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[Song InYeup] Haiti’s great miracle ― Hope is in sight now!

It has been 487 days since a devastating earthquake hit Haiti, an island in the center of the blue Caribbean Sea. Haiti has suffered what we call “the fivefold difficulty” ― an earthquake, shortages of daily goods, crimes, violent demonstrations and cholera. But since Feb. 4, the situation has begun to stabilize. Now people do daily life with hope, although they are still in the midst of difficulties.

It was Michel Joseph Martelly, who took his oath as president on May 14, that ignited the “flame of miracle and hope” in Haiti. Korean President Lee Myung-bak also congratulated Martelly by sending his special envoys, Yoo Ki-june and Kwon Young-jin.

When Martelly, a 50-year-old singer, started his campaign last October, he was only one of the unnoticed minor candidates. The first survey showed 1.5 percent support for him, the sixth among 19 candidates, while Manigat got 31.5 percent and Celestin 7 percent. But at the first presidential election on Nov. 28, Martelly jumped to the third by gaining 21.4 percent, following Manigat at 31.4 percent and Celestin 21.8 percent. But only Manigat and Celestin, the first and second runners, were qualified for the final election slated for Jan. 16.

It was right after the announcement of the result of the first presidential election that furious voters began to take to the streets shouting “Celestin Out!” accusing him of campaigning illegally using power and money.

All the major cities in Haiti were covered by black smoke from burning tires. And all ministries, schools, banks and markets were closed. Even Port-au-Prince Airport, the only international airport in Haiti, was closed. That’s why the airplane from Korea, loaded with cholera medicines, could not land there and had to go back to Miami.

Nevertheless, the ruling party and Celestin, a son-in-law of the president, seemed to hold their ground. And Haiti seemed to have no hope. The United Nations, donor countries and NGOs could not continue their activities. Demonstrations had been held every day and the Jan. 16 final presidential election was postponed to an unfixed date. Is Haiti helpless?

It was on Feb. 4 that the ruling party and Celestin surrendered to the power of the people and the censure of international society and resigned from his candidacy. Then, demonstrations ended swiftly and streets resumed order. Peace and order continued until the final presidential election day of March 20, with small and big political rallies held in peace and joy. They looked like festivals. The incredibly large group of voters assembled voluntarily to listen to Manigat and Martelly with no trouble and the two candidates enraptured them. It was indeed a political festival and was carried in order, peace and joy better than in any advanced country.

Finally, the revolution or miracle of election took place. Martelly, who took 1.5 percent in the first survey in October and 21.4 percent in the first election of Nov. 28, got 67.7 percent in the final election on March 28, while Manigat secured only 31.6 percent. Martelly was elected president with absolute majority.

Martelly’s administration sets sail today loaded with many difficult things to do such as recovery from the terrible earthquake, fight against cholera and poverty and construction of social and economic infrastructure. It is a new departure from Father and Baby Duvalier’s dictatorship for 30 years and repeated coup d’etats during the past 20 years. But Martelly is filled with energy and a strong determination to sacrifice himself for his country and people. And almost all Haitians have strong faith in him. Haiti is strongly united around Martelly. It is indeed a miracle. And it is a beginning of social security and national reconstruction. The U.N. and international society including Korea promised to cooperate and provide full support to the new government of Haiti. Martelly has a strong will to lead his country using Korea, which has accomplished national development only in one generation, as his model.

Korea, a full member of the DAC of the OECD, has also promised to give its maximum support to Haiti that has begun to get over the earthquake’s damage with all its efforts. Of course, Korea should implement its $10 million donation that it committed at Donors’ Meeting for Haiti held in New York on March 31, 2010. We are living in the 21st century, an era of globalization. We cannot be considered as a civilized people if we look on Haiti’s calamity as if a fire on the other side of the river. 

By Song InYeup

Song InYeup is chief representative of the Haiti Office of The Korea International Cooperation Agency. ― Ed.