The next Amer­i­can pres­i­dent and Haiti

Jamaica Gleaner - - OPINION&COMMENTARY - Robert Bud­dan Robert Bud­dan is a lec­turer in the Depart­ment of Gov­ern­ment, UWI. Email feed­back to col­umns@glean­ and robert.bud­dan@uwi­

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.


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 south-west Haiti on Tues­day.



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