On January 12, 2010, the Caribbean nation of Haiti experienced a devastating earthquake, which took more than 100,000 lives and left 200,000+ injured and 900,000+ homeless — about 10 percent of the country’s population.
It was one of the Western hemisphere’s greatest natural disasters, and nations like the United States rushed to the aid of Haiti — one of the world’s poorest nations — to help the country’s citizens recover and rebuild.
The Obama administration, working via Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, appointed former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush coordinators of U.S. relief efforts. Bill Clinton specifically was put in charge of billions of dollars that flowed from the U.S. and other nations to Haiti.
To date, the U.S. alone has given over $3.1 billion via its United States Agency for International Development (USAID) organization — which works out to more than $300 for each Haitian citizen.
Who benefited from all this aid? Perhaps unsurprisingly, almost no Haitians.
More than six years after the disaster, much damage and ruin from the calamity are still in evidence. Many of those made homeless are still without permanent housing.
Almost none of the money given in aid ended up going to the people who need it the most — instead, it went to foreign governments, private companies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as the Red Cross.
The Red Cross alone took in as much as $486 million for relief efforts yet ended up building a mere six homes in its relief efforts, as a recent audit of that organization’s efforts discovered. (It should be noted that the CEO of the American Red Cross, Gail McGovern, receives a salary of more than $1,000,000 per year.)
One-third of each of the USAID dollars went to reimbursing the U.S. military for its intervention actions. More than $220 million went to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, about $150 million went to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and $350 million went straight back to USAID. By some estimates, only one cent of every dollar made it to the government of Haiti.
For other countries helping with relief efforts, the split was similar. After accounting for militaries, civilian entities, NGOs, private contractors and the Red Cross, as little as one percent of the money made it to the Haitian government.
In the wake of the disaster, the government of Haiti set up the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC), co-chaired by Bill Clinton and former Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive. Nearly 1500 government contracts were awarded to companies providing relief aid.
The U.S. Ambassador to Haiti at the time, Kenneth Merten, sent a cable to Hillary Clinton’s State Department entitled, “The Gold Rush Is On.” Out of the nearly 1500 contracts, just 23 were awarded to Haitian companies — nearly 40 percent of the contracts were awarded to companies in the Washington, D.C. area.
A number of members of the IHRC later wrote a letter saying that it was Clinton and Bellerive who made many of the most important monetary decisions early in the recovery process, effectively shutting them out.
A number of Haitian groups even had trouble getting into the meetings where discussions about the aid were ongoing; most of the meetings were not held or translated into Creole, one of the two national languages of Haiti.
Many claimed that numerous decisions were not made in Haitians’ best interests. Many groups further claimed that the Clintons were closely connected to individuals who benefitted highly from government contracts following the earthquake.
One of those close connections was Irish billionaire Denis O’Brien, the founder of cellphone company Digicel, which set up an emergency method for Haitians to transfer money via their cellphones. Digicel received millions of dollars in money from USAID for this effort.
Clinton appointed O’Brien the chairman of the Haiti Action Network, an outreach program of the Clinton Foundation’s Clinton Global Initiative. In a cover story in Esquire magazine, Bill Clinton was quoted as saying, “Wouldn’t it be great if [Haiti] became the first [100%] wireless nation in the world? They could, I’m telling you; they really could.”
While the former president’s vision did not effectively come to pass, Digicel was able to earn a tidy $50 million from their disaster-recovery efforts in just six months. By 2012, the company had managed to take over 80 percent of the country’s cellphone market and made more money in Haiti than in any of the firm’s other global divisions.
In the meantime, Bill Clinton gave a $225,000 speech at an event Digicel sponsored in Jamaica while O’Brien made multimillion-dollar donations to the Bill and Hillary’s Clinton Foundation.
In an article on the earthquake by reporter Janet Reitman of Rolling Stone, it was reported that another contractor in Haiti was New York-based consulting firm Dalberg Global Development Advisors.
Reitman’s article found that Dalberg’s staff “had never lived overseas, didn’t have any disaster experience or background in urban planning… never carried out any program activities on the ground…” and only one of the team spoke French, the other official language of Haiti. USAID looked at their work and “it became clear that these people may not have even gotten out of their SUVs.”
In Peter Schweizer’s best-selling book-turned-film Clinton Cash, it was revealed that Hillary Clinton’s brother Tony Rodham received one of only two rare gold mining permits granted by the Haitian government in the last 50 years.
Rodham’s tiny company, VCS Mining (which at the time had scant mining experience), had a heavyweight board that included — surprise — Bill Clinton and the IHRC’s Jean-Max Bellerive. VCS received a sweetheart deal from the Haitian government, to whom it would only owe royalties of 2.5 percent, a rate that’s less than half of a standard contract, according to many in the mining industry.
