Venezuela, Cuba, Argentina Sign Development Agreements with Haiti

Mérida, 1st June 2012 ( – Venezuela, Cuba and Argentina have signed new agreements to support Haiti’s development, including agricultural projects and building a new hospital on the Caribbean island.

One accord with Argentina and Venezuela involves boosting Haiti’s agricultural sector, which imports nearly 80% of its main food staple, rice. Another agreement commits Venezuela and Cuba to build a new hospital in the capital zone of Corail, where the prime ministers’ office sat before the January 2010 earthquake. The project will cost around US $78 million and will equip the hospital with the latest technology.

The agreements were signed on Wednesday in a meeting between the Haitian prime minister Laurent Lamothe and delegations from the other countries.

Lamothe commented that “the signing of new cooperation agreements confirms the vital importance of south-south relations”. The four countries also agreed to form a joint body to administer Venezuela’s Petrocaribe program in Haiti, which supplies the island with oil at a preferential rate. The body will administer Petrocaribe funds to construct shelters, invest in educational institutions, and provide 300 scholarships to young people from low income backgrounds.

Haiti launched a new social program last Sunday with $13 million USD generated from Petrocaribe to provide poor mothers with stipends to help cover basic living costs.

Lamothe stressed the importance of Venezuelan and Cuban assistance for the reconstruction of Haiti. He specially thanked the presence of the Cuban medical brigade over the previous thirteen years and the facilitators of the “Yes I can” Cuban literacy program.

Haiti faces huge development challenges after the earthquake in January 2010 killed over 300,000 people and left two million displaced, on an island with a population of 10 million. Currently 400,000 people still live in improvised camps.

Moreover the nation suffers from a cholera epidemic that has claimed over 7,000 lives and is expected to sharpen as the rainy season begins, reports the Pan American Health Organisation .
Along with other countries in the region such as Brazil, Argentina and Cuba, Venezuela has been a key support to Haiti in its reconstruction efforts.

This includes through the ALBA alliance and Petrocaribe, where Venezuela has been constructing power plants on the island and dedicated funds to the housing, infrastructure, agricultural, health and education sectors. Venezuela also wrote off US $400 million of Haitian debt in June 2010.