Brazil's Rousseff: Visas Offered To Haiti

Published February 2, 2012 12:09AM (EST)

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Brazil is offering 6,000 visas to Haitians over a five-year period as one of several efforts that look to help the troubled Caribbean nation get on its feet, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said Wednesday.

She was visiting to showcase Brazilian efforts helping Haiti recover from the devastating earthquake two years ago. In one project, a commission formed by Brazil and Cuba is helping train 2,000 Haitian health workers and building three hospitals, she said.

Rousseff said her country would issue 1,200 visas annually to Haitians during the next five years while also seeking to crack down on smuggling operations.

"We want to stand on the side of Haiti so that Haitians can have a better life," Rousseff told reporters on the grounds of the National Palace, which is still a pile of white crumbled cement since the 2010 earthquake.

Brazil has been a major funder of reconstruction efforts after the 2010 quake.

One of the projects Rousseff highlighted is the renovation of a hydroelectric dam in the heart of Haiti for which Brazil gave $2.5 million to carry out several studies. Repairs to the 54-megawatt Peligre facility are expected to begin this year and are expected to restore the power plant to full capacity in 2015.

The United Nations says Brazil has pledged $164 million for quake recovery projects and has spent about three-quarters of that.

All together, donors have pledged $4.5 billion to help rebuild Haiti, but only about half of that has been released, the U.N. Office of the Special Envoy to Haiti says.

Haitian President Michel Martelly said he hopes Rousseff will help him lobby other countries to meet their pledges.

"We ask the president of Brazil to help retrieve the money that was promised to Haiti," Martelly said.

Rousseff said Brazil will soon begin a gradual withdrawal of troops it has in the United Nations peacekeeping force, reducing its contingent to 1,900 soldiers. Brazil currently provides almost a quarter of the 11,000 peacekeepers, more than other country, for the U.N. mission that arrived in 2004 in Haiti in the aftermath of a violent rebellion.

By Salon Staff

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