Felipe Luciano/WBAI interviews Ezili Dantò of HLLN on Haiti, three years after the earthquake. Broadcast on Jan 11, 2012
It is an exercise in futility to go to the perpetrators and executioners of
human rights crimes in Haiti in hopes of getting justice for our people.–Ezili Dantò of HLLN, Haiti: Jan 1, 2013: Another Independence Day Under Occupation
For whose entertainment shall we sing our agony? To the destroyers, aspiring to extinguish us, reveling in their own fantastic success? The last imbecile to dream such dreams is dead, killed by the saviors of his dreams.” –Ezili Dantò of HLLN,Haiti: Jan 1, 2013: Another Independence Day Under Occupation
HLLN open letter regarding “Haiti Among the Safest Destinations in the Americas”
Dear Mr. Jean Pierre
Re: “Haiti Among the Safest Destinations in the Americas”
In article titled “Haiti Among the Safest Destinations in the Americas, you wrote that:
“In 2012 according to the UNODC, Haiti’s violent death rate of 6.9 out of every hundred thousand Haitians is among the lowest rates in the Americas, and the same as Long Beach, California. This is mainly attributable to a strong focus on the strengthening and modernization of its security forces.”
“Though Haiti violence towards foreigners is rare, foreign excruciating and harrowing violence towards Haiti is practically and historically the norm”
You write that “While the rest of the region experiences difficulty in
containing violent crime rates, Haiti shows positive trends largely as a result of the strengthening of the Haitian National Police, the incorporation of human resources and new technologies into its anti-crime strategies, and, the establishment of a welcoming political and economic climate.”
As a pro-democracy, anti-US occupation Haiti advocacy organization we take the time to point out that Haiti has one of the lowest rates of violence in the Americas because the Haiti masses have always been a naturally peaceful people who endure senseless oppression and state sponsored violence.
The comparably lower rate of violence in Haiti is NOT because of the US occupation behind UN front, nor because of the disenfranchising political and economic climate for the masses that’s welcoming for the foreigner, nor the US/Euro training of the coup d’etat security forces in Haiti. On the contrary, there was even less violence in Haiti according to international sources BEFORE the 2004 bicentennial occupation when Haiti only had about 3000 police in its National Police Force.
Civil Alert interview (177:03min): Ezili Dantò of the Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network (HLLN) speak about the Haitian Revolution and its hidden history, January 3, 2013, Civil Alert/BlogTalkRadio.
UN Capitalizing on its imported cholera to privatize clean water in poverty-stricken Haiti
In a world of abundance, poverty is man-made. Documentary – The End of Poverty. The South feeds the Euro-North since colonization.
The Destruction of the Haitian Economy before the Earthquake –Full Documentary
The disenfranchising of Haiti’s peoples since 2004 and the US occupation behind the UN front, the impunity of the paramilitary coup d’etat death squads, the repeal of basic rights under the revised constitution along with the organize Ninja and foreign troop kidnapping sprees, increased the instability, crime and violence of a naturally peaceful Haiti.
Since the February 29, 2004 regime change by US special forces with the complicity of Canada and French military forces and its attendant further local militarization of Haiti, the violence rate in Haiti, though still the lowest in the Western Hemisphere fluctuates towards increased organized violence, more foreign pollution, more foreign environmental devastation, more Clorox hunger, and the UN-imported cholera deaths, foreigner and charity workers’ molesting Haiti women and children has significantly increased.
Though the UNODC doesn’t note the pedophilia increases, the poisoning/ pollution deaths in Haiti since the occupation, it does show, as you mention, the murder rate today is 6.9 per 100,000. But we encourage you to note that back in 2007, the UNODC reported the violence rate in Haiti at 5.6 homicide per 100,000. (See HLLN coverage from 2007 at: Pointing Guns at Starving Haitians: Violent Haiti is a myth and Comparing crime, poverty and violence in the rest of the Hemisphere to Haiti.)
Nonetheless, HLLN does wish to take this moment to congratulate the Haitian police for its many positive efforts to protect the disenfranchized public, including its work that helped take down Douglas Perlitz, the American charity worker molesting Haiti boys at an orphanage in Cap Haitian, the national police taking down the largest kidnapping ring – part of the Haiti oligarch – kidnapping ring in the country and paving the way for a stop to the racists penchant that criminalizes the poor in Haiti for political purposes.
We wish to also congratulate and encourage the Haiti official and his police team who designed and used the advanced software that helped to track the Brandt kidnapping ring. We are confident such initiatives will help Haiti free itself from the international complicity that is founded on the lie that Haitians are not competent to govern themselves without foreign advisers.
Finally, though the facts don’t bare out your assertions as to the reasons why Haiti is one of the safest destinations in the Americas, we agree with you sir that “Haiti is one of the safest destinations; not just in the Caribbean, but throughout all the Americas…Haitian citizens are generally more concerned with economic issues such as the cost of living, than with crime. The notice issued by the U.S. State Department warning US citizens about the persistent danger of violent crime does not take into account .. kidnapping and murder of U.S. citizens is extremely rare in.. Haiti.”
But, for the suffering masses, HLLN also herein notes that though Haiti violence towards foreigners is rare, foreign excruciating and harrowing violence towards Haiti is practically and historically the norm.
|Colonial blueprint -Deceive, create deep social chasms to divide and conquer
“We must constantly provoke the division of the barefoot masses against the Oligarchy (or, those living better) and push the Oligarchs to tear each other apart. This is the only way for us to continue to dominate this Black country that gained its independence in combat, which is a bad example for the 28 million Blacks in America.” — Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Declaration on Haiti (Translated from the French below.)
“Il faut constamment soulever les va-nu-pieds contre les gens Ã chaussures et mettre les gens Ã chaussures en état de s’entre-déchirer les uns les autres, c’est la seule faÃ§on pour nous d’avoir une prédominance continue sur ce pays de nègres qui a conquis son indépendance par les armes. Ce qui est un mauvais exemple pour les 28 millions de noirs d’Amérique.” Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Président des Etats-Unis, Déclaration sur Haiti
– “It is organized violence on top which creates individual violence at the
Today, the organized violence of the US, UN, Canada, France and their foreign MINUSTAH troops and of the money laundering international NGOs in Haiti is not rare. Since the earthquake, $7.5 billion in so-called aid to Haiti, which is actually aid to the NGOs and the US-Euro elites, has basically left no meaningful footprint, exacerbating Haiti misery, grief and sustainable development. Yet, the US and Canada rush to put out special advisories against travel to Haiti when Haiti has less violence than the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Brazil, Bahamas and parts of the US. Canada announces “freezing aid” as if its money transfers to its NGOs
was actually aid to Haiti. These combined actions by Canada and the US, just days before the 3rd anniversary of the earthquake seems to be nothing less than attempts to deflect from the failure of their intervention in Haiti and a racist attempt to turn public scrutiny on the “violent, corrupt and incompetent Haitians unable to absorb the beautiful Westerners’ aid and godly benevolence.” These sorts of international violence and stark racism, including the kidnapping and trafficking of our defenseless children by foreigners, the cholera deaths, and open pit mining in an already environmentally devastated Haiti, all evidences the genocidal rampage of the anti-democratic, US/Canada/France/OAS/UN policy orchestrators for Haiti.
President, Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network (HLLN)
January 6, 2013
For Haiti: Bouquet of Tears & Light
Foreign violence against Haiti is the norm. Haiti struggles on, paying an untenable price, lighting a path for justice with its soul intact.
Watch: Al Jazeera video: Interview on UN repackaging its fictitious, non-existent cholera aid to Haiti
“..Haitians and those still blind or in denial and who are participating in the International crime and travesty going on in Haiti right now are urged to recall the Ottawa Initiative .
What is the Ottawa Initiative? Why is there a UN, Chapter 7 peace enforcement mission in Haiti for 8 years? A country not at war, without a peace agreement to enforce and with less violence than most countries in the Western Hemisphere? (See the UN’s own Global Study on Homicide at page 93).
