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Searching for Signs of Progress in Haiti [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2011-1-15 20:59:29 |Display all floors
From Spiegel Online

A year after an earthquake devastated Haiti, the country is still in disastrous shape. Billions in aid seem to have only made the country a long-term patient of international donors and reconstruction has yet to begin in earnest. Much hope is riding on the coming election.

The sidewalks of Pétionville used to be Officer Jean Calas' pride and joy -- a last bit of order in a life that was drowning in chaos even then. The rules for the sidewalks were clear, he says: They were for pedestrians and nothing else. People respected those rules -- and they respected him. That, though, was before the earthquake.

Calas turns onto Rue Lambert, a street once lined with exclusive shops, a street he describes as Port-au-Prince's Fifth Avenue. Now the sidewalks are full of street vendors catering to the poor, who lost not only their houses but also their markets to the quake with entire slums disappearing under the rubble. The destruction has driven them into the city's wealthier quarter. So now they're here, in Pétionville's open spaces -- in front of the police station, in Parc Sainte Thérèse and on Rue Lambert.

Calas reaches for his whistle. His chest displays his badge number, 00708, and four gold stripes on his shoulder indicate his rank. Now 42, Calas had envisioned more for himself. He would prefer to be "Monsieur l'Inspecteur" rather than a beat cop, especially given all the new problems police officers in Haiti face.

There is more theft and kidnapping now because many Haitians believe that donations from the United States and Europe have made a few locals into millionaires, and that these people are living in Pétionville's villas. There are also more instances of rape, with armed and masked men attacking women and girls in the overcrowded tent camps at night.

Calas' colleagues receive reports of such attacks every day, and every day they tell the victims that they can do little about it. With so few officers and practically no equipment, they simply can't guard the camps.

Indeed, the police station in Pétionville is short on everything. The officers don't have a single computer, landline or photocopier. They don't even have clean toilets or a reliable power supply. Each week, officers receive four rounds of ammunition -- and not a bullet more. Those who want to feel more secure have to buy their own.

In an effort to make improvements where he can, Calas has decided to focus on the battle for the sidewalks. While patrolling in his cruiser, he honks, he whistles and he uses his bullhorn. When no one responds, he steers toward the vendors' wares and threatens to run them over. "Get out of the way!" he shouts. "Déplacez-vous!" But no one listens.

The Chaos Continues

The Haitian state, it would seem, abandoned the task of governing on Jan. 12, 2010. That was the day on which the earthquake buried 300,000 people, including 18,000 civil servants, under deep piles of rubble. The presidential palace and the finance, justice and interior ministries, along with 180 other government buildings, collapsed. Relief organizations have, since then, largely filled the void -- Haiti has become a republic of NGOs.

Streets all over Port-au-Prince are still strewn with rubble. At least a million people still live in tent camps, on the city's public squares, on the Champ de Mars as well as in Carrefour and Mariani, two areas closer to the sea. Images of the homeless have become normality -- the world has gotten used to a stricken Haiti.

According to Roland Van Hauwermeiren, a country director in Haiti for the aid organization Oxfam, 2010 was a year of "missed opportunities" for rebuilding. Many areas require immediate action, including clearing rubble, repairing houses and allocating land. Despite current political difficulties, it is time, Van Hauwermeiren insists, to begin rebuilding.

The political problems are not insignificant. First, the presidential election scheduled for January 16 has now been delayed until at least late February due to irregularities. Second, the term of the current president, René Préval, ends on February 7. Likewise, there are still no official final results from a contentious first round of voting this past November. And, finally, it's unclear which leader the international community should support.

Broken Promises, Growing Dependence

After the catastrophe struck last January, the world promised great things. Governments agreed to send record amounts in aid -- the equivalent of nearly $1,000 (EUR770) for every Haitian. But, according to the United Nations, only 42 percent of the funds pledged to rebuilding Haiti have been received. And international NGOs are still providing the lion's share of emergency assistance.

"We have created these parallel structures in education, in health services, in all sorts of responsibilities that the Haitians should be assuming themselves," says Edmond Mulet, head of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). That needs to change, Mulet says, adding that the country needs a strong government.