Not only that, but VCS received the right to renew its contract for 25 years. In court testimony published by The New York Times, Rodham was quoted as saying, “I deal through the Clinton Foundation. That gets me in touch with Haitian officials. I hound my brother-in-law [Bill Clinton] because it’s his fund that we’re going to get our money from. And he can’t do it until the Haitian government does it.”
Yet another deal the Clintons made was for a Korean manufacturer named Sae-A to set up factories in a business zone called the Caracol Industrial Park. The opening of Caracol was a splashy event, with both of the Clintons in attendance along with fashion designer Donna Karan and celebrities Ben Stiller and Sean Penn.
As it turns out, Sae-A manufactures apparel for U.S. brands (such as Donna Karan’s) who happen to be big supporters of the Clintons. At the time, the State Department said that Caracol would provide 65,000 jobs to the Haitian community; to date, only 5,000 of those jobs have materialized.
As Schweizer points out, nearly all of the contracts that the Haitian government approved in the wake of the disaster touched the Clintons in some way; without a relationship with the couple, a company or organization was virtually guaranteed to be shut out of being able to provide goods or services.
The Clintons’ eponymous Foundation was one of the first organizations to commit to helping to rebuild in Haiti. However, much of their multimillion-dollar relief efforts amounted to little more than assisting with (and in some cases donating money directly to) the construction of luxury hotels in the country, including at least one Marriott franchise operation owned by the aforementioned owner of Digicel, Denis O’Brien.
Very recently, the former president of the Haitian Senate, Bernard Sansaricq, issued a statement blasting the Clintons and the Clinton Foundation. It reads:
Sadly, when an earthquake rocked the nation of Haiti in 2010, corruption moved in faster than the help so desperately needed. Today, the people of Haiti are still suffering despite the billions of dollars that have flowed into the Clinton Foundation.
The Clintons exploited this terrible disaster to steal billions of dollars from the sick and starving people of Haiti. The world trusted the Clintons to help the Haitian people during their most desperate time of need and they were deceived.
The Clintons and their friends are richer today while millions still live in tents. The world deserves to know where the money went and why help was never sent.
Sansaricq further went on to say that Bill Clinton had attempted to bribe him prior to the 1994 U.S. military invasion of Haiti. Sansaricq was strongly against the planned invasion, and then-President Clinton sent former Congressman Bill Richardson of New Mexico to talk to Sansaricq.
When Sansaricq refused to back down, the American Embassy in Haiti dispatched an anonymous messenger to Sansaricq with a message that if Sansaricq were to side with Bill Clinton, he would be made “the richest man in Haiti.” When Sansaricq refused the bribe, his U.S. visa was revoked.
Sansaricq has subsequently called for an audit of the Clinton Foundations’ efforts in Haiti.
In addition to these operations, the United Nations was also involved early on in the struggle to rebuild Haiti. While much of its work was helpful, the organization’s endeavors were blamed for an outbreak of cholera in October of 2010, nine months after the earthquake.
The cholera plague lasted for years amidst relief and vaccination efforts and ultimately was one of the most horrific outbreaks of the scourge in the last 40 years, infecting more than 780,000 Haitians. To date, nearly 10,000 Haitians are estimated to have died as a direct result of the epidemic.
Initially, the UN denied responsibility, but investigators from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Doctors Without Borders and Harvard University all confirmed the septic waste of the UN mission as the original source of the disease; even Bill Clinton confirmed the UN link.
For its part, the UN tried to downplay the former president’s statements, saying, “In relation to former President Clinton’s reported remarks to the press this week in Haiti, we note that he emphasized the importance of focusing on improving Haiti’s sanitation system and the fact that the United Nations and others are working hard to do this.”
Cholera epidemics such as the one that has afflicted Haiti are often multi-year incidents that do not go away; they resurge and can kill dozens more people year after year without heavy-duty treatment and repairs to an area’s plumbing infrastructure.
It’s essential that this critical infrastructure be repaired or installed, but even prior to the earthquake, only one in five Haitians had access to a real toilet, and two in five did not have access to clean water. After Clinton connected the UN to the cholera outbreak, the Clinton Global Initiative committed to building a multi-billion dollar Permanent Diarrhea Training and Treatment Center for Haiti. As of February 2015, the Center remained unbuilt.
In 2016, a bipartisan committee in Congress led by Republican Representative Mia Love of Utah (who is herself of Haitian descent) wrote a letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry criticizing the slow U.S. response to the cholera outbreak. More than 150 members of Congress signed the letter.
In the meantime, the UN has stated it will not pay damages, accept lawsuits or trials for its actions due to the cholera epidemic in Haiti, claiming it is protected under a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) it signed with corrupt and brutal former Haitian leader Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
An examination of the Clinton Foundation’s website today shows no updates on Haiti since July 2015 and the total amount raised for Haiti as just $30 million. Perhaps the Clintons are too busy waiting for the world’s next disaster while Hillary Clinton courts more money for her campaign to be president.