As the Governor’s Haiti Advisory Group submits its final report, it believes that the work for which it has been tasked has merely just begun and that it is imperative that Florida’s efforts to assist Haiti continue. Accordingly, the State of Florida should establish an office or designate an organization to manage an on-going Florida-Haiti Initiative. Through staff coordination and a dedicated website, this office/organization would serve as a clearinghouse to disseminate information concerning the three priority areas that were identified by the Group (Economic Development, Disaster Preparedness, and Security), as well as other areas important to Haiti’s reconstruction. The office/organization would also maintain strong relations with Florida’s Haitian-American community and would work to carry out other recommendations described in this report.
The State of Florida should establish a Florida-Haiti student exchange program, in which Florida students could travel to Haiti for service projects (“Service Learning” and internship credit hours) and Haitian students could travel to Florida with scholarships to study in the public, independent, and community colleges and universities of Florida.
The State of Florida should provide resources for the creation of a dedicated Florida-Haiti Professional Exchange and Training Program with the Government of Haiti. This would allow Florida volunteers, utilizing their vast experience and skills, to travel to Haiti to provide in-country technical assistance/training and for Haitian officials to travel to Florida to receive longer-duration off-site training (in a productive, effective environment). The objective of the professional exchange and training program would be to provide Haitian participants with the knowledge, skills, and resources they need to work more effectively in their respective fields and to build greater capacity within Haitian institutions. Technical assistance/training could be rendered in any number of areas including security, infrastructure development, urban housing projects, disaster preparedness, public health, education/literacy, elections, business development, public administration, environmental protection/conservation, technical trades, etc.
The State of Florida should actively promote Haitian Home Town Associations (HTA’s) in Florida and Florida sister cities with Haiti, as a vehicle for mobilizing Florida’s large Haitian-American Diaspora to accelerate decentralization by assisting in the development of individual towns/areas of Haiti. This promotion of HTA’s/Sister Cities could partly be accomplished through the Florida-Haiti clearinghouse office/organization discussed in Recommendation 1.
In order to assist the Republic of Haiti in the collection of import duties on goods coming from Florida, The State should jointly explore with the Government of Haiti the establishment of a specialized Bilateral Trade Facilitation and Development Agency.
The State of Florida should partner with appropriate organizations/agencies in Florida and Haiti (Enterprise Florida, Florida Chamber of Commerce, AmCham Haiti, Chamber of Commerce & Industry of Haiti, etc.) to sponsor a Haiti-Florida Trade Mission and Matchmaker Fair in which representatives of Haitian businesses can travel to Florida to meet with counterparts. Promotion of investment in Haiti, as well as networking and identification of export opportunities for Haitian products would be primary goals. A second trade mission from Florida to Haiti could follow. As there is a need to enlarge the business sector in Haiti to provide for inclusive capitalism, the State of Florida should also:
- Identify and help facilitate an organization to create a “one-stop shop” for incorporation of business in Haiti to appeal to the Haitian-American Diaspora as potential investors.
- With possible technical assistance from entities such as Enterprise Florida – encourage the Republic of Haiti to liberalize its investment laws, strengthen its laws regarding property rights, and create a viable property records/registry system. Enforcing the Rule of Law should be stressed as a priority. All of this will serve to stimulate greater foreign direct investment into the country.
The State of Florida should assist Haiti’s Ministry of Commerce, Industry, & Tourism in its plan to create a targeted tourism marketing campaign to attract Haitian-American residents of Florida to return to their country as tourists in order to rediscover its natural beauty and historical attractions. Entities such as VISIT FLORIDA might be able to provide guidance/assistance in this endeavor.
The State of Florida should encourage cruise lines operating in Florida to provide technical assistance/guidance to the Haitian Ministry of Commerce, Industry, & Tourism in the development of various ports-of-call as one of the country’s most viable areas of areas of growth in the tourism sector. Investment in ports-of-call development should also be encouraged.
The State of Florida should work with the Florida Congressional Delegation to express the importance of preferential trade agreements like the HERO Act and the HOPE Act
(between the United States and Haiti) for job creation and economic development in Haiti’s manufacturing sector.
The State of Florida should encourage Florida power companies to assist the Government of Haiti in producing adequate levels of electricity in the cities and rural areas of Haiti.
