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calendar   Friday - April 02, 2010

Then Let Them Starve

Haiti Back To Being Haiti

food aid shipments delayed because border guards want bribes




After six days of waiting at Haiti’s border, Mario Polanco was losing patience with the red tape holding up his truck full of earthquake relief supplies.

Polanco drove the equipment for the International Committee of the Red Cross 11 hours from a port in the Dominican Republic, only to have the Haitian customs agent find one problem after another with his paperwork. As he waited in the shade of his truck’s cab in this dusty border town, dozens of others were lined up behind him.

“I don’t know why they are making it so difficult on people,” Polanco said.

For more than six weeks following the Jan. 12 earthquake, Haiti left its border with the Dominican Republic open to speed the delivery of aid. As the government now reasserts control, the return of bureaucracy is leading to delays as trucks idle for days.

One day this week at the customs office at Malpasse, the Haitian town across from Jimani, a single agent was processing a caravan of trucks, including Polanco’s, that stretched for two miles (three kilometers). In the line were rice, beans, canned food, construction materials and ambulances — all desperately needed in Haiti.

“We haven’t been able to distribute food for two weeks,” said Paloma Rivera, an official with Quisqueya in Action, a nonprofit Dominican organization that is feeding some of Haiti’s homeless quake victims.

Haiti’s bureaucracy was famously sluggish even before the earthquake shattered government agencies. Businesses could wait months for supplies from the U.S. to clear customs at seaports.

Corruption was also a problem. Haiti regularly ranks among the worst in Transparency International’s annual ranking of perceived corruption. Haiti ranked 168th out of 180 countries in 2009 on a scale where low scores mean most corruption.

At the border, drivers without other options have had luck with bribery.

Customs agents have been arbitrarily charging trucks $40 for entry, Reyes said. He said agents threaten to demand passports or visas that many drivers do not have.

One driver, Jose Lorenzo, was held up for four days before he was allowed to cross the border with a load of canned tuna for the SOS Children’s Villages organization.

When the Haitian agent demanded that he present a passport, Lorenzo said: “Here is my visa,” and handed over 150 Dominican pesos — about $5. He said the agent let him pass without further hassle.

Somebody please tell me why Haiti even has border guards? They have nothing. Zip, zilch, zero. Nada. They need everything. Nobody wants to live there. What on earth is the point of even looking into the bundles, bails, and barrels of free goods the world is sending them in their time of need? Drugs? Who effin’ cares? Nothing is getting out of Haiti, and the people there don’t have 2 cents to rub together. You think they can afford recreational drugs? Pssst - hey, you wanna trade that bag of heroin for this shovel full of mud? How about for this moldy old yam?

Puh-leez.

But if they want to put roadblocks in the way, it’s their country. Fine. If they want to slow the flow of badly needed supplies to a crawl so as to get a few dollars in bribes, let them. It can all go back on the ships, back on the planes, and go away.  Forever.

Fuck it up, even once, and you lose. Bye bye.


avatar

Posted by Drew458   United States  on 04/02/2010 at 07:24 PM   
Filed Under: • Corruption and GreedTURD WORLD •  
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