Haiti Is A Mess
I have been in the ministry since 1971. In the early years, the missionaries from our church actually lived in Haiti. They lived there for a number of years. Since that time I have seen an untold amount of money and effort pour into the country of Haiti. Probably more than any other missions outreach that I personally have ever seen. After all that has been done, its conditions have never gotten better, as the matter of fact they might be worse. Their Government has always been corrupt. The country is steeped in ignorance, disorder and chaos. Because of the greed and dishonesty of the leaders, their infrastructure has been non-existent for many years. It is a mess.
When I questioned our missionaries about the living conditions of the people while they were there, they spoke only of desperation and hopelessness. For instance, they never really had a hospital, as we would understand the term. It is just the name on a building with very limited skills and medicine. The hospitals never received any funding from its government. So they were pretty much non-existent. If you were in prison and your family didn’t bring you food, you would die. The prison system never received any funding, or at lease it was not used for the prison or the prisoners. We seem shocked that they have no running water. But they have never really had that utility. There has always been very limited funding for the water systems. 80% of the Haitians today are illiterate. That can only mean that there has been no educational funding. We could go on and on. All of the money and resources never reached the people. It was all embezzled by the leaders of the Haitian government. Yet we kept it coming. I am angry about this. Washington knew that the only ones receiving the multiplied millions of dollars were the criminals who ran the government. This cesspool of corruption took all of the money for themselves and watched their own people starve. In the last few years the United States government has sent well over a billion dollars into Haiti. That money has dissolved like the morning mist on a summer day. Do you know how much a billion dollars is? And we have done that and so much more just in the last few years. What do we get for that? There is absolutely nothing to show for it. What kind of fool keeps writing checks like that? The problem in Haiti is deeper than money. Until recent crisis, everything that was done for Haiti is nothing more than a band aid. The infectious cancer underneath still remains and they will never get well under the structure that they live. For some reason our politicians have the idea that things are fixed if you just throw enough money at it. It is foolish and irresponsible to throw money at Haiti until the wolf is out of the hen house and a new structure is in place. It is a waste of our tax dollars. So now the earthquake a few years ago brought Haiti to the worse crisis in its history. Everything was gone. Now we have to step in. What do we do to turn things around? At this point the Haitians do not have the capacity to govern themselves. Their leadership is corrupt and completely broken, and the people have lived through generations of oppression and poverty. Experience has shown us that the Haitians are like children and must be handled with a firm hand. Like children, they will tell you what you want to hear, but they really don’t know how to take care of themselves. Based on their track record, they have a tendency to bite the hand that feeds them. So we must be firm. What is the best plan for this crisis? Here are a few immediate steps that should be done. First of all install an interim government to help the country hold together while it gets on its feet. This is likely a useful purpose for the United Nations. They need an opportunity to earn a legitimate pay check. The neutral position that they boast gives them the opportunity to involve other nations in assistance. This is not just an American problem, it is an international responsibility. Immediately set up marshal law and tent cities which are policed by the United States army. The military will facilitate food, water, medicine and protection. The next thing is to give these people a job. Out of those tent cities, hire men and women to clean up one area at a time. Haiti is their home. They need to be a part of the solution. Instead of making it a welfare state, let them have the pride of resurrecting their own life. Set up and secure the road and transportation system that will facilitate the commerce that is needed for rebuilding and maintenance of the country. Break the country in twelve regions and put the brightest and best to oversee the reconstruction, clean up and development of each area. They can stabilize the areas by building community support through churches and honest community leaders. Hire, do not give money to the people. Hire them to clean up their region. For the time being the military should handle the prison and judicial system. I suppose that we could put the criminals in prison, but it seems that the better use the hardened criminals in a chain gang model to work devastated areas. Education is the most important key to the future of Haiti. Along with the children’s educational system, establish schools and training centers for small businesses and new government and community leaders When it is all set in order, international charges should be filed against the previous government leaders to attempt to recover the multiplied millions of dollars that they embezzled. All of their personal international assets should be frozen and confiscated.
All in all, it is going to take time to rebuild because we have to address a belief system and not just a financial crisis. The ideas and solutions for the rest of the infrastructure could go on and on couldn’t they? It will be interesting to see if the cream rises to the top. If we can’t change the system, I am afraid that we have the scenario of throwing money down a rat hole.
Dr. Jerry Edmon