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Date: 2024-07-16 Page is: DBtxt001.php txt00003923

Country ... Haiti
Activism ... Petitions ... Mea Culpa

An example of a petition ... Petition to President Clinton regarding transparency in aid for Haiti ... Clinton on 'Free Trade did not work'!


Peter Burgess

Petitioned Hon. William Jefferson Clinton
We Can Do Better for Haiti: Demand Transparency and Improved Aid Distribution

Petition by Institute for Justice And Democracy in Haiti

The world responded generously to Haiti's earthquake, immediately donating over $2.5 billion, with another $1.2 billion pledged, even before the March 31 UN Donor's Conference. This works out to over $1,000 per earthquake victim. But over two months later, hundreds of thousands of Haiti's earthquake victims live without waterproof shelter, eat once a day or less, and do not receive adequate medical care.

As of March 24, the UN estimates that over 330,000 people needing shelter had not received any shelter materials. For over 75% of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) who do receive help, 'shelter materials' means tarps, not waterproof tents; Nearly half of the respondents in a late February survey of IDP camps reported having received no food aid (Neglect in the Encampments: Haiti's Second Wave Disaster, Mar. 23, 2010); and Earthquake victims complain that they have not been consulted regarding earthquake response planning or execution.

For two compelling videos showing conditions in the IDP camps, see

The governments and NGOs entrusted with the world's generosity need to respond more efficiently and effectively to Haiti's earthquake. This means better coordination among aid providers, more transparency about where and how they are spending our money, and more participation of earthquake victims in the planning and execution of earthquake response projects.

Please sign the petition below to let those who have received your charitable contributions and tax money know that you still care enough about Haiti to watch where your money is going (people and organizations were chosen to represent a cross-section of those working on earthquake response in Haiti. We don't mean to imply that those chosen are particularly responsible for the aid failures. Everybody responding to the earthquake needs to do better).

Hon. William Jefferson Clinton, UN Special Envoy to Haiti
Dr. Rajiv Shah, Administrator, U.S. Agency for International Development
The Honorable Beverly J. Oda, Minister of International Cooperation, Canada
Douglas Alexander, MP, Secretary of State for International Development, UK
Jean-Michel Severino, Director General, Agence Française de Développement
Josette Sheeran, Executive Director, World Food Programme
Jakob Kellenberger, President, International Committee of the Red Cross
Richard Stearns, President, World Vision U.S.
Richard Dreiman, President and CEO Chemonics International
Daniel Wordsworth, President and CEO, American Refugee Committee

I sign this petition to express my great concern that ten weeks after Haiti’s earthquake, and despite over $2.5 billion generously donated to Haiti’s relief efforts (over $1,000/earthquake victim), too many earthquake survivors live without basic shelter, food and healthcare.

Although I appreciate the heroic efforts that many individuals and organizations have made to respond to the earthquake, it is simply unacceptable that over 330,000 – over a quarter of the displaced in Port-au-Prince – have not received shelter materials, and over half report not receiving food aid. Earthquake victims report that they are not consulted by relief agencies, or involved in the distribution of aid.

As a donor and a taxpayer, I am insisting that the governments and NGOs entrusted with the world’s generosity respond more efficiently and effectively to Haiti’s earthquake. This means:

1) better coordination among aid donors and providers;

2) allowing more participation of earthquake victims in the planning and implementation of earthquake response projects; and

3) more transparency about where and how Haiti earthquake funds are spent.

Thank you for your attention to this matter!

Sincerely, [Your name]

EARTH OUTREACH INTERNATIONAL ... 'A Parnership in Service of Humanity'
April 6th, 2010

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The following article was originally posted by

As many of us have been paying close attention to the long-awaited passage of health care reform last week, it was easy to miss something else that was absolutely extraordinary. Former President Bill Clinton said at a recent Senate hearing that he regrets the impact in Haiti of the free trade policies that became a hallmark of his presidency.

“It may have been good for some of my farmers in Arkansas, but it has not worked. It was a mistake,” Clinton said this month. “I had to live everyday with the consequences of the loss of capacity to produce a rice crop in Haiti to feed those people because of what I did; nobody else.”
Sadly, he’s right. The rapid lowering of agricultural trade barriers in Haiti combined with misguided U.S. food aid policy allowed American agribusinesses to flood the country with cheap surplus rice and force tens of thousands of local farmers out of business. According to the Associated Press, six pounds of imported rice now costs at least a dollar less than a similar quantity of locally-grown rice. So how can a Haitian farmer compete? The past 15 years have shown they simply can’t.

Prior to the era of so-called “free trade,” Haiti could feed itself, importing only 19% of its food and actually exporting rice. Today, Haiti imports more than half of its food, including 80% of the rice eaten in the country. The result is that Haitians are particularly vulnerable to price spikes arising from global weather, political instability, rising fuel costs and natural disasters, such as earthquakes that register 7.0 on the Richter scale. In fact, since the January earthquake, imported rice prices are up 25%.

It is especially fitting that President Clinton’s mea culpa comes as the Jewish community worldwide prepares to observe Passover. The story of Passover is a stark reminder that communities cannot rely solely on others to provide for their needs. Until people are empowered to help themselves, in-kind assistance from the outside is useful only in the immediate aftermath of acute emergencies. Long-term needs must be met principally through a community-led approach. The lesson we take from Passover is that once the Israelites spoke out against slavery their prayers for freedom were finally answered.

Today, the people of Haiti are speaking as loud as they can. They desperately want a voice and central role in the reconstruction of their country, including the ability to meet the country’s nutritional needs with food produced by Haitians in Haiti. In fact, President Rene Preval, himself a rice grower, has asked for international food aid to be replaced by financial support for farmers and the re-development of the agricultural sector. Preval knows that sustained success in rebuilding depends on food sovereignty, or the ability for Haitian farmers to grow their own crops and feed their own communities.

Is the international community getting the message? It’s hard to say. The AP also reported that the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has provided nearly four times as much in-kind food aid since January as it invests each year in Haitian agriculture. There is of course a need in grave circumstances for actual shipments of food — but for decades we’ve used in-kind food as a tool for destroying local agricultural markets on an ongoing basis, not as a last-resort measure to be used in emergencies after all possibilities for local purchase have been exhausted.

Until our government abandons a system that dumps surplus from American agribusiness on the developing world, its efforts at ending hunger will remain counterproductive. Then again, if you are the D.C. lobbyist for Big Ag, maybe that’s the point. Maintaining the developing world’s cycle of dependence is profitable business.

The time has come for us to pay attention, to heed the wishes of the Haitian people to be empowered. We must demand that the purpose of our work in Haiti is not to merely rebuild an export market for our surpluses, but rather to support a Haitian-led effort to create a country that can stand on its own, build a sustainable economy and feed its people. Over the next couple of months, Congress will be discussing how to allocate more than $1.6 billion in supplemental funding for Haiti. I urge you to contact your elected representatives and let them know that this money must be used to empower communities, not corporations.

Each year, during Passover, we say “let all who are hungry, come and eat.” Then, ironically, we proceed to enjoy a wonderful meal with our families and friends while our front doors remain closed. If you will be celebrating Passover this year, I ask that you open your doors — at least metaphorically — and hear those calls from a country just a few hundred miles off our shore. Recognize that the people of Haiti may not need our food. Rather, they need us to listen as they tell us how we can really help.

The text being discussed is available at
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