By Garry Pierre-Pierre
I probably will never know what happened to the billion of dollars that were pledged, or given for earthquake relief in 2010 in Haiti. Many Haitians blame Bill and Hillary Clinton for mismanaging the funds. Those who know aren’t saying and those who don’t know have lots to say.
But what I do know is that Hillary gave us Michel Joseph Martelly, or, Sweet Micky, as president. Martelly a raunchy Konpa musician, brokered a deal led by Cheryl Mills, Mrs. Clinton’s chief of staff when she was Secretary of State. We are just beginning to see the results of that choice. Martelly left us with a burgeoning constitutional crisis and mismanaged Venezuela’s money, an oil deal known as Petrocaribe,which will become clearer soon enough.
While I have previously criticized Ms. Clinton for her role in Martelly’s selection, it doesn’t mean that I support Donald Trump to become the next leader of the world. Whatever problem I have with the Clinton decision, it’s like a family squabble. We’ll take care of that after she becomes the first woman elected president of the United States.
During the Democratic primary, I staunchly supported Bernie Sanders, a man of great integrity and vision. Unfortunately, he lost and has been one of the leading champion of Mrs. Clinton. He was running against the Democratic National Committee (DNC) establishment and gave Mrs. Clinton a valiant fight. If he can campaign for her, why should we not join him in voting for the Democratic nominee.
Mr. Trump in the word of President Obama is “uniquely unqualified to be president of the United States.” I couldn’t agree more. Trump has mentioned the Clinton’s misdeeds in one of his commercials and mentioned Haiti during the third debate. But what are his plans for Haiti if he’s elected president? I don’t want to speculate because he hasn’t said. Who in the community is advising him on Haiti? Again, I don’t know. Despite the community’s growth, it’s still closed-knit.
Enough has been written about Mr. Trump that I don’t want to add to it. Enough said. I urge my fellow Haitian-Americans to go to the ballot tomorrow and cast our vote for Mrs. Clinton. And on Wednesday, the leadership should organize national calls the way we did after the earthquake to rally the troop. We should come up with a set of serious recommendations and put together a task force to follow through and make sure that Mrs. Clinton atones for her mistakes in Haiti.
As we know, Haiti’s problems are beginning to mount. Hurricane Matthew, which blew through the politically-troubled Caribbean nation, has left billions in destruction and hundreds of deaths. This month, pounding rains created havoc from Cap Haitien to Port-de-Paix. There are lots to be done to replace what’s lost and then catch up to unfinished problems that the country face.
We also should push Haitian-American firms and entrepreneurs be given a chance to compete for projects in Haiti and have the Diaspora play a role in Haiti policy at the State Department.
Haiti has always been a soft spot for the Clintons, who honeymooned there. Bill put his presidency at stake when he led an invasion to restore the deposed, democratically elected Jean Bertrand Aristide in 1994. It was risky because the Haitian president was polarizing and proved to be not the pious person Haitians eagerly and overwhelmingly elected.
Clinton left Aristide dangling by pulling out troops and resources under Republican criticism. He was facing reelection and Haiti became a casualty of war. Meanwhile, all of this was happening without any significant input from Haitian-Americans.
He came back in 2009 as a Special UN Envoy for Haiti, promising to raise tons of money to help Haiti move forward. A year later, the earthquake happened chaos ensued and created the current enmity of too many Haitian-Americans with the Clintons.
America is a country of endless chances and Hillary Clinton will have a chance yet again to do it right. This time, she will have willing allies in a more and more sophisticated community. We’re still not there yet. But we’re slowly finding our ways. There are new leadership and a more educated group of millennial and Generation Xers among our ranks.
We should not sit idly by while decisions about our homeland are being hatched out in Washington, D.C. As Hurricane Matthew has shown us, at the end of the day, when everybody turns their back on Haiti, we’re left carrying the load because despite being fatigued ourselves, we have to carry the load one way or the other.
But first, let’s make sure we vote for Mrs. Clinton and organize for a better Haiti so we can start building wealth in our communities here.