I am much assisted now by the many new readers of the blog from the international team with whom I worked on the narcotrafficante story. Every morning I can check the out clicks on the blog here and find that they have left me a question by which blog entry they click out from , or sometimes just an uplift.. by referring me back to a time where I was more optimistic and happy.
This morning's question's from Finland, refers back to logistics.. to this post.. here wrutten by Michael Keizer. Now at the time of that post, there was essentially no functioning government in Haiti. Now there is.
Haiti has long suffered from a lack of confidence in its government and a manipulation and sabatoge of its electoral process by the interntional community.
Since I lived and worked in Haiti 30 years ago with a diving operation, I have always watched what was going on there.
When Aristide was elected President in 1990, the very first democratically elected president, I remember listening to a US State Department official being interviewed,, perhaps on NPR. He said something along the lines that the US did not like his rhetoric, his talk that perhaps he was going to nationalize the banks, and that the US was, therefore, going to withhold aid and adopt a "wait and see" attitude.
Now at the time,as it is still, the Haitian government was almost completely aid dependent - primarily on the US. I do not know the actual percentage but the US has always been the major donor to Haiti. I do not know if the US actually withheld aid to Aristide or was simply very sloooow in paying out or simpy funded the military opposition or let it be known that it would not object to a coup against the fiery leftest priest but within a year, he was gone.
For a full run down on what happened with Aristide, with Clinton, with the behind the scenes politics that went on.. I recommend Michael Deibert's book, Notes from the Last Testament, I have read the book four times and given away ten copies, one to the former ambassador here to the OAS, although I was shocked that he had not already read it.
It should be required reading for everyone who is working in Haiti now.
Rather than fund the government, the United States delivered its funding through various non governmental organizations, who are registered with USAID, and located around the Washington beltway. We refer to them as the Beltway Bandits. They are known for extremely rigourous accounting. For a USAID grant, one must account for every pencil, every jot, every tittle.
What one does not actually have to account for is the efficacy and the results of the project -- simply that the money was not stolen and used for personal use.
I believe this is changing now .. that projects must now show that they actually had some impact - as it is for projects for the World Bank and the International Bank for Development.. but slowly.
The lastest and best idea from the US for the development of Haiti is a Korean textile factory which is to be placed on agricultural land, displace farmers, house the workers with pit toilets without running water, and put the polluted run off from the factory into the surrounding mangrove swamp.
The Haitian intellectuals very calmly and politely point out, in perfect French, in their one remaining daily newspaper, that while indeed they do not wish to appear to be unwelcoming to foreign investment, especially when the International Bank of Development is involved, but the mangrove swamps are an environmental treasure and extremely valuable for tourism and perhaps there might be another place that the factory might be located?
USAID has constructed some of the ugliest houses ever seen. Without kitchens. Without latrines. abominations.. really, hideous.
The grant that was given to the IOM is so stringent that we cannot get the very qualified Haitian builders who are here in the DR back to Haiti with $400 worth of tools. So I would also ask the international community to give grant money to the IOM so that they might be able to help us do that.
We are penny wise and pound foolish.
Under President Bush, the US Congress passed what some would call a breach of our founding principles in the form of the Faith Based Initiative, so that funding from the government is now given to many religious groups in Haiti, the majority of whom are Christian, some of whom consider that Haiti's traditional African religion Satanic
The Friends Committee on National Legislation opposed this legislation as a breach of the Constitution of the United States. Quaker organization will not accept government money in any circumstances.
The United States thus created in Haiti what is called The Republic of NGOs. Rather than fund the government itself, which leaned closer to Castro and Chavez than Bush, it delivered aid through a patchwork of NGOs, reportable to no one except USAID. Grants were micro designed in DC, with no centralized planning. While there was a certain courteous ballet dance around the authority of the Haitian government, it was the US Embassy which had and has the purse strings.
That is why it is so URGENT that the international community make good on its funding to the GOVERNMENT of HAITI.
Former President Aristide is back in Haiti and there has been more than one demonstration in his favor. Although many of his cabinet and close associates are in jail in the US on drug dealing, there have been no charges against him. Despite the fact that he lost the confidence of many of his former followers, he speaks the truth about the oppression and exploitation of the poor in Haiti. His apparent willingness to do business with narcotrafficers does not bode well for the future stability of the island.