By Jean H Charles
In a country where 89% of the population endure unemployment or underemployment, more than 500,000 people, mostly young ones, turned out into the vast yard of Haiti’s Ministry of Agriculture to celebrate International Labour Day on May 1.
Indeed on Labour Day, the rest of the world (with the exception of the United States that celebrates its own on the first Monday of September) takes a day of rest to give homage to the punishment that God sanctioned man to: “You shall now eat your bread from the sweat of your labour.”Early in the day, I took public transportation to go to the Ministry of Agriculture, located on the outskirts of the city of Port au Prince, to attend the fiesta of three days that features the art, the food, the agricultural experiments and the produce of Haiti. I knew, there would be a massive traffic jam later when the whole city would take the only road leading to the event. Indeed by midday, only a helicopter could get you into the Labour Fair.President Michel Martelly, freshly minted from a week’s stay at a hospital in Miami, recuperating from pulmonary embolism, plunged himself into the affection of the crowd to urge the Haitian people to make the duty of work, a labour of love to remake Haiti the pearl of the islands when labour was total hell.The president, as well as his Minister of Agriculture, Heber Doctor, and his Minister of Social Affairs and Labour, Francois Lafaille, that sponsored the event, took the artistic decorated podium (a master work of Sisalco, a Haitian company that produces designer bags, trays and other home products made of sisal) to urge the crowd and the nation to take advantage of the new vision of the government in terms of agriculture that focuses on four different features: guaranteed food security for all; guaranteed revenue for those who work hard and play by the rules; protection of the natural resources; and contribution for bringing foreign currencies into the country.I was already into the path of that new locomotive when, last week I was invited to Cape Haitian (on the northern coast of Haiti) to a spectacular forum organized by the very articulate and ebullient Under Secretary of Agriculture for vegetal production, Mr Fresner Dorcin. For the first time in Haitian politics, a ministry is pulling all the actors and founding agencies together to share their knowledge, their constraints and their vision on agriculture in a given catchment area: the northern and northeast part of Haiti.
read more: Labour Day in Haiti