Canada withheld aid from Haiti and rushed in to support the un-elected opposition when the U.S.-inspired coup uprooted the popularly elected President Aristide in 2004
Today, ten years after the Inter-American Development Bank approved a $54 million loan to provide water supply in Port-au-Prince, 100,000 residents still lack access to potable water. "The situation is horrible right now," said Kevin Pina, an American who has lived in Haiti for the past six years.... It's a nightmare situation and Canada is up to its neck in it."
U.S. behind Haiti’s Water Woes, Rights Activists Charge
June 24, 2008
By Jacqueline Charles
In the overcrowded streets of Port-de-Paix, Haiti, spigots that once gushed with clean drinking water run empty, distribution lines are broken and the only source of potable water is private vendors.
The U.S. government is to blame for the lack of access to drinking water, according to several human rights groups, who on Monday accused American officials of delaying the disbursement of $54 million in loans to improve water access in Port-de-Paix as leverage for political change in the hemisphere’s poorest country.”There is not a question a crime was committed,” said Dr. Evan Lyon, a physician who has worked in Haiti since 1996 and was among several activists who issued the 87-page report. “There was an illegal and political-motivated manipulating of the funds.”
Lyon helped prepare the report on behalf of Partners in Health, the Haiti-based healthcare provider founded by Dr. Paul Farmer. Others involved in the report include the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights; Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at the New York University School of Law; and Zanmi Lasante, a Haitian advocacy group that Farmer also is involved with. The report looks at the effects of the slowdown of the distribution, noting that 10 years after the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) approved the $54 million loan, the city’s 100,000 residents still lack access to potable water.
Rob Saliterman, spokesman for International Affairs in the U.S. Department of the Treasury, declined to comment, saying he had not seen the report. But he noted that “the U.S. has been extremely supportive of multilateral assistance efforts for Haiti.”
In 1998, the IDB agreed to provide Haiti with a $54 million loan as part of an effort to improve sanitation and water distribution in the cities of Port-de-Paix in the northwest, and Les Cayes in the southwest. Two years later, Haiti’s parliament approved the loan.
According to the report’s authors, e-mails and other documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Treasury Department reveal that there was “a high level of strategic interference by U.S. personnel to stall the disbursement of these loans indefinitely in order to use them as leverage for political change.”
”This was a real calculated attempt to implement a political policy with total disregard for the impact on the ground,” said Monika Varma, director of the RFK Center. “This is a shining example of what we understand is a pretty common practice, U.S. government using its power in multilateral institutions.”
Varma and others involved in the report say they not only want an investigation into what happened but ”regular monitoring of U.S. government” behavior in its dealing with foreign nations like Haiti.
Though multilateral institutions like the IDB and others have long cited Haiti’s political infighting and turmoil as blame for the slow distribution of funds, Lyon said that was not the case this time around. In 2002, Haitian government officials publicly complained about the aid holdup, prompting members of the Congressional Black Caucus to urge President Bush to release the loan.In Port-de-Paix, contracts were awarded in 2007, funds are being disbursed to contractors and work should be completed by 2009, IDB spokesman Peter Bate said.
”Although we do not comment on internal deliberations involving member states, project execution in Haiti is often delayed in the face of institutional challenges,” he said. “The IDB has worked with the Haitian government and other stakeholders to address such issues. Indeed, the IDB has remained continually engaged in Haiti during the toughest political and economic circumstances.”