Rene Preval and relationship with Hugo Chavez, Venezuela

Former President René Préval once captioned the energy crisis in Haiti, stating that, in Port-au-Prince, they had an average two hours of electricity daily. In the rural areas, this electricity shortage is even worse. It is due to the lack of fuel to run generators, a lack which Ugo Chavez and the Venezuelan Government had offered to resolve for years.


When newly independent Haiti gave refuge and arms to the South American Liberator Simón Bolívar in 1815, they were unwittingly investing in the country's future, as it was this act which spurred Chavez into the courtship of Haiti and the 'pragmatic' Préval.

Hugo Chavez had first made the offer for Haiti to join PetroCaribe to former Prime Minister Gérard Latortue, but the country's long-standing relationship with Venezuela's rival the United States stood in the way. Other reasons given were the country's lack of a state-owned distribution center and the competition building one would create with the international distribution centers in Haiti. However, just after his inauguration, Préval signed off on a PetroCaribe deal that included the gift of a distribution center capable of producing 10,000 barrels daily and four power-plants to increase Haiti's power production. It was a $1 billion fund that Préval said he would receive 'as one brother receives help from another'. The oil deal allows Haiti to purchase its oil from Venezuela, paying only 60% initially with the remaining payable over 25 years at 1% interest.

Undoubtedly a good deal for Haiti, the decision was met by resistance from the US. Préval soon began a campaign of ignorance familiar to most Haitians as 'marronage'. His correspondences with US officials showing a certain distrust of Chavez and his country that was belied by his consistent, favorable dealings with the Venezuelan leader.

US Ambassador to Haiti, Janet Sanderson, while not pleased with and certainly not fooled by the act, noted that Préval faced pressure to make immediate changes in the economy. The various avenues of support offered by Chavez, with no strings attached were considerable reasons to risk angering the US.

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