U.S. Aid Fails In Haiti
March 23, 1999
After nearly five years spent pouring $2.2 billion of U.S. taxpayers' money into Haiti, there is little to show for it and the country could once again be slipping into chaos, observers report. Poverty, fraud and corruption are still widespread and in January Haitian President Rene Preval dissolved the country's parliament, effectively instituting one-man rule.
To promote stability and democracy, in 1994 U.S. troops overthrew Haiti's military regime. Today Haiti gets the biggest slice of U.S. economic aid -- not including food assistance -- of any nation in the Western Hemisphere -- $70 million in the last fiscal year.
Here are some of the indicators of failure since 1994:
- Roads are crumbling, electricity and clean water are scarce, and many children still go hungry as per-capita annual income has fallen from $260 in 1994 to $225 today.
- Nearly $30 million in U.S. aid has been spent to support elections marked by fraud, inefficiency and low voter turnout -- including $600,000 paid to an AFL-CIO affiliate for poll watching and other duties that were apparently never performed.
- A similar amount of aid has gone to reform a justice system the U.S. State Department recently called "nearly moribund."
- The U.S. spends $400,000 a year to support a Special Investigations Unit formed in 1995 under U.S. advisers to investigate 26 political killings -- but it has never solved a case.
Observers point out that if dictatorship returns, there are nearly eight million potential refugees to the U.S. in Haiti. After dropping off dramatically in 1995, Haitian refugee numbers are climbing again -- from 587 in 1997 to 1,206 last year.
President Clinton wants another $105 million in U.S. aid to Haiti this year.
Source: Shelley Emling, "Billions of U.S. Dollars Later, Haiti No Better Off," Washington Times, March 23, 1999.
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