While the Haitian press, some French television channels and French-language Swiss television channels have covered hunger in Haiti, the English-language press has concentrated on the collapse of the La Promesse school in Petionville, a wealthy suburb of Port-au-Prince. The deaths of 88 children and teachers (as of Nov. 9) in a building collapse provoked by the acts of the school owner are indeed a tragedy. The rapid response of U.S. rescue teams and French teams from Martinique showed these countries can act quickly.
But Robert Zoellick, the president of the World Bank who visited Haiti at the end of October, feels that forgiveness of Haiti’s debt needs to be reviewed. The earliest this process will be completed is the middle of 2009.
Until this happens, Haiti will have to pay a bit more than $1 million a week—enough to guarantee that no Haitian would starve to death—to prove it is fit for “help” from the Multilateral Financial Institutions. Obtained by the Duvaliers and the military juntas that succeeded them, these loans now being repaid were used for their luxurious living and to swell their Swiss bank accounts. (haitiaction.net, “Haiti: Racism and Poverty” Oct. 26)
Zoellick was the deputy U.S. secretary of state who helped negotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement and then left the position for Goldman Sachs. He was at Goldman Sachs in 2007 when it paid out more than $18 billion in bonuses to its 22,000 traders—more than 50 percent of Haiti’s gross domestic product.
Plunging the people into hopeless debt to enrich the already rich? That should sound like a familiar pattern starting to form right here in America.
Is death by starvation coming to the US? Don't be so quick to ridicule the idea; more than 7 million people did die of starvation inside the US during the Great Depression.