Unless we are not well informed, it does not seem that the “rainfall” of investments Bill Clinton is in process of “showering” on Haiti is part of an economic sustainable master plan. If it exists, we have not seen it yet.
Last week, a $45 million investment for the construction of an industrial park was announced amid fanfare. The project would generate 25,000 jobs. This is indeed great news.
However it would be greater, if this very important investment was going to be a substantial contribution to the clearing, cleaning and urbanization of the city with schools providing both regular and vocational studies that emphasize mathematics, sciences, languages, and geography, among other important contributions that encourage artisan’s production, and facilitate small businesses.
Otherwise, this new industrial park is going to provoke the same chaotic situation the other industrial park has caused about a quarter of a century ago. It was solely a business undertaking that favored the investors and managers but did not improve the disastrous conditions of 10,000 workers who were luckier than the 100,000, who came from all over the country when they heard about the great news.
The main question is how substantial investments can help the social and economic development of more abandoned areas of the country. Some of the developing countries that are now progressing, have long understood that as most of the population that flood their capitals and main cities came from the rural areas. Thus, in order to reestablish the country’s balance and insure its self- alimentation, it was necessary to initiate important agricultural and rural development programs.
From the late 1930’s through the early 1940’s Haitian rural areas were productive enough for the export of coffee, cotton and other commodities. The development programs that included agricultural production, classical and practical teaching, as well as technical and professional training did not survive. The destructive political Haitian tradition observed by successive governments has not contributed to the survival of productive initiative.
At this critical moment, members of the three components of the country’s responsible powers, and all informed Haitians must realize that the opportunities that seemed to be available now may have reached the end of too many recuperating assistance. It is time for the Haitian themselves to clearly formulate their needs for social and economic sustainable development, and to establish their priorities that should include, but not limit, the training of at least 50,000 elementary school teachers, the establishment of agro-business, the construction of fully equipped rural collectivity centers with housing facilities for trainers and teachers.
For once, they should understand that that the basis for a sustainable social and economic development must begin with the entitlement and progress of the larger population abandoned for too long to its miseries. This concern is not purely humanitarian; it is the basis for all future progress in the country as a whole. A wise man could say, “as we need strong feet and legs to walk, a country needs strongly prepared citizenry to prosper.”