For Immediate Release


Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Why Is Haiti So Poor?

Ives, a journalist with Haïti Liberté newspaper, just returned from Haiti on Thursday. He reports that with the rainy season coming, tens of thousands of Haitians remain homeless, living in giant camps of sheets, tarps and tents. Many complain that they still do not receive food aid, charging that the coupon system devised by some NGOs is plagued by favoritism and corruption.

Ives said today: "'I have no tent, no tarpaulin, no food, no water, no coupons, no aid period,' complained Lamercie Lounes, 28, echoing the words of many others I interviewed. 'The guys who get the food coupons give them to their friends, or to women who sleep with them, or they sell them. It is corrupt. You have to know someone to get aid. It is a business.'

"Many have noted the lower death toll in Chile, which is still in the hundreds while Haiti's is in the hundreds of thousands. Analysts have noted that Chile enforced strict building codes while Haiti had few codes and they were unenforced. However, the death toll disparity has more to do with the differing political economies of the two countries.


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"Haiti's agricultural society has been largely destroyed over the past three decades by economic policies devised and promoted by Washington. By eradicating Haiti's creole pigs, dumping cheap rice, lowering tariff barriers, and privatizing state industries, neoliberal reform champions in the Haitian government, pushed by the World Bank, IMF and USAID, have forced tens of thousands of small farmers off the land and into the capital where they build flimsy houses vulnerable to natural disasters."

Ives was recently interviewed, while in Haiti, by Democracy Now for a segment titled "How Western Domination Has Undermined Haiti's Ability to Recover from Natural Devastation."


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