Haiti is a stark example of a failed nation-state compounded by years of mismanagement of public resources, political instability and endemic corruption as shown by the Petrocaribe embezzlement. The transition from dictatorship to democracy has not brought about the envisioned changes in people’s lives, mainly because of external and internal factors. Other countries have made a similar transition seamlessly from dictatorship or authoritarian regimes to democracy with increasingly robust economies and real social development indicators (education, health, security). Why did Haiti fail where comparable states in Africa and South America have been successful?

The Foreign Aid regime as an external force developed by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, (IMF), USAID, the Inter-American Development Bank and other cognizable international organizations controlled by Western nations, was a sham designed to saddle poor under-developed countries with debts that they can never repay. Thus making countries like Haiti forever obligated to its creditors and corporate interests. Developing countries have a significant role to play in alleviating the poverty and misery in underdeveloped countries like Haiti. But when the foreign aid is not genuine, but designed in the self-serving interest and un-altruistic objective of the donors, it creates more problem than it solves.

Following the aftermath of the devastating earthquake in Port-Au-Prince, Western nations came together at the United Nations in a Kumbaya feel good moment promising billions of dollars to Haiti’s reconstruction. Seven years later the only operating economic mechanism, if you can call it that, is a sweatshop near Haiti’s second largest city, Cap-Haitian where poor Haitians are laboring under slave wages – the result of the Clintons and the Haitian government s negotiation of what constitute economic development. The continuing exploitation contributes nothing to the amelioration of these people’s lives.

In the three decades since the fall of the Duvalier regime, Haiti has gone from bad to worse. Meanwhile, every year we hear of millions of dollars of foreign aid either in the form of loans to Haiti, or “giveaways.” Both the loans and giveaways are illusions designed for public consumption with a particular objective masked by an altruistic self-imposed moral obligation that makes the donors/creditors feel good. But the truth is that the income ratio of the one-fifth of the world population in the wealthiest countries (US, France, Canada) to the one-fifth in the poorest countries (Haiti, Bangladesh) went from 30 to 1 from 1960 to 94 to 1 in 2016. In Haiti, most the population continues to survive on less than an American dollar a day. But if you read reports from international financial organizations such as the World Bank, USAID, or IMF, you would learn that considerable progress has been made. In the face of the progress, millions of Haitians are classified as dangerously impoverished. Deforestation, malnutrition, food insecurity, lack of access to simple health care and education continue unabated and are getting worse as time goes by. But yet there is progress.

The internal factors contributing to Haiti’s malaise are more important and lethal. Political infighting, corruption, incompetence, and brain-drain, set the stage for Haiti’s continuing free fall into the abyss of underdevelopment and economic stagnation. The election of Jovenel Moise marks the second time in Haiti’s history when power is passed without bloodshed. That is a good indication that politically, Haitians may find a way to agree to disagree and while keeping their focus on the betterment of the population. Nevertheless, corruption is a cancer that unless eradicated will challenge good governance and competency in the face of great political stability. The PetroCaribe embezzlement is a serious issue that the Moise government should address head on. So far, those who have been involved, or have been accused of being involved, must be held accountable for their actions. Corruption must be the first item on the Moise agenda. Incompetence and brain drain are issues that can easily be resolved once corruption is controlled and good governance is the order of the day.

For example, nearly 2 billion dollars of the PetroCaribe fund have been misappropriated. Money that could have been used to start an economic revival in agriculture starting with Artibonite where rice production has been anemic; or the construction of schools and infrastructure to help the movement of people and goods from one part of the country to another. Jacmel is a jewel. But because the place is encircled by rocky mountains with questionable road access, this makes it hard for long-term business and economic development. Deforestation and food security are existential issues that threaten Haiti to the core. President Moise recently made a bold announcement in Artibonite for possible investment in rice production, water and irrigation. But with corruption, the lack of brain power and competency, those announcements are just that.

Agriculture has always been the basis for Haiti’s survival. Fifty years ago, Haiti produced all of its food and enough to sell overseas. Now, Haiti relies on its neighbor for food. As of 2017, most of the food consumed in Haiti comes from abroad. That is a dangerous situation. The Moise government should keep its focus on shoring up Haiti agricultural sector. First, reforestation should be a national emergency. Haiti is losing most of its land through the small water deluge caused by rain because of deforestation. Agricultural technology to increase output is readily available through a partnership with many countries, both in Africa and South America.

None of these can be achieved without good governance, building the government capacity for self-governance through transparency and the rule of law – holding bureaucrats and government officials accountable for violations of the public trust. For that to happen, the President himself and those surrounding him must not be involved in corruption. Public service should be an opportunity to serve the interest of the many, not the misguided, self-serving interests of the few and powerful.

Omega World News

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