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The crisis in Haiti | WORLD – WORLD News Group

WORLD Radio – The crisis in Haiti
Haiti is plagued by violence, hunger, and disease and the UN is calling for international help
New members of the Haitian Armed Forces parade during their graduation ceremony in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Thursday, Dec. 22, 2022 Associated Press Photo/Odelyn Joseph
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: the crisis in Haiti.
Less than 700 miles from the coast of Florida, violence, hunger, and disease plague the country of Haiti.
NICK EICHER, HOST: It’s so bad that in November, the United Nations put it this way: Haiti is on the “verge of an abyss” and it can’t get better on its own.
Joining us now is Brian Concanon, founder of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti.
REICHARD: Welcome, Brian.
BRIAN CONCANNON, GUEST: Thanks for having me.
REICHARD: Brian, you lived and worked in Haiti in the late 1990s and early two-thousands. How is the current crisis there different from the past?
CONCANNON: Back in the late 90s, when I first got to Haiti, I was with the United Nations. And it was part of a coming together of the international community, recognizing the international community had supported Haitian dictatorships in the past, including the Duvalier regime. And everybody got together and said, Okay, we’re going to do it differently. We’re going to support democracy. So in the time I was there, the first half from 1995 to about 2000, the international community put a lot of support for Haitian democracy. And that worked. Haiti’s democracy actually worked. Starting in 2000, the international community decided to pull back on that support, and ended up undermining Haiti’s democracy leading to a coup in 2004. We’re now in 2023 and Haiti has not hit the high watermark of democracy that it had back in around 2000. And Haitians are still out there fighting every day for democracy in meeting rooms, in the streets, on the media. But unfortunately, their way forward to prosperity and stability is blocked by a repressive corrupt government that is propped up by the international community.
REICHARD: The United Nations is calling for a peacekeeping force in Haiti. Is that something that Haitians want?
CONCANNON: There are some Haitians who feel they have no other choice and are in favor of it. But most organized civil society have said they don’t want it. Because in 1994, just before I got to Haiti, there was a peacekeeping force that was welcomed by Haitians and that worked. That peacekeeping force was brought in to restore democracy in Haiti. The current planned or proposed peacekeeping force is not to restore democracy, it’s actually to continue propping up the government. It’s been requested by a government that has no popular support or legitimacy. And Haitians see the peacekeeping force as a way of prolonging that government’s ability to steal and repress the population. So I think Haitians aren’t categorically opposed to foreign help, they’re just opposed to foreign help that’s going to prop up their repressive government.
REICHARD: In the past, aid sent to Haiti sometimes didn’t serve the intended purpose. I’m thinking of the tens of billions of dollars donated after the earthquake in 2010. What makes it so difficult to get help where it’s needed in Haiti?
CONCANNON: That’s a really big question and there’s been lots of good books written about it. A couple of kind of top headlines. One is that a lot of the aid that’s sent Haiti’s way—even a lot of it that’s been given by American families with all the best intentions—it ends up serving the international community more than it serves the Haitian people. Salaries get spent on expensive foreign consultants, on security, on lots of other things. But it’s also important, and this was one of the key takeaways from the earthquake, most of the money spent on Haiti does not go through the Haitian government. And so most of it, a lot of it that’s wasted is wasted by international organizations, not by Haitians themselves. But the last part is it’s difficult to work on Haiti because the problems are so complex. You have different types of problems reinforcing, you have educational deficiencies, which means you have fewer educated workers, you have environmental problems, you have economic problems, you have infrastructure problems like roads not working. And all of these problems come together in ways that make helping Haiti in the short term difficult. And so what needs to be done is a long term plan to bring political stability to Haiti and have sustainable development.
REICHARD: And how can foreign missions and ministries play in Haiti’s rebuilding?
CONCANNON: The first thing people need to do is to listen to Haitians. That seems like an easy thing to do. But it is not done. And again, the diagnostics after the 2010 earthquake, all of them said that there was insufficient participation by Haitians. But that still happens. Again, it happened in the 2016 Hurricane Matthew, and it happens today, where Haitians are not appropriately consulted. What Haitians are saying is if the international community wants to help, the first thing it should do—before it does anything affirmatively, it should do something negatively, it should allow Haitians to really run their own country. And at that point, issues of how economic assistance comes in—infrastructure development, security assistance, all those issues can be decided by a government with popular support and legitimacy. At that point, you can have long term progress, like you did between 1995 and 2000.
