- February 16, 2018
Shady Haiti Clinton Deals
Some places have all the luck. In Haiti, it is bad luck. With a history peppered with earthquakes, tsunamis, and hurricanes – check out this laundry list from The Seattle Times – it’s no wonder that some of the disaster victims have left their country to seek refuge elsewhere, notably the United States.
It’s easy to understand why beleaguered Haitians would come to the US, if you look at a map. Located in the in the Caribbean and sharing a border with the Dominican Republic, the small island nation of Haiti is home to some 10 million people. If you drew a straight line from Miami, Florida to Port-au-Prince (the capital and largest city in Haiti) it would measure a mere 711 miles.
Many Haitians blame the Clinton family foundation for the lackluster and completely nonstellar disaster relief efforts after the 2010 earthquake there.
When the January 2010 earthquake struck Haiti, killing almost a quarter million people (the estimated number is 220,000 dead), Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, was UN Special Envoy to Haiti.
After the 2010 earthquake, Mr. Clinton was appointed co-chairman of the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC), serving alongside the Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive.
Port-au-Prince, Haiti on January 19, 2010, after the 7.0 quake (Photo: Uriel Sinai, Getty Images)
Due to the excruciatingly slow pace of recovery, the Haitian parliament voted not to renew the IHRC mandate in 2011. Even though a US Government Accountability Office report found no evidence of wrongdoing, it did conclude that the IHRC’s decisions were “not necessarily aligned with Haitian priorities.”
If the organization in charge of Haitian disaster recovery was neither in line with nor serving actual Haitian citizens impacted by the killer quake, where did all these millions of dollars of foreign aid go?
Bill Clinton’s office at the UN attributed 9% of the foreign aid cash to the Haitian government and a minuscule 0.6% to local organizations. Most of the money went to UN agencies, international aid groups, private contractors and donor countries’ own civilian and military agencies. No wonder ordinary Haitians are fed up with the corruption and greed surrounding them.
Talking about nice work if you can get it, the Pentagon charged the State Department hundreds of millions of dollars to send American military personnel to pass out bottled water and maintain the peace in Port-au-Prince.
Like vultures attracted to an injured animal, entrepreneurs from around the world flocked to feast on Haiti’s misery. Thanks to Wikileaks, we know a US envoy’s diplomatic cable termed the flood of private contractors competing to sell their services a “gold rush.” There’s money in them thar ruins.
The Clinton Foundation alone raised $30 million for aid projects in Haiti. Defending the charity, a representative told the BBC: “Every penny of the more than $30m raised was deployed on the ground, with no overhead taken by the Clinton Foundation.”
In other words, an official audit of the Clinton Foundation books would be clean. Nothing to see there.
Yet, emails obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by the Republican National Committee suggest that the Clintons were running a pay-to-play operation, though no hard evidence of this has emerged. We do know that the Clinton Foundation tracked both “FOB” (friends of Bill Clinton) and “WJC VIPs” (William Jefferson Clinton VIPs) for ready identification.
Even so, five years after the 7.0 magnitude earthquake killed hundreds of thousands of Haitians, recovery efforts were reportedly haphazard and, even more concerning, untracked. The Washington Examiner quoted Raymond Joseph, former Haitian ambassador to the US, said on Bloomberg’s “Market Makers:”
“We don’t know where the money has gone.”
UN food distribution, Port-au-Prince, Haiti on January 18, 2010 (Photo: Uriel Sinai-Getty Images)
This low level of government accounting does not inspire confidence. But neither do the Clintons’ repeated assurances that they did not reward their bestest friends with disaster relief revenue projects.
Consider the Clinton Foundation’s hallmark project, a garment factory known as the Caracol Industrial Park. Built with $400 million of global aid and in collaboration with the Clinton State Department, Hillary’s foundation helped arrange a US-subsidised deal with the Haitian government to build a $300 million factory complex in 2012.
Bill Clinton promised a total of 85,000 jobs (20,000 of them within five years) to be impoverished Haitians, but the result of evicting several hundred farmers from their land to pave the 600-acre manufacturing site, which produces clothes for retailers such as Old Navy, Walmart and Target? 8,000 workers are employed, one-tenth of the Clinton-promised economic gain.
Adding insult to injury, Haitian factory workers have accused management of bullying and sexual harassment.
The zinger? The factory’s main employer, South Korean textile giant Sae-A Trading Co, subsequently gave the Clinton Foundation between $50,000 to $100,000.
In the same time period when fewer than 1,500 new homes were built for displaced Haitians, the Clinton Foundation helped Irish billionaire Denis O’Brien construct a luxury Marriott hotel in Port-au-Prince. O’Brien just happened to have donated an estimated $10-$25 million to the Clinton Foundation. The reasoning here is that all those wealthy, international humanitarians need a nice place to stay. Never mind that the view outside the window is blight, flattened neighborhoods, and a population tired of doing without power, food, and drinking water.
Jake Johnston, an analyst with the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a nonpartisan group that has studied the earthquake reconstruction, told ABC News:
“This was ‘building back better,’ in the words of Bill Clinton. Haiti was going to stand on its own two feet. Certainly, by that standard, it’s been a complete failure … Six years later, it’s pretty clear that hasn’t happened.”
So millions of dollars of disaster aid have brought minimum relief to the average Haitian while private contractors and other non-Haitians reap benefits. What is wrong with this picture?
Naturally, the Clinton Foundation denies giving their special friends favors – and sometimes, these cozy relationships are hard to adjudge as illegal, even if they seem dishonest.
Because about 150,000 Haitians live in Florida, keeping them feeling good about disaster recovery back home is paramount to politicians on both sides of the aisle. Given the results of the 2016 election, Americanized Haitians turned their back on All Things Clinton, even though President Donald Trump has ended their guest immigration protected status under a law called Temporary Protected Status (TPS).
Since last summer, an increasing number of the 58,000 Haitians who came to the US under TPS and stayed here for almost a decade have been heading north to Canada, despite the fact that they face immediate arrest upon arrival there, as reported by the Miami Herald.
The real tragedy here is that, if even half the money donated from around the world that was pledged to restore Haiti and lift the people out of their desperate poverty and want – including that from the Clinton Foundation – had been spent on its original purpose, perhaps Haitians who came to the US upon our invitation would have a decent country to go back to.
Student crosses sewage water, Cité Soleil on November 21, 2017 (Photo: Dieu Nalio Chery-AP)
But no. As mentioned before, Haiti’s luck is not good. The fact that others profit from this country’s misfortune is bad karma, even though it is good business.