Remarks With Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe Before Their Meeting

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
October 9, 2014

SECRETARY KERRY: Good afternoon, everybody. Thank you for joining us for a minute. I’m very happy to welcome the Prime Minister of Haiti Laurent Lamothe here to Washington. And in doing so I welcome a good friend, a good partner in the major efforts to meet the challenges of Haiti, which are significant because of the devastating earthquake and some of the needs to push for political reform. The government has worked hard and we have worked hard and the international community has worked hard to make a difference to the lives of the people of Haiti.

I have many Haitians who live in Massachusetts that I was proud to represent as a United States senator for many years, and so I would always hear very personal stories of the challenges in Haiti. And we have a deep interest in the United States in helping to continue down this road of both democracy and economic growth and development.

There is work to be done, and particularly, as we know, there is the challenge of completing the task of having local and legislative elections as soon as possible, being able to set the date and hold those elections to complete the task of Haiti’s transition. Unfortunately, that is being blocked now politically. I spoke with President Martelly just the other day about this, and we intend to try to work very closely to move forward. This resistance – the unwillingness to allow the people to be able to have this vote – really challenges the overall growth and development progress of the country. You need to have a fully functioning government. The president has been working very hard, the prime minister working very, very hard, to pull people together to make this happen.

So we’ll talk about that today and we have very, very high hopes that we can make progress with respect to that, because that will facilitate our ability to continue the progress and complete the task of helping the people of Haiti to have the day-to-day lives they deserve and want, and which we want for them.

So Mr. Prime Minister, welcome. Thank you.

PRIME MINISTER LAMOTHE: Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary.

I want to thank Secretary Kerry for having us today. It’s a great pleasure and honor to be here. It’s my second visit. I used to be foreign minister here – of Haiti, so I’m very, very happy to be able to discuss Haiti’s progress. We came a long way after a devastating earthquake that took away 250,000 lives, 500,000 people were wounded. The country had $14 billion in damages. And 50 percent of the population of Port-au-Prince was homeless. That’s the situation we found.

Today, 98 percent of that population has been relocated. The country is progressing very much, and that’s thanks very much to the U.S. support of Haiti’s growth, Haiti’s progress. We have a thriving industrial park in the northern part of Haiti.

Haiti has tremendous challenges ahead of it. We have the elections that we have to organize, and like the Secretary said, we’re working very hard to organize those elections as soon as possible. We have the energy security that we wanted to address, and the rule of law and security in general.

I want to take this opportunity to thank Secretary Kerry for the time, and also all the leadership that you’ve shown in the Ebola, I would say, mobilization of the world. And Haiti stands by your side in order to assist in any little way that we can in this effort that affects all of us.

Thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, sir.

QUESTION: Mr. Prime – Mr. Prime Minister --

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you very much. Appreciate it.

QUESTION: Mr. Prime Minister, so can you confirm that the elections won’t take place as scheduled on October 26th and that you will have to postpone them?

PRIME MINISTER LAMOTHE: All – everything is ready for the election to take place. We have the financing that’s in place. The electoral council is in place. We have the security plan that’s in place. We’re missing one thing, which is the electoral law, and the electoral law has to be voted by the senate. And at this moment, there is six senators who’ve been sitting on the law for the past 200 days, seven months. So we are working feverishly in a dialogue with different sectors to try to get them to vote that law in order for us to have elections as soon as possible. But if it was up to us, we would have it tomorrow.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you. Thank you all very much.