Felix Magloire

While some Haitian government officials have expressed some difficulties with moving the capital city of Port-au-Prince to another location, I believe that it still should be considered. True, it will be costly and it will take long. However, these can be mitigated by constructing smaller scale buildings built to withstand hurricanes and earthquakes. The capital should possibly be relocated to Gonaives for several reasons.

#1 Gonaives was literally destroyed by mudslides during a hurricane to the extent that officials considered moving the city altogether rather than rebuilding it where it was located. The Government of Haiti could kill 2 birds with one stone. Fortify Gonaives from natural disasters and take a major step towards decentralizing the country by moving government operations there. Government itself can be considered an industry to a certain extent.

#2 Gonaives has historical significance with Haiti’s Independence in 1804.

#3 It will push the Cap-Haitian Airport to be put on the fast track for development. I don’t know the distance (Haiti’s roads can be treacherous) from Gonaives to the Cap-Haitian Airport, but I would speculate that it would be the same distance as the Port-au-Prince Airport.

As far as the embassies are concerned, that is a decision for each foreign country to make. They can keep a large consulate in Port-au-Prince (if it’s still standing and structurally sound) and have a small scale embassy in Gonaives.

I read an article in the Herald this weekend about the Government of Jamaica compiling a list of ex-patriates to be able to tap into their expertise. I believe that for Haiti it can be taken one step further. A list can be made of Haitian-Americans who not only have expertise, but are ready to move to Haiti and commit ten years of their civil servant careers to assist in developing and rebuilding Haiti. There are mid-level career civil servants in the US who have that flexibility and desire to take on that challenge. This project can be financed with grants from the International Community that are strictly monitored for accountability and transparency. Even if the capital is not moved to Gonaives, I still envision it, at the very least, as a type of Haitian Government Annex location where it cooperates with the International Community on the rebuilding and development projects. Former President Clinton is correct when he says that not only should projects that were underway, such as the expansion of the Cap-Haitian Airport, be continued, but should also be accelerated. I believe that a small corps of committed Haitian-American professionals can greatly assist the Haitian Government with these goals.