Roughly half of the $1.14 billion that the U.S. government allocated to help Haiti recover from the 2010 earthquake has gone to wasteful projects with the single largest chunk—$170.3 million—going to a failed port and power plant adventure heavily promoted by Bill Clinton and the State Department under the leadership if his beloved wife.
Can you say scandal? The former president, who has been heavily involved in distributing Haiti earthquake reconstruction funds, pushed hard for the power plant and port for an industrial park in northern Haiti billed as the centerpiece of the United States’ effort to help the ravaged island nation rebuild. As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joined her husband in the effort, making several trips to Haiti to promote the project and encourage foreigners to invest in it.
In fact, Bill and Hillary Clinton led a star-studded delegation last year to inaugurate the industrial park, located about 100 miles from Port-au-Prince, tied to the power plant and port. Hollywood actors, a famous fashion designer and a British business magnate joined the Clintons as did high-ranking Obama administration officials such as then Labor Secretary Hilda Solis.
Hillary delivered a heart-felt speech saying “we have been united behind a single goal – making investments in this country’s people and your infrastructure that help put Haiti finally on the path to broad-based economic growth with a more vibrant private sector and less dependence on foreign assistance. And we believe that our work here in Haiti and here in the north is beginning to show results.”
Not really, according to a federal audit of the $1.14 billion that Congress approved to help Haiti recover from the powerful earthquake that killed more than 200,000 and left over 1 million homeless. The probe was requested by a Florida congresswoman who chairs the House Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee because hundreds of millions have been spent in Haiti with virtually no accountability.
The investigation focused on $651 million that American taxpayers have given Haiti via the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) since 2010. The probe “reveals a troubling lack of progress and accountability,” according to the lawmaker who ordered it, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. “More than three years after the devastating earthquake of January 12, 2010, we find that much of the assistance that the U.S. has provided Haiti for reconstruction efforts has suffered from ineffective stewardship on the part of USAID,” the veteran congresswoman says in a statement posted on her website.
The Clinton-backed power and port venture is the biggest and most expensive failure mentioned in the report. An astounding $170.3 million later, it is years behind schedule, lacks a qualified engineer and has unrealistic timeframes. As a result, planning has been hindered, the report says, and “funding will be insufficient to cover a majority of projected costs.” It will take an additional $117 to $189 million to complete it and it’s unclear whether the Haitian government will be able to find a private sector company willing to finance the remainder of the project.
That means Uncle Sam must come to the rescue or the $170.3 million already wasted on the project will be lost. Either way, U.S. taxpayers get screwed. Besides the scandalous, Clinton-backed power and port experiment, congressional investigators found mismanagement of a crucial housing plan that was supposed to accommodate up to 90,000 Haitians. USAID claims it will only be able to handle 3,200 to 15,900 people at nearly double the original cost of $59 million. That means the cost per house is nearly triple the original estimate, according to the report.
Back to the Clinton prominence in all things Haiti; the United Nations named the former commander-in-chief as a special envoy to the island and his Clinton Foundation has raised $34 million for Haiti since the catastrophic earthquake hit. Additionally, the former president has distributed $54.4 million from the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, which was launched shortly after the earthquake. The fund closed in December after distributing the last of the money and claims that it has “helped Haitians create a better future through smart, sustainable economic development” though it acknowledges that “much work remains to be done in Haiti.”
Combined with the U.S. government money and other charities that have raised huge sums for Haiti earthquake recovery, the island has received billions to rebuild. Yet three years later, news report after news report reveals that a large number of Haitians still live in deplorable, shanty town tent cities and an ongoing epidemic of cholera has claimed thousands of lives. Makes you wonder if someone is pocketing the money.