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Eckerd College Will Host Forum for Haiti's Presidential Candidates

posted on 10/15/2010

Haiti Votes

The aftermath of the devastating 7.0 earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, 2010, resulted in a death toll of over 250,000 and has left hundreds of thousands homeless and starving. This November, Haitians will elect a new president whose leadership will be crucial in rebuilding this tiny Caribbean nation.

In order to provide information about each candidate to the Haitian population both here in Florida (est. 800,000-1M statewide) as well as in Haiti, Daniel Thelusmar of Heart to Heart Caribbean Ministry, Inc., has organized a Haitian Presidential Candidates Forum to be held on Saturday, October 16, from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. in Fox Hall at Eckerd College, located at 4200 54th Avenue South in St. Petersburg, Florida. Visit HaitiVotes for more information about this Tampa Bay regional effort.

All 19 approved presidential candidates have been invited to present their platforms. As of Thursday, October 15, organizers report that seven candidates have confirmed their participation in the candidates forum.

Axan Delson Abellard
Senator Jean Hector Anacacis
Dr. Josette Ann Marie Bijou
Dr. Gérard Marie Necker Blot
Eric Smarcki Charles
Génard Joseph
Garaudy Laguerre


Jean Chavannes Jeune will be here for the Sunday church event only. Jean Henry Céant, Yves Christalin, Wilson Jeudy, and Yvon Neptune originally indicated that they would attend the forum but have not confirmed at this time.

Edwin Paraison, Minister of Haitians Living Abroad, and Gaillot Dorsainvil, President of the Electoral Council, will also be in attendance.

Télévision Nationale d'Haiti and other Haitian radio and press media will cover the event. Media in the Dominican Republic have been invited to cover the forum for the Haitian community that is currently living there. In addition, several international organizations represented by the French Alello Magazine, Iglesia Pentecostal Maranatha, Inc. (IPEMA), and Heart to Heart Caribbean Ministry, Inc.'s national secretary for the Dominican Republic have requested organizers of the HaitiVotes forum to expand the broadcasting for this event to France, Canada, and the Dominican Republic.

Bios for all candidates can be found at Haiti Votes. Mr. Thelusmar, who is fluent in six languages, will serve as the moderator of the forum.

Haiti's election is scheduled for November 28, 2010. The new president will take office on February 7, 2011. Campaigning officially begins on October 16.

WMNF 88.5FM (www.wmnf.org) will manage the radio broadcast portion and will be streaming the forum live from Eckerd College. The broadcast will be on WMNF's HD3 stream at 88.5 FM, The Source. Listeners may log on to wmnf.org to listen in. WMNF will also be recording the broadcast and will be making it available on its website archives at wmnf.org. The live stream will be offered to over 160 stations nationally and to Canada, France, Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Media outlets interested in covering the event should contact Alizza Punzalan, Director of Community and Media Relations for Eckerd College, at 727-631-2447 in advance or Jim Bennett at WMNF at 813-238-8001, ext. 126.

Mr. Thelusmar, the League of Evangelical Haitian Churches of Tampa Bay, Haitian American Voters Unified of Florida, Inc., Evangel International Mission, Inc., and others are working on plans to provide the presidential candidates with multiple opportunities to meet with and speak to constituents and international news media. Organizers are also planning a church service, combining 35 Haitian-American churches across the Tampa Bay area, for Sunday, October 17. Candidates are expected to meet with many of the earthquake refugees.

The Forum was originally scheduled to take place at the University of South Florida in Tampa.

About Daniel Thelusmar
Moderator Daniel Thelusmar is the son of a Haitian pastor. As President of Heart to Heart Caribbean Ministry, Inc., Daniel leads an effort to support two ministries - one in the Tampa Bay area and one in Haiti - two orphanages, an elementary school, and a village of over 2,000 earthquake refugees.

Daniel has served as a field manager for Working America, a community affiliate of the AFL-CIO, and was the Caribbean Chair for the Tampa Bay O-Train, a grassroots organization which supported President Barack Obama during the 2008 election. Last year, Daniel started "Community Hours," a radio show at Radio Lumiere to educate the local Haitian-American community about how they can participate in democracy here in the U.S. by ensuring their participation in the voting process here. Daniel is currently pursuing a degree in Criminal Justice at Everest University.

About Eckerd College
Located in St. Petersburg, Florida, Eckerd College was founded in 1958 as a private, coeducational college of liberal arts and sciences related by covenant to the Presbyterian Church (USA). Eckerd's 1,815 residential students from 45 states and 32 countries choose among thirty-eight majors leading to a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree.

In addition, 1,000 students are enrolled in the Program for Experienced Learners, a bachelor's degree program for adult learners. Eckerd's Leadership Development Institute executive education program, Academy of Senior Professionals at Eckerd College (ASPEC), Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and Road Scholar identify the college as a national leader of innovative programs in continuing education and lifelong learning. A Phi Beta Kappa institution, Eckerd is one of only 40 schools listed in Loren Pope's Colleges That Change Lives.

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