What is the Ottawa Initiative? In 2002, high level Western officials secretly got together in Ottawa, Canada and made plans for Haiti because Haiti with popular democracy was a “threat to North American countries. “The expressed and reported concern was that “Haiti might have, by some estimates, a population of 20 million by 2019”¦It is a time bomb, the high level Canadian diplomat said, ”which must be defused immediately.”” (The Ottawa Initiative; and Transcending the 2002 Ottawa Initiative.) Go to – Haiti: A time bomb which must be defused immediately
Ottawa, Canada took the Initiative to murder Haiti democracy in 2004, force back dictatorship behind sham elections that would serve Canada and US open pit mining plans . Today, days before the 3rd anniversary of the earthquake, with its international crimes revealed, its false benevolence and aid money laundering starkly exposed, Canada attempts to distract from its brutal crimes by freezing “aid?” to the Haiti puppet government it set up to serve its US-Euro corporatocracy greed while disenfranchizing the population. (Ezili Dantò – Haiti violence towards foreigners is rare, foreign violence against Haiti is practically and historically the norm. See, Haiti: A time bomb which must be defused immediately , Corruption uninterrupted and the The Plantation Called Haiti: Feudal Pillage Masking as Humanitarian Aid.)
“We are the Haitians – from the womb to the tomb our lives is about struggle ” n ap lite – against Western oppression and re-colonization. Nou La! ” We are here! Still. After two centuries of struggle. No force has taken us down, none shall.” –Ezili’s HLLN
Ezili Dantò Vodun Remembrance
To Honor Quake Victims
“Over 300,000 Haitians gone in 33 seconds at 4:53 on the 12th of January. Pour libation. Beat the drums, beat the drums. Louder please. Louder for those alive and living under sheets, tarps, tents and old cardboard. Suffering still. Endlessly before January 12th. Unimaginably after. Our blood and suffering waters the Haitian soil, 517-years still…Never felt so much pain…Si kriye te leve lanmò, manman nou tout t ap la – If crying could raise the dead, every mother would still be alive...Jete dlo, jete dlo, jete dlo. Into the Ancestors’ hands we place all our souls… Legba ouvri baryè a pou nou. Pitit Ginen, the next part is left to us. Gade byen wa wè. Nou la. Zanset yo e Timoun yo vini. Our love is stronger and survives every energy transformation. We Are The Haitians. Nou fè yon sèl kò.” – Ezili Dantò of HLLN, February 2010
“Haiti has been a reflection of Euro/US inhumanity towards the poor and African since their “New World” and updated feudal social order began. It’s still an international crime scene hidden behind false benevolence, false brotherhood, false charity, false aid. Those billed as the “do-gooders” are about initiating or exacerbating catastrophe then capitalizing on catastrophe. That’s the profitable, parasitic formula. The privately-owned relief groups, the UN and US/Euro military, they’re mostly protecting the Montana Hotel and the like, tourism, resource extraction monopolies and other profitable industries, not the human rights of the majority to shelter, medicine, food, water, justice, inclusion, dignity and living-wage jobs. Duplicity and hypocrisy is hard to absorb, especially as the media coverage mostly trumpets, ad nausea, the private world relief organizations”, large NGOs and UN/US policymakers’ “good intentions” in Haiti in comparison, that is, to Haiti’s always corrupt and presumably evil-intended governments. Don’t take the path of least resistance. Mare vent nou byen rèd – face the evil, the malice and bottomless avarice directly my people. No matter how hard it is to absorb, how disemboweling, how marginalizing, how unpopular, how science-fiction it is to believe. Believe it. The paradoxical is yours to use. Ginen poze. No one can give you what’s yours naturally. Only a Haiti-led force shall mobilize the people-to-people international tsunami torrents to lift up the ugly colonial truth and sweep away Haiti’s containment-in-poverty, dependency, debt and domination.” –Ezili Dantò Vodun Remembrance To Honor Quake Victims and The Plantation Called Haiti: Feudal Pillage Masking as Humanitarian Aid.
Judge Arterton, a US District Court judge that sentenced US charity worker Douglas Perlitz for molesting homeless Haiti boys nightly for the 10-years he was in Haiti running an orphanage to “help” put it this way: “If one digs a well to supply water to those who have never had water, and then that person poisons the water, was building that well a good deed?”
“An analysis of all that money — at least $7.5 billion disbursed so far…chief accomplishment is to have finally cleared away most of the rubble…no permanent footprint… only a portion went to earthquake reconstruction..much of the so-called recovery aid was devoted to costly current programs, like highway building, H.I.V. prevention, and to projects far outside the disaster zone, like an industrial park in the north and a teaching hospital in the central plateau. Meanwhile, just a sliver of the total disbursement — $215 million — has been allocated to the most obvious and pressing need: safe, permanent housing… Bill Clinton …”build back better” mantra … came to be undercut by the enormousness of the task, the weakness and volatility of the Haitian government, the continuation of aid business as usual and the limited effectiveness of the now-defunct recovery commission that had Mr. Clinton as co-chairman. ” ”Rebuilding in Haiti Lags After Billions in Post-Quake Aid http://nyti.ms/U5Zco1
“If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” — Lily Watson
MORE BACKGROUND INFORMATION
”Most everything went wrong”: Three years after an earthquake devastated Haiti, the reconstruction has barely begun
How the International Community Failed Haiti, Jan 7, 2013
Hundreds of Thousands Homeless in Haiti Three Years After the Earthquake Despite Billions in Aid Funneled to NGOs, Contractors and Internationals
Haitians won’t play Baseball in the time of cholera
“Stop NGO pillage of Haiti” – protest, London
Read HLLN legal position on filing a UN cholera lawsuit — do a find for “HLLN legal position”
Haiti Still waiting for recovery http://econ.st/VzuSDv
Haiti by the Numbers, Three Years Later
Emergency workers treated thousands of patients in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, but three years later much work remains. (Photo: MSF)
Number of people killed in the earthquake in 2010: over 217,300
Number of people killed by cholera epidemic caused by U.N. troops since October 19, 2010: over 7,912 [i]
Number of cholera cases worldwide in 2010 and 2011: 906,632
Percent of worldwide cholera cases that were in Haiti in those years: 57
Total number of cholera cases in Haiti from 2010-2012: 635,980 [ii]
Days Since Cholera Was Introduced in Haiti Without an Apology From the U.N.: 813
Percent of the population that lacks access to “improved” drinking water: 42
Funding needed for U.N./CDC/Haitian government 10-year cholera eradication plan: $2.2 billion
Percent of $2.2 billion which the U.N. pledged to provide: 1
Percent of $2.2 billion that the U.N. has spent on MINUSTAH[iii] since the earthquake: 87
Amount disbursed by bilateral and multilateral donors to Haiti from 2010-2012: $6.43 billion
Percent that went through the Haitian government: 9
Amount the Haitian government has received in budget support over this time: $302.69 million
Amount the American Red Cross raised for Haiti: $486 million
Amount of budget support to the Haitian government in 2009, the year before the earthquake: $93.60 million
Amount of budget support to the Haitian government in 2011, the year after the earthquake: $67.93 million
Number of dollars, out of every $100 spent in humanitarian relief, that went to the Haitian government: 1
Value of all contracts awarded by USAID since the earthquake: $485.5 million [iv]
Percent of contracts that has gone to local Haitian firms: 1.2[v]
Percent of contracts that has gone to firms inside the beltway (DC, Maryland, Virginia): 67.6[vi]
Number of people displaced from their homes by the earthquake: 1.5 million
Number of people still in displaced persons camps today: 358,000
Percent that have left camps due to relocation programs by the Haitian government and international agencies: 25
Share of camp residents facing a constant threat of forced eviction: 1 in 5
Number of transitional shelters built by aid agencies since the earthquake: 110,964
Percent of transitional shelters that went to camp residents: 23
Number of new houses constructed since the earthquake: 5,911
Number of houses marked “red”, meaning they were in need of demolition: 100,178
Number of houses marked “yellow”, meaning they were in need of repairs to make safe enough to live in: 146,004
Estimated number of people living in houses marked either “yellow” or “red”: 1 million
Number of houses that have actually been repaired: 18,725
Percent growth of the Haitian economy (GDP) in 2012, predicted by the IMF in April 2011: 8.8
Actual percent growth of the Haitian economy (GDP) in 2012: 2.5
U.N. Office of Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) funding appeal for 2013: $144 million
Percent of last year’s OCHA appeal that was actually funded: 40
Funding committed by the U.S. Government for the Caracol industrial park: $124 million
Share of U.S. funds earmarked for “reconstruction” that this represents: 1/4th
Cost of building 750 houses near the Caracol park for workers: $20 million
Cost of building 86-100 houses for U.S. Embassy staff: $85 – 100 million
Share of garment factories in Haiti found to be out of compliance with minimum wage requirements: 21 of 22
Number of garment factories that have lost preferential tariff benefits to the U.S. because of labor violations: 0
[i] According to the Haitian Ministry of Health, based on reported cases. The actual number is probably much higher.
