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I find it really sad that many of the news stories from Haiti are disappearing...but an interesting article I found was the  pledges from the G7 to wipe out Haiti's debt.

Countries are recognizing that "The debt to multilateral institutions should be forgiven and we'll work with these institutions and other partners to make this happen as soon as possible." However the relief will come in forms of grants and loans,  a really interesting approach and one I find hopefully will be a better one than the past.

The article mentions the summit was held in Canadian Arctic town of Iqaluit, and was  was attended by Robert Zoellick, the World Bank president, and Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). During the meeting, "members discussed what long-term assistance Haiti will need." I guess the pledge is what matters and not the location. I just would like to hear Haitian leaders being included in talks about progress for their country. 

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11 Comments

  1. Unknown User (mantonik)

    I gather this debate over cancelling Haiti's debt has been an ongoing debate  for the last couple of years. Haiti will be given a new starting point, but I am wondering how neoliberalist policies and the role of multinational corporations and contractors will play in the rebuilding. In reference to Peters' book, will it be a type of neocolonialism? What kind of moral standpoint will people, including corporations and agencies, use in shaping the reconstruction process?

    1. Unknown User (gnigro)

      Margaret,

      In many ways I agree with you. Coming from a neoliberal perspective, one may fear the true goals of the international corporations who will be rebuilding in Haiti. With all of the international attention though, I believe that they will be forced to conduct a positive and legitimate rebuilding process. The eyes of the world will be on them.

      In terms of forgiving Haiti’s debt, I think this is a GREAT idea. Going along with this, how come we don’t forgive African debt? In many ways, those countries are just as poor as Haiti. Forgiving African debt has been tossed around for many years now, but perhaps now that the world is getting a glimpse at what poverty looks like, we can begin to push this agenda.

      Forgiving African debt could the the first step in helping poverty in 3rd world countries.

      In playing the Devil's advocate though, what would forgiving African/Haitian debt do to the international/US economy?

      1. Unknown User (scrane)

        Greg, I am so glad you brought this up! I too have been hoping that the discussions of Haiti's debt cancellation may open more discussion about debt cancellation for other "two thirds" world nations, particularly those in Africa.  Unfortunately I am not very well read or educated about the ways this would affect the international or U.S. economy, but I think holding onto it is a part of neoliberal thinking.  It is undeniable that these debts are very negatively impacting nations already in poverty and are continuing to keep them in that place with little hope of ever actually repaying the debts the world has loaned them.  In June 2009, $1.2 billion of Haiti's debt was cancelled, and yet they still remain in debt and some groups want to give aid in a form that would bring more debt, such as the IMFThis website has a lot of information on world debt currently and the work they are doing toward its cancellation. 

        1. Unknown User (lsalter)

          I have to be honest and say that this concept of "debt cancellation" is completely over my head when I look at it from an international standpoint. What would this debt cancellation mean for those countries that Haiti and other impoverished nations are currently indebted to?

          Along those lines however, I do think that Gordon Brown made a great point in the AlJazeera article saying that, ""a nation buried in rubble must not also be buried in debt". I don't see how we can expect Haiti to pull itself out of this situation and also have the continual reminder that they own millions of dollars to countries that have provided foreign aid. Our focus should be on rebuilding a nation that's entire infrastructure is demolished and help it to progress forward and establish stronger systems than were in place before. Hopefully Greg is right in saying that the entire world will be watching, which will pressure the rebuilding to occur in a way that isn't just "what works for us". I think this may be easier said than done, however. We can't approach the rebuilding of Haiti without considering the ways in which it hasn't worked in the past. Hopefully debt cancellation is a step in the right direction, trying to do things differently than we have been by allowing a country to recover without thinking about their foreign debts as well.

  2. Unknown User (smire)

    I am becoming more and more frustrated with the reconstruction process in Haiti. It seems that poor  Haitians just can't catch a break. The movement resembles nothing of reconstruction, only repetition. Corruption was so prevalent in Haiti prior to the earthquake. Everywhere you turned you had to pay someone else off. Someone explained the Haitian mentality to me and it really does make sense in my experiences. If you go anywhere in Haiti, you draw a crowd. People want to be as near to you as possible. If you go to church, Haitians pack into the first few rows as tight as possible, leaving the back of the church empty. In Haiti, the first is the best, and the last gets nothing. There is never enough to go around so it's best to crowd whoever has the most. Now, it appears that the secondary market for food relief has induced the creation of counterfeit food coupons. Scam artists are not selling them to the poorest people. When will the corruption end?  http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/09/world/americas/09haiti.html

  3. Unknown User (dwantland)

    One reason it seems that Haitians aren't talking about progress, as drawn from the article, is the extent of the crisis. The AlJazeera article that Mallory posted says "so much of Haiti's infrastructure was lost or damaged that officials say it will take a wholesale reconstruction effort to get the country on its feet economically." It is beyond my ability to fathom the logistical problems, not to mention the daily reality of "smell of rotting flesh." Could we begin to think about progress if this were our reality? Should we expect them to just buck up and move on? Something that frustrates me is that, in the name of progress (which I think is good and necessary) we have abandoned a period of mourning, which is an unfair stance that only we who are removed from the reality can take.

