West still ‘undermining Haiti’. By Yves Engler

Via: Al Jazeera.

Only when Haitians are allowed to run their own affairs will real reconstruction begin.

Six months ago a devastating earthquake killed more than 230,000 Haitians. About 100,000 homes were completely destroyed, alongside 1,000 schools and many other buildings.

The scenes of devastation filled TV screens around the world. Half a year later the picture is eerily familiar.

Destroyed during the earthquake, the presidential palace remains rubble and a symbol of the vast destruction. Port-au-Prince is still covered in debris. About 1.3 million people live in 1,200 makeshift tent camps in and around the capital.

According to one estimate, less than 5 per cent of the earthquake debris has been removed. Of course, with 20 million cubic metres of rubble in Port-Au-Prince alone, removing the debris is a massive challenge.

If 1,000 trucks were working daily it would take three to five years to remove all this material. Yet, there are fewer than 300 trucks hauling debris.

Political roadblocks

The technical obstacles to reconstruction are immense. But the political roadblocks are larger.

Immediately after the quake $10bn in international aid was pledged. As of June 30, only 10 per cent of the $2.5bn promised for 2010 had been delivered. A lot of it has been held up in political wrangling.

The international community led by the US, France and Canada demanded that the Haitian parliament pass an 18-month-long state of emergency law that effectively gave up government control over the reconstruction.

Holding up the money was a pressure tactic designed to ensure international control of the Interim Commission for the Reconstruction of Haiti, which is authorised to spend billions. These maneuvers were met by protest and widespread hostility in Haiti, which forced the international community to back off a little.

Initially, a majority of seats on the commission were to represent foreign governments and international financial institutions. That has been reduced to half of the 26-member committee, but the money is still to be managed by the World Bank and other international institutions.

Bill Clinton, the former US president, and Jean-Max Bellerive, the Haitian prime minister, co-chair the reconstruction commission, which met for the first time on June 17.

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