Tue | Sep 25, 2018

Robert Buddan | The next American president and Haiti

Published:Tuesday | October 4, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Robert Buddan
A street vendor sits next to her goods, covered in plastic as protection from a light rain, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Monday. Major Hurricane Matthew is slowly churning northward across the Caribbean and meteorologists say the powerful storm is expected to hit southwest Haiti Tuesday.
Hillary Clinton
Donald Trump

Haiti is scheduled to have elections this week (October 9). It is a rerun of elections of last year that had been deemed fraudulent. Haitians want leadership to finally reconstruct Haiti after the earthquake disaster of January 2010. Haitians hold Hillary Clinton, who was secretary of state from 2009 to 2013, and Bill Clinton, who was appointed United Nations Envoy to Haiti, responsible for the failures of reconstruction.

Haitian-Americans protested for an increase in Haiti's minimum wage outside the building where Clinton and Trump were debating on September 26. Neither candidate had said a word about Haiti, the poorest nation in the hemisphere. Trump had said he would ask Hillary to do an audit of how billions of dollars donated or pledged to Haiti for reconstruction was spent. Hopefully, he will remember to ask in later debates.

Just before that first debate, the Republican Party published a list of really serious accusations against the Clintons and the Clinton Foundation's role in Haiti. This list was compiled from many previously published sources reporting on the failures to help Haiti. The sources are credible. They include the Washington Post, Miami Herald, Politico, Huffington Post and the New York Times. There are many Haitian sources as well.




They say that Hillary and Bill made promises to Haiti that they have failed to fulfil. They were to bring investments in, but their projects put the elite before the people. Elite Haitians and foreigners got richer, while Haitians got poorer. They failed to deliver promised housing, schoolrooms and jobs in a new industrial park. The reports say that no important decision could be made without the Clintons, but the Clintons agreed to measures that benefited the Clinton Foundation. Investors were expected to donate to the foundation. The families of the Clintons also benefited from contracts. It is against this background that Haitians want, and Trump agreed, to demand an audit.

But there is more. High-level persons, including a former Brazilian diplomat and the former president of Haiti's election council, say that Hillary brazenly ordered presidential election results in 2010 changed to favour Michel Martelly. Martelly's regime (2011 to 2016) only made things worse with corruption and thuggery and failed to hold elections during the period, eventually holding a fraudulent one. Haiti moved from political crisis to political crisis, and the elections this week are very important if it is to move forward.

In addition, Haiti has suffered from one of the great humanitarian crises of our times - a cholera epidemic since 2010, which has killed at least 10,000 and infected more than 800,000. The United Nations is the real culprit here. Its peacekeeping soldiers brought the disease to Haiti and the UN failed to acknowledge this for six years and act early and adequately.

Now there's Hurricane Matthew with life-threatening winds and flooding that could impact tens of thousands of homeless people still living in makeshift tents after the 2010 earthquake along with the massive numbers of slum dwellers. Isn't all of this more than enough for one country to take?

Academics call this 'disaster capitalism'. Disasters are caused or exploited to enrich the wealthy contractors, investors, suppliers, bankers and those who are supposedly there to make things better for the people. They make things worse, like in Iraq. Haiti wants democracy, tourism, education and agriculture among its priorities. An American president can help, but Hillary is talking about bombing ISIS. It will be a very expensive war. Trump wants to build a wall against Mexico. That will be immensely expensive, too. What about the poorest 11 million people next to the richest? Where are the billions pledged or donated to Haiti?

Haitians want a US president to back a livable minimum wage; uncompromisingly support free and fair elections; make the UN compensate the cholera victims and detoxify the water; stop foreign scrambling over mining resources and Haiti's offshore islands; and for Haiti's riches to be used to enrich Haitians.

Will Clinton or Trump do these things? Haitians don't believe so, but we should insist on it.

- Robert Buddan is a lecturer in the Department of Government, UWI. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and robert.buddan@uwimona.edu.jm.