Tag Archives: Haiti

Reality Check: If Haiti Is a “Shithole” Country, Who Is Really to Blame?

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It’s been a couple of weeks but I had to take this one on: President Trump reportedly refers to African nations as well as the island nation of Haiti as a “shithole” and the media, both on the left and the right loses their minds.

But here’s the problem—while media and politicians want to fight about Haiti, nobody seems to care that Haitians have been ripped off by American foreign aid and politicians for years.

Let’s give it a Reality Check you won’t get anywhere else.

The comments by President Trump were reported but not recorded.

Here’s what the Washington Post was first to claim: President Trump “discussed protecting immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and African countries as part of a bipartisan immigration deal, according to several people briefed on the meeting.”

‘Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?’ Trump said, referring to countries mentioned by the lawmakers. … ‘Why do we need more Haitians?’ Trump said, according to people familiar with the meeting. ‘Take them out.’”

By now you know that media lost its collective mind.

On the left, all they could talk about was what a racist, savage President Trump is. On the right, it was an effort to defend the use of the word with commentators insisting it’s okay, because thats what Haiti really is.

Of course the problem with all of this is that the debate hasn’t been about Haiti. It’s been about Trump. The argument is over whether Donald Trump is a racist or right.

That argument robs the Haitian people of the debate we should be having, the debate over why that country has remained in abject poverty and with an unemployment rate of 40 percent even with billions of dollars and investment flowing there.

Reality Check here: those billions of dollars never got to the Haitian people.

And that is the discussion we should be having.

It was January 2010 when a massive 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck island of Haiti, killing an estimated 220,000 people, leveling 100,000 homes, and leaving 1.5 million people destitute.

Some $13.3 billion was pledged by international donors for Haiti’s recovery. At the time, Hillary Clinton was secretary of state. And her husband, former President Bill Clinton, was appointed co-chairman of the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC), along with Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive.

So what happened? Well, of the $13.3 billion pledged, some $9 billion actually came in as the total international funding, which is an incredible amount of money.

The problem is, that money was wasted, mis-managed and went just about everywhere except to actual Haitian organizations.

According to the BBC, of the $6 billion that came from bilateral and mutilateral donors, 89.8% went to non-Haitian organizations, $580 million went to the Haitian government and around one half of one percent went to Haitian organizations.

The vast majority of the funding went to U.N. agencies, international aid groups, private contractors and donor countries’ own civilian and military agencies.

Now, a lot of people have blamed the Clintons personally for what happened in Haiti.

Perhaps some of that criticism is unfair, and perhaps it is not.

For instance, thanks to diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks, we know that one US envoy described the value to contractors who were eager to cash in as a “gold rush”.

According to the BBC, “In email exchanges with top Clinton Foundation officials, a senior aide to Mrs Clinton, who was then-secretary of state, kept an eye out for those identified by the abbreviations “FOB” (friends of Bill Clinton) or “WJC VIPs” (William Jefferson Clinton VIPs).

‘Need you to flag when people are friends of WJC,’ wrote Caitlin Klevorick, a senior State Department official who was vetting incoming offers of assistance coming through the Clinton Foundation.”

Some of those friends who appear to have gotten sweetheart deals?

According to the National Review, “the Clinton Foundation selected Clayton Homes, a construction company owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, to build temporary shelters in Haiti. Buffett is an active member of the Clinton Global Initiative who has donated generously to the Clintons as well as the Clinton Foundation.

“The contract was supposed to be given through the normal United Nations bidding process, with the deal going to the lowest bidder who met the project’s standards. UN officials said, however, that the contract was never competitively bid for.”

Again, according to National Review, “The Clintons also funneled $10 million in federal loans to a firm called InnoVida, headed by Clinton donor Claudio Osorio. InnoVida’s application was fast-tracked and approved in two weeks. The company, however, defaulted on the loan and never built any houses.”

An investigation revealed that Osorio had diverted company funds to pay for his Miami Beach mansion, his Maserati, and his Colorado ski chalet. He pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering in 2013, and is currently serving a twelve-year prison term on fraud charges related to the loan.

There are many other stories just like those.

But perhaps the biggest mess of all in Haiti’s recovery, or lack thereof, was what the Clinton Foundation touted as a signature project, a garment factory known as the Caracol Industrial Park.

According to the National Review, “The project was funded by the U.S. government and cost hundreds of millions in taxpayer money, the largest single allocation of U.S. relief aid.”

From the BBC: “The foundation, working with the Clinton State Department, helped arrange a U.S.-subsidised deal with the Haitian government to build a $300 million factory complex in 2012.

“Several hundred farmers were evicted from their land to make way for the 600-acre manufacturing site.”

The plant began producing clothes for retailers such as Old Navy, Walmart and Target.
Former President Clinton said 100,000 jobs would be created “in short order”. But the Caracol Industrial Park only created 8,000 jobs.

