I stumbled across this book in the course of trying to find out the total amount of money that the West has spent on foreign aid to Haiti.
Since the 1950s, it turns out that the West has spent over$2.3 trillion dollars in foreign aid, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa,on the Third World. In 2013 dollars, this is the equivalent of about 13 Marshall Plans.
This was before the 2010 Haitian earthquake after which more foreign aid poured into Haiti in four years than in the previous forty years combined. In 2014, Sub-Saharan Africa (minus South Africa) has a combined economy smaller than Belgium’s economy:
“Gordon Brown was silent about the other tragedy of the world’s poor. This is the tragedy in which the West spent $2.3 trillion on foreign aid over the last five decades and still had not managed to get twelve-cent medicines to children to prevent half of all malaria deaths. The West had spent $2.3 trillion and still had not managed to get four-dollar bed nets to poor families. The West spent $2.3 trillion and still had not managed to get three dollars to each new mother to prevent five million child deaths. The West spent $2.3 trillion, and Amaretch is still carrying firewood and not going to school. It’s a tragedy that so much well-meaning compassion did not bring these results for needy people.” (William Easterly, The White Man’s Burden: Why the West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good, pp.3-4)
This is interesting:
“Today, Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and among the tenth poorest countries worldwide. Its population of 8 million produces $463 million in exports of goods and services. Exports per person were thirty-one times higher in 1789 than in 2002.”
The “legacy of slavery” in Haiti doesn’t include the work ethic or birth rate.
Here’s an image which shows sub-Saharan Africa’s dependence on foreign aid:
Note: No country in sub-Saharan Africa is more dependent on foreign aid than Liberia which declared its independence in 1847.
The obvious solution? Foreign do-gooders should reject the “paternalistic model” and start “actually trusting the Haitians as long-term partners.” Otherwise, the Haitians will be infantilized, the Haitian government will remain powerless and broke, and an entire society will be doomed to poverty!
It never occurs to Elise Jordan that there is a reason why so little of the foreign aid is channeled through the Haitian government:
The US has been sending on-again, off-again foreign aid to Haiti since FDR began his foreign aid program in 1943. In particular, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) – created by JFK through an executive order in 1961 – has been active in Haiti for almost fifty years now.
As one might expect, the corruption of Haiti’s leaders is the reason why foreign aid is now channeled through NGOs instead of the Haitian government:
“The Haitian economy quickly felt the consequences of Bébé Doc’s popularity. US aid to Papa Doc, offered as a counterpart for his anti-communist stand, averaged $3.8 million a year when Bébé Doc took over. By 1975, U.S. aid had jumped to $35.5 million because of the mistaken belief that Bébé Doc would soon abandon his father’s repressive policies. Millions were lost through corruption, for the son displayed a greed that had never been a part of his father’s capital sins, but some key projects were completed …
Haiti’s economy was virtually dependent on international charity by the late 1970s. Foreign aid provided 70 percent of the national treasury. …
Bébé Doc, in a stroke of genius, discovered that Haiti’s poverty could be its main source of wealth. He used starving children to increase aid, then siphoned off many of the funds to foreign bank accounts to maintain his people at an adequate level of misery. Donated funds not only failed to address the main impediment to progress – the rapacious Duvalier dynasty – but propped up the regime instead.” (Philippe Gerard, Haiti: The Tumultuous History – From Pearl of the Caribbean to Broken Nation, pp.105-107)
“Baby Doc reportedly embezzled somewhere between $300 million and $800 million (or upwards of 4.5 percent of Haiti’s GDP) during his tenure, in a country that was at the time one of the poorest in the Western hemisphere. Neither Baby Doc nor Papa Doc formulated a coherent economic policy for Haiti; their goals instead appeared to be to recklessly enjoy the fruits of their office. For example, in 1980 Baby Doc’s government was given $22 million by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Within weeks $20 million of this sum was mysteriously withdrawn from the government’s account. …
Former Haitian Minister of Finance and World Bank official Marc Bazin determined that at least “36% of government revenue in Haiti was embezzled” under Baby Doc, declaring the country the “most mismanaged in the region.” (Natasha Ezrow and Eric Frantz, Dictators and Dictatorships: Understanding Authoritarian Regimes and Their Leaders, p.137)
I’m still trying to nail down an exact dollar figure, but from the sources in my possession, I can say that Haiti has been the recipient of at least $16.4 billion dollars in foreign aidand an additional $1.2 billion dollars in debt relief since 1971. At least $9.1 billion of that was disbursed in the wake of the 2010 earthquake. This figure doesn’t include the billions of dollars that the US spent on “Operation Restore Democracy.”
The amount of foreign aid and debt relief that has been lavished on Haiti by Western countries since 1943 dwarfs the indemnity that Haiti contracted with France in 1825 and which was paid off at any rate in 1883. Like a freak thunderstorm in the Sahara desert, the effect of foreign aid quickly dissipates because Haitians lack the capacity to govern themselves and generate long term economic growth.
Giving foreign aid directly to the Haitian government will invite corruption and embezzlement. Spending the foreign aid through NGOs will alleviate short term suffering while fostering long term dependency.