More than 200 years ago, it became the world’s first black republic. Today, it is the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country. Haiti — which for two centuries has endured natural disasters, dictatorships and chronic poverty — is home to 10 million people, making it one of the most populous nations of the Caribbean.
Sharing the island of Hispaniola with the much larger Dominican Republic, Haiti is truly an exotic, unusual tourist destination. Its French-Creole heritage has given rise to an artistic and musical creativity unmatched anywhere in the Caribbean, yet the country received relatively little attention until the January 2010 earthquake that killed as many as 300,000 people and devastated Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince.
Paul Altidor, who has represented Haiti as ambassador to the United States since May 2012, will headline our next Ambassadors’ Insider Series evening with Larry Luxner, news editor of The Washington Diplomat. The Sept. 8 event is to take place at the newly opened Kimpton Glover Park Hotel in Washington’s Georgetown neighborhood. After the discussion, participants will enjoy a networking reception with food and drink — and an assortment of premium Haitian rums.
Ambassador Altidor, who appeared on the cover of our September 2012 issue, will talk about the many issues facing Haiti as it prepares for long-delayed presidential elections in October. These include political uncertainty, the continuing presence of United Nations peacekeeping troops and Haiti’s desperate need for foreign investment as it struggles to recover from the 2010 earthquake.
Before taking on his current role, Altidor — who has an extensive private-sector background — was vice-president of the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund in Washington. Following the earthquake, he led a team of professors and researchers from MIT’s Community Innovators Lab to Haiti to provide guidance on housing policy and financing. Prior to the catastrophe, he worked at the World Bank’s International Finance Corp., where he advised governments on infrastructure projects and public-private partnerships.
Altidor, a native of the Haitian city of Jérémie, earned his undergraduate degree from Boston College and an advanced degree from MIT. He also pursued graduate studies in law and economics at the University of Paris.
The Ambassadors’ Insider Series is an exclusive program hosted by The Washington Diplomat to meet and network with the city’s foreign envoys and learn about the countries they represent in an intimate setting at some of D.C.’s top venues. Our audited readership of more than 120,000 includes foreign diplomats, multilateral institutions, Capitol Hill lawmakers, State Department officials, Fortune 500 executives, academics and other points of influence in Washington.