So far, it is not yet clear how the new administration will approach aid to foreign countries, given Donald Trump’s nationalist tendencies and conflicting views within the Republican party: Some Republicans, like George W. Bush with the President’s Emergency Plan for aids Relief, believe in extensive assistance to the poor around the world while others want to cut foreign aid budgets. So far, remarks related to international aid haven’t been promising. In Haiti, issues like the still-ongoing recovery from Hurricane Matthew and the continuing cholera epidemic remind us of the crucial role of assistance from the U.S.
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WHAT TRUMP MEANS FOR THE WORLD’S POOREST PEOPLE
Steve Coll, The New Yorker
February 22, 2017
Last November, soon after the election of Donald Trump, President Barack Obama mentioned Haiti while commenting on the humanitarian aspects of American foreign policy. “Russia is a very significant military power, but they’re not worrying right now about how to rebuild after a hurricane in Haiti,” Obama noted. “We are. . . . That’s a burden we should carry proudly.”
It’s not evident that we will, at least for as long as Trump is in the White House. “America First” may be a basis from which to attempt Great Power strategies and realpolitik bargaining, but it is not a slogan that offers hope to countries languishing at the bottom of world poverty tables. (Haiti ranks a hundred and sixty-third out of a hundred and eighty-eight countries in the United Nations Human Development Index, which considers income, life expectancy, educational attainment, and health measures.)
Last week, on a visit to Haiti, when I asked human-rights activists, filmmakers, and writers about Trump’s election, they sounded as disoriented as many Americans seem to be. This is so even though Haitians have been schooled in cynicism about Washington. United States Marines carried out an oppressive occupation of the country from 1915 to 1934. During the Cold War, with a few exceptions, American Presidents accommodated successive, murderous Duvalier regimes, until Jean-Claude (Baby Doc) Duvalier was overthrown, in 1986. More recently, following the earthquake of 2010, which killed more than two hundred thousand people and left a million and a half homeless, an outpouring of American aid provided critical resources for recovery, but the effort failed to deliver on many fronts and seems to have left the country’s political economy even more riddled with corruption than it was before.
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