By Jean H Charles:
On July 12, 2010, the international press has returned en masse to Haiti for an evaluation of the progress in the rebuilding effort after the earthquake of 1/12. It has been reporting on whether the outflow of global donations has contributed to bring solace to the people of Haiti. The verdict is unanimous: the effort in rebuilding has hit a discomforting snag.
To start with, only Norway, Australia and Brazil have delivered on their promised pledges, or 10% of the $5.3 billion raised at the United Nations last March. Only 250 million tons of rubble out of 3 billion metric tons has been removed. The majority of the 1.5 million displaced people are still living in tenuous conditions in tents and shacks. The international Jesuit Society summed up the general sentiment; Haiti six months after the hurricane is a national and international shame!
Wyclef Jean, the ubiquitous Haitian-American artist, gave us the picture of the situation on the ground. “I arrived here 24 hours after the quake and I will say that minus the bodies on the floor, and minus the smell, it looks exactly the same today as it did then. Nothing has changed and people are getting frustrated. The youth is frustrated.”
The Haitian government continues to exhibit the same indifference towards, and the same lack of leadership and coordination in leading the way for an effective recovery. In canvassing the pile of literature on the process of reconstruction, I have been able to find only three points of light.
- The 7 Day Adventist Relief fund has built, with recycled material, some 500 solid homes to house displaced families from the earthquake.
- Venezuela, in the city of Leogane, operates an effective tent city with the support system that makes the lives of the people much better than before the earthquake.
- There is no major outbreak of disease because of the abundance of vitamin D from the tropical sun and the medical care of organizations such as Doctors without Borders and the chain of international medical volunteers who commute to Haiti week after week.
The rest is promises and promises, without a delivery mechanism system. The Haitian people, passionate fans of soccer, have observed a hiatus of three weeks during the World cup season. The World Cup is over; Haiti this summer will be a hot one! The people are already on the streets demanding the resignation of the inept and corrupt government.
The amount of discontent is broiling. The Haitian government is requesting a 20% tax to admit donated material into the country. The warehouses near the airport are filled with food and medicine; yet, because of indifference, dysfunction, nepotism and corruption, the food and the medicine are not delivered to those in need. Worse, some of the medicine is now expired and some of the food is now rotten.
Having invested so much emotion and empathy in Haiti after the earthquake, the rest of the world is crying for some explanation. Leadership matters. The current issue of Foreign Policy has provided an excellent analysis on why Haiti will continue to sink itself and the rest of the world with it. Haiti is pregnant with the lethal cocktail that feeds the appetite of the type of leadership that we find in countries like Somalia, Guinea, and Niger in Africa. Weak and bad leaders make their countries weaker, threatening world security.
Rene Preval the president of Haiti is benefiting of an aura of goodwill fed by a sector of the international community. Yet he fits into what Paul Collier, the eminent economist, called the bad guy, whose survival is incubated against the interest of its people by a combination of support from the international powers, big business and international institutions, labeled the enablers by Paul Wolfowitz.
The neocolonial ruse of using corrupt leaders to maintain the grip on the country’s resources and its people is alive and kicking in Africa and in Haiti. France has recently helped Bongo junior to succeed Bongo senior. The United Nations is making the bidding for some named foreign countries in planning to help Preval to succeed himself through a clown puppet with a botched and flawed election.
The takeover of the Bastille on July 14, 1789, in France did have unintended consequences some fifteen years later in Haiti. It produced the country’s independence in 1804. Be ready for a rough ride this summer! Haiti, the rebel daughter of Africa has a way of setting an international trend. The undemocratic practices of some Western powers, supported by corrupt national leaders, might be in the beginning of their end. It seems Haiti is ready to ring the bell for the death of the failed States as it did some two hundred years ago by dismantling the world order of slavery.
Haiti needs the support of all people of goodwill in the world as it crosses the river from that painful transition of a failed state status to an enlightened nation, ready to provide service and leadership to the world. Stay tuned for updates on the mahogany revolution in progress, in Haiti!
July 17, 2010