[ii] According to the Haitian Ministry of Health, based on reported cases. The actual number is probably much higher.
[iii] The U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti, comprised mostly of military troops and police officers. U.N. troops were responsible for causing the cholera epidemic, according to scientific studies.
[iv] Authors” calculations based on information in Federal Procurement Data System.
Dan Beeton is International Communications Director at the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C.
Jake Johnston is an international researcher at the Center for Economic and Policy Research. He writes on Haiti related issues for the blog Relief and Reconstruction Watch.
Haiti Among the Safest Destinations in the Americas
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Jan. 4, 2013 /PRNewswire/ –Haiti is one of the safest destinations; not just in the Caribbean, but throughout all the Americas. This is the general finding of recent studies on crime in the region which show that Haiti has the lowest rate of violent deaths in comparison to previous years.
In 2012 according to the UNODC, Haiti’s violent death rate of 6.9 out of every hundred thousand Haitians is among the lowest rates in the Americas, and the same as Long Beach, California. This is mainly attributable to a strong focus on the strengthening and modernization of its security forces.
Among other high impact measures, the government of Haiti kept its pledge to increase the size of its National Police by 50%, allowing them to fight crime more effectively. Besides increasing the size of its force, the Haitian National Police (HNP) is counting on innovative technologies to track down criminals. For example, they were able to dismantle the largest kidnapping ring in the country with the help of advanced software designed by a Haitian official trained at Westpoint —a program so effective, it has sparked the interest of the HNP’s foreign advisers.
A report by Vanderbilt University’s Latin American public opinion project noted the Haitian National Police’s positive image compared to security institutions throughout Latin America, which are seen as weak, corrupt or inefficient. A recent poll conducted locally for an international agency notes that Haitian citizens are generally more concerned with economic issues such as the cost of living, than with crime.
And, according to the most recent report from the Haitian National Police, in 2012 the murders of American citizens dropped by two thirds – from 6 to 2 – the lowest rate since 2006. The same report notes that kidnappings of U.S. citizens also dropped in 2012 from11 to 9.
The notice issued by the U.S. State Department warning US citizens about the persistent danger of violent crime does not take into account these significant improvements in Haiti. “The kidnapping and murder of U.S. citizens is extremely rare in our country; we work diligently and closely with the United States, Canada and the international community to fight the proliferation of criminal activities,” said Laurent Lamothe , the Prime Minister of Haiti.
The State Department warning comes as Haiti is experiencing a dramatic increase in the number of foreign visitors. Pointing to statistics compiled by her office, Minister of Tourism Stephanie Villedrouin notes that “in 2011, we welcomed 46% more US tourists than in 2010.”
While the rest of the region experiences difficulty in containing violent crime rates, Haiti shows positive trends largely as a result of the strengthening of the Haitian National Police, the incorporation of human resources and new technologies into its anti-crime strategies, and, the establishment of a welcoming political and economic climate.
SOURCE Primature Haiti
PR Newswire (http://s.tt/1xZcq)
Haiti Prime Minister: Country is safe
By Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald, Mon, Jan. 07, 2013
Haiti’s Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe is pushing back at suggestions that his nation is unsafe.”We would like to reassure the tourists, the diaspora, people who want to visit….Haiti is one of the safest destinations that they could visit,” Lamothe said Monday at a press conference in Port-au-Prince, quoting U.N. crime statistics.
The latest figures from U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime show that in 2010 Haiti had a recorded murder rate of 6.9 for every 100,000 persons. The rate is close to one-quarter that of Jamaica and less than half of the neighboring Dominican Republic. Still, U.N. officials note that statistics are always subject to “under-reporting and under-recording.”
Lamothe’s declaration comes after the United States issued a strongly-worded travel warning and Canada modified its advisory. Last week, Canada further irked Haitian officials after new International Co-operation Minister Julian Fantino was quoted in a Montreal newspaper as saying that future aid had been put “on ice” because Ottawa wasn”t satisfied with the pace of progress.
“We are not getting the results that Canadians have a right to expect,” said Fantino, who visited Haiti in November where he met with President Michel Martelly.
Lamothe did not address Fantino’s comments, but Haitian officials have said that all Canadian aid goes to non-governmental organizations, not the Haitian government. The warnings come as the country prepares to mark the third anniversary of the Jan. 12, 2012 earthquake.
A spokesperson for the Canadian International Development Agency, which Fantino heads, said previously committed projects remain unchanged. Still, Canada continues to be concerned “with the slow progress of development in Haiti due to its weak governing institutions and corruption.”
“Canada is reviewing long-term engagement strategy with Haiti to maximize Canadian taxpayer dollars to improve the results achieved and better address the needs and priorities of the Haitian people,” the spokesperson said.
Fantino’s statements have raised concerns about whether other donors would also follow suit.
“The U.S. government is NOT going to stop aid to Haiti and has no intention to slow down assistance,” an official with the U.S. Agency for International Development said in an email. The United States is the largest of Haiti’s donors.
But just days after Christmas, the U.S. government made its own headlines when it warned against travel to Haiti.
A U.S. State Department official told The Miami Herald that protecting U.S. citizens overseas is one of the U.S. government’s highest priorities and that travel warnings “do not reflect the nature of our bilateral relations with a country.”
The travel advisory warned that travelers arriving from the U.S. “were attacked and robbed shortly after departing the airport,” and at least two U.S. citizens were shot and killed in robbery and kidnapping incidents in 2012.
“U.S. citizens have been victims of violent crime, including murder and kidnapping, predominantly in the Port-au-Prince area. No one is safe from kidnapping, regardless of occupation, nationality, race, gender, or age.”
On Jan. 2, Canada updated its Haiti travel advisory, saying Canadians “should exercise a high degree of caution due to high crime rates,” especially in certain slum neighborhoods of Port-au-Prince. However, a spokeswoman for Canada’s Foreign Affairs and International Trade Office said that “Canada has not revised its travel report to any significant degree.”
Haiti observers accuse the U.S. and Canada of sending mixed messages. In October, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, visited the country to inaugurate the Caracol Industrial Park that is touted as evidence of the international community’s commitment to rebuilding Haiti.
U.S. Ambassador Pamela White also has publicly lauded Haiti’s progress.
“Both Clintons went to Caracol and hailed the thing as the ”New Haiti,” ” said Robert Fatton, a Haiti expert and professor of political science at the University of Virginia. “The secretary of state says, ”Go to Haiti,” and they present it to us as the ”Great breakthrough” that will change the country and then two months after, you have a warning that you shouldn”t go to Haiti? If you tell tourists they shouldn”t go, why would businessmen go to Haiti?”
“I don’t understand what is the policy of the international community vis-a-vis Haiti,” said Fatton. “I don’t think they know what to do with the country. They are kind of reckless with Haiti.”
Albert Ramdin, assistant secretary general for the Organization of American States, said “generally when we look at the whole hemisphere, the security situation in Haiti is far less than in other countries.
“We have to be careful that by taking certain action we are not becoming counterproductive to what we want to achieve,”” he said. “Haiti needs tourists, Haiti needs investors and anything that can limit or become a deterrent is going to be a negative.”
Ramdin said members of the international community also need to reevaluate their own efforts to help Haiti, which also must do its part.
“I have found a lack of willingness on the part of the international community to coordinate better in Haiti because everybody wants to plant their flags. They want to be recognized,” Ramdin said. “Haiti’s government, despite its goodwill, has been distracted by domestic issues and also by financial disaster.”
Haitian officials say U.S. travel advisory unwarranted
By Susana Ferreira, Source: Reuters
PORT-AU-PRINCE | Mon Jan 7, 2013 9:34pm EST
(Reuters) – A recent advisory by the Obama administration warning that Americans were victims of murder and kidnappings in Haiti could unfairly hurt efforts to get the earthquake-crippled nation back on its feet, Haiti’s government officials said on Monday.
“Haiti is one of the safest destinations, not only in the Caribbean, but in all of Latin America,” Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe said in a press conference, flanked by several other cabinet members.
The State Department advisory issued on December 28 said: “U.S. citizens have been victims of violent crime, including murder and kidnapping, predominantly in the Port-au-Prince area. No one is safe from kidnapping, regardless of occupation, nationality, race, gender or age.”
This stern warning came at a time when violent crime for the year, especially murder and kidnapping, had in fact begun to decline, Haitian officials said.
