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Why Haiti

Recent Challenges

Political

Unstable government

After the January 2010 earthquake, the Haitian government was as  crippled as the Haitian populace. Many government buildings were destroyed, and the administration was incapable of action for some time afterward. Animosity between Haitian government officials  and abdication also slowed progress. For example, Prime Minister Garry Conille resigned in February of 2012, after just five months in office. Without a Prime Minister to oversee the disbursement of earthquake recovery funds for more than 6 months after Martelly became president, international donors withheld billions of dollars for reconstruction projects. And this is just one example of funds being withheld due to government instability; there are many others.

 

Weak infrastructure

Haiti, unlike other countries in the Western Hemisphere, lacks modern systems of  sanitation and transportation as well as a functional military, sound judicial system, and police force. Many parts of Haiti also lack roads, electricity, and clean, running water. Drug-trafficking has also corrupted both the judicial system and the police force which endangers the population. Without such systems in-place, relief work  and daily life activities are understandably more difficult.

 

Corruption

Although $4.5 billion dollars in cash was pledged to Haiti for 2011 and 2012, the U.N reports that only $2.38 billion had been disbursed by the end of 2011. Reconstruction in Haiti has been highly privatized, outsourced, or taken over by foreign NGOs, which has admittedly complicated the appropriate use of funds given to the Haitian government. However, with a great deal of aid money ‘disappearing’ over the course of decades, many donations have undoubtedly found their way into the pockets of corrupt government officials. Drug-trafficking and insidious political operations have also sullied the  reputations of many Haitian figureheads. Such actions have made many donors, investors, and tourists hesitant to invest in Haitian projects, products, and services.

 

Poor national security

In the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake, the UN deployed a 10,500-member peacekeeping force to Haiti, as part of MINUSTAH (United States Stabilization Mission in Haiti), a force that remains in the country today. The United States  also deployed some 22,000 troops to Haiti at that time, which lead to some chaos and less-organized relief efforts. Although the U.S has since withdrawn its troops, there continues to be tension between MINUSTAH and the Haitian populace.

 

Many argue that this peacekeeping force-which has occupied Haiti since 2004–has ‘overstayed its welcome,’ however, the UN argues that early departure would leave densely-populated areas like Port-Au-Prince vulnerable to exploitation by armed gangs. Many local government officials agree that Haiti’s limited police force cannot protect its citizens without UN support. Current Haitian president, Michel Martelly is working to reconstitute the Haitian military which was disbanded in 1995 for a myriad of alleged human rights abuses. Some observers believe that his proposals will create jobs and boost the Haitian economy, but others are concerned that the resurgence of the military could lead to political violence, which Haiti has experienced under past regimes.

 

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