US Policy Toward Haiti by Stanley Lucas

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US Policy Toward Haiti: Stanley Lucas' response to Paul Farmer and Brian Concannon

US policy toward Haiti is important and has not always been perfect.

There is much blame to be placed on the US government, but we should also look at the Haitian government's role in that failure.

Haitian leaders have missed several important opportunities to engage with the US on their own terms and in a strategic way that supports the goals of the country.

Of course, to do that the Haitian government would need to have a clear plan for development which, unbelievably, it still lacks despite being the poorest country in the Western hemisphere made even poor by serious and devastating storms that hit the country over the summer.

The Preval Administration has not taken the lead in outlining Haiti's vision for engagement with the US and where the government could use assistance.

To my knowledge, they haven't even engaged the new Administration yet. Both Democrats and Republicans have made significant mistakes and the authors should attempt to be more objective rather than being blatantly partisan because there is no role for US partisan politics in this debate.

While US policy is important, it does not make or break Haiti.

It cannot save us and it cannot destroy us. Furthermore, the US is not and should not be our only ally or aid provider.

We should be engaging France, Germany, the UK, others.

Haitians are a proud, hardworking and dedicated people who have been failed by their leadership for the past forty years...the Duvaliers, military rulers, Aristide, and now, sadly, Preval.

Haitians have taken heart in Obama's declaration that his Administration will judge foreign leaders by what they build, not what they destroy.

Haitians want accountability and see an opportunity for the US to help them fight one of the country's cancer, rampant corruption.

Finally, I would also like to point out a few factual errors in this article.

We can't of course have a good debate on issues if we aren't grounded in the facts.

First, the sanctions on Haiti were imposed by the Clinton administration in November 2000 not the Bush administration, please refer to the following link Clinton was frustrated that Aristide did not keep his promises to rule Haiti democratically and provide economic opportunities to the people.

Aristide, like his predecessors, turned into a dictator.

Aristide even said on Haitian radio if Clinton did not do what he wanted, he would black mail him. Until today, nobody understands what he met by that.

Second, some oped writers of the U.S. press do not care about Haitian people; rather, they are interested in getting the stipends reinstated that they used to receive from Aristide in exchange for turning a blind eye on the human rights violations.

Refer to the following link -- unfortunately, you will discover the name of one of the authors of this article: The Wall Street Journal called some of them "the American profiteers" Lucy Komisar a liberal American investigative reporter has documented the corruption in Haiti:

Despite the money Aristide spent in Washington to gloss over his killings and corruption, we Haitians know his record well:

Third, the article mentions people who were killed in 2004. It doesn't mention that those people were killed by gangs organized by Aristide.

I invite you to read the reports of the Haitian Platform of Human Rights at:


But we need to move forward and identify priorities.

I have strongly advocated making remittances up to $1000/mo tax deductible for Haitian Diaspora.

We also need to give Haitians TPS -- as has been done for the El Salvadorans -- until immigration reform is finalized.

These two steps should be among the top priorities along with examining USAID programs and other aid going to the country.

A lot of money is being spent and there is very little to show for it. The Obama Administration will be making a big push into ensuring that money is being spent wisely -- hopefully this will extend to international aid as well.

On a separate note, Paul Farmer has done tremendously valuable work in Haiti on AIDS. He has truly made a contribution to the country and is well respected for that. On the political side, however, there is a popular perception in Haiti that he is using his reputation to promote the political agenda of one man, Aristide.


Stanley Lucas, January 29 2010, 2:36 PM

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