The most violent month in Haiti last year was July, when 136 murders were reported by the Haitian National Police. That number sharply declined in the following months. The highest number of kidnappings for 2012 came in October, with 21 reported cases, but it fell to only 9 cases in December.
The U.S. State Department travel advisory undermined Haiti’s attempts to rebuild its tourism industry and lure foreign investment in the wake of the January 2010 earthquake that decimated the capital city, Lamothe complained.
“With the meager resources that the state has, we’re investing in tourism,” he said, suggesting that Haiti had been unfairly singled out by the Obama administration. “Other countries have problems, too,” he said.
Though it has long endured a reputation as a dangerous, lawless place, Haiti is in fact safer than its neighbor, the Dominican Republic, in terms of homicide. Haiti’s murder rate in 2011 of 6.9 per 100,000 residents was dwarfed by that of neighboring Dominican Republic, which had a rate of 24.9 for the same period. Jamaica had a murder rate of 40.9 for 2011.
Arnaldo Arbesu, a spokesperson for the U.S. Embassy in Haiti, said that the State Department’s travel warning was not meant to discourage visitors and was part of a periodic series of updates.
“We do want people to come, but it’s the Embassy’s job to tell people to take precautions,” said Arbesu.
In a statement issued last week, the U.S. Embassy noted that crime rates had fallen over the course of the year, and that “the government is on the right track and serious about addressing these issues,” he noted.
Haiti does have the highest number of kidnappings in the region. Some 162 cases of kidnapping were reported in 2012, three fewer than the previous year, according to Haiti’s police.
This past December, which usually sees a heightened number of abduction cases, only nine kidnappings were reported. When kidnapping was at its peak in 2005, more than 240 cases were reported that December alone.
Members of the Haitian diaspora, including those with American citizenship, have been targeted in the past by kidnappers. At least eight foreign nationals were briefly taken in a series of abductions in mid-2012, but no further abductions of foreign nationals have been reported since then.
Canada’s ambassador to Haiti, Henri-Paul Normandin, dismissed rumors on Monday that his embassy had upped their warning to travelers as well.
“We haven’t substantially changed our advisory in several months,” Normandin said on a leading Haitian radio station.
(Editing by David Adams and Lisa Shumaker)
”Most everything went wrong”: Three years after an earthquake devastated Haiti, the reconstruction has barelybegun
New York Times, National Post Wire Services | Dec 28, 2012 11:19 PM ET | Last Updated: Dec 29, 2012, Source: National Post Services
Thony Belizaire / AFP / Getty Images Nearly three years after the earthquake, which killed more than 200,000 people and left more than 1 million homeless, almost 360,000 people are still living in tents in Haiti.
On Jan. 10, 2010, Haiti was hit by a devastating earthquake. Lofty ambitions followed the disaster, when the world aspired not only to repair the country, but to remake it. Despite billions of dollars spent — and billions more allocated but unspent — rebuilding has barely begun and 357,785 people still languish in 496 tent camps. “When you look at things, you say, ”Hell, almost three years later, where is the reconstruction?” ” said Michèle Pierre-Louis, a former prime minister. “If you ask what went right and what went wrong, the answer is, ”Most everything went wrong.” There needs to be some accountability for all that money.” The New York Times” Deborah Sontag examines Haiti’s many problems.
DISBURSED SO FAR
At least $7.5-billion in aid has been disbursed. More than half has gone to relief aid, which saves lives and alleviates misery, but carries high costs and has no permanent effect — tents shred; emergency food and water are consumed; short-term jobs expire; transitional shelters, clinics and schools are not built to last. Only a portion went to earthquake reconstruction strictly defined. Instead, much of the recovery aid was spent on costly programs, like new highways and HIV prevention, and projects far from the disaster zone, like an industrial park in the north and a teaching hospital in the central plateau. Meanwhile, just a sliver of the total disbursement — $215-million — has been allocated to the most obvious and pressing need: safe, permanent housing. “Housing is difficult and messy, and donors have shied away from it,” said Josef Leitmann, manager of the Haiti Reconstruction Fund (HRF).
DISBURSED, BUT NOT SPENT
Disbursed does not necessarily meant spent. Sometimes, the money has simply been shifted from one bank account to another as projects have bogged down. That is the case for nearly half the money for housing. The U.S., for instance, long ago disbursed $65-million to the HRF for the largest housing project planned for Port-au-Prince. The fund, which issued a January 2011 news release promising houses for 50,000 people, transferred the money to the World Bank, which is executing the project. And there almost all of it still sits, with contracts just signed. The U.S. still has more than $1-billion allocated for Haiti sitting in the Treasury, and the global Red Cross movement has more than $500-million. Spain has disbursed $100-million to Haiti’s water authority for infrastructure desperately needed during the continuing cholera epidemic, but only $15-million has been spent so far. Millions have been allocated to build and renovate 21 schools, but only one has been completed.
Almost all contracts have been awarded to foreign agencies, nonprofit groups and private contractors who, in turn, subcontract. Each layer adds 7% to 10% in administrative costs, says a paper by the Center for Global Development. “All the money that went to pay the salaries of foreigners and to rent expensive apartments and cars for foreigners while the situation of the country was degrading — there was something revolting about it,” Ms. Pierre Louis said. In a sentiment many Haitians share, Reginald Boulos, who runs a car dealership in the capital, said foreigners in Haiti “do everything at a cost five times higher.” Oxfam spent $96-million over two years, and devoted a third to management and logistics. Doctors Without Borders spent 58% of its $135-million in 2010 on staff and transportation.
More than two years ago, Hillary Clinton, the U.S. Secretary of State, and Bernard Kouchner, the then-French foreign minister, signed an agreement to reconstruct Haiti’s largest medical centre in the capital. The shattered General Hospital, with some temporary renovations keeping it functional, still awaits its $70-million overhaul. Meanwhile, Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) is spearheading a multi-year school rebuilding program being carried out by a Haitian public institution. The bank was hoping up to 21 new schools would open this fall. But a bank inspection last spring detected serious design flaws and construction errors. A fuller audit found the schools, despite being built after the earthquake, did not comply with anti-seismic or anti-hurricane standards. How much beyond the $15.4-million cost it will take to make them safe has yet to be determined, said Pablo Bachelet, a bank spokesman.
FOREIGNERS TAKE OVER
In the months after the earthquake, foreigners, arriving by the planeload, took over. They did not mean to; nobody in the humanitarian world wanted to sharpen Haiti’s dependency on foreign help. But Haiti’s government was as shattered as its people, and old patterns of interaction are hard to break. Co-ordinating the disaster response, foreign humanitarians met on the isolated, gated United Nations logistics base and divided into clusters dealing with issues like shelter and health. Something was missing, though: “In the initial confusion and loss of life after the earthquake, the clusters effectively excluded their Haitian counterparts,” said Nigel Fisher, the UN’s humanitarian co-ordinator. “Little by little, we brought them in.” Still, many locals never shook off the feeling they were an afterthought and their institutions and businesses were being bypassed and undermined. Many of the best-educated Haitians were lured away from government and private-sector jobs by higher salaries offered by foreigners. “We called it the second earthquake,” said Jean-Yves Jason, mayor of Port-au-Prince at the time.
THE OLD IDEALS
Idealistic discussions were not just about building back better. Former president René Préval wanted to use the initial exodus to the countryside to decongest Port-au-Prince permanently. Decentralization became the second mantra, guiding early commitments to spend significant reconstruction money outside the disaster zone. “There were all sorts of fantasies about shutting down the mess that is Port-au-Prince before people started to understand that there is a huge amount of capital built up in the city and, chaotic as it is, you don’t throw it out,” said Mr. Leitmann. The largest new settlement under construction is a $48-million Haitian government initiative on a barren, isolated site 16 kilometres east of Port-au-Prince in Morne Ã Cabri. Ms. Pierre-Louis says the houses look like “little tombs in the desert.” Critics also questioned the location of the U.S.-subsidized settlement in rural Caracol, far from the disaster, as well as the high cost of its one-bedroom homes. They are being built by a Minnesota company on a site prepared by a Maryland firm for $31,400 a house. A small one-family house in Port-au-Prince can be built for $6,000. Although the Caracol houses were supposed to be occupied by December, only 70 of 750 had been finished by November because of bad weather and logistical problems.
