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#4591: Durban on $500MM in Aid and Missing the Big Picture (fwd)

From: Lance Durban <lpdurban@yahoo.com>

Leiderman asks for help in identifying beneficiaries of that blocked $500
million in foreign aid.  And an earlier post had wondered how and why the
U.S. could possibly be sending such mixed signals to poor little
Haiti...criticizing election vote counting methods one day, yet right-wing
N.C. Senator Jesse Helms authorizing release of USAID monies he had been
blocking the next.

My understanding is that Helms' release of funds is for only that portion
of the USAID budget going specifically to non-government PVO's (private
voluntary organizations).  Theoretically this goes to the Haitian people
directly and not through the Haitian gov't.  In fact, one can bet that
there has been a lot of heavy lobbying on the part of the Beltway Bandits,
that small collection of consulting firms scattered around D.C. whose
business it is to rake in foreign aid contracts.  Some of the larger PVO's
(CARE, PADF, various church groups, etc.) are in on this action also.  

Now I certainly don't mean to suggest that no American taxpayer money gets
to Haiti through these groups, nor that these groups don't contribute
something to the development going on in Haiti.  But, to quote a long ago
Washington Post Op-Ed piece, Washington's cutting off of foreign aid is a
lot like shooting itself in the foot!

The unfortunate result of all this talk about foreign aid monies is that
everyone loses sight of the fact that gift money is essentially pocket
change when compared with the potential impact of private foreign
investment.  Mexico's recent clean election, where votes were counted
fairly and all agreed with the results, will almost certainly result in a
huge influx of foreign investment to that country... increasing
employment, generating new purchasing power, and leading to an improved
standard of living in Mexico.  

Regrettably, there are many in the Haiti (as well as on the Corbett list)
who feel that job creation is not a worthwhile endeavor when the jobs
created are paying only $3 or $4 per day.  Virtually no effort has been
made at any government level in Haiti to promote job creation.  On the
contrary, red tape and legalistic road blocks have effectively driven many
legitimate business out of business.   The result:   fewer people earning
$3 a day in factories for sure, but more earning $1 a day shining shoes
and selling imported apples on the streets of Port-au-Prince.

L. Durban 


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