James Morrell, executive director of the Haiti Democracy Project, was interviewed on the “To the Point” program of Public Radio International on July 20, 2004. Public Radio International is originated by KCRW in Santa Monica and airs on among others WNYC and WAMU.
(The gist, reconstructed; not verbatim)
Q Haiti is asking for $924 million at the World Bank donors’ conference today, in addition to previous money for a total of $1.3 billion. Will they get it?
A It appears they will get most of it. There is a willingness among the donor countries.
Q What areas will it be spent on?
A The three main areas laid out in the Interim Cooperation Framework are governance, the economy, and social services. It is urgently needed. The majority of Haitians live on less than a dollar a day.
Q What assurance is there that it won’t be wasted?
A From a mission we sent to Haiti in April, we saw that the qualifications of the top echelons of the interim administration are first-rate. The challenge is to extend that through the ranks.
Q What assurance is there that that can be done?
A The support of the donor countries for reforms in governance will enable the administration to review the personnel they have and hire technically-proficient personnel less likely to be corruptible.
Q What else must the Haitian government do?
A Its main remaining mission is to hold clean elections. Haiti must have an accepted, legitimate government to overcome its political instability.
Q The government has already missed one elections deadline.
A It has missed no deadline. They plan to hold legislative and presidential elections probably in the fall of 2005.
Q A new president was supposed to be elected after ninety days.
A That is a provision of the 1987 constitution meant for a Haiti in a settled, normal state. Given the national uprising and the security situation there is no chance of elections being held properly until next year at the earliest, and there was never an intention to hold them in ninety days.
Q What is the role of the Haiti Democracy Project?
A We are part of the rebuilding, we have project members in Haiti working with aid agencies and the reconstruction. We have many Haitian-Americans who want to contribute to the rebuilding.