Fixing Haiti

MINUSTAH and Beyond

image of Fixing Haiti
References to the land of the black Jacobins are almost always followed by the phrase the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere”. To that distinction, on 12 January 2010, Haiti added another, when it was hit by a devastating natural disaster, a 7.0 Richter scale earthquake. Since 2004, the United Nations has been in Haiti through MINUSTAH in an ambitious attempt to help Haiti raise itself by its bootstraps. This effort has now acquired additional urgency. Is Haiti a failed state? Does it deserve a Marshall-planlike programme? What will it take to address the Haitian predicament? In this book, some of the world’s leading experts on Haiti examine the challenges faced by the first black republic, the tasks undertaken by the United Nations, and the new role of hemispheric players like Argentina, Brazil and Chile, as well as that of Canada, France and the United States.




Haiti has suffered a series of recent misfortunes: hurricanes, an earthquake, cholera and a discredited election. Unsurprisingly, people tend to lose sight of more hopeful developments. Yet, on the day I write this Foreword (11 January 2011), The Wall Street Journal is running a story on how Haiti has attracted a major investment from Korea: the world’s leading garment firm will establish a factory that will directly employ 20,000 people. By far the most difficult investment to attract is the first: firms reduce their costs by clustering together. Now that one garment firm has invested, others will face lower costs and so are likely to follow. Hence, the initial 20,000 jobs are likely to be multiplied. Further, each job in the garment industry will create indirect employment as workers spend their income locally. And each job can support a family. This is the sort of success that Haiti needs to transform its society from poverty and despair: waged jobs provide dignity, structure and income for ordinary families.


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