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Former Haiti president backs PetroCaribe probe

Saturday, September 08, 2018

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PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti (CMC) — Former Haiti president Michel Martelly says he remains supportive of any effort to ensure accountability within the Venezuela-led PetroCaribe initiative even as he acknowledged that he had previously made a joke about the situation.

“I reiterate my confidence in state institutions to conduct fair and impartial investigations in order to preserve the principle of the presumption of innocence and to establish the guilt of any institutions or individuals who deserve it if is the case,” Martelly said.

PetroCaribe is an oil alliance of many Caribbean states with Venezuela to purchase oil on conditions of preferential payment. The alliance was launched on 29 June 2005 in Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela. In 2013, PetroCaribe agreed for links with the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA), to go beyond oil and promote economic cooperation.

The former president reacting to debates in the media and social networks regarding allegations that funds were 'stolen' from PetroCaribe, acknowledged that he had jokingly said that he had invested funds from the PetroCaribe in the El Rancho Hotel.

“It is no secret to anyone …that during my services, I often liked to use humour and even self-mockery, to demystify certain news and entertain my audience.

“I note the turmoil and the comments aroused by a statement that, the artist that I am, made several months ago concerning certain investments, Best Western, Marriott, NH El Rancho among others,” said Martelly, who left office in February 2016.

“It is well-known that most of these companies belong to well-known multinational and local and foreign investors and that the Haitian State or government, even less the presidential family of the 2011-2016 quinquennium, holds no interest neither shares in these companies.

“I confirm that it was humour and that these statements must remain in their context. I regret the consequences that these remarks could or could have caused,” Martelly added.

On Wednesday, President Jovenel Mose confirmed that he held talks with members of the Superior Court of Accounts and Administrative Disputes (CSC/CA) and gave a commitment to make available all the resources necessary for carrying out the audit work on the use of PetroCaribe funds.

He said that of 27 million Gourdes (One Haitian gourde =US$0.014 cents) requested by the CSC/CA for the audit work on the use of PetroCaribe funds, 10 million Gourdes have already been released.

Moise said that the balance will be disbursed from October in next year's budget.”

“My working session with the CSC/CA at the National Palace is another opportunity for me to reiterate my commitment to support the relevant institutions so that all the light is made around the PetroCarbe folder,” he added.

Haitians have taken to the streets in recent days demanding an inquiry into the use of Petro Caribe funds and in his statement, Martelly said that having enjoyed the trust of the population from 2011 to 2016, “I remain sensitive to the echo of his voice.

“That is why I would like to state emphatically and clearly that I am in favour of accountability for the use of PetroCaribe funds and all other government funds that may have had dubious uses, in order to establish the truth and prevent all false and/or unjustified accusations,” he said.

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