5/5/2015, "The king and queen of Haiti," Politico, Jonathan M. Katz
"There’s no country that more
clearly illustrates the confusing nexus of Hillary Clinton’s State
Department and Bill Clinton’s foundation than Haiti—America’s poorest
"Two months later [in March 2011], Martelly [Hillary's choice] was elected president. Fewer than one in
five adult Haitians voted. At his inauguration, Martelly pledged his
country would at last be “open for business.”
Bill Clinton applauded from a few feet away.
Many in Haiti thought the Clintons’ influence had reached its peak
when, shortly after Martelly took office, he selected one of Bill
Clinton’s top aides, Garry Conille, to be his prime minister. Conille
had been Bill Clinton’s chief of staff at the U.N. Office of the Special
Envoy, and many in the Haitian political elite assumed that the
Clintons had imposed him to keep an eye on the unpredictable new
If that was the idea, it failed. Conille lasted just four months. He
was replaced by Laurent Lamothe, Martelly’s longtime business partner,
whom the former pop star had once referred to, lovingly, as a “true
bandit” in a song.
Things have only gotten more discordant since. Haiti has not held a
single election, at any level, in Martelly’s four years in office.
Parliament disbanded late last year when the terms of its members
expired, leaving Martelly to rule by decree. Both the Clintons and the
State Department tried to remain enthusiastic about the Martelly-Lamothe
administration. But when opposition protests broke out last year, even
Bill’s last-ditch endorsement of the prime minister in a Miami Herald interview could not save him from being forced to resign.
Shortly thereafter, a New York Times article by
reporter Frances Robles [3/16/15, "Haitian Leader’s Power Grows as Scandals Swirl"] spotlighted criminality surrounding the
Martelly administration, including its protection of members of an
alleged kidnapping and drug smuggling ring. A day after the article’s
publication, one of the most prominent allies of the president, Woodley
Ethéart, was indicted on charges of kidnapping and murder—only to be
freed within weeks.
I asked Hillary Clinton’s spokesperson, Nick Merrill, whether
Martelly’s track record had changed her opinion about the leader she
helped put in power. “She supports democratic elections, just like she
did as secretary,” Merrill said. He declined further comment....
When (Bill) Clinton ran for president in 1992, he blasted the George H.W. Bush
administration for rounding up boats of Haitians fleeing the military
junta that ousted Aristide and for taking too light a hand countering
the junta itself, many of whose leaders had received U.S. training or
money. Ultimately, Clinton’s intervention returned Aristide to power....
As president, Bill Clinton had intensified a crippling embargo against
Haiti’s then-ruling military junta and ordered the 1994 U.S. invasion to
restore the democratically elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide,
to power. Now he was supposed to finish the job, spearheading
development after a hunger crisis and a series of damaging hurricanes
that had struck in late 2008. Haitians weren’t sure what to think:
Clinton was popular with the masses for returning Aristide to power and
hated by the elites for the same reason....
But Aristide did not live up to White House expectations. In the years
ahead, U.S. relations worsened, and in 2004 the George W. Bush
administration provided a plane to fly him into exile, touching off
years of instability and lost growth, all capped by the 2010 earthquake.
That last disaster presented another chance for the U.S. to get
involved and another chance for redemption.
(Bill) Clinton won headlines by apologizing for having maintained as
president the import-substitution policies that destroyed Haiti’s food
sector—policies built on the dangerously misguided theory that factory
jobs obviated the need to produce rice and other food locally. He made a
special point to note that the policy had benefited farmers in his home
state of Arkansas. The message was clear: This time would be different.
And he had grand plans for what the industry could become. Clinton
predicted that with the right support to the garment sector, 100,000
jobs would be created “in short order.”
Secretary Clinton joined in too: She hired Collier’s research partner
in Haiti, Soros Economic Development Fund consultant Jean-Louis
Warnhoz, as a senior adviser.
She and her key aide Cheryl Mills
negotiated an agreement between the Haitian and U.S. governments,
multilateral financiers and the South Korean textile giant Sae-A Trading
Co. Ltd., which makes clothes for Old Navy, Walmart, Kohl’s, Target and
other retailers. The Haitian government provided the land. To create a
“plug and play” environment in a country lacking nearly all basic
services, IADB and USAID invested millions in roads, water systems, a
power plant, executive dormitories and the warehouse-like “shells” that
would house the factories. The Clinton Foundation “helped to promote
Caracol as an investment destination and worked … to attract new tenants
and investments to the park,” says Greg Milne, the foundation’s
director of Haiti programs.
In October 2012, Hillary and Bill Clinton flew down to join President
Martelly at the ribbon-cutting, where she pledged, “Our partnership, I
promise you, will extend far beyond my time as secretary of state. And
so, too, will the personal commitment that my husband and I have to
If things went as planned, Caracol would be a triumph of the
Clintons’ core model: the “public/private partnership”—U.S. taxpayer
dollars, Haitian land and private corporations working together to put
cheap clothes on American shelves and wages in Haitian pockets.
Today’s reality, though, falls far short of the 2012 dream—despite an
incredible financial investment. Far from 100,000 jobs—or even the
60,000 promised within five years of the park’s opening—Caracol
currently employs just 5,479 people full time.
