Haitian Presidential forum in St. Petersburg
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10/18/10 Sarah Curran
WMNF Drive-Time News Monday | Listen to this entire show:

As the small Caribbean nation of Haiti shook on January 12, 2010, the hearts of people all around the world shook with it. Over 200,000 people lost their lives to the disaster and billions of dollars worth of infrastructure laid in ruble. Now the country is hoping a new president will raise a new and more powerful Haiti out of the ashes.

“I am watching My country and it is dying”

Haitians like Beatrice Abbott gathered at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida, last Saturday, to hear what some of Haiti's presidential candidates plan to do to put the country back on its feet. Gerard Joseph of the Solidarity party was one of the five candidates who attended the forum. He says now, more than ever, Haiti needs a president it can trust.

“There is a lot of Haitians that are ready, but not all Haitians, however, for the last two hundreds year we have been putting people in and out of office and therefore we need to start building the trust between the people and the government and that’s why it needs to happen.”

The country was ranked the tenth most corrupt nation on the Corruption Perception Index in 2009 And political turmoil and corruption have plagued Haiti's history. Money from nations all over the world has yet to reach those who need it most, due to a currently corrupt government. And as the country still works to rebuild the destruction from the quake, many people question whether now is the right time for democracy. However attendees like Augustus gust Garcia and Beatrice Abbott say it is a necessity in a time of uncertainty.

“Haiti has been in a longer quest for democracy then has been recovering from the earthquake. But I have learned in this situation maybe the distribution of power could be the best way to service these people.”

“It’s not a matter of being ready, it’s a matter of being educated how to vote for the proper candidate.”

Haitian-Americans like Marie Joseph Darlene Mentor and Melchi sedek Jean are eager to hear what the candidates will bring to the table.

“its about time now to think about country instead of the president himself, his education, his background. its important for him to deliver, to present his policy about what he is going to do for this country.

“Transparency would be one of the main things we need to work on. And that’s one of the ways transparency shows actually having debate. That is one of our first ever Haitian presidential debates. So that shows that, yes, that is what they plan on doing to show to see exactly what they coming in with, what they have done in the pas and what they plan to do in the future.

The country is relying heavily, right now, on sources abroad to not only help rebuild, but also fund the election, an election that some worry, isn’t even a true democratic process. One of the countries major parties, Famni Lavalas wasn’t permitted to take part in the election. And as country’s like the US donate Millions to fund it, 45 members of congress, last week, wrote a letter saying the US should not be involved in an election that does not include all eligible political parties and ready access to voting for all Haitians, including the displaced . However, Edwin Paraison, Minister of Haitians living abroad says a new Haiti cannot grow without outside help.

“It was important for this to happen here outside of Haiti it tells me that the Haitian gaspura want to implicate themselves in the affairs of Haiti. You can’t do without the gaspura in the development of Haiti.”

Even though the forum was open to all candidates, only 5 of the 19 Presidential hopefuls attended.

However, candidates Dr. Josette Bijou, Gerard Blot, Erik Charles, Garaudy Laguerre, and Genard Joseph were all given a chance to tell people what they in-vision for the small nations future. And some Haitians like Evelyn Drake and Beatrice Abbott left the event feeling the long journey ahead for Haiti will bring about a new and better country.

“Physically, I am very happy that such a forum was able to be formed so they can have the opportunity to express themselves. We can see the new leader, the leadership that is coming of now, so I am really happy I came. It was the first time so it as really excellent to be part of this, part of history.”

However they also realize a new president will not solve all of Haiti’s problems.

“One, person can not do the job, its all of us, we have to work together to restore our nation. This is my feeling. Corruption is everywhere, we have to go beyond all of these things, because we can not pass the foil to this person, or this person, its all of us as Haitian people we have to come together to restore our nation.”

Haitians will vote on November 28th for their new president.

To learn more about All of Haiti's 2010 presidential candidates you can go online to http://www.HaitiVotes.com.

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