October 13, 2008

"An Encounter with Haiti – Notes of a Special Adviser" by Reginald Dumas

Reginald DumasPORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad Oct 2, 2008 -- Medianet Ltd. has announced the launch on October 16 of a new book entitled An Encounter with Haiti – Notes of a Special Adviser, which chronicles the experiences of Reginald Dumas former Trinidad and Tobago Ambassador, who served for six crucial months in 2004 as Special Adviser on Haiti, to then Secretary General of the United Nations Kofi Annan.

On February 19, 2004, Kofi Annan, called Reginald Dumas, someone he had known for 45 years, and asked him to be his Special Adviser to “monitor closely’ on the ground, the rapidly deteriorating situation in Haiti. Ten days later, and before Ambassador Dumas could make his first trip to Haiti, the world learnt that President Jean-Bertrand Aristide had left his country for an unknown destination and for what has since become an extended exile.

For the next six months, Special Adviser Dumas put his considerable diplomatic, investigative, and political skills to work, negotiating the minefields of Haitian politics, so often in the past prone to violent solutions, and the complexities, political and bureaucratic, of CARICOM, the Organization of American States, and the UN itself.

By August 22, when he left at the end of his contract, some semblance of order was returning to Haiti. National elections were being planned, a UN mission was in place, and a relative calm prevailed. But he was not satisfied that he had accomplished much of what he would have liked, and he determined, as he puts it, that “I couldn’t just turn my back and walk away; I still wanted to be of some use to Haiti. Most of my efforts would now however have to be exerted outside the constricting rigidities of traditional international community behaviour.”

An Encounter with Haiti – Notes of a Special Adviser is dedicated to the people of Haiti, whom Ambassador Dumas firmly considers to be always the central element of the Haitian picture. He wrote in the prologue; “It is on the side of the Haitian people, objects always of domestic callousness in tandem with foreign interference and ideological pontification that I have firmly come down.”

US Congressman Charles B. Rangel, Chairman, Committee on Ways and Means, US House of Representatives, writes in his foreword: “…this book is an extremely valuable addition to our storehouse of knowledge. I have no hesitation in recommending it not only to those concerned with Haiti in particular but also to the general public and especially, to international and regional officials and agencies.”

The occasion will be used to launch a HAITI ASSISTANCE FUND. Part proceeds from the sale of each book will be donated by Ambassador Dumas and the publishers Medianet Ltd to initiate the fund. Donations will continue to be made to the fund from local regional and international sales.

Medianet Ltd is also offering to send free digital copies of Chapter 1 of AN ENCOUNTER WITH HAITI to any one who sends a request by email to:

publisher@medianetcaribbean.com with SEND ME CHAPTER 1 in the subject line.


1 comment:

Jenny said...

One of the things I observed about Haitians is that they are a resourceful and industrious people (I do not mean to sound patronising and hope I don’t). Nevertheless, there is great necessity for the strategy of raising oneself by one’s bootstraps to be linked to raising the levels of knowledge and capitalisation specific to critical local issues that would keep the ground solid as it were. It seems to me that Haiti faces a problem of having the ground constantly shifting under the feet of a people already destabilised by all the issues Mervyn and Reginald Dumas point to. Despite the challenge of big country small country philosophy that marks relationships when we look outwards, this may be a moment that signals possibilities.

I see little role for CARICOM in Haiti unless CARICOM retracts from its present interest in meetings above actions. The treatment of the Lavelas party in the upcoming elections in Haiti is something that surely CARICOM can have some moral suasion about. Some plan by CARICOM to alleviate the effects of the recession on Haiti at least is moot. Creative ideas are required and we are a creative people.