That comes out to roughly
$55,000 in investment per job created so far; or, to put it another
way, about 30 times more per job than the average Sae-A worker makes per
year. The park, built on the site of a former U.S. Marine-run slave
labor camp during the 1915-1934 U.S. occupation, has the best-paved
roads and manicured sidewalks in the country, but most of the land
To many close observers of Haiti, the Clintons made the same mistake
that has been made for generations. Though striking a populist pose, in
practice they were attracted to power in Haiti, which meant making
alliances and friendships within the Haitian elite. “The strong push
toward Caracol is evidence of this,” says Robert Maguire, an expert on
development in Haiti and the director of The George Washington
University’s Latin American and Hemispheric Studies Program. Their
project responded not as much to the “more inclusive development
priorities pushed for by most Haitians and their government … but rather
to those supported by Haiti’s economic elites, who stood to benefit the
most from them.”
That does not mean that the Haitian elite are all fans of the
Clintons. Far from it. Many still smart over Bill’s decision to
reinstate the overthrown Aristide. Others are resentful of the power and
money the Clintons bring with them in their entourage, including
billionaires like O’Brien (who in turn have no love for the oligarchical
power of the Haitian import-export cartels). But infighting, the
maneuvering of power and political brinkmanship have long been tactics
of the Haitian elite. In a way, some whisper in Port-au-Prince, it’s as if the Clintons have joined their ranks.
The Washington Post recently wrote that
“the Clintons’ long influence in Haiti is hard to overstate.” It’s
indeed hard—but not impossible. While the Clintons and their allies
sometimes seem to be omnipresent, they are not omnipotent. In part,
that’s because, as a rule, things in Haiti do not go as planned.
The Interim Haiti Recovery Commission closed shop in 2011, derided
for ineffectiveness and decisions “not necessarily aligned with Haitian
priorities,” according to the Government Accountability Office. In
December 2010, the IHRC’s Haitian members protested in a letter that
they were being sidelined by Clinton, Bellerive and major donors on the
board, including the U.S. representative to the commission, Mills. “In
reality, Haitian members of the board have one role: to endorse the
decisions made by the Director and Executive Committee,” they wrote....
Others have questioned a $500,000 donation to the Clinton Foundation
made by the Algerian government after the 2010 earthquake, and a
$900,000 donation by Boeing to support Haitian schools at the same time
Secretary Clinton was lobbying the Russian government to buy that
company’s planes. The (Clinton) foundation has acknowledged it violated an ethics
agreement with the Obama White House by taking the Algerian donation..
Boeing indeed won a major contract, according to the Washington Post....
But even looking at money and institutional heft alone barely captures
the reach and influence of the Clintons’ network in Haiti: a vast,
diffuse web of power in all its 21st-century permutations.
story of actor Sean Penn and his unlikely transformation into a Haiti
power player. Penn used his celebrity to establish the aid group J/P HRO
in the weeks after the earthquake, then to forge a friendship with Bill
Clinton—who in turn used his foundation and his own celebrity to help
turn J/P HRO into one of the most powerful NGOs in Haiti. That led to
deeper ties to the newly elected government of Martelly, which named
Penn an ambassador....
But, though tracing the money in Haiti is difficult, there are no
solid indications that the donations went anywhere other than where they
were supposed to go. A Clinton Foundation spokesman says the Algerian
money went into a $16.4 million direct aid fund, which in turn provided
money to groups including Partners in Health, the operating fund of the
IHRC, and Sean Penn’s J/P HRO.
Boeing’s money went to a now-defunct NGO named Architecture for
Humanity, which rebuilt a quake-damaged school in the impoverished
Port-au-Prince neighborhood of Bel-Air. I visited on a recent school
day. While the new building does not scream luxury—there is no library
or computer lab, barely any furniture, and the school building does not
get electricity—it does seem to be a well-put-together piece of
construction, certainly by Haitian standards, where schools collapsed
from shoddy building materials even before the earthquake. The former
lead for the project, Kate Evarts, told me that while she no longer has
immediate access to the books, she thinks that $900,000 sounds about
right as a price tag when considering fees, licenses and the cost of
subcontractors. The foundation says some money also went to teacher
Even poring over documents doesn’t tell you much: In 2013, the most
recent tax year for which disclosures are available, the foundation
raised $295 million overall and spent $223 million—of which it says $197
million, or 88 percent, went to “program services.” That intentionally
vague term, used universally by NGOs across the aid world, includes
anything that can be justifiably linked to specific projects including
travel, office expenses and salaries....
There is little transparency in Haiti. Almost every deal, even a
legitimate one, gets made out of sight—and over the past five years, the
Clintons have seemingly had a representative or friend in all the most
important backrooms. That power discrepancy, along with the Clintons’
fondness for keeping their cards close to the vest, has led to wild
rumors everywhere. Many center on the Clintons supposedly buying land,
the traditional source of wealth and power....
The complexity and limits of the Clinton model in Haiti can be summed
up in a complex of 750 pastel-colored houses up the road from Caracol.
The residents of Village La Difference are happy to have homes with
electricity and water cisterns. But the settlement has been plagued by
construction problems since the beginning.
Two USAID contractors have
been suspended for failures including using shoddy concrete blocks and
failing to separate water and sewage pipes."...
"Jonathan M. Katz spent three-and-a-half years covering Haiti for The Associated Press and is the author of The Big Truck That Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster (Palgrave
Macmillan 2013). Follow him at @KatzOnEarth. The reporting and
photographs for this article were assisted by a grant from the Pulitzer
Center for Crisis Reporting. This piece originally appeared on
News that doesn't receive the necessary attention.
Saturday, January 13, 2018
King and Queen of Haiti: Bill and Hillary Clinton. Like many before them the Clintons focused on Haiti's elites rather than its general population-Politico, Jonathan M. Katz, 5/5/2015
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