U.S. Has No Plans To End Aid To Haiti Despite Disputed Election, Sec. Of State Clinton Says

During a brief visit to Haiti on Sunday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the U.S. has no plans to end aid to Haiti despite the unresolved presidential election, the Associated Press/Boston Globe reports (1/31).

Clinton “said that any political differences would not affect U.S. support for Haiti, an already impoverished country devastated by an earthquake last year and a deadly cholera outbreak in recent months,” CNN reports. “We are not talking about any of that,” Clinton told reporters. “We have a deep commitment to the Haitian people. And that (applies) to humanitarian aid, it goes to governance and democracy programs,” she added (1/31).

In Haiti, Clinton “spent the day in private back-to-back meetings with each of the three presidential candidates jockeying to replace President Rene Preval, who could be forced to leave office on Feb. 7 even though his successor has yet to be elected. She also met separately with the head of the United Nations peacekeeping operations in Haiti, a member of the private sector and Preval before flying back to Washington,” the Miami Herald writes (Charles, 1/30). Clinton wants Preval “to honor recommendations from the Organization of American States related to who is on the ballot for its pivotal upcoming presidential runoff,” CNN writes (1/31).

“During a visit to a cholera treatment plant operated by Partners In Health, a U.S.-supported non-governmental organization, she chatted with patients about the waterborne-disease and asked questions about the illness, which has killed more than 4,000 Haitians since October,” according to the Herald. “She was very pleased by the response from the Ministry of Health and she pledged continuing support both in terms of financial and technical assistance,” said Partners in Health’s Nancy Dorsinville, a medical anthropologist who gave Clinton a tour of the center (1/30). A State Department transcript of Clinton’s visit to the cholera treatment center notes additional remarks (1/30). 

The Haitian Health Ministry on Sunday said the death toll from the country’s cholera epidemic has risen to at least 4,030, Agence France Presse/Montreal Gazette reports. “The number of cholera cases in Haiti totalled 209,034 as of January 24, the ministry said. The severity of the epidemic has diminished over time, but the ministry’s figures show that Haitians are still dying from the bacterial infection” (1/28).

Miami Herald Examines Aid Delays In Haiti

“Water filtration tanks that would provide orphans with clean water during a cholera epidemic have been stuck at Haiti’s main port since Nov. 22, hostage to customs red tape. They’re joined by 700 dust-covered automobiles and at least six ambulances shipped by nonprofit groups. Two donated rescue vehicles have been there for nearly a year,” the Miami Herald writes in a story examining how “a massive bottleneck at customs” has delayed aid delivery.

“To some, the culprit is corruption, and the solution is to grease the right palms to get products moving to their intended destinations,” the newspaper writes. “But to others it’s not that simple. Haiti has a culture of bureaucratic inefficiency that has been overwhelmed by a tidal wave of incoming charitable goods. The government defends the delays, arguing that some alleged donations are actually intended for sale but disguised as aid by opportunists who hope to maximize profits by avoiding Haiti’s enormous import fees” (Robles, 1/29).

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