Preval, 74, died last Friday at his home in Port au prince and will be afforded a state funeral on Saturday.
Patterson, who served as CARICOM’s Special representative to Haiti, following the devastating earthquake that killed more than 200,000 people, said that it was during his first period of Presidential tenure and his incumbency as CARICOM chairman “that the first decisive steps were taken to bring Haiti into the fold of Caribbean nations and thereby end its hemispheric isolation.
“As the Community’s Special Representative after the devastating earthquake of January 2010 and in response to his invitation to serve as his Presidential emissary we became engaged in the struggle to deliver and rebuild from the ruins of that disaster,” Patterson said.
The former Jamaican prime minister said that from those rare vantage points and in the extraordinary circumstances he saw first-hand “Preval’s deep and abiding love for his country.
“He was determined to maintain the sovereignty of the oldest black Independent country in this Western Hemisphere, to work assiduously to protect its Constitution and to promote a democratic tradition for the orderly transition of political power in a nation previously shackled by despotic rule.”
Patterson said that he last spoke with Preval in Cuba during the funeral for Fidel Castro and that “he appeared to be enjoying good health, full of energy and buoyant as ever.
“It is with shock and disbelief that I received the news of the passing” and that “history will accord him that special place deserved by the only Haitian Head of State democratically elected to have served two full terms of office and pass the baton twice to a successor duly chosen by its people.
“The Republic of Haiti and, indeed, the Caribbean owe him a tremendous debt,” he added.
Preval, who died following a stroke served as president from 1996 to 2001, and 2006 to 2011 and remains the only Haitian Head of State to have completed two terms since the fall of Jean-Claude Duvalier in 1986.
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