In the aftermath of the earthquake that hit Haiti on January 12, 2010, those who were desperate to find something positive in the tragedy that claimed an estimated 230,000 lives talked about the "opportunity" the destruction could present for the impoverished nation to "build back better." On the tragedy’s one-year anniversary, it’s become clear that perhaps the only positive aspect of the past twelve months has been the exposure of the failures of the NGO aid system, and the international community’s long-standing use of the country as a laboratory for cashing in on disaster—both of which have been wrecking havoc on this country since long before the earthquake.
Despite being home to the world’s highest density of NGOs per capita, Haiti is presently being ravaged by a cholera epidemic with an official death toll of some 3,300, with experts estimating the number of dead at twice as high.
More than a million people are still living in overcrowded camps under the same now-frayed tarps they received last January. A third of these camps still don’t have toilets, and most Haitians have no access to potable water.
The cholera may have spread to Haiti via latrines on the base of the UN’s Nepalese troops, which emptied into the country’s main river, inflaming the already widespread contempt for the UN’s interminable MINUSTAH occupation. This, followed by an election bankrolled and endorsed by the international community, but widely denounced within Haiti as illegitimate and fraudulent, has caused protesters to barricade streets in several cities with burning tires, cars, garbage dumps, as well as coffins and portable toilets as barricades, hindering cholera relief, spreading the epidemic and plunging the country deeper into socio-political chaos.
A lull of a political stalemate has settled over Haiti in anticipation of the month-and-a-half-old election results. But the Center for Economic and Policy Research independently recounted and reviewed the 11,181 tally sheets and found massive irregularities, errors, and missing vote totals. “The OAS can’t salvage an election that was fundamentally illegitimate, where nearly three-quarters of the electorate didn’t vote, where the most popular political party was excluded from the ballot, and the vote count of the minority that did vote was severely compromised,” said Mark Weisbrot, CEPR co-director.
In the past weeks, several highly-placed diplomatic and Haitian establishment figures have voiced what Haitians have been saying for months: forever excluded from any process determining their political and economic sovereignty, Haitians are now being excluded from the reconstruction of their nation.
The twelve Haitian members of the Interim Haiti Reconstruction Commission—a twenty-six-member body that decides where to spend money donated to Haiti’s reconstruction—presented a letter of protest to co-chairman Bill Clinton at the commission’s most recent meeting on December 14.
They complain of being "completely disconnected from the activities of the IHRC," given no background information on the projects they are supposed to fund, given “time neither to read, nor analyze, nor understand—and much less respond intelligently—to projects submitted" the day before they’re voted on. There is no follow up on previously approved millions in funds; they "don’t even know the names of the consultants who work for the IHRC nor their respective tasks.”"