The Role of Haiti's Elite

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Tuesday, 16 February 2010 10:49
The Washington Post had an article yesterday detailing the role that Haitian elites will play in the rebuilding of the country:
Haiti's elite -- a small, politically connected group as comfortable lobbying President René Préval as lawmakers in Washington -- is positioning itself for business opportunities emerging from their country's reconstruction.
The Los Angeles Times described Haiti's elite in an article shortly after the earthquake:
They control all the major sectors of the economy, from banking and telecommunications to apparel factories and food. They go to the French schools here, and they attend university in Miami. They vacation in Europe. They live farther up the hills that rise above the squalor of Port-au-Prince.
Speaking to the Washington Post, Yannick Etienne, a labor organizer with Batay Ouvriye, a workers' rights group, explains the worries that many Haitians have about relying on the elites to rebuild Haiti:
"Haitian business people, they exploit the workers, and they lie to the multinational agencies about working conditions...When you see the way they treat people here, it's difficult to really expect much from them."
The head of the manufacturers association in Haiti, the sector which the IDB believes will employ 150,000 people (up from 28,000), summed things up succinctly:
"I remember someone saying, 'A crisis is a terrible thing to waste,' " Sassine said. "It is true."

Tags: elite | reconstruction