Haiti earthquake recovery a debacle under management of Mr. and Mrs. Clinton

Any examination of Hillary Clinton’s qualifications for president should include close study of the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC), set up to raise money and Haiti recover from its devastating 7.0 earthquake four years ago. IHRC is headed by Bill Clinton and initially functioned during the period his wife was Secretary of State, running the US government component of the aid effort through the State Department's U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

Simply put, the massive effort has been a fiasco, with relatively little done to actually aid Haiti under the leadership of the Clintons. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Mary Anastasia O’Grady notes:

…hundreds of millions of dollars from the State Department's U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), allocated to the IHRC, are gone. Hundreds of millions more to the IHRC from international donors have also been spent. Left behind is a mishmash of low quality, poorly thought-out development experiments and half-finished projects.

Haitians are angry, frustrated and increasingly suspicious of the motives of the IHRC and of its top official, Mr. Clinton. Americans might feel the same way if they knew more about this colossal failure. One former Haitian official puts it this way: "I really cannot understand how you could raise so much money, put a former U.S. president in charge, and get this outcome."

As O’Grady points out, it really isn’t that much of a mystery:

While Mr. Clinton was running things for the IHRC, and the U.S. was leading the reconstruction effort, Hillary Clinton was the U.S. Secretary of State, which means that Mr. Clinton was reporting to his wife. Cheryl Mills, Mrs. Clinton's chief of staff and counselor to the State Department (an adviser and consultant to the secretary), traveled to the country an estimated 30 times in four years. A State Department spokesman told me that "reflected the high priority the United State places on Haiti's recovery and development." Requests for comment from Mr. Clinton, through the Clinton Foundation, about the petition and his IHRC record went unanswered.

The Clinton crowd has a lot of experience in Haiti. After President Clinton used the U.S. military to return Jean Bertrand Aristide to power in 1994, assorted Friends of Bill went into business to milk Haiti's state-owned telephone monopoly. Telecom revenues were one of the few sources of hard currency for the country so the scheme hurt Haitians. (See Americas columns Oct. 27, 2008, and March 12, 2012.)

A 2013 documentary film, “Fatal Assistance,” by Haitian filmmaker Raoul Peck, chronicles a number of debacles in the Haiti aid program. If Hillary becomes the Democrat nominee, it should receive a lot of attention from her opponent. And by the way, the Clinton Global Initiative is raising pots of money from wealthy donors at glamorous dunraisers. Where is all that money going?

Hat tip: Cliff Thier

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