Florida Legislature Approved $1 Million
The Associated Press
Posted October 27 2006, 6:16 PM EDT
CORAL GABLES -- The Florida Legislature approved $1 million to help Haiti as it seeks to rebuild its economy and infrastructure, Governor Jeb Bush announced Friday.
The money will be used to help implement a series of recommendations provided last year by the governor's Haitian Advisory Group. The state will work with a local nonprofit group to channel the money toward professional and technical exchange programs, as well as educational support, business development and educational programs.
``We hope that this money will be leveraged to generate lots of volunteer support and lots of private sector support, hopefully drawing down additional support from Washington,'' Bush said during a ceremony at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables.
Bush said part of the money would likely be used to continue federally funded training in Florida of Haitian law enforcement officers in areas such as crime-scene investigations.
Carolyn Rose-Avila, head of the Florida Association for Volunteer Action in the Caribbean and the Americas, which will oversee the funds, said about $150,000 of the money would be channeled toward micro-enterprise programs through partners on the ground in Haiti.
Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. A bloody 2004 rebel uprising toppled then-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and pushed the country into chaos. President Rene Preval took power in May, pulling the Caribbean nation from the brink of collapse.
But in a recent report by the World Bank, Haiti was listed among 26 ``fragile states'' at risk of collapsing due to conflict, poverty and bad governance.
Last month, the U.S. announced $492 million in aid to the Caribbean country.
The governor's initiative began following a 2004 trip he made to Haiti, which is Florida's 28th largest trading partner with $813 million in trade during 2005.