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Congresswoman Waters’ Statement in Memory of Haitian President René Préval

March 10, 2017
Press Release

Congresswoman Waters’ Statement in Memory of Haitian President René Préval


Washington, D.C.Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Ranking Member of the Financial Services Committee, released a statement in memory of the former President of Haiti, René Préval, who died on March 3, 2017, and whose funerals services will be held in Haiti tomorrow.  Congresswoman Waters has been a leader in Congress on issues related to Haiti.  Following Haiti’s 2010 earthquake, Congresswoman Waters led congressional efforts to ensure the cancellation of Haiti’s international debts, which culminated in the passage of her bill, the Debt Relief for Earthquake Recovery in Haiti Act of 2010 (H.R. 4573), which was signed into law by President Obama on April 26, 2010.  Her statement follows:


“My deepest sympathies are extended to the people of Haiti upon the death of former President René Préval.


“President René Préval played a critical role in the history of Haiti.  Quiet and unpretentious by nature, he did not seek power for its own sake. Instead, he sought to improve the lives of the people he served.  From opening a bakery in 1988 that provided bread to poor children to leading the country through some of its darkest moments, President Préval cared deeply about the Haitian people.  He rose from humble beginnings to become the first elected president in Haiti’s history to leave office after serving a full term.  After spending the next five years in private life, he returned to public service to serve a second term, which coincided with one of the worst tragedies in modern history.


“As a longtime friend of Haiti, I have traveled to Haiti numerous times, and I have always been inspired by the spirit of the Haitian people.  However, I was never more moved than I was when I traveled to Haiti just thirteen days after the earthquake and witnessed the commitment of President René Préval and all of the Haitian people to help one another survive the disaster and rebuild their nation in the wake of seemingly insurmountable odds.  President Préval was traumatized and heartbroken by the indescribable suffering of his people, but he did not allow himself to despair. Instead, he described in detail the tremendous needs of his people for assistance and asked me to take his message back to Washington with me.  While the earthquake brought death and destruction to the people of Haiti, it did not break René Préval’s commitment to them.


“President René Préval will always be remembered as a kind, generous, and dedicated public servant.  It is my sincere hope that his friends and loved ones will be comforted by the memory of his love for them and for the Haitian people.”