On November 22, 2019, the 8th Annual NAAHP Conference kicked off in Miami, FL. Several notable Haitians within the Haitian community, both in the U.S. and Haiti attended the conference. One highlight of the conference was when U.S. Ambassador to Haiti, Michele Sison addressed the audience. In her remarks, she took the time to show her support for the BEL Initiative 2020 program. 

Below is an excerpt of her remarks made to a crowd of Haitian professionals. Ambassador Sison’s full remarks can be read on the U.S. Embassy in Haiti website

“We are also pleased to partner with the Georgia Haitian-American Chamber of Commerce, and the University of Iowa’s Institute for International Business for the 2020 Business, Entrepreneurship, and Leadership (“BEL”) Initiative, which will provide an exchange and mentoring opportunity for up to twenty Haitian entrepreneurs in July, 2020.

These exchanges and programs help to address the opportunity gap for youth — especially women — by giving them the tools, networks, and resources they need to transform their societies and promote economic development, prosperity, security, human rights, and good governance.  In fact, we’ve repeatedly heard from participants of our entrepreneurship programs that providing a venue for a structured approach to mentorship and networking is one of the best resources we can give them.

There is a role for all of us to support Haitian citizens who want to improve their lives.   As we continue our partnership with Haiti, we are also focused on enabling Haitian men and women to take the next step – whatever that step is for them – to bring about meaningful change in their lives, for their families, for their communities, and ultimately for their country.

But, while we partner with the Haitian people, we also recognize that this assistance will not, and cannot, address the root causes of the current challenges in Haiti.  A sustainable solution will require, in our view, an inclusive dialogue and a Haitian-led solution to the current gridlock.  Again, I’ll repeat here what I’ve been saying in Port au Prince:  Haiti needs a confirmed, functioning government to serve the needs of the Haitian people, and a National Assembly that will pass critical legislation such as the budget law, electoral law, etc.

As everyone in this room knows, these past few months in Haiti have been extremely difficult for families across Haiti.  The U.S. deplores the current gridlock in Haiti, which has directly contributed to a spike in humanitarian needs, and an interruption of daily life for the people of Haiti.  We continue urge All Haitian stakeholders — political, economic and civil society leaders — to find a democratic solution together, to join in an inclusive dialogue without preconditions — without violence, and with an urgency of purpose to address Haiti’s needs.  We stand with all Haitians who value peaceful change, while courageously calling for accountability, the rule of law, and an end to the corrupt practices that have held Haiti back.

Let me repeat the words of our Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who said on November 7:  “We call on all of Haiti’s leaders to come together to solve the ongoing political and economic gridlock through dialogue and institutions.  We stand with all Haitians who peacefully call for accountability.”

This week we had the visit of Ambassador Kelly Craft, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, to Port au Prince.  Ambassador Craft engaged with political and economic stakeholders to reinforce the urgent need to support Haiti’s state institutions.  Ambassador Craft noted the need for a fully functioning government to fight corruption, to investigate and prosecute human rights abuses, and combat narcotics trafficking and human trafficking.  She specifically mentioned La Saline and Bel Air.  She also emphasized that President Moise and other democratically-elected leaders have an obligation to put aside their differences and to find an inclusive solution that will benefit the people of Haiti.

So as you can see, the United States remains committed to working with Haiti towards a more secure, prosperous, and democratic future for the Haitian people.  This is a goal that we all share, to move Haiti forward; this is a goal we can all invest in.  Now the question is: what we can do together, NAAHP, to help Haiti move forward?

Thank you for having invited me here today to meet all of you.

I look forward to continuing to brainstorm as we search for ways to partner.


The original and full remarks can be found on the U.S. Embassy in Haiti website