The first months of 2010 have shown, in multiple and unexpected ways, the courage, resilience, and solidarity of the citizens of the Americas. Faced first with a devastating earthquake in Haiti on January 12, the countries and people of the region rallied around a neighbor that had suffered a terrible tragedy. The outpouring of support and feeling was as broad and spontaneous as if any other of our nations had been directly hit by the earthquake. Then, on February 27, Chile was struck with an earthquake of historic proportions just two weeks before Chilean citizens inaugurated a new President. When the Secretary met with then-President Bachelet, and then-President-elect Piñera on March 2, she spoke for our entire country when she expressed profound sorrow at the tragedy and the tremendous respect and admiration for the way the Chilean nation responded.
In my blog on March 13, I wrote about Secretary Clinton’s six country trip to the region. It was a great honor to accompany the Secretary. With each leader and citizen we met, our deep and personal engagement with our neighbors in the region was apparent. Given how much is at stake in the western hemisphere right now, I was pleased to have the opportunity to testify before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere on March 10—and share with Members of Congress my perspectives on our relationships with countries of the region and what we want to accomplish together.
I talked about efforts by the United States and the international community to build back Haiti, including the Haiti donors’ conference coming up on at the end of this month at the United Nations. This includes the ministerial-level International Donors’ Conference that the United States, in cooperation with the Haitian government, will co-host on March 31, 2010 in New York at UN headquarters. The conference “Towards a New Future for Haiti” has been in the works essentially since the hours after the earthquake hit. We all knew that building back Haiti better would require enormous and sustained support from partners around the world. Over the last eight weeks since the quake struck Port-au-Prince, international relief efforts on the ground have been incredible. In spite of this, it’s clear that we still have a long way to go to provide the Haitian people with the living conditions, economic, and educational opportunities they deserve. The March 31 conference is just one step in mobilizing the broad international support that the government and people of Haiti must have in order to realize their vision of a stronger, vibrant Haiti emerging from this tragedy.