Disaster Preparedness/Environmental Rehabilitation
The State of Florida should employ its well- developed expertise and experience with natural disasters to provide technical assistance to the Republic of Haiti’s Bureau of Civil Protection, in order for this agency to develop appropriate disaster management infrastructure and training. Technical training provided through the Florida Division of Emergency Management, as well as appropriate surplus equipment donated from other State and local agencies, could be utilized toward this end. All State of Florida efforts in this area should be coordinated with other public and private entities, which are currently working in Haiti to strengthen the Bureau of Civil Protection.
The State of Florida should promote and identify resources for a limited reforestation/watershed stabilization pilot program in Haiti, utilizing new approaches to this continuing problem. Such a pilot program, possibly in partnership with a major Florida research university, should focus on halting erosion on deforested hillsides in areas prone to flooding.
Through regional forums, The State of Florida should foster dialogue between the governments of Haiti and other countries in the Caribbean to address the problem of wood charcoal exportation from Haiti to areas such as the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic.
The State of Florida should assist and encourage the Republic of Haiti in the development of alternative sources of energy to reduce the demand for wood charcoal. Emphasis could be placed on relatively low-cost and environmentally-friendly alternatives, such as hydroelectric power, wind power, and solar power. Haiti has an abundance of hydroelectric, wind, and solar power potential that could be developed as energy alternatives.
The State of Florida should utilize its great expertise and experience in law enforcement, corrections, and public safety to assist the growth and professionalization of the Haitian National Police (HNP). The State should coordinate its efforts in this area with the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) and the Organization of American States (OAS), which are both currently facilitating police training/development programs in Haiti. Haitian police and corrections officials could possibly travel to Florida to receive advanced professional development training through entities like the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Criminal Justice Executive Institute. Similarly, police and corrections officials from any number of Florida’s state and local law enforcement/corrections agencies could be encouraged to travel to Haiti to serve as on-site technical consultants. The State of Florida should encourage municipalities with large Haitian-American populations to also engage their resources (e.g. Miami-Dade County, City of Miami, etc.).
The State of Florida should use its extensive past experience with organizing elections to provide technical assistance and support to the Republic of Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council (CEP), as this body prepares the country for national elections in November 2005. Peaceful and uncontested elections should be viewed as imperative for the future security and stability of Haiti. The State should utilize the Florida Department of State’s Division of Elections and other appropriate organizations to render necessary technical resources. Emphasis should also be placed on working with Haitian-Americans in Florida to assist with the upcoming elections (as elections observers, etc.).
The State of Florida should support and encourage the rendering of technical assistance from Florida for specialized areas of Haiti’s security infrastructure. Areas lacking adequate security programs that threaten the free flow of commerce and tourists, such as Haiti’s seaport and airport facilities, should receive special attention.
The State of Florida should encourage the U.S. federal government to re-examine its policies with respect to bans on non-military weapon and security equipment sales to legitimate Haitian law enforcement entities.
The State of Florida should sponsor and host National Dialogue and Reconciliation talks in Florida for Haiti’s various political parties prior to the national elections set to take place in Haiti in the fall of 2005.
In addition to the formal recommendations above, the Advisory Group also believes that the State of Florida’s advocacy for Haiti on the following issues may be of great value:
- The State of Florida should continually encourage the U.S. federal government and the international community to aggressively engage resources and develop innovative strategies to help the Republic of Haiti address critical problems areas.
- The State of Florida should encourage the U.S. federal government to re-examine its official travel warning for Haiti, as this warning discourages the flow of both investment and tourism into the country.
- The State of Florida should encourage the promotion of microcredit in Haiti as a means of providing sustainable economic development for the rural poor.
- The State of Florida should encourage the Government of Haiti to create an official post for an Inspector General as an independent entity reporting to the President of Haiti, the Prime Minister of Haiti, and the International Donor Community. Implementation of this recommendation would help to ensure good governance in Haiti, in order for the country to meet Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) eligibility guidelines and other international donor standards.
- The State of Florida should promote the development of a Haitian Conservation Corps to facilitate and maintain reforestation/watershed stabilization projects in Haiti. The development of such a Haitian Conservation Corps could be based on models that have met with much success in other flood-prone areas of the Caribbean and Latin America (e.g. Honduras and Mexico).
- The State of Florida should encourage the international community, particularly countries utilizing the Napoleonic Code/civil law, to assist Haiti in modernizing and strengthening its judicials