My husband and I share something in common with Bill and Hillary Clinton. We spent our honeymoon in Haiti. It was on that trip that we first encountered real poverty, the likes of which most U.S. citizens have never seen or even imagined.
After the overthrow of the Duvalier regime, we had great hope for the country, but, alas, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who was elected democratically in 1990, turned into one of the most brutal dictators in Haiti’s history. Bill Clinton often claimed that he “restored democracy to Haiti.” In truth, by forcing Aristide back on these people in 1994, the country was left worse off than ever before.
In 2004, after Aristide was banished a second time from Haiti, there were periods when it looked as if democracy finally would take hold, but as of now, it is still a long way from becoming a reality. According to the Haiti Sentinel, by the time we go to the polls in November, Haiti will not have even one legitimately elected official in office.
It was somewhat ironic that last week, during the Democratic Convention, we would be in Haiti again. Our primary objective was to visit a young girl we have sponsored and educated since she was 8 years old through Childcare Worldwide. The visit was facilitated by the good folks at Royal Caribbean cruise line and the Christian charity. Our adopted Haitian daughter has made us very proud. Through all the political turmoil, tropical storms, hurricanes, a 7.0 earthquake and years of economic devastation and human rights abuse, she prevailed and is now in her last year of nursing school.
The expansive beach leased by Royal Caribbean contributes greatly to the Haitian economy. It is a tropical paradise, and visitors who never get outside the compound have no idea of what life is like in the rest of the county, which is the poorest in the Americas and one of the poorest in the world. It has been reported that two-thirds of the population lives on $2 per day or less. Sadly, remittances are still the life’s blood of the Haitian economy.
It is also very sad that those who watched the Democratic Convention were not shown the Haitian demonstrators who were present outside protesting the Clintons’ involvement in their country. They were desperate to draw attention to the plight of Haiti, which has largely been ignored since the 2010 earthquake.
As if the Aristide debacle weren’t bad enough, they want voters to know how the Clintons used their positions to enrich their supporters, donors, family members and friends at Haiti’s expense and robbed the country of its opportunity to rebuild. In addition, they charge that the Clintons destabilized the nation’s economy and state institutions in the process.
Of the $13 billion in reconstruction money (the lion’s share from the U.S.) the Office of the Special Envoy to Haiti reported that only 1 percent went to Haitian groups and agencies on the ground and 9.6 percent went to the Haitian government. It appears the rest was funneled through groups that had ties to the Clintons or had been donors to the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation, the money-laundering scheme that helped the Clintons maintain a lavish lifestyle and kept their political operatives employed when they were out of office.
Peter Schweizer traced much of the money to these donors in his book, “Clinton Cash,” which is must-reading for informed voters.
The bottom line is that the U.S. State Department headed by Hillary Clinton took charge of the relief effort while the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC) was given the task of executing the action plan to rebuild Port-au-Prince. The IHRC was co-chaired by none other than Bill Clinton, along with Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive. It wasn’t long before the other members of the commission began to complain about being completely shut out of the process. Soon afterward, the U.S. Government Accountability Office echoed those concerns and questioned how this money was being spent. In the end much of the work that was promised went unfulfilled.
One egregious example that occurred during that time is how a start-up company, VCS Mining in North Carolina, was given one of only two permits for open-pit gold mining. It was a sweetheart deal, with the Haitian government getting only 2.5 percent of the royalties, which is virtually unheard of in the industry. Guess who is now on the board? Hillary’s brother, Tony Rodham, and the former Haitian prime minister, Jean-Max Bellerive.
It is little wonder why Haitian groups now feel that their country was robbed.
Media wishing to interview Jane Chastain, please contact [email protected].