Haiti, historical and cultural center of the Caribbean

For a few years now, always reflecting our unique heroic history, the variety and richness of our historical, cultural, natural, material and immaterial heritage, Odette Roy Fombrun has been proposing her vision for Haiti :

«HAITI, HISTORICAL AND CULTURAL CENTER OF THE CARIBBEAN. »

 

The vision

It’s :

  • Our Heroic Story
  • Our heroes, the mixed race population, artists and craftspeople
  • Tangible and intangible heritage: the forts, the cuisine, the rites, the rhythms, the migrations, the buildings?
  • Our syncretisms
  • The territory with the unchanged colonial layout of our major cities and downtown Port-au-Prince .

It is our identity, what we are, what we have inherited and all that we have built.

 

« Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can. »

It is a difficult and complex challenge, achievable only if there is a real and evident willingness to undertake it by the public and private sectors.

Although currently in a sad state, our capital, Port-au-Prince, gateway to the inescapable role in the social and political life of our country, and its important Downtown, the hub of the country’s national and international trade, must immediately grab our full attention. Together, they are the preferred place to give a strong signal and launch the first essential steps towards the realization of this great national vision.

Why Port-au-Prince and the Bicentennial?

  • Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s gateway, and the Bicentennial, its historic port of arrival, must reflect who we are, what we are.
  • The Historic Downtown of Port-au-Prince, extremely affected by the 2010 earthquake, is a strategically important social and commercial area.
  • The extraordinary International Exposition of 1949, led by President Dumarsais Estimé, placed Haiti at the forefront of the great nations of the Caribbean, and presented to the world the originality of its culture, its enormous tourist potential and the dynamism of its historic capital in the aftermath of the Second World War. It was an achievement.
  • The splendid Boulevard du Bicentenaire at the time, lined with coconut palms, with the first luminous fountain in the Americas made Haiti proud and the happiness of several generations. They desperately need our attention. The way is thus very indicated to us.
  • So let’s start by securing and protecting at least part of these critical spaces in order to use them wisely.

 

Proposal

There are therefore 2 distinct but simultaneous steps to begin to transform into reality the great vision of “HAITI, HISTORICAL AND CULTURAL CENTER OF THE CARIBBEAN”:

1- The revitalization of downtown Port-au-Prince
2- Erection of the Historical and Cultural Center of Haiti

Among the major steps to raise awareness and promote the vision, we propose :

  • Strengthen and move forward with all ongoing downtown revitalization efforts
  • Enhance and secure the remaining cultural heritage of the downtown area.
  • To proceed as quickly as possible to the securing and protection of the Bicentennial zone from the traffic circle to the Customs, including the entire seaside, the mausoleum of President Estimé, the Town Hall Square and the Place de la Fontaine lumineuse, the Town Hall and, if possible, the Sistine Chapel
  • To promote the necessary steps for the implementation of the project to erect in this space a flagship structure, remarkable from everywhere, projecting our identity and which would bear the name of Historical and Cultural Center of Haiti.

The Historical and Cultural Center of Haiti at the Bicentennial

 

We offer :

  • That this structure should not be a static monument, but rather that it should be conceived as a model adaptable to local requirements, capable of being reproduced in all the major tourist attractions of the country.
  • That it be perfectly well designed to validly house a mixed private and public sector investment company with a view to profitability and sustainability.
  • That its essentially historical, cultural and touristic vocation is in perfect harmony with the development objectives of a shopping center.

 

Characteristics I

  •  A joint initiative of the private and public sectors.
  • A showcase for our history, culture, art, business and tourism.
  • Erected in the bicentenary overlooking the seafront, near the Luminous Fountain, the mausoleum of President Estimé, not far from the town hall and the Iron Market.
  • Remarkable structure of sea and land.
  • Highly secure area to receive visitors and tourists coming from land and sea (cruise ships bringing tourists directly or by shuttle to the old Columbus quay to be rebuilt and renamed “Port taino”, for example).

 

Characteristics II

  • Symbol of our glorious past and testimony of our future aspirations.
  • A center that creates various jobs and income opportunities for private companies and artisans of all kinds.
  • Inside, rooms to visit exposing the great facts of our history, our culture, our syncretisms; offering our art, our beautiful crafts of cut iron, Jacmel masks, original paintings, to the envy of visitors; offering tourist services of all kinds throughout the country.
  • Attached to the outside, a large craft market very well organized to attract visitors and invite them to acquire a share of our wealth, our art, fruit of the talent and imagination of our compatriots.
  • Offer of secure tours under the label “Haiti, Historical and Cultural Center of the Caribbean” through the old center of Port-au-Prince.

 

Actors
In order to achieve the desired objectives, it is absolutely important :

  • To sensitize the maximum number of citizens and authorities concerned with the vision of “Haiti, Historical and Cultural Center of the Caribbean”, and with the great project of the “Historical and Cultural Center of Haiti”.
  • To encourage the experts, owners and authorities concerned to get down to the task of rebuilding the historic and commercial center of Port-au-Prince as quickly as possible.
  • To mount a real awareness campaign for the protection of the spaces concerned.
  • To work to raise awareness of the dormant wealth that must generate income for all, an essential condition for the success of these major projects.

 

Participants

  • Let’s use all available resources: City Hall, public institutions, associations, cultural centers, art galleries, tour operators, media, citizens, heritage buildings…
  • Let’s involve as many actors as possible in the cause: SOS Centre-Ville, MUHC, CIAT, BRH, Ministries of Tourism, Culture, Port-au-Prince City Hall, Haiti Tourist Association, Public Security, PNH, Chambers of Commerce, artisans’ associations…

 

Actions to be carried out
Other actions will be carried out simultaneously in collaboration with different sectors and personalities according to their skills:

  • Document arguing the need to consecrate Haiti as a Historical and Cultural Center of the Caribbean.
  • Document justifying the public/private investment in the commercial center “Historical and Cultural Center of Haiti” for profit and with a touristic, historical and cultural vocation.
  • Advocacy for the official recognition of the title “Haiti, Historic and Cultural Center of the Caribbean”.
  • Steps for the recognition of this title by CARICOM countries
  • Diplomatic and legal steps (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Culture, Haiti’s representative to CARICOM, UNESCO, lawyers…)
  • Design on competition of a label that will be displayed by all partners: FORF, BRH, FOKAL, historians, artists, SOS-CV, Town Hall, CIAT, government…
  • Integration of seaside institutions

 

Steering Committee

Formation of a steering committee of 5 to 21 members whose mission will be :

  • To set up working committees and to decide on the main orientations of the projects.
  • To produce the documents necessary for the promotion of the projects
  • Participate in all efforts to promote the projects.
  • To propose and lead to the establishment of organizations responsible for project management
  • The term of office of the Steering Committee should not exceed 3 months.
  • A small initial fund will be set up for the management of the necessary secretarial/office expenses with an individual contribution of 3,500 gourdes or 50 USD.

 

The Committees

Proposal for working committees

1) Downtown Technical/Commercial Committee

2) Downtown Tourism Committee

3) Space Committee and Historical and Cultural Center Project

4) Project Promotion Committee

5) Project Financial Management Committee