First Lady Visits Haiti Without The President

Reported just this morning is an unannounced trip to Haiti for the First Lady, which was kept secret until this morning because of security concerns. It is the first time Mrs. Obama has travelled outside the United States in an official capacity without the President.

[BBC]

She is expected to spend several hours in the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince, visiting projects set up in the wake of the devastating earthquake in January.

Mrs. Obama will then fly on to Mexico for a previously announced visit due to last three days.

The trip was kept a secret for security reasons.

The BBC’s Laura Trevelyan, who is accompanying the first lady, says the visit intends to be a signal of continued support to the disaster-struck country.

President Obama has previously stated that America will be a reliable partner and will continue to help reconstruction efforts, even though US troops are leaving the area.

About 230,000 people are believed to have died in the quake. More than a million people lost their homes and many are now living in makeshift camps.

Thousands are being moved to higher ground as the forthcoming rainy season increases the risk of landslides.

The trip is a great idea for a couple of reasons. The First Lady can be more low-key than the President, and will likely get a better feel for what is actually happening in the country, and how we can best help. Also, the warm smile of a beautiful woman is bound to be more influencing than the austere stare of the leader of the free world.

The trip will also show that more than lip service was paid when the President last spoke about the help from our nation. The major news services will also cover her trip, and further remind the world that the problems are not all solved, or the needy taken care of, simply because the spotlight was taken away a few weeks ago.

If this sort of operation continues, we may again have another two-for-one, as in the case of the Clinton presidency, where the first lady is a major partner in the overall plan of governing (oops, Republicans, you did not read that).

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