A NEW PRAGMATISM
New president Michel Martelly won international help to close six highly visible tent camps, repair 16 neighbourhoods and shut down the Champ de Mars settlement in downtown Port-au-Prince. Some Haitians felt he was trying to sweep the homelessness problem from view without resolving it — the neighbourhood repairs have lagged the camp closings . Others expressed relief he was taking action because a temporary solution was better than none at all. From the start, grand ambition had got in the way of tackling what was doable. “Early on, it seemed fairly clear that the only viable approach was to rebuild existing neighbourhoods,” said Priscilla Phelps, a U.S. consultant who advised the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC) on housing. “But it took six to eight months to get the government used to that, and another four to six months to make the donors comfortable. Nobody wanted to think reconstruction might be a giant slum-upgrading project. They wanted little pastel houses and kids with ribbons in their hair to put on the cover of their annual report.” Mr. Boulos said, “I told the head of the American Red Cross, in front of Bill Clinton, ”Let’s put the entire money in housing construction. Let’s repair the houses.” But they had all kinds of reasons why not.”
BILL CLINTON STEPS IN
In April 2010, Mr. Clinton was named co-president of the IHRC. Two months later, at a luxury hotel in the hills above Port-au-Prince, the commission had its first meeting. It would hold only six more, though, before the Haitian Parliament declined to renew its mandate and it faded into history, its website decommissioned and its public records erased. “As a tool for Bill Clinton, the commission was good; it helped him attract attention to Haiti,” said Mr. Boulos, a commission member. “As a tool to effectively coordinate assistance and manage the reconstruction, it was a failure.” Alexandre Abrantes, the World Bank’s special envoy to Haiti, disagreed: “Everybody badmouths it, but I miss it. It created a level of co-ordination, with everybody around the same table, which you find in few countries. I think people had unreasonable expectations that it would be an implementing agency.” But Ms. Phelps said, “It was like in a play — the facade of a reconstruction project. We never took a pro-active role in deciding what the country needed to get back on its feet and then asking the donors to finance those priorities instead of doing their own thing.”
A COSTLY EXPOSITION
Initially, Mr. Clinton and Haitian leaders thought the private sector would play a larger role in rebuilding Haiti’s devastated housing. One relic of those aspirations is the abandoned site of a 2011 exposition in Zoranje, where scores of colourful prototype homes now sit empty, some padlocked, others plundered and used as toilets. Dreamed up at a meeting at Mr. Clinton’s home in Chappaqua, N.Y., the expo cost millions in public and private money. By the time the exposition took place, the thinking about housing had changed and most contracts were going to be awarded for urban fix-it work instead. Next to the expo site is the only large new housing project completed. With $8.3-million in financing, mostly from IADB, most of its 400 small houses remained unoccupied for half a year, except in some cases by squatters, because authorities could not figure out how to connect the complex to water.
Mr. Fisher, the UN humanitarian co-ordinator, said current projections are 200,000 Haitians will still be living in camps a year from now, on the fourth anniversary of the earthquake.
Rebuilding in Haiti Lags After Billions in Post-Quake Aid
By DEBORAH SONTAG
New York Times, December 23, 2012
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — A few days after the Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake, Reginald Boulos opened the gates of his destroyed car dealership to some 14,000 displaced people who settled on the expansive property. Seven months later, eager to rebuild his business, he paid the families $400 each to leave Camp Boulos and return to their devastated neighborhoods.
At the time, Dr. Boulos, a physician and business magnate, was much maligned for what was portrayed as bribing the homeless to participate in their own eviction. But eventually, desperate to rid public plazas of squalid camps, the Haitian government and the international authorities adopted his approach themselves: “return cash grants” have become the primary resettlement tool.
This represents a marked deflation of the lofty ambitions that followed the disaster, when the world aspired not only to repair Haiti but to remake it completely. The new pragmatism signals an acknowledgment that despite billions of dollars spent — and billions more allocated for Haiti but unspent — rebuilding has barely begun and 357,785 Haitians still languish in 496 tent camps.
“When you look at things, you say, ”Hell, almost three years later, where is the reconstruction?”” said Michèle Pierre-Louis, a former prime minister of Haiti. “If you ask what went right and what went wrong, the answer is, most everything went wrong. There needs to be some accountability for all that money.”
An analysis of all that money — at least $7.5 billion disbursed so far — helps explain why such a seeming bounty is not more palpable here in the eviscerated capital city, where the world’s chief accomplishment is to have finally cleared away most of the rubble.
More than half of the money has gone to relief aid, which saves lives and alleviates misery but carries high costs and leaves no permanent footprint — tents shred; emergency food and water gets consumed; short-term jobs expire; transitional shelters, clinics and schools are not built to last.
Of the rest, only a portion went to earthquake reconstruction strictly defined. Instead, much of the so-called recovery aid was devoted to costly current programs, like highway building and H.I.V. prevention, and to new projects far outside the disaster zone, like an industrial park in the north and a teaching hospital in the central plateau.
Meanwhile, just a sliver of the total disbursement — $215 million — has been allocated to the most obvious and pressing need: safe, permanent housing. By comparison, an estimated minimum of $1.2 billion has been eaten up by short-term solutions — the tent camps, temporary shelters and cash grants that pay a year’s rent.
“Housing is difficult and messy, and donors have shied away from it,” said Josef Leitmann, manager of the Haiti Reconstruction Fund.
Benefactors and Dysfunction
Beyond the numbers, the sluggish reconstruction has been the latest dispiriting chapter in the chronically dysfunctional relationship between Haiti and its benefactors.
After the earthquake, with good will and money pouring into Haiti, international officials were determined to use the disaster as a catalyst for transforming not only the intractably poor country but the world’s ineffectual strategies for helping it.
Bill Clinton, the United Nations special envoy for Haiti, invoked the “build back better” mantra he had imported from his similar role in South Asia after the tsunami. And Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton cautioned donors to stop working around the government and instead work with it, and to stop financing “a scattered array of well-meaning projects” rather than making “deeper, long-term investments.”
But an examination by The New York Times shows that such post-disaster idealism came to be undercut by the enormousness of the task, the weakness and volatility of the Haitian government, the continuation of aid business as usual and the limited effectiveness of the now-defunct recovery commission that had Mr. Clinton as co-chairman.
With no detailed financial plan ordering reconstruction priorities, donors invested most heavily in the sectors that they had favored before the earthquake — transportation, health, education, water and sanitation — and half their financing for those areas went to projects begun before 2010.
“One area where the reconstruction money didn”t go is into actual reconstruction,” said Jessica Faieta, senior country director of the United Nations Development Program in Haiti from 2010 through this fall.
Moreover, while at least $7.5 billion in official aid and private contributions have indeed been disbursed — as calculated by Mr. Clinton’s United Nations office and by The Times — disbursed does not necessarily meant spent. Sometimes, it simply means the money has been shifted from one bank account to another as projects have gotten bogged down.
That is the case for nearly half the money for housing.
The United States, for instance, long ago disbursed $65 million to the Haiti Reconstruction Fund for the largest housing project planned for this devastated city. The fund, which issued a January 2011 news release promising houses for 50,000 people, then transferred the money to the World Bank, which is executing the project. And there almost all of it still sits, with contracts just signed.
“Building takes time; it’s destruction that’s rapid,” said President Michel Martelly at a recent end-of-construction ceremony for the new teaching hospital. But building is only half the battle; the gleaming white structure, erected by the nonprofit Partners in Health in the provincial city of Mirebalais, has not yet secured its first-year operating budget of $12.5 million to $13 million.
In contrast, here in the disaster zone, where the devastated National Palace has only just been demolished and destroyed federal buildings have yet to be replaced, the country’s largest medical center remains in a strikingly dilapidated state. More than two years ago, Mrs. Clinton and Bernard Kouchner, then the French foreign minister, signed an agreement to reconstruct it, but the shattered General Hospital, with some temporary renovations keeping it functional, still awaits its $70 million overhaul. Like that hospital, many recovery projects have lingered on the drawing board or gotten delayed by land and ideological disputes, logistical and contracting problems, staffing shortages and even weather. The United States still has more than $1 billion allocated for Haiti sitting in the Treasury, and the global Red Cross movement has more than $500 million in its coffers.
“It’s not a problem of the availability of money but of the capacity to spend it,” said Rafael Ruipérez Palmero, a Spanish development official in Haiti.
Spain has disbursed $100 million to Haiti’s water authority for infrastructure desperately needed during the continuing cholera epidemic, but the authority has only spent $15 million of it thus far. It has disbursed millions to build and renovate 21 schools but only one has been completed.
