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Haitian Sovereignty Takes Another Blow with the Demolition of the National Palace Being Done by a Foreigner
Another tragedy is unfolding upon the Haitian people, but this time it's not a national disaster bearing down on them; it's leadership that fails to acknowledge that the true rebuilding of a nation comes from within, rather than outside forces.
The National Palace is the most iconic and beloved symbols of Haiti and Haitian pride, having stood proud for almost 100 years until the devastating earthquake in January 2010 left it in disrepair. While no plans are currently in place for what will rise in its place, the National Palace offers so much more to the Haitian people than simply a building that is crumbling.
President Martelly is failing the nation by outsourcing the demolition of the National Palace. Actor Sean Penn's charity group will be overseeing the completion of the demolition and though he assures everyone that the government will not be charged for this work, money that was raised by his organization was meant for the haitian people, not for his chosen construction or demolition crews.
It is important to remember that former President Rene Preval turned down an offer of assistance from France, Haiti former colonial master, due to potential national backlash. It is also vital to recall that Haitian architect George Baussan designed the National Palace through a national competition. Everything about this great icon of Haitian pride, spirit, and resolve was borne of the Haitian people and now it's final destruction and whatever design may be erected in its place is being outsourced to foreign nationals.
If Sean Penn or President Martelly truly cared for the Haitian people or their extensive pride, the money could have been donated to the government to hire highly qualified and internationally recognized Haitian architects to restore or rebuild the National Palace. Instead, President Martelly has chosen to cater to the celebrity of foreigners.
To highlight the travesty that this decision is, former Tourism Minister Patrick Delatour, who is among a handful of Haitian architects who have worked on either restorations or construction projects at the palace that includes a presidential apartment, after the earthquake of 2010, said Penn is just the latest foreigner being tapped by the Martelly administration to lead Haiti's reconstruction to the dismay of the country's architects, engineers and contractors.
Bringing in foreign crews, regardless of the numbers of Haitian who may actually do the work, if any, undermines the sovereignty of a nation. It dictates to the world that the Haitian people are not capable of taking care of themselves or rebuilding when disaster strikes. However, this is farthest from the truth.
While there are no plans for what may be rebuilt in place of the National Palace, these grounds will be tainted because of President Martelly's insistence on believing and privileging foreigners, instead of counting on Haitian talents. We hope he won't make another 'faux pas' by choo-sing foreign architects when the time comes to rebuild the National Palace. Yes, we can do it!
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