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25027: Hermantin(news) Haitian mayors visit, learn (fwd)
From: leonie hermantin <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Posted on Sat, May. 07, 2005
Haitian mayors visit, learn
Forty mayors from across Haiti spent the week in South Florida, at the
invitation of Florida City's mayor, picking up tips on municipal governance.
BY JACQUELINE CHARLES
A crash course in local government: That's what 40 Haitian mayors got this
week as they toured local fire and police departments, surfed the Internet
and learned to build budgets and relationships.
The group, which was invited to South Florida by Florida City Mayor Otis
Wallace, networked with community leaders and received ''how to'' advice
aimed at helping them to be better administrators and advocates back home.
''We often whine and cry in the land of plenty about resources we don't
have,'' Wallace said. ``These men and women take what they have and do
wonderful things with it.''
About 10 top government officials, including Interior Minister Georges J.
Stephen Moise, joined the mayors.
For many of these mayors -- appointed by Haiti's interim government after
President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's ouster in 2004 -- the job has been
There are no easy solutions for administrators of towns where electricity,
roads, sanitation and drinking water are either scarce or nonexistent, and
everyone from the police to schoolteachers lack equipment to function
''I want to help my community. It's where I was born. But I've encountered a
lot of difficulty,'' said Paulin Millien, 30, who was recently appointed
mayor of Moron, a southwestern town of 50,000 residents in Haiti's
Millien said he first thought he could repair roads and government
buildings. Instead, he has a list of needs far exceeding his resources.
Despite such challenges, the mayors said they've found a new sense of
''It's good to see an effort like this being done to help us identify
problems and find ways to resolve them,'' said Wasner Souverain, 41, mayor
of the island of La Gonave, west of Port-au-Prince.
The week's summit was held in conjunction with the Florida Association of
Nonprofit Organizations' regional conference at Miami Dade College's
Homestead campus. The mayors agreed to form the Association of International
Small Cities to serve as a prototype to help other small cities in Haiti.
''This is about the betterment of all Haitians,'' said Joseph ''Billy''
Louis, executive director of Galata, a nonprofit agency in South Miami-Dade
that helped organize the $60,000 trip. ``They can go back to the city and
form their own nonprofit organizations and make a change in their own
Aldy Castor, a Weston gynecologist and member of Gov. Jeb Bush's Haiti Task
Force, agreed. He said the experience was a reality check for the mayors who
he stressed need to ``put the foundation in place for the next mayor when he
or she comes into office.''