Originally: Argentina offers to buy Haitian goods on preferential terms

Port-au-Prince, 14 January: Argentina made an offer to Haiti today to move forward in the field of bilateral cooperation by buying, “on preferential terms”, the products it needs, products to be processed in the Caribbean nation.

The Argentine government also made available to Haitian authorities a study on demand and consumption across the world so that the officials can analyse how to adapt the country’s exportable output to the needs of the international market.

The offer was made at midday today to Haitian Prime Minister Gerard Latortue by Foreign Minister Rafael Bielsa and Dario Alessandro, assistant secretary for Latin American policies, at a lunch they shared.

Argentina thus shifted the work it has been doing diplomatically within the framework of the UN Security Council into the realm of concrete action, according to sources consulted in the Foreign Ministry.

On Wednesday, January 12, the UN Security Council, over which Argentina is presiding this month, voted at a special session called by Bielsa to ratify international support for Haiti’s process of institutionalization.

“The idea of buying whatever Haiti produces which can be used in Argentina duty-free is cooperation in the strictest sense, because it is obvious that Haiti’s levels of production cannot affect Argentina,” Alessandro told Telam [this agency].

The assistant secretary added that “the offer to make available to the Haitian government Argentina’s ‘know-how’ in terms of the behaviour and needs of the international markets, along with hands-on assistance from Argentine experts, is aimed at helping Haiti’s economic development,” Ambassador-designate to Cuba Alessandro added.

The concern for supporting Haiti’s institutionalization is in keeping with the previously uncertain intention of calling elections by the end of 2005. This topic was among the issues discussed at a meeting that Bielsa held in the morning with provisional Haitian President Boniface Alexandre, as a start to the activities scheduled for the two-day visit.

Bielsa, who is making the visit in his capacity as Argentine foreign minister and not representing the United Nations, was greeted mid-morning by Alexandre at the Presidential Palace, a French-style building surrounded by tight security which seems to be the one bright spot in the midst of a landscape dominated by images of poverty.

In addition to Alessandro, the Argentine foreign minister’s entourage included his chief of staff, Anibal Gutierrez, and a guest, sociologist Graciela Rommer, as well as other prominent Argentine diplomatic officials in Haiti. During the meeting, the Argentine foreign minister focused on ascertaining whether or not the conditions were right for holding elections by the end of the year. The answer was hopeful but cautious.

Just as Juan Gabriel Valdez, UN representative in Haiti, had informed the Security Council, Alexandre laid out a sequence of steps which need to be taken in order to achieve the recovery of Haitian institutions. Those steps must begin with the “disarmament” of opposition groups demanding the return of the deposed President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Sociologist and adviser Graciela Rommer, who made the trip at the Foreign Ministry’s request, agreed on this point. Rommer has specialized in Haitian affairs and completed assessments for the Democratic Party in the United States.

Speaking later at the lunch given in Bielsa’s honour, Prime Minister Latortue continued his explanation that the process of institutionalization must necessarily be accompanied by a political dialogue “with no exclusions”, as he put it.