#PETROCARIBE: CORRUPTION INSIDE THE “SHITHOLE” COUNTRY (HAITI)

PETROCARIBE: CORRUPTION INSIDE THE “SHITHOLE” COUNTRY (HAITI)

 

BROOKLYN, NEW YORK – When U.S. President Donald Trump reportedly referred to Haiti as a “shithole” country, some Haitians in the Diaspora reacted with lightning speed to criticize Donald Trump and branded him as “racist.” Many so-called “leaders” moved quickly to organize the usual march in Manhattan streets to denounce Trump’s remarks. The reaction was swift and predictable, but remarkably, none of these leaders have mustered similar courage to challenge endemic corruption in Haiti, government ineptitude, nepotism and abject poverty.

 

The Diaspora’s knee-jerk reaction mimics the “streetlight effect” where a drunk person looks for his keys where there is light as opposed to where he drops them. Far too many Haitians tend to look for the truth in places where it is easier to search rather than the places where the truth is likely to be found. Blaming someone for articulating a misguided opinion is easier than grappling with Haiti’s corrupt politicians, a failed nation; and our continuing contributions to the failure either because of complacency and or lack of ability to band together towards a common goal.

 

Today, more than ever Haiti faces an existential threat because of endemic corruption, and the avarice of too many politicians whose misdeeds in office often reward them rather than punish them. As current president Jovenel Moise presides over a decrepit state, it is hard to imagine a better fate for Haiti when all of its institutions have been perverted to serve the powerful and the well-connected at the expense of the majority of Haitians. Nearly 80% of Haitians live on less than $2 a day, which the World Bank classifies as “extreme poverty”. Meanwhile, Haiti’s former president Michel Joseph Martelly and its two most recent prime ministers: Evans Paul and Jean-Max Bellerive have stolen millions of dollars from the Petrocaribe fund, and they continue to live their lives in opulence while the majority of Haitians try to survive on less than $2 a day.

 

The Haitian Diaspora has not been offended by that. No leaders have called for a march against the impunity in Haiti. No one has called these people to account for their misdeeds. If anything, they are celebrated for their ability to misappropriate other people’s property. The Diaspora has yet to register its objection to Wilson Laleau, the chief of staff of president Jovenel Moise, who as minister of finance under Martelly was involved in the theft of the Petrocaribe fund. I look forward to the day when so-called Diaspora leaders would take a stand against corruption in Haiti and demands that politicians be held accountable to the people.

 

After the 2010 earthquake, millions of people were displaced, and government buildings were destroyed, eight years later, the buildings have not been rebuilt while millions of dollars have been paid to companies owned by Haitian government officials, their family members, and cronies. People are still living in tents, and dying unnecessarily because of lack of simple medical care.

 

In Latortue’s report about the Petrocaribe fund, Jean Max Bellerive and Evans Paul  oversaw the expenditures of nearly 800 million dollars during his tenure as prime minister. Millions of dollars’ worth of no-bid contract had been awarded to companies associated with President Michel Martelly. It was common knowledge that Mr. Martelly allegedly  required a 15% kickback in order to sign off on construction contracts, but yet no one in the Diaspora has mobilized against such corruption. But yet, the Diaspora is quick to criticize anyone who speaks the truth about Haiti.

 

Take, for example, the Haitian government’s refusal to pay its consulate workers on time while higher-ups are regularly being paid. Omega investigated the matter and wrote extensively about the problem. While many people called to congratulate us for paying attention and bringing the problem to light, no one has gone on the records to register their opposition. There were no marches, no wide condemnation.And still now no contractual and employee of the ministry of Interior in all the consulate worldwide have been paid for 5 months now .What a shame.! 

 

It is not easy to look at oneself and ask important questions. By omission, we have all contributed to the “shithole” comment whether one wishes to accept it or not. The issue is not what others are saying about us, it is whether or not their observation is rational and based on facts. The Diaspora’s energy and political capital, if any should be focused on providing solutions to solve some of Haiti’s problems. While each of us has an obligation to act as good ambassadors for Haiti, we cannot continue to deny the truth because we don’t like it. Next time, we want to find the truth, let’s look at where it is: It is in us, as regrettable as it is for me to say this, we are all guilty of complicity.

 

Omega Staff Writers

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