In the minority of cases where donors let the Haitian government take the lead, the volume and complexity of new projects has strained the resources of the agencies that they are working to strengthen. This sometimes causes frustrating problems.
The Inter-American Development Bank, for instance, is spearheading a multiyear school rebuilding program that a Haitian public institution is executing. The bank was hoping that as many as 21 new schools, which are being built by Haitian firms, would open this fall.
But a bank inspection last spring detected serious design flaws and construction errors. A fuller audit then found that the schools, despite being bankrolled after the earthquake, did not comply with anti-seismic or anti-hurricane standards.
How much beyond the $15.4 million cost it will take to make them safe has yet to be determined, said Pablo Bachelet, a bank spokesman. But construction has been halted.
In the mountain town of Furcy, meanwhile, the children study in a couple of plywood structures without plumbing or electricity planted in the midst of one of the construction sites. Surrounded by half-built cinder-block walls, jutting rebar and piles of stone and sand, some 480 students cram into 10 makeshift classrooms illuminated only by the natural light that seeps through the gap between the partial walls and the tin roofs.
Then, no strangers to life’s setbacks, they trudge miles home over muddy, treacherous mountain roads as darkness descends.
Foreigners Take Over
In the months after the earthquake, foreigners, arriving by the planeload, took over. They did not mean to; nobody in the humanitarian world wanted to sharpen Haiti’s dependency on foreign assistance. But Haiti’s government was as shattered as its people, and old patterns of interaction are hard to break.
Coordinating the disaster response, foreign humanitarians met on the isolated, gated United Nations logistics base and divided into clusters dealing with issues like shelter and health. Something was missing, though: “In the initial confusion and loss of life after the earthquake, the clusters effectively excluded their Haitian counterparts,” Nigel Fisher, humanitarian coordinator for the United Nations, said. “Little by little, we brought them in.”
Still, many Haitians never shook the feeling that they were an afterthought and that their institutions and businesses were being bypassed and undermined. Many of the best-educated Haitians were lured away from government and private-sector jobs by the far higher salaries offered by foreigners.
“We called it the second earthquake,” said Jean-Yves Jason, mayor of Port-au-Prince at the time.
In retrospect, the numbers tell the story: Donors provided $2.2 billion of humanitarian aid in response to the earthquake. The United States Department of Defense got nearly a fifth of that aid to carry out its relief operation, which involved 22,000 troops. The Haitian government got less than 1 percent.
More of the recovery aid — 15 percent — has been channeled through the Haitian government, and the United States ambassador to Haiti, Pamela A. White, says that a shift in approach has led international donors to align “our investments with Haiti’s priorities in a truly country-led manner.”
But thus far almost all contracts have been awarded to foreign agencies, nonprofit groups and private contractors who, in turn, subcontract to others, with each layer in the process adding 7 to 10 percent in administrative costs, as noted in a paper published by the Center for Global Development.
“All the money that went to pay the salaries of foreigners and to rent expensive apartments and cars for foreigners while the situation of the country was degrading — there was something revolting about it,” Ms. Pierre Louis said.
In a sentiment that many Haitians share, Dr. Boulos said that foreigners in Haiti “do everything at a cost five times higher.”
Dr. Boulos said he spent $780,000 to close Camp Boulos and 6 percent went to administrative costs — essentially the salary of a pastor who oversaw the resettlement. Following in his footsteps more than a year later, international groups have done things more carefully, inspecting apartments before handing out rental subsidies and conducting follow-up visits. But they are ringing up operational costs of about 35 percent.
It is difficult to ascertain precisely what the hundreds of nongovernment groups in Haiti spent on their response to the earthquake — at least $1.5 billion, probably much more — and how they spent it.
Among the more visible and transparent groups, Oxfam, its name emblazoned on thousands of latrines, provided water and sanitation to the camps and Doctors Without Borders ran field hospitals, mobile clinics and cholera treatment centers.
The services they provided were vital, but, as both groups make clear in their public reporting, they were costly, too. Oxfam spent $96 million over two years and devoted a third to management and logistics. Doctors Without Borders spent 58 percent of its $135 million in 2010 on staff and transportation costs.
Not all costly foreign initiatives were equally valuable — or appreciated.
One American taxpayer-financed program, scrutinized by the Agency for International Development’s inspector general, was intended to provide short-term jobs for Haitians and to remove significant rubble. But the program, and in particular the work carried out by two Beltway-based firms, was less than successful on both fronts, the inspector general said: It generated only a third of the jobs anticipated and it appeared to demonstrate that using manual labor to clear debris was so inefficient as to slow the rebuilding effort.
One of the firms, Chemonics International, which was awarded $150 million in post-earthquake contracts, built a $1.9 million temporary home for the Haitian Parliament. The American ambassador presented it as a gift to Haitian democracy, but many legislators were more irked than thankful because the building was delivered devoid of interior walls and furnishings, as The Global Post reported, and it took almost half a year to scrounge together the money to finish it.
Occasionally toward the end of that first year after the earthquake, the Haitian government succeeded in pushing back against internationally imposed agendas it did not like.
The American Red Cross had pledged to spend $200 million of the nearly $500 million raised for Haiti by the first anniversary of the disaster. That presented a real challenge for an organization with limited experience in the country. So it operated primarily as a financier, issuing grants to other organizations with greater capacity here.
But a linchpin of its own programming was a plan to dispense $50 million in cash, no strings attached, to 400,000 household heads in the camps.
Other humanitarian leaders considered the idea of a broad, unconditional cash distribution misguided. But it was not until the Haitian government formalized its opposition in a letter — “It would unfortunately encourage a massive exodus from the provinces, thus increasing the number of people living in the camps and making conditions even worse” — that the Red Cross dropped the plan.
Dr. Boulos said he proposed an alternative. “I told the head of the American Red Cross, in front of Bill Clinton, ”Let’s put the entire money in housing construction. Let’s repair the houses.” But they had all kinds of reasons why not.” Shortly after the earthquake, international advisers proposed different ways that Haiti could manage its reconstruction, including a Haitian-owned recovery agency embedded in the government. But a United States proposal to establish a stand-alone commission jointly led by the Haitian prime minister and “a distinguished senior international figure engaged in the recovery effort” won out.
Bill Clinton Steps In
In April 2010, Mr. Clinton was named co-president of the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission, referred to as the I.H.R.C. Two months later, at a luxury hotel in the hills above Port-au-Prince, the commission held its first meeting. It would hold only six more, though, before the Haitian Parliament declined to renew its mandate and it faded into history, its Web site decommissioned and its public records erased with it.
“As a tool for Bill Clinton, the commission was good; it helped him attract attention to Haiti,” said Dr. Boulos, a commission member. “As a tool to effectively coordinate assistance and manage the reconstruction, it was a failure.”
Alexandre V. Abrantes, the World Bank’s special envoy to Haiti, disagreed. “Everybody badmouths it, but I miss it,” he said. “It created a level of coordination, with everybody around the same table, which you find in few countries. I think people had unreasonable expectations that it would be an implementing agency.”
Given that so much time and money was invested in creating it, people did, in fact, expect that the commission would take charge of the reconstruction process and deliver tangible results. But by the end many believed it had been little more than an exercise in assembling and then dismantling what one United Nations official called a pseudo-institution. “It was like in a play — the facade of a reconstruction project,” said Priscilla Phelps, an American consultant who served as the commission’s housing expert.
“We never took a proactive role in deciding what the country needed to get back on its feet and then asking the donors to finance those priorities instead of doing their own thing,” she said. “The way reconstruction money got spent was totally chaotic, and the I.H.R.C. was emblematic of that.”
From the start, the commission faced two major challenges. First, President René Préval did not really support it, seeing it as a usurpation of power, several former commission members said. Second, it had no money of its own to hand out — although the separate Haiti Reconstruction Fund, a pot containing 14 percent of the reconstruction dollars, could not make grants without its approval.
The commission’s secretariat worked out of a giant white inflatable tent on the grounds of the old United States Embassy compound, crisply air-conditioned and lined with banks of desktop computers. For a long while, the spacious tent was almost eerily empty because the commission, with a budget of $8.79 million its first year, got off to a slow start.
The commission did not engage an executive director until five months into its 18-month existence. The director, Gabriel Verret, moved haltingly to hire other key employees. The vacuum, meanwhile, was filled by William J. Clinton Foundation staff members and volunteer consultants from McKinsey & Company and PricewaterhouseCoopers.
