President Jovenel Moïse was in Italy last week to meet with Italian authorities as well as the Pope, whose interest in the issues and problems facing the country are very current. During a face-to-face meeting with the Italian President Sergio Mattarella in Rome, the President asked for Italy’s assistance in construction of power plants across Haiti as part of his energy policy and promise to provide 24 hour electricity across the entire country. He added that achieving this goal requires tapping into Italian expertise in the areas of hydroelectric turbine construction and alternative energy sources. Beyond energy, the President is relying on Italian help in reviving the tourist industry in Haiti. He intimated that with the boost his government is giving tourism, recognizing Italy as one of the nations with biggest tour operators in Europe is crucial in the quest to entice tourists to Haiti. He counts on these actors to bring European tourist to the island nation.
Another key component of Mr. Moise’s visit was to revive diplomatic relations with the European nation, with the reopening of an Italian embassy in Haiti after many decades since the aftermath of the fall of the Duvalier dictatorship. President Moïse told reporters that in his talks with his Italian counterpart, he stressed the importance of bilateral discussions and agreement focusing on technical cooperation with the goal towards development. During his tour of infrastructure across Haiti, President Moïse found many dysfunctional power plants or out of service for several years and is determined to repair these in order to improve energy production and diversify the sector through introducing alternative energy sources such as wind and solar energy.
In a meeting at the Vatican, President Moïse was impressed by the Pontiff’s engagement and interest in the issues of poverty, unemployment, immigration and problems facing the youth. After a fruitful meeting, both leaders agreed on the need to launch initiatives for youth to address massive migration to other parts of Latin America and North America. The Pontiff said his wish for Haiti is that “the desert will become a garden”, which was inscribed on a medal presented to the President. In return, President Moïse offered the leader of the Catholic Church a painting showing a blue landscape background. The bottom of the painting gives a glimpse of the Pacific Ocean during calm afternoon trade winds.
Meanwhile, the national police are in the news lately for reasons that have less to do with their motto of “to protect and serve” than to encourage people to participate in positive ways to improve and develop the country. Besides arresting criminals, protecting the public and ensuring law and order, the national police, PNH, have embarked on extracurricular activities, this time, with a musical participation in the forthcoming Carnival. In a tweeter post, the police have announced that their musical group known as “Model La”, will be participating in this year’s Carnival 2018. The group was formed in January 2015 as a compa group with eleven members selected after a talent search organized by the Police Academy, for new recruits who want to explore their other talents as musicians, dancers, slammers and spoken word artists. After two years of anonymity, the group decided to release their first carnival merengue entitled “Nou gen Mwayen”, a labor of love that cost them ten days of hard labor to produce. But the results are very prescient as it is intended to remind their fellow countrymen that they have the means and power to change the country. To hear the leader of the group, Inspector Joliet Jean-Baptiste explains it, “the main message is to tell our fellow countrymen that we can change Haiti if we strongly want to. All we need is awareness and action”. This is because the Haitian does what he wants to do, when he wants to do it; he writes and say what he wants; breaks laws, runs traffic light etc.., so if we want to change our country, we can do that too”, he added. The new album is not their first , in 2016 the group released an album and video entitled “Ann kolabore” (Let’s collaborate) which did not get much play so this time around, they put in more effort to make sure their message gets across to the carnival revelers. The police also warned the revelers to enjoy the carnival in an atmosphere of peace and nonviolence.
If the musical group is making the police force get closer to the people they serve, the leadership thinks their uniform can make them look even more professional. The Commissioner of Police, M. Michel-Ange Gédéon deplores the lack of professionalism shown by some of his agents’ dress. According to Mr. Gedeon, a police officer’s uniform is his identity and there are new directives coming out that address specifically how to dress professionally, in response to their duties and functions.
Elsewhere, the police is looking to hire medical professionals within the corps. A recruitment campaign has been launched on Facebook since January 15, 2018 to recruit medical professionals, para professionals, nurses, physicians, lab technicians, dentists and pharmacists as a way of making the force more professional. Interested parties should have completed their training and currently holding degrees in their respective fields. No students are being recruited. Interested persons are encouraged to apply by including one copy each of their diploma, birth certificate and citizenship, bank statement from the previous three (3) months, a medical certificate and four (4) recent passport photos. The application can be sent to the medical office at the Police Academy no later than February 2, 2018.
In other news the 12th annual International Jazz Festival of Port-au-Prince (PAPJazz) recently took place in the country, with the closing ceremony at Royal Decameron. The weeklong event brought some notable musicians including Beethova Obas, the guitarist Norman Brown from the US; Michael Brun and Follow Jah from Petionville who also performed traditional rara music. The organizers thanked the audience for a successful festival and the Ministry of Tourism for their assistance and all the tourists who came for the week long musical event; made all the more affordable by the pre-planned packages that tour groups were able to arrange. Furthermore, the U-20 women’s national soccer team has qualified for the U-20 World Cup in France. The grenadiers beat their Canadian counterparts 1-0 to advance in their group. This victory was all the more exciting because of the 4-0 defeat they suffered at the hands of the Canadians in the knock out stages, but Sherley Jeudy’s unique goal propelled Marc Collat’s ladies to book their ticket to France. The Minister of Sport, Ms. Régine Lamur congratulated the young ladies saying that after the men’s team qualified in 1974, and the U-17 team in 2017, its now the turn of the women’s team to make Haiti proud. President Jovenel Moise also took the time to congratulate the team. We wish them all good luck and hope they bring the cup back to Haiti.