By Brittany Hutson
As if Haiti hasn’t endured enough this year. Last week, the Associated Press reported that the country has yet to receive the $1.15 billion in reconstruction money that Congress promised back in March. Well, it’s eight months later so what exactly is the hold up?
Since Haiti is notoriously known for their corrupt government, the State Department still has to prove that the money won’t be stolen or misused. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told the AP that a bureaucratic step, known as a Section 1007 proceeding, needs to be completed though he could not give an exact deadline. He only offered that this step would be completed “very soon.”
Apparently, President Obama was not able to sign the appropriation bill containing the money until July 29th. A subsequent bill to authorize the release of funds stalled, and it took until Sept. 20th for the Obama administration to submit a spending plan in order to free up the money, according to the AP.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton originally promised the reconstruction money to support efforts in building homes, creating jobs and improving lives. Without the reconstruction money, Haiti is left in ruin—temporary shelters have gone unbuilt, rubble has not been removed and 1.3 million people are still homeless. And it just keeps getting worse with the cholera outbreak that has killed as many as 800 people and leaving thousands sick.
Even though the State Department maintains that the reconstruction is on the way, in actuality, it could take years before Haiti sees the money. In the meantime, Haitians are left desperate and supporters have become increasingly frustrated with the lack of progress in assisting the country.
Last month, Jose De Cordoba reported in The Wall Street Journal that currently Haiti’s only chance of getting any assistance is through nongovernmental organizations, or NGOs, although there’s been a power struggle brewing between them and the Haitian government.
What will it take for Haiti to get the assistance they need? While the U.S. government is being cautious, Haitians continue to suffer with nowhere to turn. You’d think the government learned from their mistakes in dealing with Hurricane Katrina. But alas, it seems to be the same song and dance.
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