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Protests, frustration at Haiti aid bottlenecks

You would think at a time like this, even the most corrupt person would allow aid to pass without delay to those who need it most in Haiti.  But, I guess even the most tragic of situations will be taken advantage of by somebody. 

One excerpt from the article describes how a local official demanded bribes in exchange for coupons for bags of donated food.  In addition to the history of colonialism, I think this story reflects one of the many contributions to the profound poverty in Haiti.  http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/6120522.stmA small corrupt group takes advantage of their authority for their own benefit, all the while driving their country even further into the desperate poverty initially created by outside influences. 

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6 Comments

  1. Unknown User (mmorris1821)

    I know nothing about wikis and messed up the link.  The first link in the second paragraph is to the 2006 list of corrupt countries where Haiti was listed as #1.  Thinking that was out of date, the second link is to a more recent list where Haiti is tied for #10 with several other countries.  Sorry y'all!

  2. Unknown User (gnigro)

    This is certainly sad. I just finished reading this article as well, and it is difficult to imagine people of authority accepting bribes in a disaster zone. While I think that the US and the UN should focus on stopping such horrible behavior, one can imagine just how difficult this can be. I would not even know where to being.

    On another note, I am surprised that I have not heard anything about looting. This always seems to be a common occurrence after a natural disaster, yet I have yet to find anything that has mentioned it as a real problem.

    Has anyone else?

  3. Unknown User (wgilmer)

    Looting doesn't seem to be out of control, but obviously it's taking place. Here's a link from a few weeks ago showing the police firing warning shots at "looters:"

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y5h48QUXeog

    Notice that they're carrying bolt-action rifles and revolvers...Woefully under equipped to deal with any violent mobs of looters. More on that point here: http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/americas/01/19/haiti.police/index.html

    The Haitian police have also been, historically, one of the most corrupt organizations in the world. For all we know, they might be driving away "looters" so that they can have the first pick of salvage.

    Here's a question that was tossed around a lot after Katrina, where the folks left in New Orleans were branded looters even when they were scavenging for food: when does someone digging through rubble looking for food, clothing, hardware, etc go from salvaging to looting?

  4. Unknown User (bsmalls)

    The problem of corruption is one thing we brought up in class and I remember wondering what would stop a government from acting corruptly and Dr. Gandolfo answered a system that basically constructed and maintained order and guidelines...but we all know that that does not guarantee complete riddance of corruption. Sometimes those in power can maintain their power by being corrupt. It seems to be an inescapable. For example I have heard of violent cases against the poor by UN workers. When I googled it nothing came up, but then again I'm sure the UN would make sure that that would be the case.

    Anyways I am not trying to be too cynical but coming to a liberal arts college we are taught to open our eyes to the bigger picture and to find what's hidden or not being spoken of shown and I believe that in most cases the greediness of individuals prevails and causes distrust.

    And to just comment on the situation of looting vs. salvaging...I just want to say that I am very disappointed in the people who have been looting because at a time when the whole world's attention is on their aid, they have to display this kind of conduct...however to them this could be seen as wise and desperate. I think Haitians should use the attention they are getting and their situation they are in to do more constructive things like speaking out and expressing themselves since most nations are giving them an ear. This seems to be more effective in the long run anyways.

  5. Unknown User (mhull1473)

    While the earthquakes in Haiti have put Haiti in a desperate position, the truth is that Haiti was already in a desperate situation and was full of desperate people. From what I understand, even before this disaster, Haiti just plain did not have enough wealth or resources to support all its people properly. With the vast majority of its people underpaid and overworked, uneducated and undernourished, many Haitians were already predisposed towards theft and corruption. Peters said that when one has means, one is more able to pick and choose among options to find one's best course of action; but in Haiti, no means means no options. Oftentimes people fall into theft because that is the only way that they know how to obtain what they need. I'm not saying that their actions are excusable, but I am saying that their actions may be explained based upon their knowledge.

    With this crisis, is it then so hard to understand why instances of theft and corruption have increased? Most Haitians are even more desperate than before, so it seems logical that they continue to turn to the only way they know to gain the supplies or leverage that they need. I argue that oftentimes, looters are driven into their actions, not out of greed necessarily, but out of an innate sense of self-preservation. Even in America, there are people in desperate situations all around us; but that largely doesn't stop us from solely looking after our own selves, especially when we can't see how our actions negatively affect others.

  6. Unknown User (kberry1428)

    What strikes me in all of this 'taking advantage of the situation' is  how we automatically think the worse. Something to keep in mind is that this might be their way to live and support their families. Now examples of the soldiers charging people for supposedly free resources is not ok. But for the Haitian person who has just lost everything, they might be doing what they have to put food in their kids. Solving this problem is one of the things that you don't solve by itself. Like with all of these poverty related problems they are inter-related