Haiti: Breaking The Cycle

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March 9, 2009:  The UN peacekeeping effort has succeeded in eliminating widespread unrest. But there is still no progress in changing the climate of corruption and misrule that has cursed the nation for so long. For two centuries, Haiti has seen one coup, and dictator, after another. A lack of an honest, and popularly elected, government has resulted in corruption, economic decline and what Haiti is today. Even elected governments have not changed the culture of corruption.

That frustration caused great unrest and much rioting least April That led to elections and a new government in September. Meanwhile, between August and September, the country was hit by four major tropical storms, damaging housing or livelihoods for about ten percent of the population. The new government has maintained the Haitian political tradition of saying the right things, and doing the wrong things. The corruption and government inactivity continues. Political unrest is expected to continue, in part because the global recession has led to less money being sent home by Haitians in other countries (particularly the United States.)

The UN has been trying, for over a year, to get the government to hold a donors conference, where major foreign donors and government officials could agree on major aid efforts. The government does not like the prospect of more anti-corruption (auditing and holding politicians personally responsible for theft) measures the major donor nations are demanding. Meanwhile, the UN has to raise at least $200 million a year to maintain the 9,000 peacekeepers. The global recession is making it harder to raise that money, and major donors for the delayed major reconstruction projects are backing off. No one wants to just walk away, because this could lead to another Somalia. But there's waning enthusiasm for pouring money into a country that makes no progress in fixing two centuries of bad habits.

 

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