As pro bono consultants to the commission, PricewaterhouseCoopers designed a performance and anticorruption office, and the firm subsequently won a $2.4 million contract to run it over the objections of France’s board member, who called it “a pure conflict of interest which damages the integrity of the office.”
Their first — and last — monitoring report was the only real record of the commission’s work. It summarized the 75 projects valued at over $3 billion that had been approved. The numbers themselves are not very meaningful because they included projects without any or enough money — a $1 billion “funding gap” existed, an international official said.
Still, the report indicated just how broadly recovery was being defined. At least $1.4 billion represented big-ticket, multiyear projects that were not directly related to the earthquake, among them improving the education system, developing agriculture in central Haiti and building roads all over the country
Katherine Gilbert, aid policy adviser in Mr. Clinton’s United Nations office, said, “The argument for those activities being recovery is that the whole country was affected economically and every initiative is in a sense helping the country rebuild.”
But, she added, “Another definition of recovery would be assisting those affected by the earthquake.” Although the commission’s bylaws called for it to “conduct strategic planning, establish investment priorities and sequence implementation of plans and projects,” its mode of operation was to respond, project by project, to those who sought the commission’s approval.
The large board consisted of foreign diplomats and representatives of the Haitian government and society. Early on, the Haitian members felt excluded when they learned about Mr. Verret’s appointment from the media. Their frustration deepened, culminating in a confrontation with Mr. Clinton and Jean-Max Bellerive, the Haitian prime minister, at their December 2010 meeting.
An account was pieced together from the meeting’s minutes and interviews with participants.
When Mr. Clinton was delayed in arriving at the Santo Domingo Hilton, where the meeting was taking place because of post-electoral violence in Haiti, a dozen Haitian board members crowded into a hotel room to prepare a written statement.
Rising to read it at the meeting, Suze Percy Fillipini, an elegant former diplomat, described how the Haitian members felt like “bit players” and “tokens” who were called on to “rubber stamp” a hodgepodge of projects that “collectively do not respond to the urgency of the situation or provide the foundation for the sustainable rebuilding of Haiti.”
Attending by Skype, Mr. Bellerive appeared livid and said the board members were merely “individuals,” which, in a Haitian context, meant they were nobodies, according to several members. Ms. Fillipini, her eyes flashing with tears, defended herself and the other appointees. Another member, Jean-Marie Bourjolly, a Haitian-Canadian business professor, complained that the executive director and chairmen did not respond to e-mails, saying it was neither good manners nor good governance.
After the meeting, Professor Bourjolly recounted, Mr. Clinton approached him, put a hand on his shoulder and said, “You embarrassed me.”
“It was really tough,” said the professor, summarizing the commission’s work as “such a waste.”
Again, Dr. Abrantes disagreed. “They created a formal mechanism to receive proposals, and a vetting system that was important. Eventually, they developed sector strategies, some sketchy but others well-developed, that guide us to this day.”
When the recovery commission died, the Haiti Reconstruction Fund was paralyzed, unable to make new grants. The fund, created to set aside at least some money to support the Haitian government, had “ended up significantly focused on two areas where the donors don’t have standing expertise — debris removal and housing,” Ms. Gilbert said.
“No one wanted to do debris removal,” Mr. Leitmann, the fund’s manager, said. “It’s not sexy. There are no ribbons to cut. The results disappear. So we filled that niche. Housing is another example. Half our resources are going there.”
Though as much as $104 million remains available for allocation, it has taken the Haitian government more than a year to create and convene a successor entity to the commission. The group, in Mr. Martelly’s words, will “restore to Haiti its sovereignty in aid management and especially its priorities.”
By late last week, its priorities for the remaining funds had yet to be established.
In the summer of 2011, when President Martelly, a Haitian musical star with no political experience, was struggling to put together a government, he was also grappling with the unavoidable fact that a smattering of housing reconstruction projects existed only on paper while a humanitarian crisis lay at his doorstep in the form of a huge, wretched tent camp in the central Champ de Mars.
The PricewaterhouseCoopers report, then just released, contained a telling if understated aside: “The ”build back better” approach does not always align with the objective of quickly finding housing solutions for camp residents.”
A New Pragmatism
The new pragmatism was born. Mr. Martelly secured international assistance to close six highly visible tent camps and repair 16 neighborhoods and to shut down the Champ de Mars settlement. Some Haitians felt he was just trying to sweep the homelessness problem from view without resolving it — indeed the neighborhood repairs have lagged far behind the camp closings — but others expressed relief that he was taking action because a temporary solution was better than none at all.
From the start, grand ambition had gotten in the way of tackling what was doable.
“Early on, it seemed fairly clear that the only viable approach was to rebuild existing neighborhoods,” Ms. Phelps said. “But it took six to eight months to get the government used to that, and another four to six months to make the donors comfortable. Nobody wanted to think reconstruction might be a giant slum-upgrading project. They wanted little pastel houses and kids with ribbons in their hair to put on the cover of their annual report.”
Idealistic discussions after the disaster were not just about building back better. President Préval expressed a keen interest in using the initial exodus to the countryside to decongest Port-au-Prince permanently, and decentralization became the second mantra, guiding early commitments to spend significant reconstruction money outside the disaster zone.
“There were all sorts of fantasies about shutting down the mess that is Port-au-Prince before people started to understand that there is a huge amount of capital built up in the city and chaotic as it is you don’t throw it out,” Mr. Leitmann of the Haiti Reconstruction Fund said. “Another fantasy was, ”Oh, we”ll just invest in export processing zones and that will keep people from migrating back to Port-au-Prince.””
That first year, the United States government and the Inter-American Development Bank set aside $220 million to finance the new Caracol Industrial Park, which is 175 miles north of the disaster area, and to build a power plant, port and housing development nearby.
Mr. Clinton, who joined Mrs. Clinton at the Caracol inaugural ceremony this fall in a rare public fusion of their diplomatic roles, has long emphasized Haiti’s need for jobs. Some here applaud his support for subsidies to private companies; others, though, question what they see as a trickle-down theory of development, pointing skeptically to decisions like those of the private Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund to make a $2 million equity investment in a new luxury hotel, the Royal Oasis.
Initially, Mr. Clinton and Haitian leaders thought the private sector would play a larger role in rebuilding Haiti’s devastated housing stock, and they were courting international firms to design innovative tract housing for tracts of land that never materialized.
One relic of those aspirations is the abandoned site of a 2011 housing exposition held in Zoranje, where scores of colorful prototype homes now sit empty, some padlocked, others plundered and used as toilets.
Dreamed up at a meeting at Mr. Clinton’s home in Chappaqua, the expo cost millions in public and private money. Competing firms spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to participate in the hopes of winning sizable contracts. But by the time the exposition took place, the thinking about housing had already shifted and most contracts were going to be awarded for urban fix-it work instead.
Adjacent to the expo site in Zoranje is the only large new housing project completed so far. With $8.3 million in financing, mostly from the Inter-American Development Bank, most of its 400 small pastel houses remained unoccupied for half a year, except in some cases by squatters, because the authorities could not figure out how to connect the complex to water. Eventually, the beneficiaries were allowed to move in anyway.
Fertilia Bien-Aimé, a wiry, scrappy, 65-year-old, said she won the keys to her house by accosting President Martelly during a public event in October. “I went up to him and said, ”Mr. President, I”m too old for a tent. What are you going to do for me?””
Squatters had ripped out the electrical wiring, sinks and toilets, she said, and rain leaks into her house as into others. Some homes lost their roofs during Tropical Storm Isaac, and the complex has had unreliable electricity since Hurricane Sandy.
“But even with all the problems here,” she said, “it’s still so much better than being a displaced person.”
The largest new settlement under construction takes the same exurban approach. A $48 million Haitian government initiative, located about 10 miles east of Port-au-Prince in Morne Ã Cabri, the project’s thousands of houses are rising on a barren, isolated site. Ms. Pierre-Louis, the former prime minister, described it as looking like “little tombs in the desert.”
Critics have also questioned the location of the American-subsidized new housing settlement in rural Caracol, far from the disaster, as well as the high cost of its one-bedroom homes. They are being built by a Minnesota company on a site prepared by a Maryland firm for $31,400 a house.
That includes site preparation, internal wiring, individual water hookups and flush toilets. But current thinking among humanitarian officials is that those are all extras. A small, simple one-family house in Port-au-Prince can be built for $6,000, they say, and more people can be helped.