Again, from the National Review, “In addition, Caracol was supposed to include 25,000 homes for Haitian employees; in the end, the Government Accountability Office reports that only around 6,000 homes were built.”

And of course, the criticism goes deeper than not simply creating jobs.

South Korean textile giant Sae-A Trading Co, which was the main employer at the facility, donated a sum between $50,000 to $100,000 to the Clinton Foundation, according to the BBC.

The failure in Haiti, as much as some people would like to put it solely on the Clintons, is not their failure alone.

It is the failure of the entire U.S. Foreign Aid landscape… donor nations and private contractors control the money. And, in many cases, funnel it to projects, contractors and organizations that align with their interests—not the interests of the people in need.

Maybe the best of example of how that worked in Haiti was like this.

According to the GAO, the cost to build one house in the post-earthquake relief effort $33,000 because it was paid to outside contractors. That is five times what it costs one nonprofit, called Mission of Hope, per house, using local contractors.

So when the media is outraged that Trump uses words that seem to dismiss the people of Haiti, but expresses virtually no outrage over how the people of Haiti were actually robbed of what was promised them in the aftermath of that devastating earthquake, you have to question what their outrage is truly over.

That’s Reality Check, let’s talk about that tonight on Twitter and Facebook.

Editor’s note: In the graphic displayed at 3:39 in the video above, the percentage of funding that went to actual Haitian organizations is displayed as 0.06%. It should read 0.6%, nearly half of one percent.

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New Book Questions How Foreign Donations Impacted Hillary Clinton’s State Dept.

A new book titled, “Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich,” by Peter Schweizer, will be released on May 5, and is expected to provide insight into the influence of foreign donors to the Clinton Foundation had on US foreign policy during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State.

After obtaining a copy, the New York Times hailed the book, which “asserts that foreign entities who made payments to the Clinton Foundation and to Mr. Clinton through high speaking fees received favors from Mrs. Clinton’s State Department in return” as the “most anticipated and feared book of a presidential cycle still in its infancy.

Peter Schweizer, a conservative author and the President of the Government Accountability Institute, has written books such as Architects of Ruin: How a Gang of Radical Activists and Liberal Politicians Destroyed Trillions of Dollars in Wealth in the Pursuit of Social Justice (2009), Throw Them All Out: How Politicians and Their Friends Get Rich off Insider Stock Tips, Land Deals, and Cronyism That Would Send the Rest of Us to Prison (2011), and Extortion: How Politicians Extract Your Money, Buy Votes, and Line Their Own Pockets (2013).

According to the New York Times, Clinton Cash includes examples of a free-trade agreement in Columbia that benefitted the head of an oil company who had personally donated millions to the foundation, development projects in Haiti following an earthquake in 2010, and more than $1 million in payments to Bill Clinton by a major Canadian shareholder in the Keystone XL oil pipeline around the same time the State Department was debating the project.

As previously reported, a recent report from International Business Times detailed the Clintons’ involvement with the free-trade agreement between Columbia and the US, which included the fact that while then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was condemning human rights violations in Colombia, the Clinton family was also “forging a financial relationship” with the extensive petroleum company Pacific Rubiales, which is “at the center of Colombia’s labor strife.

We will see a pattern of financial transactions involving the Clintons that occurred contemporaneous with favorable U.S. policy decisions benefiting those providing the funds,” Schweizer wrote.

The New York Times noted that Schweizer’s book “largely focuses on payments made to Mr. Clinton for speeches, which increased while his wife served as secretary of state,” as shown by the fact that out of the “13 Clinton speeches that fetched $500,000 or more,” only two occurred during the years that Hillary Clinton was not secretary of state.

During Hillary’s years of public service, the Clintons have conducted or facilitated hundreds of large transactions,” wrote Schweizer, who highlighted that fact that “some of these transactions have put millions in their own pockets.

Presidential candidate and Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), who has highlighted the phrase “Liberty, Not Hillary” in his campaign, also has a page on his website asking for any “additional information about the Clinton Foundation accepting foreign contributions.”

Business Insider called Clinton Cash the “blockbuster exposé” Paul has been waiting for to derail Hillary Clinton’s 2016 Presidential campaign.

Brian Fallon, a spokesman for Clinton’s campaign, told the Times that Schweizer’s book is “twisting previously known facts into absurd conspiracy theories.”

While Hillary Clinton’s aides have worked to label critical books as “conservative propaganda,” the New York Times predicted that Clinton Cash will do more damage than other books such as Edward Klein’s Blood Feud, which looks at the relationship between the Clintons and the Obamas, and Daniel Halper’s Clinton Inc.: The Audacious Rebuilding of a Political Machine, due to the fact that “major news organizations including The Times, The Washington Post and Fox News have exclusive agreements with the author  to pursue the story lines found in the book.