OK, the other day I posted for people to come back to see my comments on why relief efforts in Haiti won’t work.  Understand, I’m optimistic about these efforts working and am doing my part to help make sure they do work as effectively as possible.  However, the Haitians faced enormous challenges for relief from their impoverished situation long before the earthquake and its aftershocks hit.  As the poorest country in the western hemisphere, with a soaring HIV infection rate, a terminally corrupt government and a crippling international debt [890 million to 1 billion according to http://www.one.org] Haiti was facing an enormous challenge before the quake.  Now, there are millions being poured in to aid organizations to provide relief, and that’s amazing, fantastic and critical.  I’ve donated money and have helped coordinate a major shipment of bottled water to help with the efforts on the ground.  If I didn’t have the responsibilities I have here at home, I would have been on the ground myself, moving rubble and helping people.  Despite our greatest efforts, we will not be able to rebuild Haiti in any sort of sustainable or just way unless we address the health, government and debt of the population there.

We can start with the debt.  Haiti should serve as a test case for debt forgiveness in the developing world.  We, as an international community should decide to forgive Haiti’s debt.  We can then monitor how that impacts the World Bank and the IMF, and how Haiti does in its recovery.

Next, we can address the corruption in the government [though ours and other governments need to be careful about the stones they cast here].  The U.S. in cooperation with the international community can put advisors and monitors on the ground, who can help the Haitian people realize their own dream of a democratic society.  This will be a much more complicated process than the debt and will require a long-term commitment.

Finally, we can impact the HIV transmission rate and care for those infected through education and access to ARV’s.

If these things are not done, relief in Haiti is a pipe-dream.

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