One positive element in all of the meetings I have had so far is I have heard from all of the players across the divide a willingness to dialogue; that I think is positive, Honoré said in an interview with the Miami Herald. It was her first with the international press since her arrival.
Educated in Guadeloupe and France, Honoré is part of a disappearing generation of well-trained career Caribbean diplomats. And she approaches her politics like her fashion: simple but chic, observant but understated. A wife and mother of a 20-year-old son, she is known as a formidable interlocutor with the ability to shut down anyone with her well-researched positions or with a simple question.
Last week, when the immigration director in Ouanaminthe said his job was to facilitate the movement of Haitians across the contentious Haiti-Dominican Republic border, Honoré offered up a quizzical look.
Only Haitians? she asked before he quickly corrected his statement to also include other travelers.
Shes a student of Haitian history with a deep knowledge of her brief; a savvy negotiator with the confidence of Washington insiders, said Lionel Delatour, a Haitian political analyst who has known Honoré for years.
Honorés relationship with Haiti dates back 40 years. As a college student in Guadeloupe, she visited for 2 1/2 weeks.
I remember mais moulin, dous, and akasan from Petit Goâve, she said with a smile, citing the popular provincial Haitian dishes.
Another fond recollection is former Haitian President Leslie Manigat. He was her professor at the University of the West Indies Institute of International Relations in Trinidad.
In the early 2000s, Haiti would once more call. This time, she worked as a key behind-the-scenes player, serving five years as chief of staff for Organization of American States Assistant Secretary General Luigi Einaudi. It was the OAS failure to stave off Haitis 2004 political crisis that eventually forced the ouster of then-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and led to the U.N.s stay.
Bans appointment of Honoré surprised many, including Martelly, who had initially opposed the decision but later changed his mind. Sources say her nomination came from within the U.N.
But some wonder if a low-key female diplomat can be politically shrewd in a country like Haiti, where politicians often espouse a paternalistic attitude toward women and individuals of Caribbean descent, and where flaming barricades erupted this week as Martelly vacationed in South Florida.
It would be a mistake if Haitian political actors were to be dismissive of her leadership, Delatour said.
Honoré says she hopes 34 years of diplomatic experience speak for themselves. Still, she doesnt dismiss the significance of her appointment after a string of mostly Latin men.
I dont know if I could say what I will be doing will be different from my predecessors, Honoré said. I may perhaps bring to the post, firstly the perspective of a woman. I also bring to the post the perspective of a national of a Caribbean Community member state... These things may manifest themselves in a slightly different way.
Last week, during a seven-hour tour of Haitis northeast her first major planned public outing she received a warm reception in sharp contrast to anti-U.N. protests in the capital.