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Home Publications Blogs Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction Watch Venezuela Leads World in Aid to Haiti

Venezuela Leads World in Aid to Haiti

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Tuesday, 06 July 2010 16:10

The Miami Herald reports on the role of Venezuela in the relief and reconstruction of Haiti. The article notes that Venezuela was "the first nation to respond", "became the first country to forgive Haiti's foreign debt", and pledged more than the US, EU or World Bank at the UN Donor Conference in New York. These are all amazing achievements, however the Miami Herald focuses on how "the aid is likely to slow" with an ongoing recession (which is global - this, like many other news articles, treats Venezuela's economy as if it's in a vacuum) and upcoming elections in Venezuela - a prediction for which no evidence is offered.  Michael Shifter of the Inter-American Dialogue is also quoted in the article, speaking about the political use of Venezuelan aid.

None of these things are characteristics that only apply to Venezuela, however. The United States is also facing a poor economic situation back home, and elections in November, yet aid from the United States is rarely subject to the same analysis. Unlike Venezuelan aid, USAID, the main avenue for US aid projects, has an expressly political goal. The USAID website says that, "U.S. foreign assistance has always had the twofold purpose of furthering America's foreign policy interests in expanding democracy and free markets while improving the lives of the citizens of the developing world."


Furthermore, while the Herald writes that, "as economic troubles mount in Venezuela, and Chávez faces a serious political challenge with upcoming legislative elections in September, the aid is likely to slow," the article fails to mention the amazingly slow pace of other countries in honoring their aid pledges. As of a few weeks ago, only Brazil had fulfilled their pledge. This has also been a serious problem in the past. Making a similar point today, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon warned:

that immediate humanitarian assistance is only being funded at 60 per cent. Donors must be held accountable for their pledges, he said.

"I would urge that there should be an accountability that when they have a pledge to this money they should immediately deliver this aid," Ban told the BBC.

The Herald article does describe one makeshift camp that has greatly benefited from Venezuelan aid:
In the hard-hit town of Léogane, in southern Haiti, is the Simon Bolívar tent city. Unlike many of the overcrowded and dirty encampments of Port-au-Prince, Venezuela has managed to limit newcomers to this one, keeping it organized and tidy.

Sitting under a green military tent, where she lives with six family members, Stephany Pierre, 30, said she was thankful to Venezuela for a place to live, food and the adult literacy classes the camp was offering.

"Tell Mr. Chávez he can stay with us if he ever comes to Haiti,'' she said squinting against the sunlight. ``But tell him these tents are very hot, we need real homes."

Tags: aid | debt relief | pledges | shelter | venezuela

 

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