NORTH MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Haiti is building homes, creating jobs and putting kids in school three years after a catastrophic earthquake devastated the country, according to its president, who addressed South Florida's Haitian-American community Monday.
President Michel Martelly sought to encourage potential investors that Haiti was making progress in building homes for residents displaced by the catastrophic 2010 earthquake. He also said the country is increasing educational opportunities for children, updating infrastructure and creating jobs.
Haitian-Americans can't vote but they can invest in business and tourism projects in the Caribbean country.
Martelly touted achievements that he said included putting more than 1.2 million children in school, new hotels, and the Caracol industrial park, which is at the center of U.S. recovery efforts. He said accomplishments also include a rebranding effort to promote the country to foreign tourists and reducing the number of days it takes to start a business in Haiti.
He admitted, though, that change comes slowly in his country that has long been troubled by political instability, natural disasters, extreme deforestation and poverty.
"I believe that being able to put together a government that cares, just that is a huge difference," Martelly said. "When you put a million kids in school and you take a plane today to Haiti, you cannot see the results. You will see the results in 30 years, when you see a different type of Haitian, when you see Haitians that believe in their country, when you see Haitians that are well-educated and who are entrepreneurs, creative and understand the need not to cut a tree and have the basics."