NEWS BLOG (WSAU) What is happening in Haiti is tragic.
The situation in Haiti before Tuesday’s earthquake is a scandal. It took a natural disaster to bring it to light.
Haiti, per capita, has received more U.S. aid than any other nation in the western hemisphere. What have we received for our investment in this nation and her people? Nothing. American money has made no difference. It is still our poorest neighbor. Although it is difficult to compare, Cuba has a greater gross domestic product.
Aid we’re given actually made things worse. Our money that went to Haiti has enriched corrupt politicians. It’s been of no benefit to the people.
The Dominican Republic shares the same island. Haiti has better ports and more fertile growing fields. But the D.R. has a more effective government. Cruise ships stop there, but not Haiti (too much crime). The D.R. has all-inclusive luxury resorts, Haiti doesn’t (too many bribes to get the building permits). The D.R. is an imperfect, functioning democracy. Haiti has been dominated by political strongmen with armed gangs acting as secret police.
And our last national adventure into Haiti turned into a national embarrassment for the United States. Jean-Bertrand Aristide was elected president, but was ousted in a coup in 1991. President Clinton was prepared to send U.S. troops to help distribute humanitarian aid, but to secretly help retuned Aristide to power. But our troops never landed. After an armed gang appeared on the main docks at Port au Prince, United States naval ships and the marines they carried stayed off shore. The world took note, especially the terrorists of today, that the mighty U.S. military backs down when faced with a small group of local toughs.
There is the possibility that earthquake aid will get to the people that need it. And we should help on humanitarian grounds.
But pre-earthquake Haiti is an indictment of U.S. foreign aid. The more we give, the worse the recipient of our generosity seems to get.
Operations Manager-Midwest Communications, Wausau