Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

How US Policy Causes Injustice in Haiti

Though the United States vowed to help Haiti rebuild after the earthquake, many of its policies towards Haiti lacked results or even worsened the situation. This article examines initiatives like the Caracol industrial park built after the 2010 earthquake, as well as US meddling in Haiti’s elections and labor to make Haiti more amenable to foreign interests.

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Why Things Continue to Go Wrong in Haiti, and How U.S. Policy Is Responsible

Washington has been meddling in a country it doesn’t believe should be allowed to chart its own path.

Antony Loewenstein, AlterNet

September 24, 2015

The industrial park in Caracol, northern Haiti, never receives tourists. It’s a collection of factories producing clothes for some of America’s leading retailers including Walmart and Target. The opening of the facility in 2012 saw then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, actors Sean Penn and Ben Stiller, and fashion designer Donna Karan attend and celebrate the establishment of a center that was advertised as producing 65,000 jobs. “We had learned that supporting long-term prosperity in Haiti,” Hillary Clinton said, “meant more than providing aid.”

Today, it’s clear the promises were empty. “People unfamiliar with the area [Caracol] may see the people standing in front of the park looking for jobs and think the Caracol Industrial Park was a great idea,” Castin Milostène told me recently. He’s a coordinator of AREDE, a campaign group of Haitian grassroots organizations working with vulnerable Haitians to influence aid accountability after the devastating 2010 earthquake. ActionAid is the convener. “You may see the need and think we should have many more parks,” he continued. “But the people standing at the doors of the park looking for work have nothing, they don’t even earn on average 58 gourdes (US$1) a day — they are living in extreme poverty.”

I visited Caracol in 2012 and found few signs of employment. Many poor Haitians loitered outside the main gates looking for work and complaining about low wages. Prime agricultural land was taken with farmers left landless and given little compensation. The US$300 million investment in the South Korean-run factory has quickly become yet another failed attempt to boost Haiti’s economy. The Financial Times headlined a story about the situation this year, “Haiti’s economy held together by polo shirts and blue jeans.”


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