In the months after the earthquake, empowering the government was not a priority -- there was no plan in place. Pierre Duquesne, an official from the French Foreign Ministry, compared the situation to raising children. "If you believe he will never become an adult," he told the Associated Press last spring, "he will never become an adult."
Patria est ubicunque bene/Obsequium amicos, veritas odium parit

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Post time 2011-1-16 21:54:26 |Display all floors
Part 2: The Vain Search for Signs of Progress

On the day of the quake, Officer Calas was anxious to get home to see if his wife and daughter were all right. Facing a traffic jam on the streets that was like nothing even Haiti had ever seen, it took Calas five hours to walk to Delmas, the neighborhood where he lived. It was a long trek through a city in ruins, one that brought him past the collapsed presidential palace. The entire time, he thought his family was dead. When Calas arrived home, it was already dark. He found his house still standing -- and his family alive.

From that moment on, Calas thought that things could only get better. But, since then, only 5 percent of the rubble has been cleared away, and only 15 percent of the damaged houses have been rebuilt. Haiti's presidential palace stands as crookedly as it did on the day of the quake.

Indeed, there hasn't even been an effort to clean out the palace, to get rid of the broken furniture and clean up the scattered papers. Tattered paintings are lying all over the place. In the lounge, there is a grand piano whose only defect is being out of tune. In the ballroom hang golden drapes put out for Christmas 2009 near four angels who are now nothing more than glass heads and steel frameworks. In the inner courtyard, ferns are gradually growing over the rubble.

This is not the look of a city on the mend.

Sometimes Too Little, Sometimes Too Much

Haiti has long been known as one of the world's most corrupt countries. What's more, the licensing process for registering a new company takes 195 days on average, lawyers are scarce and poorly educated, judges are corrupt, and not even 10 percent of all teachers have mastered basic arithmetic.

Shortages are felt everywhere -- as with the police. Each officer, for example, receives only two uniforms and two shirts, both of which are drenched in sweat over the course of a single day. This bothers Jean Calas. For him, not being adequately outfitted means not being taken seriously.

Moreover, it can take hours for Calas' superiors to obtain information on an arrested suspect's criminal record from the central police station. When he does have solid evidence, such as a weapon used in a crime or stolen jewelry, he doesn't have what he needs to store them properly. An assistant simply wraps everything in sheets of white paper, notes the contents on them with a pen and staples them closed.

Calas tells the story about how Americans once donated a Jeep to the police station, the kind of gas guzzler you only find in the United States. But the police couldn't afford to maintain the car, so they simply left it standing. Now, with flattened tires, it serves as a police outpost on a street corner.

Not Just a Matter of Aid

The United Nations has an office in the back of Calas' police station. Its members help out on patrols and more or less serve as a guarantee of security. Unlike the police, they receive as much ammunition as they need. And, unlike the police, they also have a computer, which they use to check out their area of operations on Google Earth before heading out on the streets.

"We don't need money in our hands in Haiti," presidential candidate Michel Martelly recently told the Boston Haitian Reporter. "We're corrupt," he said, adding that Haitians didn't know how to respond to being given "immediate access" to "tons and tons" of cash.

Patrick Moynihan sees things differently. This American missionary working in Port-au-Prince believes donated funds have only been put to improper use and led to the creation of a parallel government. More than 10,000 NGOs are reportedly active in Haiti, more than in any other country. These groups measure their success in liters of water, in tons of soap, in doctor visits, in the numbers of showers installed, in the number of hygiene sets distributed -- but not in the strength of the government. "They're masters of emergency aid and of tent camps. They're taking care of people well," Moynihan explains. "But they don't have an exit plan."

Starting at Less than Zero

As such, there is a great deal at stake when Haitians go to the polls to choose their next president. Yet it still isn't even clear which candidates will be on the ballot for the second round of voting. There may be just two candidates, former First Lady Mirlande Manigat and Jude Célestin, the protégé of the current president. Or Martelly, a popular singer, might also make it into the second round as well.

More importantly, however, is that the elections be credible. A repeat of December's unrest -- when tires burned in Port-au-Prince for days after the election commission released its preliminary results -- must be avoided.

Rebuilding starts not "from zero but from below zero," MINUSTAH head Edmond Mulet said just weeks after last year's earthquake. More recently, Mulet issued his latest assessment of the situation: As he sees it, it could easily be 100 years before Haiti is back on its feet -- or maybe even 200 years.

Translated from the German by Ella Ornstein
Patria est ubicunque bene/Obsequium amicos, veritas odium parit

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Post time 2011-1-22 00:26:05 |Display all floors
There will never be progress in Haiti until the U.S. and its western partners in crime cease their occupation of the country, and Democracy is allowed to return:

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Post time 2011-1-22 12:18:17 |Display all floors


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