Of all the things Haiti’s earthquake victims are running out of, patience may be the most important.
This destitute country has endured the consequences of revolution and the abuse of dictators. Now it is struggling mightily to recover from the Jan. 12 temblor that left 500,000 dead and more than a million people homeless. Something like 50,000 lost limbs while countless others suffered injuries in a land with no real medical facilities.
The frustrations of the survivors, many of them recovering from loss of limbs and other injuries, are chronicled in letters placed in suggestion boxes installed at homeless camps by the International Organization for Migration.
“Please, do something,” pleaded a woman in one of the letters recently published in the New York Times. “We don’t want to die of hunger and also we want to send our children to school.”
“I gave birth six months ago, the baby died, I have six other children, they don’t have a father, I don’t have work, my tarp is torn, the rain panics me, my house was crushed, I don’t have money to feed my family, I would really love it if you would help me,” said another woman in her letter.
It’s not that Haiti is being ignored by the international community, but the assistance it promised isn’t coming in as quickly as it should. Donors made a two-year pledge of $5.3 billion for earthquake relief, but the United Nations says only about 18 percent of that has been received.
“I recognize that in many cases the approval of funds needs to go through the legislative process, which can slow things down,” World Bank vice president Pamela Cox told the Miami Herald. “However, we echo former President Bill Clinton’s call to donors to expedite delivery of funds.”
There has been some good donor news for Haiti, but it won’t bring immediate relief for the letter writers and others living in tents and other make-do abodes.
In announcements last week, Haitian officials revealed an agreement with the South Korean company Sae-A Trading to build a garment factory expected to employ 10,000 people; and a pact with France and the United States in which each will contribute $25 million to rebuild General University Hospital in Port au Prince. Even in its damaged state, the hospital has been serving thousands of patients since the earthquake. Restoring its electrical systems and replacing equipment are essential to providing basic public health services.
More controversial is the garment plant. Sae-A Trading, which makes clothing for Gap, Banana Republic, Target, Wal-Mart, Levi’s, and others, has been criticized for its low wages. But Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has defended the planned factory, saying it will provide “good jobs with fair pay that adhere to international labor standards.”
Time will tell whether that will be the case. The concern now is to provide more relief to Haitians. The Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti released a report Tuesday that said 75 percent of all families had at least one member who went a full day without eating in the past week.
Haiti has been wracked by poverty for so many years that many of those families probably had a hard time getting fed before the earthquake. But that doesn’t excuse the tardiness of promised disaster aid by other nations. The need is evident. So, too, should be the assistance.
Unfortunately, to coin a phrase…one person’s misfortune is another person’s fortune.
And so it is with Haiti. The plight of Haiti’s people, as they face doom and disaster…is a wonderful opportunity for local and foreign businessmen to make a lot of money. The January 12 earthquake focused the world’s attention on Haiti and now the vultures circle, fighting for a bite of the cadaver. It is a valuable corpse – with an estimated price tag of anywhere from $8 to $ 20 billion.
Many commissions are there to be made, under and over the table. A brown bag of American $100.00 bills is an anonymous incentive that catches one’s attention.
We have a situation in which Preval, his wife, and their inner circle demand large cash gratuities in order to play the game. Many millions have already been siphoned off with many more to follow.
Not to be seen as a small minded person, Elizabeth Delatour brokered a deal in which a large refinery would be constructed on the seaside. Some suggest that the Mevs property would be utilized since it already has a tank farm, financed by the American government.
This would have seen the avaricious lady, and her husband, swallow a commission of substantial size. $300,000,000 over a number of years. Reports suggest that majot corporate American interests were involved. It has been suggested that the State Department – Hillary Clinton – derailed this project, possibly since her hisband did not broker the deal.
Bill Clinton is in the game for Fame and Profit. He hopes to win a Nobel Prize – matching Al Gore’s accomplishment, while pocketing a fortune through his relationships for foreign and Haitian business interests.
On the subject of low wages, please have the do-gooders keep their noses out of things!
Contrary to popular belief, the assembly industry pays a good wage – by Haitian standards. Wages ona California standard would destroy the economy by destabilizing everything.
For example, FEMA is going to become involved with Haitian projects via Bill Clinton’s Foundation. A big thing to note here is the fact that FEMA has a requirement that all wages in such projects be paid at FEMA rates. The lowest of these is almost $24.00US per hour.
One FEMA project will destroy Haiti.
We won’t have any doctors, lwyers, school teacher, bank tellers, maid, taxi driver…as everyone will be looking for a FEMA job.
We must recognize and honor the basic requirements of the Haitian society and take steps not to destabilize what exists.