Monday, March 8, 2010

Governor General Calls Destruction of Haiti Earthquake 'Unbelievable'

Governor General Michaelle Jean (left), speaks with the congregation of the main Cathedral in Port-au-Prince Mar. 8, 2010. Jean is on a two-day official visit to Haiti.

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean on Monday called the destruction in her native country "unbelievable," but expressed optimism that the Haitian people can rebuild their quake-shattered country.

"It's as if the city has been bombarded. The magnitude of destruction is unbelievable," Jean said as she kicked off a two-day trip to Haiti.

Jean said she felt anxiety and impatience before the trip to the country where she was born, but she said she was amazed at the life in the streets of Port au Prince.

"The images that we received in Canada with the disaster were just unbearable, but already what I see is people really trying to overcome that incredible ordeal. I was amazed to see how many people were on the streets."

Upon arrival, Jean was taken by helicopter to the collapsed National Palace, where she met Haitian President Rene Preval.

Jean said she was struck by the destruction at the palace, which she visited just last year.

"We were here just a year ago, after four hurricanes had hit the country, and hope was coming back," Jean said. "We saw people so determined and ready to start again, and this happened."

The Governor General said Canada is ready to support the reconstruction plan developed by the Haitian government.

"There was a plan, there was a national strategy ready for sustainable development and to fight poverty in Haiti. And I believe that already, even though the circumstances have changed and the situation is more difficult than it was a year ago, something is there," she said.

"I believe it is feasible (to rebuild). It takes vision. Haiti's not alone. We've heard Canada say it and we've heard the international community say it, and we will support that plan."

Added Jean: "Mourning is one thing. Making sure that life triumphs over destruction is the focus."

Jean will visit the town of Leogane later Monday, then travel on Tuesday to Jacmel, the seaside town from which her mother's family hails.

© Copyright (c) Canwest News Service

Source: VancouverSun

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