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learnedly read, too; in part, of intellectual rigor
Posted Tuesday, June 22, 2010
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - Haiti has made little progress in rebuilding in the five
months since its earthquake, because of an absence of leadership, disagreements
among donors and general disorganization, a U.S. Senate report says.
|U.S. Senate says Haiti makes
next to nothing progress in rebuilding
|By Jonathan M. Katz,
|Associated Press Writer
Obtained Monday by The Associated Press, the eight-page report is meant to give
Congress a picture of Haiti today as U.S. legislators consider authorizing $2
billion to support the country's reconstruction.
That picture is grim: Millions displaced from their homes, rubble and collapsed
buildings still dominating the landscape. Three weeks into hurricane season,
with tropical rains lashing the capital daily, construction is being held up by
land disputes and customs delays while plans for moving people out of
tent-and-tarp settlements remain in "early draft form," it says.
The report was written by staff of Sen. John Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat
who is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and other Democrats
who interviewed U.S., Haitian, United Nations and other officials and visited
resettlement camps, hospitals and schools throughout the quake zone.
"While many immediate humanitarian relief priorities appear to have been met,
there are troubling signs that the recovery and longer term rebuilding
activities are flagging," said the report, which is scheduled to be released
Three times it says the rebuilding process has "stalled" since the Jan. 12
disaster. The report also criticizes the government of Haitian President Rene
Preval and Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive, saying it has "not done an
effective job of communicating to Haitians that it is in charge and ready to
lead the rebuilding effort."
The report calls on Preval to take a "more visible and active role, despite the
Bellerive responded to the criticism in a Monday interview with the AP. He said
officials are working hard behind the scenes to ensure reconstruction does not
simply mean the rebuilding of barely livable slums.
"We understand the impatience and we are the ones more frustrated than anybody,"
the prime minister said. "It took some time. I believe four months (since a U.N.
donors' conference in March) to plan the refoundation from such a disaster is
With a chuckle, he also said it is unfair for U.S. officials to take him to task
when the Senate still has not approved aid money that Secretary of State Hillary
Rodham Clinton promised at the donors' conference.
"They ask me to move more projects when the money is still on hold," Bellerive
In all, just 2 percent of the $5.3 billion in near-term aid pledges have
actually been delivered, up from 1 percent last week.
The report expresses concerns that even once the money is in hand, it will not
move quickly enough to help. The funds are managed by a 26-member reconstruction
commission led by Bellerive and former U.S. President Bill Clinton that started
its operations last week.
While the report calls the commission the "best near-term prospect for driving
rebuilding," it also says the panel "has the potential to dramatically slow
things down through cumbersome bureaucratic obstacles at a time when Haiti
cannot afford to delay."
The report notes disagreements among donors over strategy, approach and
priorities, saying the disputes "are undercutting recovery and rebuilding."
The reconstruction panel includes representatives of donors who pledged at least
$100 million in cash or $200 million of debt relief, including the United
States, Venezuela, Brazil, Canada, the European Union, the Inter-American
Development Bank and the World Bank.
Bellerive said the report's criticism that the panel has been too slow in
organizing is already moot. "We had a meeting, we have an office, we have
administrative support," he said.
One thing on which all parties agree is the importance of November elections.
The legislature has almost entirely dissolved after members' terms expired
because the quake forced the cancellation of February legislative elections.
Preval's five-year term ends next February; an attempt to prolong his term by
several months if elections are not held resulted in protesters clashing with
police in front of the ruins of the presidential palace.
Failing to hold the November elections on time, even despite the losses of the
electoral commission's headquarters and records, could imperil "Haiti's fragile
democracy," the report says. But it expresses limited optimism that a plan for
holding the vote is "apparently imminent."
Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press
|Wehaitians.com, the scholarly journal of
democracy and human rights