Lets assume that you are Charity XYZ and you became involved with efforts to help the Haitian people in their desperate time of need,. After the January 12 earthquake that took some 500,000 lives, injured hundreds of thousands, saw 50,000 amputations and about 1.5 million homeless.
Lets assume, for simple mathematical purposes, that XYZ shipped 10 containers of relief supplies to Haiti and these are now sitting in customs. They might have been sitting in Customs for several months as the Preval team moves to slow and block the material from release.
First of all, the Preval team insisted that all relief goods be signed over to them, for distribution. This suggestion didn’t fly since many charities had done this during an earlier hurricane disaster and saw their goods being sold to local merchants for pennies on the dollar. The people got nothing.
So the charities resisted this pressure.
Ok, then there was a fee for some obscure paperwork.
Now XYZ if faced with demurrage of $200 per day. This is normally charged, after a containers release from Customs, but Haiti is charging while XYZ’s material sits there, blocked by bureaucracy.
Preval has insisted that XYZ explain where each and every item in each of the 10 containers will be going. Now, in the pressure of need, emergency goods are shipped in bulk to a charity and this charity may distribute everything itself, or pass the stuff along to other groups for distributions…and these might spread it through more groups..and so it goes…
Well now, XYZ must sit with some functionary in the Ministry of Finance and explain, specifically, where each item in the 10 containers will finally end up.
This is an impossibility.
The functionary will scan a list for, lets say, Container 3, noting there are some stuffed childrens toys among the 2700 cubic feet of goods. With a finger pressed against the manifest he challenges…”You have 24 stuffed toys here. Why are you sending them to the General Hospital?!!”
The ONG guy looks dumfounded as he responds…”Well, the donor thought there might be some children there and…”
Before he can finsish, the Finance Ministry guys interrupts…”Do you know how many children are there, if any. And do you have their names???”
And so it goes. With 10 containers you have 27,000 cubic feet of stuff that is accruing $2000 per day demurrage fees and the clock continues to tick as the Finance Ministry functionary holds meeting, after meeting with the ONG rep.
If the ONG guy finally reacts, as I would have reacted immediately, calling the game for what it is, the Ministry of Finance person would close the dossier and leave the stuff there forever.
And so the game goes on.
Thousands of containers are blocked on the docks.
Foreign donors, seeing the futility, had stopped sending stuff.
People are dying while Preval’s wife seeks a $300,000,000 commission on an oil refinery and a child will die because rice and beans, medicine, and a stuffed toy are blocked by some Git Mama in Finance.
Thousands will die.
The nation will die.
And Preval could care less.
Preval and his team must face Justice.
There can be no further immunity or impunity.