For all the hundreds of millions of dollars in aid that have gone to Haiti after the 8.0 earthquake that killed more than 200,000 and leveled an already decrepit infrastructure, there doesn’t seem to be a great deal of headway happening. Some 1.3 million people are still living in tents or on the streets and now a cholera epidemic is taking more lives. Obviously, the frustration both inside and outside the country is mounting, and people are wondering why – with all the aid, resources, and assistance flowing into the country, why isn’t it helping?
One word: Corruption. For far longer than the earthquake, Haiti has been a country riddled with corruption. Talk to leaders running humanitarian organizations, talk to journalists, or talk to everyday people and you get the same story – corruption is killing the recovery. I saw it when I was filming there more than 25 years ago, and you can still see it today.
That’s why it’s so hard to figure out why the United States and other countries who are pouring millions into the country won’t take a stronger position on the issue.
I spoke to a friend who heads a large orphanage in the country and she told me that corruption is stopping enormous amounts of her supplies. She has shipping containers coming into the country filled with food, medicine, and other critical supplies. They get delivered to her property, but they won’t open the containers, expecting her to pay a government official a bribe. She refuses to pay the bribe, and simply waits them out until they grown weary. But in the process, it delays the critical supplies getting to those in need.