Although the Caracol houses were supposed to be occupied by December, only 70 of 750 had been finished by the end of November because of severe weather and logistical problems, an American aid official said.
Progress has been even slower on the other American-built settlement, which is on a large, flat swath of gravel in Cabaret. Only about a dozen of the 156 houses there had a completed structure, minus doors and windows, in early December.
“Lots of money, few results,” said the deputy mayor of Cabaret, Pierre Justinvil. “Look, I personally, with my own hands, have just built a whole school for less than the cost of one of those houses and more quickly. I think we Haitians need to take the wheel.”
In the earthquake-ravaged slum neighborhood of Campeche in Port-au-Prince, Dieudonne Zidor, an elected official, agreed. Gliding gracefully up a rocky pathway, she pointed out the anarchic jumble of condemned homes, makeshift shanties and corroding shelter boxes. “As you can see, conditions are calamitous,” she said. But it is not rocket science to figure out what is needed, she added: houses, streets, electricity, water, health clinics, schools, women’s centers.
Yet, though the local authorities have already approved an urban plan for the neighborhood, the American Red Cross has engaged in a lengthy process to determine how best to spend its $20 million budget to improve Campeche.
Sandrine Capelle Manuel, the organization’s representative in Haiti, said it had been a productive process. “We prioritized all the issues and created a consultative group that is representative of the community fabric,” she said. “We did a strong and deep assessment, and now we need to do a master plan with the community.”
But Ms. Zidor said: “All they do is hold meetings and hand out juice. In the end, they will have spent the whole $20 million giving juice to the people.”
Many other neighborhood reconstruction projects have gotten stuck in the planning stages, too. The reconstruction adviser to President Martelly, in fact, recently asked a World Bank official if millions of dollars could be diverted from that slow-moving $65 million reconstruction program to pay for additional return cash grants.
“He said, ”Can you help us because we don’t want to go to the third anniversary with so many people still in camps?”” Dr. Abrantes said.
Although so much money allocated for reconstruction languishes in the bank, humanitarian financing for Haiti has all but dried up while needs remain acute, said Mr. Fisher, the United Nations” humanitarian coordinator.
“The donors have made it clear that they feel the humanitarian crisis is over and that development is their focus,” Mr. Fisher said. “But it’s a false dichotomy. Of course, the country needs long-term solutions but until they are in place we still need resources to deal with the problems at hand.”
Current projections, he added, are that 200,000 Haitians will still be living in camps a year from now, on the fourth anniversary of the earthquake.
André Paultre and Damon Winter contributed reporting.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:Correction: December 25, 2012An article on Monday about the slow pace of reconstruction in Haiti since the massive earthquake in 2010 misstated the date of the quake. It was Jan. 12, not Jan. 10. Thearticle also misstated the name of a newteaching hospital in Mirebalais. It isPartners in Health, not Partners for Health.
Haiti : Still waiting for recovery
Three years after a devastating earthquake, the “Republic of NGOs” has become the country of the unemployed
Jan 5th 2013 |Source: The Economist
HAITI is open for business”, Michel Martelly, the country’s president since May 2011, likes to proclaim. His government has backed up this talk by making it easier for foreigners to own property and by setting as a goal that Haiti climb into the top 50 countries in the World Bank’s ranking for ease of doing business (it now comes 174th out of 185). In November the president opened a gleaming arrivals hall at Toussaint Louverture airport. Mr Martelly himself is in such constant motion abroad”courting donors and investors, he says”that his peregrinations and the per diemsalleged to be associated with them have become a source of mordant jokes.
But gangbuster growth, hoped for as the country rebuilds itself after the earthquake of January 12th 2010 that wrecked the capital, Port-au-Prince, and killed tens of thousands of people, has failed to materialise. In the 12 months to the end of September the economy expanded by a modest 2.5%. It was the second year of dashed expectations: the IMF had forecast growth of 8% in both 2011 and 2012.
Thanks in part to tropical storms that in 2012 inflicted what the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation called “colossal” damage on Haiti’s farmers, the cost of living, especially for food and housing, has risen dramatically. Most of the donor-supported cash-for-work programmes set up after the earthquake have come to an end. Many of the NGOs that thronged the country, and which threatened to eclipse the government, have departed. “We’ve gone from being the Republic of NGOs to the Republic of Unemployment,” says Frantz Duval, the editor of the country’s leading newspaper, Le Nouvelliste. Around three-quarters of Haitians are either unemployed or try to make ends meet in the informal economy.Mr Martelly won 67.5% of the votes in an election in which less than a quarter of the electorate voted. He remains popular. But his critics grumble that his policies amount to putting Haiti up for sale. They argue that 15-year tax holidays offered to foreign investors will hinder the government’s efforts to cut its dependence on dwindling foreign aid. For the moment this complaint seems academic: despite the tax breaks, as well as the promise of duty-free import of components and export of final goods and cheap labour, few foreign investors have set up shop.
The United States staked its prestige and $124m”its biggest single post-quake investment”on Caracol, an industrial park in the north of the country. So far the park has only one tenant, Sae-A, a South Korean textile manufacturer, with 1,050 workers (though its owners claim the number could rise to 20,000). With its colourfully painted, dedicated power plant, Caracol is still a beautiful ghost town.
Haiti’s prime minister, Laurent Lamothe, a 40-year-old telecoms entrepreneur, calls Caracol a “work in progress”. He says a Haitian-owned paint factory will soon open there, and a Dominican clothing firm recently signed a contract. Some observers think that potential investors are deterred by fear of social instability and lack of clarity over land rights. Mr Lamothe replies that the government is conscious that Haiti lacks a “perfect” business environment but is “making great strides in creating it”.
The problem is that at the same time as Haiti needs investment to generate social stability and economic growth, it also needs social stability and better infrastructure to attract investment. There are some signs of progress, besides the new airport terminal. Most of the earthquake rubble is finally gone from the capital’s streets. The most visible refugee camps have been emptied. Several new hotels, aimed at attracting those elusive business visitors, are due to open. The first of them, the Royal Oasis, welcomed hundreds of high-society Haitians to its opening in December, where they frolicked in its five bars and around its still-unfinished infinity pool.
And yet more than 350,000 Haitians are still living in tents in scattered camps; many of those who have moved out have returned to substandard housing in hillside shanties and seaside slums. A cholera outbreak that has killed more than 7,500 people since October 2010 remains a threat, with cases spiking after each tropical storm. Epidemiologists blame poor hygiene at a military base of the UN peacekeeping mission for the outbreak, though the UN has denied responsibility.
Billions of dollars of aid were pledged to Haiti after the earthquake, amid much talk about “building back better” and working with”not around”the government so as not to perpetuate the “Republic of NGOs”. But according to reports from the Centre for Global Development, a Washington think-tank, and the UN Special Envoy for Haiti, many aid pledges were unfulfilled. And in practice, most of the money that was disbursed went to a handful of international bodies, which mainly spent it on temporary relief (tents, shelters, water-tankers and so on) and the salaries of expat staff. Grand schemes to remake Haiti came almost to nought, partly because they lacked local input: outsiders have finally come round to the view of many Haitians that what is most needed is speedy and cheap housing.
Donor-fatigue is mounting. The UN humanitarian “cluster” system, intended to co-ordinate the response to the crisis, ended with 2012. The UN has launched a new humanitarian appeal for $144m to tackle cholera, homelessness and food shortages, but a similar appeal for $151m in 2012 went largely unfunded.
Direct budget-support for the government totalled less in 2011 and 2012 than before the quake, according to the IMF. The government is also hampered by its lack of suivi, or implementation capacity. Many public employees are time-servers who owe their jobs to past patronage; many in Mr Martelly’s administration lack experience of government. Donors complain that it is hard for them to support projects that lack the proper paperwork. As a result, hospitals stand unfinished. Rebuilding of the main HÃ´pital Général has stopped.
To fill the gap, Mr Martelly relies on Petrocaribe, an aid scheme set up by Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez, which supplies Haiti and several other countries with subsidised oil. By reselling a chunk of the oil, the government gets up to $400m a year, or about 4% of GDP. Mr Martelly plans to use this to rebuild a corridor of government offices in Port-au-Prince and to pay for several social programmes, including cash transfers to the poorest. The aid comes without the strings that many other donors attach. No wonder that Mr Martelly and Mr Lamothe attended a mass a few days before Christmas to pray for Mr Chávez’s recovery from cancer surgery.