CANCÚN, Mexico – Chilean President Michelle Bachelet visited Haiti on Feb. 20, a day before she headed to Mexico to attend the Rio Group Summit, according to the Chinese news agency Xinhua. Bachelet met with Haitian President René Préval in the nation’s capital of Port-au-Prince before visiting with women’s groups. She concluded her trip by visiting Aquin, a town on the Caribbean coast about 90 kilometers (55 miles) from Port-au-Prince where Chile is conducting an early learning program for Haitian children in conjunction with the host nation’s education ministry. The trip is among the last for Bachelet, the most popular leader in the country’s history, as her term ends on March 11.
Haitian President Préval: Earthquake may have killed as many as 300,000
Haitian President René Préval said the earthquake that rocked the country could have killed as many as 300,000 once all of the corpses are removed from the rubble left by collapsed buildings, according to The Associated Press. “You have seen the pictures, you know the numbers, more than 200,000 bodies picked up in the streets, counting those that are still underneath the rubble, perhaps we could arrive at 300,000 deaths,” he said as quoted by the AP.
President Préval offers thanks to Mexico
Haitian President René Préval embraced a Mexican reporter and kissed her on the cheek as a symbol of his thanks for Mexico’s help in donating aid and hosting two summits this week that are expected to generate funds for the relief effort in his impoverished nation. “I want to shake the hand of all Mexicans,” Préval said to the Dutch press agency DPR as he hugged reporter Angelica Pool. Préval arrived in the Mexican resort city of Cancún earlier this week to attend a meeting with members of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) before visiting with leaders during the Rio Group Summit, which began on Feb. 22 and concludes today. The countries’ efforts toward helping Haiti’s post-earthquake construction played a major role at both summits, according to DPR.
Japan to donate US$2 million to help Haiti’s vaccination efforts
The Japanese government will donate $183 million yen (US$2 million) to Haiti so the country can bolster its vaccination efforts to protect its residents from diseases that are liable to spread rapidly in unsanitary areas, according to the Chinese news agency Xinhua. The Japanese foreign ministry said the aid, which will be given to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), is part of the country’s US$70 million aid package that will help in Haiti’s overall rebuilding process. Japan’s US$2 million donation is expected to fund a program that vaccinates pregnant women and babies against polio in addition to the purchasing of equipment to refrigerate medicine, according to Xinhua.