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9017: Re: 9010: another relief shipment held up in Haitian customs (fwd)

From: Wilson Nau <Lloc17West@netscape.net>

Haiti can no longer afford to depend on food handouts to feed its 
population.  A container of free dehydrated food might be a genuine 
humanitarian gesture from some well meaning NGO's; but it can also be 
seen as part of the continuing plot to keep the country from developing 
its local agriculture, and to produce its own food for local 
consumption.  With globalization being the adopted economic policy of 
developed nations, governments from poor nations are facing the dilemma 
of determing weather or not containers of free dehydrated food are 
indeed what the people need.

Genuine humanitarian gestures like free food are important in emergency 
situations, such as the flood in Mozambic of a few years ago, or after 
the devastation of a hurricane or an earthquake, to alleviate the 
ensuing temporary state of human misery.  But constant flooding of a 
local economy with free food of one form or another is the best way to 
keep a developing nation like Amity poor and dependent.

Reading Mr. Leiderman post, I am reminded of the saying that "It's 
better to teach a hungry man how to fish than to relieve his hunger by 
only giving him a fish to eat."  The reason is obvious.  If you teach 
him how to fish he will not have to depend on you to feed himself.

Ayiti does not need containers of free dehydrated food for its people. 
It needs instead the genuine help and emphatic understanding from 
voluntary agricultural technicians and experts who can help in the 
process of reforestation, agriculture, and animal husbandry.  Thank you.

Wilson Nau

corbetre@webster.edu wrote:

> From: Stuart M Leiderman <leidermn@cisunix.unh.edu>
> dear readers:
> for the the past month or two, I've been assisting  efforts to release a
> significant charitable relief shipment to Haiti that's been held in
> customs for several months without explanation: a container of 28,000 lb
> of dehydrated food that is a half-million meal equivalents.  the situation
> has caused another donor to delay his own shipment of another million
> meals.
> so far, I have learned the name of the company or agent that unloaded the
> shipment and placed it into the customshouse in Port-au-Prince and who is
> waiting for government clearance to pick it up for its ultimate delivery
> to the recipient(s).
> I have also had a phone conversation with an important shipper of
> humanitarian equipment to Haiti and to African countries who told me that,
> in his experience, in order to get shipments through customs, officials
> frequently expect bribes, that they could be in the neighborhood of ten
> percent of the shipment value, and that this accounts for the reason why
> shippers tend to understate on shipping documents the value of their
> shipments.
> this person also told me that he understands and is sympathetic to the
> practice of bribes because a) shipments to Third World countries often
> comprise the major portion of wealth coming into certain countries, b)
> customs workers often have to buy such employment from their government
> in exchange for expected payback through bribes, and c) customs workers
> are seldom if ever paid a living wage.  this reminded me of the
> predicament of restaurant and hotel workers whose bosses expect them to
> work for tips, but at least in the case of restaurants, diners eat before
> giving tips, while in Haiti and other poor countries, starving families
> and schoolchildren who depend on food aid must pay before they eat!
> also I've learned that, in recent years, a U.S. Embassy staffperson
> in Port-au-Prince courteously facilitated humanitarian shipments through
> Embassy channels, but that person is no longer on staff--perhaps
> coinciding with the change in U.S. administration and the appointment
> of a new ambassador to Haiti--and evidently the courtesy was withdrawn.
> nevertheless, other staffpersons have diligently sought release of
> the shipment, but without success.
> today, I received yet another call for help from a humanitarian shipper
> to Haiti, attached here (respecting the privacy of names and addresses
> for now).
> setting aside for the moment the subject of customs bribery as a cost of
> "doing business", what is your own experience concerning stalled
> shipments, expressed or implied requests for bribes, customs duties paid
> per shipment (or dollars of customs fees paid per thousand dollars of
> shipping value), and similarity or difference in fees requested for
> business versus humanitarian shipments?
> I believe that charitable shippers to impoverished and/or disaster zones
> expect their aid to go directly to the intended recipients and not be
> held up for unexplained and/or corrupt reasons.  perhaps such shipments
> deserve a category of their own and a set of expenses and fees that are
> fair and transparent.  if bonded, salaried workers are required for such
> shipments, then a parallel entry system ought to be proposed and
> negotiated with receiver countries and codified by the World Trade
> Organization.
> "free trade" indeed.
> thank you.
> Stuart Leiderman
> - - - - - - -
> From: A_______
> To: m_______
> Cc: H_______
> Sent: Tuesday, September 04, 2001
> Subject: your several messages, re: the load for Haiti
> Please ignore _______@_______.co.uk, since we are trying to give it
> up, but instead pls use the address shown on this msg.
> I believe the container has still NOT been released to Father M_______.
> W_____ E_____ R_____'s A_____ H_____ has been informed, having received a
> copy of my letter of remonstrance to the President of Haiti.
> I hope that the container will be released without much more bad behaviour
> on the part of the Haitians.  For a government to break a promise with an
> NGO via a Ministry of the government is pretty awful.
> In utmost haste...
> - - - - - - -