From Fri Jun 28 15:22:02 2002
Date: Tue, 25 Jun 2002 23:54:36 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: [Haitireport] HaitiReport for June 24, 2002
Article: 141029
To: undisclosed-recipients:;

Opinion on Withheld Funds

Op-Ed by Carl Hiaasen (excerpts), Sun Sentinel, 22 June 2002

Children lie sick and dying this morning on Haiti’s central plateau, which will surprise no one familiar withthe wretched conditions there.

What’s shocking, though, is that they’re suffering in increasing numbers because the US government has deliberately blocked millions in international loans to the hemisphere’s poorest nation. A vital chunk of that money was earmarked for Haiti’s health-care system, strapped in the best of times but now on the brink of collapse.

I have worked for almost 20 years in Haiti and have seen USaid flow smoothly and generously during the years of the Duvalier dictatorship and the military juntas that followed, wrote Dr. Paul Farmer, an American who directs the Zanmi Lasante clinic. As a US physician, I believe it is shameful that the current embargo has been enforced during the tenure of a democratically elected government. Such policies are both unjust and a cause of great harm to the Haitian population, particularly to those living in poverty.

Staffed to handle 25,000 visits annually, [Farmer’s] facility will this year see more than 120,000 patients, Farmer says.Another 200,000 will be treated in the field by community health workers.

No one knows how many Haitians elsewhere in the country can no longer get medical care. Among the rampaging diseases are tuberculosis, malaria, HIV, meningitis and polio, which had once thought to have been eliminated from the Western Hemisphere.


These outbreaks, so devastating in Haiti, also pose a direct threat to countries where Haitians immigrate. Destination No.1 is the United States. That’s why it’s impossible to understate the stupefying short-sightedness of the Bush Administration, or too verstate the brutal human consequences of its actions against Haiti.

Almost $150 in loans from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) have been bottled up by the US. Included in these funds are $22.5 million for medical supplies and clinics and $54 million to improve the potability of the water supply, a source of deadly epidemics.

Ostensibly, the loans are being held back to force Haitian President Aristide to clean up the chaotic and sometimes violent electoral process. The country has been in political gridlock since the 2000 parliamentary elections, which many believe were fixed. US officials stiffly deny that the aid cutoff is an embargo, and like to brag that the US has spent some $300 million on humanitarian aid to Haiti over the last four years—about $10 a year per person.

Secretary of State Colin Powell has defended withholding the money: We do not believe enough has been done yet to move the political process forward to assure ourselves that additional aid will be used in the most effective way

It’s perfectly right to seek an end to thuggery and election fraud, but it’s unconscionable for our government to punish the sickest and neediest Haitians to make its point. The hypocrisy is literally sickening. Haiti wouldn’t be as abysmal as it is today if the US hadn’t looked the other way for 28 years while the Duvaliers looted the national treasury, pocketed foreign aid and assassinated their critics. When it comes to demanding democracy and human rights abroad, the US has extremely flexible standards. Powell chastises Haiti’s elected president at the same time that the Bush administration in snuggling up to a Chinese regime that imprisons dissidents in mental asylums.(Miami Herald, 6/16)