By Craig Whitlock
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, February 27, 2010; A09
PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI — Haitian President René Préval faces many challenges: a country in ruins, a government in tatters, a traumatized population. But on Friday, he wanted to get something else off his chest.
On an unseasonably cool day in the capital, Préval greeted a delegation of high-ranking U.S. officials visiting his temporary offices at a makeshift U.N. compound. The group, led by Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was on a day trip from Washington to pay a courtesy call and to ask what else the United States could do to help Haiti recover.
Préval welcomed the visitors warmly. But when he spied two reporters from The Washington Post and the Associated Press, he changed his tune.
To the mystification of his guests, Préval complained that he had been unfairly tarred as a corrupt leader who has been profiting, along with his government, from the flood of relief aid that has poured into Haiti since the Jan. 12 earthquake.
“There is no corruption here,” he declared. “We have a high sense of morality.”
Préval’s ire was apparently prompted by a news article he said he had read recently by a U.S. journalist he referred to as “Michelle Porte.” Turning away from the official delegation seated around a table with him, Préval spoke directly to the two journalists behind him, asking if they knew the offending reporter and how she could have accused him of malfeasance.
The U.S. officials looked befuddled. Cheryl Mills, State Department counselor and chief of staff to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, responded that Washington wanted to ensure “that all resources that are brought to bear will be brought to bear appropriately.”
The mysterious Porte’s identity could not be confirmed Friday, nor her alleged story located.
Mullen tried to reassure the Haitian president that the Pentagon is not preoccupied with the question of corruption and agreed with Mills that the United States is mainly interested in “making sure the resources go to the right place.”
Préval appeared unsatisfied. “Honestly, it’s starting to tire me,” he said of the purported corruption allegations. That prompted Pentagon officials to escort the U.S. reporters from the room so the meeting could continue without the sideshow.
But Préval returned to the issue after the meeting adjourned 20 minutes later. As he left the conference room, he and his aides chased down the AP and Post reporters as they were boarding a bus with Mullen’s contingent. Waving his BlackBerry at the reporters, he said, “Tell Michelle Porte I said, ‘Hi.’ ” Later, Mullen said his meeting with Préval “went well” and that the president did not “add any more” to his remarks on corruption after the journalists left the room. Without giving details, he said Préval had made additional requests for relief aid.
Mullen, on his first trip to Haiti since the earthquake, made the rounds Friday visiting U.S. forces who have been assisting with humanitarian efforts near Port-au-Prince.
About 11,000 U.S. troops are currently deployed to Haiti, with about 6,000 working onshore. That is down from an earlier peak of 20,000, as the military gradually reduces its presence. On Thursday, a battalion from the 82nd Airborne Division left the country, although three others remain.
Mullen also toured the USNS Comfort, a hospital ship moored in the capital’s harbor, whose teams have treated hundreds of Haitians. Only seven patients remained on the vessel Friday, well-cared for by the crew of 970 personnel.
Navy Cmdr. Tim Donahue, the Comfort’s director of surgery, said it was unclear when the ship would be able to return to its home port in Baltimore. He said the crew had been treating 75 patients as recently as a few days ago but had discharged most of them now that onshore hospitals are largely back in service.
Quote from article: Mullen tried to reassure the Haitian president that the Pentagon is not preoccupied with the question of corruption and agreed with Mills that the United States is mainly interested in “making sure the resources go to the right place.”
He cannot focus upon “making sure the resources go to the right place” if he doesn’t do something about the corruption of President Rene Preval and his band of thieves. THE ADMIRAL MUST BE FOCUSED ON CORRUPTION OR GREED…SOMEONE MUST BE FOCUSED ON CORRUPTION AND GREED OR THOUSANDS MORE WILL DIE BECAUSE OF PREVAL’S CRIMINAL ACTIVITY!!! IF THE AMERICANS DON’T HELP CONTROL THINGS – THE NATION IS DOOMED!!!.
Quote from article:
“Navy Cmdr. Tim Donahue, the Comfort’s director of surgery, said it was unclear when the ship would be able to return to its home port in Baltimore. He said the crew had been treating 75 patients as recently as a few days ago but had discharged most of them now that onshore hospitals are largely back in service.”
What planet is Commander Tim Donahue on? Onshore hospitals are almost non-existent! The University of Miami has a temporary one at the airport. Amier Haiti has a temporary one across from the American embassy. There is a private hospital, with about 40 beds in Petionville and the General Hospital is generally non-functional. Canape Vert Hospital, the main facility before the quake…is non-existent.
The situation, medically and otherwise, is almost as bad as it was minutes after the quake. The health problems are going to get exponentially worse…with the start of the rainy season as infections and disease take hold. People are now dying from run away infections. Others are facing amputations because of untreated infections. People in the countryside have yet to receive any assistance since the quake.
Don’t abandon the Haitian people now as their true need is becoming apparent.
The American government could suggest that Preval step down.
That would be the biggest gift they could offer.
IN ANY EVENT – IT LOOKS LIKE THE HAMMERING OF PREVAL – FOR HIS UNCONTROLLED CRIMINALITY – IS HAVING AN EFFECT. KEEP SHOOTING!!!