Haiti and the United States, A Complex Past

Economics

It’s been just over a week since an earthquake unleashed an epic wave of destruction across Haiti. And even as bodies of both the living and the dead continue to be pulled from the rubble of Port-au-Prince, conservative commentators are already using the tragedy to launch into an attack on foreign development aid programs.

As we’ve heard ad nauseam since the quake, Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. It has also been the site of one of the most intensive development aid efforts anywhere on the planet, with, by some estimates, thousands of charities, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and relief agencies active in the country. But apparently, according to commentators like Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times’ David Brooks, since these efforts failed to turn Port-au-Prince into a carbon-copy of Manhattan or Los Angeles, they’ve been a failure. And if this massive development effort is a failure, their logic goes, then that’s just a clear indication that development aid as a whole is a failed concept that needs to end.  Everyone would be better off just leaving the Haitians to solve their own problems, which would include, according to Stephens, reform of their business regulations. Feel free to call us when you get things straightened out, okay?

Agriculture, Development, Fair Trade, France, Haiti, History, Natural Disasters, US Foreign Policy