Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Corruption at Haiti's Wharf Continues

Corruption at Haitian Customs in Port-au-Prince is so bad. Not that the international community is immune to corruption, but Haiti needs to get their act together at the wharf in Port-au-Prince.

Officials at the wharf holding up containers for money need to go to jail.

See Lance Durban's comment below from the Bob Corbett list.

Lance Durban commenting on Ilio's sense of urgency...

I have no quibble with Ilio's post other than to note that the "time to get serious" in Haiti has been any time since the departure of J.C. Duvalier in 1986. Haiti has never gotten on track, and frankly I see no real evidence that it will get on track now.

Yesterday, I spent a good part of the day attempting, vainly, to get some urgently needed parts out of customs at the PAP airport... needed for samples so that our company could compete on a new contract. The customs official was far more concerned with blocking the release as a way of showing that he was indeed the boss than in helping our company, even though we import some 2000 lbs of air cargo thru his terminal each week which keeps over 500 Haitians employed. How can one begin to explain the bigger issues to anyone working in today's Haitian government?

Contrast that to the Dominican Republic, where my current Haitian partner had invested in a business some 20 years and received a special "Foreign Investor's Card" that got him instant access to high-level assistance in key ministries. (He still carries the card, no doubt as a pleasant memory of that warm welcome).

Let me offer a prediction on the upcoming election... if it comes off at all. None of the candidates will ignite much excitement and the resulting vote will yield no overwhelming winner. The losers will all claim to have been cheated (and perhaps will have been), so any winner will have to make accomodations just to be inaugurated. The necessary change will not happen and the status quo will prevail... until, social pressures create the next inevitable explosion.

The possibility of some dramatic change with massive popular support was why I was at least receptive to a Wyclef Jean candidacy. Granted, this would have required a CEP able to see beyond the legalisms that they used to bar this outsider. But, it's back to the question at the end of paragraph 2 above, namely: How could one seriously expect the CEP to understand the larger picture?

Of course, Wyclef would be a huge gamble, but one does need to break eggs to make an omelette! If Wyclef is truly interested in effecting change in Haiti, I would suggest a different tactic than the one he appears to be taking. Rather...

Interview in depth all of the candidates, Wyclef, and find (1) the one that you can work best with, one who is hopefully also (2) the one you feel is best able to lead Haiti out of the wilderness. Back this individual and campaign vigorously for him/her, recognizing that your support can help swing the contest. Post election, you should establish residency in Haiti and roll up your sleeves. (As Sean Penn is demonstrating this month, you can work in Haiti while "moonlighting" on your Hollywood job. Indeed, the latter is important in support of the former). As others have pointed out, 5 years is not a very long time, and by 2015 you would have not only a better understanding of what Haiti needs, but more importantly, a better idea of how to move the ball in the right direction. Uh, and good luck.

Lance Durban

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