the support we continue to need and benefit from. It will be our own fault if we fail to do so.