Let us not forsake Haiti

(NNPA)—It has been almost a year since the devastating earthquake hit the nation of Haiti.  Within an hour 17 percent of the nation’s population was killed.  Hundreds of thousands of survivors were homeless and hopeless.  Today, the report on our progress in rehabilitating life in Haiti is not positive. Our grade so far is an “F.” The United States along with the rest of the world and local Haitian leaders could do so much better.  The blight is about the same as it was a few months after the earthquake and that is a global disgrace. We must begin to have direct positive action in this project and no excuses can be accepted.


The United Nations has been a dismal failure because they seem to have problems applying all of the funding they have allocated to the rehabilitation.  Hundreds of millions of dollars have been placed with former U.S. President William Clinton. So far, there has been very little application of it. A few good old boys have no bid contracts, but what they have done with them is a mystery.  It should be so easy to process the phases of rehabilitation, but there appears to be a big standoff here. We should put pressure on former President Clinton and tell him to get going with it as hundreds of thousands of victims have not improved their plight and it is directly related to his malfeasance. President Clinton please give more attention and priority to Haiti.

France is a dismal failure because it is still acting as it has during the past century. Billions of dollars from the Haitian treasury has been stolen and placed in Paris banks via local political corruption and French cooperation. France, known for its strict policing against money laundering, seems to give the laundering from Haiti a pass. It is continuing with the recent aid money arriving in response to the disaster. France, please clean up this shameful mess.

Haitian political leaders, you can no longer continue the deplorable corruption you have been accustomed to during the 20th century and at the beginning of this century. Lead or step down from your authority. Continue to be corrupt and with the help of God we are going to prosecute you and do away with your venomous ways. Your own people suffer because you are a dismal failure too.

United States, you are a dismal failure and you certainly know better. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama please take a leadership position in the rehabilitation of Haiti.  This nation was brilliant in the rescue after the Tsunami in Asia.  Here, we are acting more like the aftermath of Katrina. God save us if we are going back to that disgrace. Our charitable foundations have raised significant money, but it is not arriving in Haiti and helping the suffering people. That is your fault and your leadership, so far, is significantly lacking.  There is no central organizing office for this rehabilitation and the United States should be assuming that role and step up. Mr. President and Madam Secretary, please step up.

We need a central office organizing a Haitian workforce. Truly, there are enough Haitian citizens who can push wheel barrels, shovel dirt, pour cement, drive equipment and do manual labor as it is in much demand. A ready work pool of grown men and women should be assembled for the infrastructure implementation. Right now for every $100 spent on construction only $1.50 is paid to Haitian workers. It is obvious the no bid contracts being let are raking off precious money via scrupulous means.

Priority must be given to temporary housing, schools, and hospitals. Let’s start teaching simple literacy to all children so that they can become employable. It should be compulsory for all children over 5 years old to go to school and learn basic reading, writing, and arithmetic. This should not be a mystery as it has been over the decades. We just need good leadership and management.

Set up a world court to start prosecuting all perpetrators of corruption.  Haitians, foreign contractors, U.N. employees and everyone else should be liable and prisons should be waiting for them. Rigid rules must be in place to ensure that a sizeable portion of the jobs for reconstruction be given to local Haitians. That way, as we build, a ready workforce will be in place to maintain the new infrastructure and provide a tax base for the nation and, also, significantly decrease the poverty.

This isn’t rocket science. All that is needed is strong leadership and a sincere attempt at helping our neighbors in Haiti. Goodbye crooks, con artists, and evil doers as a new Haiti is about to form. God bless Haiti.

(Harry Alford is the co-founder, president/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, Inc. (r).  Website: www.nationalbcc.org.  Email: halford@nationalbcc.org.)

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