Since 2010, when Haiti suffered the worst earthquake in history, the Clintons’ promises to rebuild Haiti fell through. During Bill and Hillary Clinton’s 1975 honeymoon in Haiti, they felt a strong connection with the country. In 2009, when Hillary Clinton became Secretary of State, Haiti became one of her top priorities for redevelopment. The earthquake killed 160,000 people and displaced over 1.5 million more Haitians. In fact, according to Nathan J. Robinson’s report in Current Affairs, the Clintons’ promise to rebuild Haiti has led to even more Haitians living is terrible conditions.
After the quake, President Obama requested that Bill Clinton and George W. Bush create the “Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund” to fundraise around the world in support of the earthquake’s victims. In combination, Hillary Clinton—Obama’s Secretary of State—and Bill Clinton—who was appointed to lead the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC)—wielded considerably influence on Haiti’s recovery As head of the IHRC, for example, Bill Clinton would oversee rebuilding projects aimed at improving impacted Haitians’ quality of life.
However, the Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund, along with the Clinton Foundation, was not focused on providing resources for long-term development, such as job creation and home construction. Robinson cites a Wall Street Journal report describing the development projects as “a mishmash of low quality, poorly thought-out development experiments and half-finished projects.” For example, the US State Department had promised that development of the Caracol industrial park would create 100,000 jobs. Following the Clintons’ the development model, premised on public/private partnerships, after four years, Caracol employed just over 5,400 people full time.
According to Robinson, the Clintons’ Haiti recovery efforts “ended with a whimper.” In 2011, the IHRC ceased operations; a year later, the Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund distributed its last funds and disbanded. “The Clintons themselves simply stopped speaking about Haiti,” Robinson summarizes.
Today, Haitians are worse off than before the Clinton recovery and they “direct much of the blame toward the Clintons,” Robinson reports. Haitians complain that Clinton-backed projects helped elites and international business investors more than poor Haitians. Robinson quotes an article by Jonathan M. Katz in Poltico. Assessing the Clintons’ motivations in Haiti, Katz wrote, While “striking a populist pose, in practice they were attracted to power.”
Corporate news media have contributed to the misleadingly positive image of the Clintons. They have neglected to report on the Clintons’ failed relief and reconstruction efforts in Haiti. During her presidential campaign, the press did not challenge Hilary Clinton to address her role in Haiti, even though those efforts had once been, in Robinson’s words, “ostensibly one of great pride for both Clintons.”
Source: Nathan J. Robinson, “What the Clintons Did to Haiti,” Current Affairs, November 2, 2016, https://www.currentaffairs.org/2016/11/what-the-clintons-did-to-haiti.
Student Researcher: Erica I Morales (Sonoma State University)
Faculty Evaluator: Lisa Moore (Sonoma State University)