With Haiti the questions are many, but what are the answers?

As you know, I will be interviewing Haitian presidential candidate Dr. Eddy Delaleu (which is now Sunday, August 8th) at 1:00 PM EST.

Like an earlier interview with NHPPA President Shawn Buckley regarding the controversial Bill C-36 (which threatens to remove 70% of all natural health products from the store shelves), it has always been my practice to share in advance the questions I will be posing during those segments that attempt to tackle complex and far reaching issues.

The 2011 Haitian election is one of these situations, as it represents a nation that is at a crossroads in terms of its future.

With this in mind, I am pleased to share with you the questions I will be asking Dr. Delaleu during Sunday’s broadcast “Haiti: The Aftershock For Change,” and would invite your comments.

Segment 1 (Before The World Shook)

Host Comment: In my opening comments I had made the comment that prior to the January 2010 earthquake, which is undoubtedly an historical flashpoint, that there beneath the rubble remains the pre-existing everyday issues that as a result of the quake may be more challenging to address but are nonetheless an important part of the country’s foundational fabric that will inevitably influence Haiti’s future.

I would like to focus on these issues that I would imagine remain today:

  • While being the first black republic to claim independence in 1804, a CIA report indicates that Haiti is considered to be the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, with 80% of the population living under the poverty line and 54% living in abject poverty.  Furthermore, two-thirds of all Haitians depend on the agriculture sector, mainly small-scale subsistence farming which are particularly vulnerable to frequent natural disasters such as the 2010 quake.  This seems like a daunting if not overwhelming issue.  How do you plan to address it?
  • While it has been suggested that Haiti suffers from a “lack of foreign investment” due to insecurity and limited infrastructure coupled with a severe trade deficit, to what degree are the solutions found within these very challenges?

  • The CIA report also pointed to the fact that Haiti has been plagued by political violence for most of its history.  After the armed rebellion that resulted in the ousting of the Aristide government in 2004, violence and technical delays meant that the country did not see its first democratically elected President and parliament until May 2006.  Referencing your comment in a recent interview that you yourself were afraid of getting directly involved beyond your tremendous relief work as you did not want to get “caught up in the politics” of the country, what has changed in terms of your involvement in the 2011 election?
  • In the same interview, you had also made the statement that you are either “in or out,” relative to a direct involvement and called on the highly educated and successful Haitians abroad to return to the country as it is the only way that Haiti’s situation can be improved or elevated?  What is likely going to be the response of Haitians living around the world to this call to action?
  • Another problem that was highlighted in the CIA report centers around illegal migration.  Specifically, and despite the presence of 8,000 UN peacekeepers since 2004, there seems to be an exodus of Haitians crossing the border into the Dominican Republic or sailing to neighbouring countries.  While it would seem obvious that improving conditions at home would perhaps maybe even likely stem the outflow of the human capital that is essential to a nation’s economy, how daunting of a challenge does this represent to the next government?  Besides the obvious, what else can be done ?
  • I had earlier referred to the violence and corruption that has historically plagued Haiti.  According to reports, the country is considered to be the “transshipment point for cocaine en route to the US and Europe.”  In fact, besides being a favorite locale for Colombian narcotics traffickers, cash smuggling activities, illicit transactions and, pervasive corruption how do you plan to “take the country back” for the everyday Haitian citizen?

Mortality rates are high in Haiti, with an average life expectancy of just 61.38 years (on average, men live to only 59.67 years, while women’s life expectancy according to 2010 reports fares a little better at 63.14 years).  Part of the reason for what has been referred to as an “excess mortality rate,” is due to AIDS.  How do you plan to address this, as well as other pressing medical issues beyond obviously the effects of the earthquake itself including food and waterborne diseases such as hepatitis A and B and typhoid fever, vectorborne diseases such as dengue fever and malaria as well as waterborne diseases like leptospirosis?

Segment 2 (L’UNION FAIT LA FORCE)

Host Comment: As we had discussed in the first segment of today’s program, you called upon the highly educated, successful Haitians abroad to return to the country and to get involved at the grassroots level.

We also pointed out the fact that there is an alarming migration or exodus of Haitians flowing out of the country.

Here are the questions to which this leads:

  • To start, and referencing the English translation of the scroll within the Haitian flag bearing the motto “Union Makes Strength” would it be safe to say that a key part of your mandate is to both restore and build upon this union?  How essential is this restoration of Haitians with their country to both the short and long term success of the republic?
  • Based on our research, the “age structure” of Haiti is as follows; 0 to 14 years represents 37.5% of the population, 15 to 64 years represents 59.1% and, 65 years and over 3.4%.  According to the 2010 Shape of Things To Come Series Executive Summary “The Effects of a Very Young Age Structure on Haiti,” the country’s “very young structure,” affects “all aspects of reconstruction efforts” including; economic opportunities, security issues, political stability, gender equality and climate change adaptation.”  Against the backdrop of what is referred to as a rapid population growth that has spanned several decades, Haiti has the youngest age structure in the Caribbean with 70% of the total population under 30.  What are both the promises and challenges associated with a “young” population base?
  • According to the same summary, in those countries in which 60% or more of the population are younger than 30, there is an increased risk of civil conflict and autocratic governance or dictatorship.  Do you agree with this assessment, (if yes or no, please elaborate including how this can be effectively managed)?
  • Given the previously cited dependence of the agricultural sector, and interesting statistic from the summary indicates that Haiti’s urban population will “exceed the rural population by 2015.”  A by-product if that is the right word, is that there is a prediction of a high unemployment rate for those between the ages of 15 and 30 leading to a “rise in violent street gangs in the slums of Port-au-Prince.  How do you plan to create the jobs to “absorb” this economic boom?
  • In terms of literacy and education, and referencing the established international definition of literacy, 52.9% of the Haitian population is considered to be literate.  Relative to the investment, 1.4% of Haiti’s GDP is reinvested back into the educational system with a global ranking of 175.  (Note: as a point of reference, the number 1 country in terms of educational investment is Kuribati, which is an island nation of 98,000 people that is part of the Gilbert Island chain in the Pacific.  According to the CIA report, Kuribati invests a whopping 17.8% of GDP in education. Both Canada at 5.2%, and the U.S. at 5.3% occupy the 62nd and 57th positions respectively.)  Question, to what degree does the investment in education have to improve re investment, and how can this be achieved?
  • While the Urban population is exploding, from an agricultural perspective, the country only produces 47% of the food it needs.  When you take into account declining natural resources such as deforestation and soil erosion combined with an increasing vulnerability to climate change, how do you plan to address these problems?

Segment 3 (The World Stage)

Host Comment: Beyond the world’s response to the 2010 disaster, it is obvious that continuing attention from a global perspective is important to Haiti’s future.

this leads to a number of obvious questions:

  • Right off the bat, and taking into account what we have already discussed, how has the earthquake both hindered and perhaps helped Haiti in terms of increasing global awareness of the challenges and potential or promise of the country?
  • What role as celebrity involvement played in the recovery (and to what extent are celebrity’s still actively involved)?
  • Beyond what is being done in terms of relief efforts, what assistance (financial or otherwise), what do you envision being required from other countries around the world?
  • What in your opinion is required of the Haitian people to contribute to improving their own lives both overall as well as on a daily basis?

Once again, remember to tune into both the Live and On-Demand Broadcast “Haiti: The Aftershock For Change” Sunday, August 8th at 1:00 PM EST on the PI Window on Business across the Blog Talk Radio Network.

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