||[Apr. 24th, 2011|09:35 pm]
Following the one-year anniversary of the quake, Alex Dupuy, a professor of sociology at Wesleyan University, wrote that the estimated cost of the damage, amounting to nearly 14 billion dollars in February this year, was generating a tidy sum for U.S. companies.
"Of the more than 1,500 U.S. contracts doled out, worth 267 million dollars, only 20, worth 4.3 million dollars, have gone to Haitian firms," Dupuy wrote. "The rest have gone to U.S. firms, which almost exclusively use U.S. suppliers.
He added, "although these foreign contractors employ Haitians, mostly on a cash-for-work basis, the bulk of the money and profits are reinvested in the United States."
Nora Rasman, interim director of Latin America and Caribbean Policy for the TransAfrica Forum, who worked on the ground in Haiti prior to the second round of elections, told IPS, "USAID has made very clear to us that they don’t have the capacity on the ground to carry out everything they had promised in terms of reconstruction."
"Thus most of the money allocated to Haiti goes back NGOs in the U.S. that do have the resources required to implement programmes locally - so it is no surprise that USAID funding ends up funnelling straight back into U.S. back accounts," she added.
The meeting between Clinton and Martelly not only acknowledged this pattern of exploitation, but also promised to cement and embolden it throughout the new president’s reign.
Perhaps the most frank admission of what the struggling Haitian people can expect in the coming years was summed up in Clinton’s praise for the joint effort between the U.S. and the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) to build a new industrial park close to Cap Haiten.
"It already has its first tenant," Clinton proudly announced Wednesday, "the global textile firm Sae-A, which alone is projected to create 20,000 permanent export-oriented jobs."
Countless books, papers and articles have documented the extent of the devastation wrought on the Haitian workforce when the economy was forcibly transformed from a largely agricultural, self- sustaining model into an assembly-line export processing zone for the U.S. - a fact that Clinton ignored in her remarks.
Commentators running the gamut of the political spectrum have criticised these policies. In his essay ‘Disaster Capitalism to the Rescue: The International Community and Haiti After the Earthquake, Dupuy wrote, "even at the height of it’s operation in the mid 1980s, the assembly-line industry never employed more than 7 percent of Haitian workers and did not contribute significantly to reducing the underestimated 38 percent unemployment rate of the active urban labour force."
With unnerving foresight, Dupuy summed up Clinton and Martelly’s Wednesday meeting nearly a year ago when he said, "The dual strategy of urban sweatshops and laissez-faire agriculture, which subordinated Haiti in the 1980s, is now it’s reconstruction plan."