REICHARD: Brian Concannon is the Founder and Executive Director of the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti. Brian, thanks for joining us.
CONCANNON: Well, thanks so much for having me.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: the crisis in Haiti.
Less than 700 miles from the coast of Florida, violence, hunger, and disease plague the country of Haiti.
NICK EICHER, HOST: It’s so bad that in November, the United Nations put it this way: Haiti is on the “verge of an abyss” and it can’t get better on its own.
Joining us now is Brian Concanon, founder of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti.
REICHARD: Welcome, Brian.
BRIAN CONCANNON, GUEST: Thanks for having me.
REICHARD: Brian, you lived and worked in Haiti in the late 1990s and early two-thousands. How is the current crisis there different from the past?
CONCANNON: Back in the late 90s, when I first got to Haiti, I was with the United Nations. And it was part of a coming together of the international community, recognizing the international community had supported Haitian dictatorships in the past, including the Duvalier regime. And everybody got together and said, Okay, we’re going to do it differently. We’re going to support democracy. So in the time I was there, the first half from 1995 to about 2000, the international community put a lot of support for Haitian democracy. And that worked. Haiti’s democracy actually worked. Starting in 2000, the international community decided to pull back on that support, and ended up undermining Haiti’s democracy leading to a coup in 2004. We’re now in 2023 and Haiti has not hit the high watermark of democracy that it had back in around 2000. And Haitians are still out there fighting every day for democracy in meeting rooms, in the streets, on the media. But unfortunately, their way forward to prosperity and stability is blocked by a repressive corrupt government that is propped up by the international community.
REICHARD: The United Nations is calling for a peacekeeping force in Haiti. Is that something that Haitians want?
CONCANNON: There are some Haitians who feel they have no other choice and are in favor of it. But most organized civil society have said they don’t want it. Because in 1994, just before I got to Haiti, there was a peacekeeping force that was welcomed by Haitians and that worked. That peacekeeping force was brought in to restore democracy in Haiti. The current planned or proposed peacekeeping force is not to restore democracy, it’s actually to continue propping up the government. It’s been requested by a government that has no popular support or legitimacy. And Haitians see the peacekeeping force as a way of prolonging that government’s ability to steal and repress the population. So I think Haitians aren’t categorically opposed to foreign help, they’re just opposed to foreign help that’s going to prop up their repressive government.
REICHARD: In the past, aid sent to Haiti sometimes didn’t serve the intended purpose. I’m thinking of the tens of billions of dollars donated after the earthquake in 2010. What makes it so difficult to get help where it’s needed in Haiti?
CONCANNON: That’s a really big question and there’s been lots of good books written about it. A couple of kind of top headlines. One is that a lot of the aid that’s sent Haiti’s way—even a lot of it that’s been given by American families with all the best intentions—it ends up serving the international community more than it serves the Haitian people. Salaries get spent on expensive foreign consultants, on security, on lots of other things. But it’s also important, and this was one of the key takeaways from the earthquake, most of the money spent on Haiti does not go through the Haitian government. And so most of it, a lot of it that’s wasted is wasted by international organizations, not by Haitians themselves. But the last part is it’s difficult to work on Haiti because the problems are so complex. You have different types of problems reinforcing, you have educational deficiencies, which means you have fewer educated workers, you have environmental problems, you have economic problems, you have infrastructure problems like roads not working. And all of these problems come together in ways that make helping Haiti in the short term difficult. And so what needs to be done is a long term plan to bring political stability to Haiti and have sustainable development.
REICHARD: And how can foreign missions and ministries play in Haiti’s rebuilding?
CONCANNON: The first thing people need to do is to listen to Haitians. That seems like an easy thing to do. But it is not done. And again, the diagnostics after the 2010 earthquake, all of them said that there was insufficient participation by Haitians. But that still happens. Again, it happened in the 2016 Hurricane Matthew, and it happens today, where Haitians are not appropriately consulted. What Haitians are saying is if the international community wants to help, the first thing it should do—before it does anything affirmatively, it should do something negatively, it should allow Haitians to really run their own country. And at that point, issues of how economic assistance comes in—infrastructure development, security assistance, all those issues can be decided by a government with popular support and legitimacy. At that point, you can have long term progress, like you did between 1995 and 2000.
REICHARD: Brian Concannon is the Founder and Executive Director of the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti. Brian, thanks for joining us.
CONCANNON: Well, thanks so much for having me.

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