Interview of Haiti Democracy Project executive director James Morrell by CHCH DT TV in Hamilton, Ontario, January 14, 2013
Q It is three years since the earthquake that devastated Haiti. Has Canada’s minister of external cooperation chosen the right moment to announce a freeze of new aid to Haiti?
A Haiti’s situation creates an ongoing dilemma. Aid is needed desperately and it saves lives, now. Yet donor governments are within their rights to want some response on the Haitian side when aid is given to build governance intended to make Haiti more self-sufficient in the future.
Q How can that governance be built in Haiti?
A We in the Haiti Democracy Project believe in the potential of free elections, because the electorate of Haiti is thirsty for change. It is poised to use its vote to “throw the rascals out” and bring in agents of change.
Q If they are so thirsty for that, why haven’t they done it yet?
A Their votes are taken away from them, they are not counted by the people in power so that they can stay in power.
Q Do we need to come in and run their elections for them, too?
A In 2006 Haiti managed good elections itself, with Western financing. There was a particular conjuncture, an interim government. And there was a Western insistence, pressure for getting on with the job. We need that kind of purposeful international policy again.
Q So should Canada rethink and resume its aid?
A The dilemma remains of saving lives now or building for the future. Canada should strive to use its aid so that the Haitian people by their action at the polls can clean out the corruptionists and put in a better crowd, which Haiti possesses. Canada should, indeed, take the time to strategize to make its aid effective. In doing that, Canada ought not follow the United States which has yet to find an effective strategy. It ought to use its own abundant experience and its own Canadian thinktanks to come up with something that works.