    1. Unknown User (bbarnes)

      I agree with your point Dave. I do not think that people seriously expect all of Haiti's problems to be solved in a month. And i know that it may not be fair to compare the earth quake in Haiti to the flood in New Orleans, but something like this did happen to us. And i think that the people who say that the Haitians are not talking about progress are the people that have grown accustomed to the luxury of a stable government and knowing that "help" and aid should be on the way in a timely manner. The Haitian government was not that stable before the earthquake happened, so why should we expect them to talk about progress after the fact and have a plan drawn out to fix every ailing Haitians problems now? They need time not just money and supplies.

  4. Unknown User (mboyd2026)

    I want to clarify when I said that I would like to see Haitians being included in talks about progress.

    I hope that in rebuilding the capital, government buildings, infrastructure and all,  town meetings are held and local issues  addressed. As outsiders we can read about the history of the country, but we should also ask provisional governments and aid agencies to do the same. Knowing what barriers have been in place and kept Haiti impoverished is necessary for any change to come about.

    It was just in February 2004 when Haiti's constitutional government was overthrown and a brutal end was brought to 10 years of democracy. The coup was orchestrated by the US, France and Canada, forcing President Aristide into exile and a UN military occupation was instituted.

    I think to change the "failures" many people find and cite in the country's history, it is crucial to recognize that the people of Haiti have been removed for far too long from the country's "progress." For that reason, I want to see Haitians given opportunity to voice their opinions in how their country is rebuilt.

    1. Unknown User (tmendez)

      I agree with you 100% Mallory. This is what I have been saying in almost all of my responses. How can we help a culture different from ours if we do not have input from those who live in it? Don't we think that after years of trying to apply developed ideologies to them and seeing it fail, that maybe they can come up with some ideas (at the very least) for solutions? 

      Also, interesting fact, did you know that the US, under Clinton, was responsible for reinstating Aristide when he was ousted in 1991 in the coup by Haitian militants? The idea behind all of this was that they did not like him at first because of his "socialist" ideologies but then they realized that they could better control him than they could a band of militant rebels. 

      Here is a link to an article that speaks of the long involvement of the US in Haiti's government. I think you may find this interesting. 

      http://www.jstor.org.libproxy.furman.edu/stable/40209253?&Search=yes&term=Aristide&term=reinstatement&term=Jean&term=Bertrand&list=hide&searchUri=/action/doBasicSearch%3FQuery%3DJean%2BBertrand%2BAristide%2Band%2Breinstatement%26wc%3Don%26dc%3DPolitical%2BScience%26submit%3DSearch&item=1&ttl=10&returnArticleService=showArticle

      1. Unknown User (bsmalls)

        See this is annoying to me! It's the whole patronizing thing again.  I mean although a socialist government is a form of communism, and the US wanted to get rid of any form of this, when reinstating Aristide, it just puts him in an awkward position to rule a people who are confused about who should rule. 

        How far should we or other nations go in interfering with other nations to help the people? It is funny because I always a couple of years ago I always knew that other people from other countries hated us, and I was just discovering why: we were behind a lot of the instability and coups in that country...BUT also I saw that many people are begging for us to come and help them and save them. Where is the line drawn?

  5. Unknown User (ftaylor1858)

    In reading all of these comments, I'm further disheartened by all that I've come to know and learn, as well as the things that I've already known for some time about how our government works. I agree that the people of Haiti should be included in their own government, but I also recognize that because the majority are uneducated, that process will take longer than emergencies necessitate. And so countries will continue to endorse rulers who don't really care about the needs to the many but endorse the needs of the few (or the one). 

    It reminds me of a story I heard from a frustrated Afrikaner about South Africa. Recently in South Africa's political history, the appointed political official in charge of South Africa's resources and energy consumption toured a hydroelectric dam. The political official was not a white Afrikaner. He was a black African. After the tour, he asked the workers, "How do you get the electricity out of the water?"

    This story fuels a lot of frustration. But the worst part is that there is no pin-pointed cause of it. Apartheid caused the lack of educational resources for native Africans, but Africans aren't helping their countries by putting old cronies into political positions that aren't really cut out for the job.

    So I guess the question is this: what ways will we help that will enhance independence, better government, and healthy government relations between the US and Haiti that doesn't look like what we did to Cuba, the Philippines, or any other form of colonization?