In tragedy and disaster, the world always exploits Haiti
Once again, Haiti is hurting.
And this time, Hurricane Matthew has left hundreds dead in the black island nation. There is no doubt that Haiti needs help, just as the nation has been in need after other natural disasters, other storms, and the 2010 earthquake, which measured at magnitude 7.0 and left more than 160,000 people dead and 1.5 million people displaced.
In the aftermath of the earthquake and other catastrophes, many international agencies have exploited Haiti’s tragedy, and the funds never reached the victims who desperately needed them. It was one big scam. Haiti was pimped. The Red Cross raised nearly half a billion dollars from millions of donations, more than any other agency, and vowed to help rebuild the nation. It is hard to know where the money went — and that is certainly a lot of money which could have done much good — but one thing’s for sure: It didn’t go to Haiti.
The Red Cross built six homes, even as the organization claimed it provided housing to 130,000 people. Then there were botched projects, lack of expertise and an overreliance on foreign staff who could not speak Creole or French. Internally, the Red Cross saw the earthquake as “a spectacular fundraising opportunity,” as making money off of black suffering is nothing new.
With $13.34 billion earmarked for Haiti relief according to the United Nations, much of that money has not been released. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), which oversees the aid to Haiti, has been a failure, hiring Beltway firms and not putting money in the pockets of local businesses in Haiti. And for every dollar that has gone to USAID — and we’re talking $1.5 billion since the earthquake — reportedly less than a penny goes to Haitian organizations. But the beltway contractors have taken over 50 cents of every dollar, very often in no-bid contracts.
Just to show how much waste, fraud and abuse there has been at USAID, the agency abandoned plans to build a port in Haiti after spending $4.5 million on a feasibility study. And a North Carolina company that was paid $12.9 million to develop a Creole-based school curriculum came up short because some of the staff did not even speak French. USAID was supposed to build 15,000 homes, but only 2,600 are planned and only 900 have been built.
The UN peacekeeping mission came in with its $2.5 billion operation and spread cholera throughout Haiti, infecting 720,000 and killing nearly 9,000.
Lots of checks were written in this major kickback scam, but Haitians did not get the checks. And the Clintons are not immune from allegations of influence peddling in Haiti, as Bill was named special envoy to the Caribbean nation just after Hillary became secretary of state on 2009.
Bill became co-chair of the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission after the earthquake, and the State Department reportedly directed firms interested in competing for Haiti contracts to the Clinton Foundation. And while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state, U.S. Embassy officials opposed a minimum wage increase in Haiti from 24 cents an hour to 61 cents — in this hopelessly impoverished nation. And South Florida’s Haitian-American community — 150,000 people of Haitian descent live in the state — is not at all happy with the Clintons’ years of meddling in Haiti.
Even Wyclef Jean’s failed charity Yele shut down after reports of broken promises and spending large and questionable sums of money on salaries, consultants and private jets for celebrities.
As the first black republic in the hemisphere — only the second republic after the U.S. — Haiti has been punished, made to pay for its independence and its blackness. And nothing upsets white folks more than the prospect of a slave insurrection. This time, the plantation was the country, and black people took the whole damn thing over. For years, France ordered Haiti to pay a fee, a debt valued today at $20 billion, for France to recognize Haiti as an independent nation. Now Haiti wants the money returned, but France says no, because as French President Francois Hollande said, “We cannot change the past, but we can change the future.”
And Haiti can’t even win with its neighbor the Dominican Republic, with whom it shares the island. Years of bad blood and racism led to an ethnic purge and mass deportation in the Dominican Republic, with hundreds of thousands of Dominicans of Haitian descent being stripped of their citizenship and forced to register as foreigners. And Haitians and Dominicans are equally black, an example of divide and conquer and white supremacy by remote control.
Given this troubling history, those who want to help the people of Haiti should find other means to make that happen.
But what we do know is that what has been done in the past never really helped the Haitian people but helped put money in the pockets of other folks, and that’s real.
Follow David A. Love on Twitter @davidalove