Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Please Support CounterPunch’s Annual Fund Drive
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We only ask you once a year, but when we ask we mean it. So, please, help as much as you can. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. All contributions are tax-deductible.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Red Cross’ Record of Failed Earthquake Aid in Haiti

On June 3, ProPublica and National Public Radio each published studies into the spending by the American Red Cross of the half a billion dollars that the agency raised in its name for relief and reconstruction in Haiti following the devastating earthquake of January 12, 2010.

Specifically, the two media outlets examined the Red Cross’ claims that it built thousands of units of permanent housing for Haitians who lost their homes to the earthquake, new health care facilities, potable water and sanitation systems and other vital services. The two studies found that the claims were exaggerated or false. Additionally, they found that the American Red Cross tried to cover up its failures.

The only Canadian newspaper to report the story was the National Post, in an article by reporter Douglas  Quan. (The story was  also published in other Postmedia outlets, including the Ottawa Citizen and Vancovuer Sun.)  The Post article sought to explore the Canadian Red Cross angle to the story, but its only source was the Canadian Red Cross itself. The Canadian agency claims that its record stands in contrast to that of its American cohorts, including that it succeeded in building 7,500 units of permanent housing.

Below is a letter I wrote to reporter Douglas Quan of the National Post concerning the Canadian Red Cross claims. And here are the three news items mentioned:

How the Red Cross raised half a billion dollars for Haiti and built six homes, by Justin Elliott, ProPublica, June 3, 2015

‘In search of the Red Cross’ $500 million in Haiti relief’, by Laura Sullivan, NPR Radio, June 3, 2015

Canada did it better: Scathing report accuses American Red Cross of bungling $500M after Haiti quake, by Douglas Quan, The National Post, June 4, 2015

* * *

Vancouver BC
June 4, 2015

Hello Mr. Quan,

I appreciated reading your article today on the Red Cross and Haiti. Thank you for writing it.

The story brought back memories of difficult and ultimately frustrated efforts by our advocacy network in 2010, 2011 and 2012 to convince media outlets in Canada as well as members of the Canadian Parliament  to create some accountability and reckoning of the post-earthquake aid projects of the Red Cross and other large, aid agencies in Haiti.

Through the course of our work, we discovered that Canada’s mainstream news outlets as well as all of the political parties in Parliament were only too happy to take as good coin the claims by the large aid agencies, including the Red Cross, that post-earthquake recovery in Haiti was going as well as could be expected and as well as humanly possible. The regular hearings conducted by Parliament’s Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development echosed the same happy note. The hearings were always noteworthy for how the lists of invited guests to inform the committee of the situation in Haiti always consisted of those whose message conformed to a ‘happy’ message. No critical examination and no independent investigation and inquiry was deemed necessary. Beginning and end of story.

To give one, small example of the harm created by this lackadaisical attitude of Parliamentarians and journalists, our advocacy network discovered during an investigative visit to Haiti in June 2011 that the Canadian Red Cross had recently closed a cholera treatment center which had opened in December 2010. You may recall that Haiti’s deadly cholera epidemic was brought to the country by the foreign occupation soldiers of the UN military mission called MINUSTAH in October of 2010.

The problem with the Canadian Red Cross decision re its clinic was not the closure, per se. It was the fact that the agency was continuing to claim that the center was operational. It was making this claim on its website and even in testimony to Canadian Parliamentarians. Not a soul in the Parliament nor in the many media outlets we contacted upon our return to Canada showed the slightest interest in what we reported about this specific transgression and what it might say about the broader information situation. The same disinterest was shown when in September 2011 we published (in English and French) a comprehensive report of our June 2011 visit and findings.

To this date, the United Nations Security Council and the UN’s secretary-general refuses any and all legal responsiblity for this action, and the large aid agencies have nothing to say on the subject. Cholera has, to date, killed more than 9,200 Haitians.

The Canadian Red Cross received the largest hare of earthquake donations by Canadians, some $110 million. Much of that amount was matched by the Canadian government, for a total earthquake response budget of $220 million.

Perhaps the most harmful of the conduct of the foreign charities (and journalists) operating in Haiti was how they supported or acquiesced to the destructive electoral process undertaken by the foreign powers very soon after the earthquake. The two-round presidential election of November 2010-March 2011 was intended to ensure that a national government entirely beholden to imperialist interests would be put into place. The operation was a success, thanks, in part, to the acquiescence of the charity nexus.

We learned from Haiti that the Red Cross is an emergency response agency, period. Any claim on its part to be an agency of rehabilitation of a shattered society is false, or at least, that was the record in Haiti. There, the Red Cross was an agency of emergency response, period. Concerning the long-term, structural issues of Haiti’s underdevelopment that the earthquake placed into sharp relief, the Red Crosses serve as just another set of charity agencies, ultimately serving to perpetuate the conditions that cause countries to become underdeveloped in the first place.

I frankly doubt the Canadian Red Cross claims that it constructed 7,500 permanent houses in Haiti. I suspect that in typically vague language, it is speaking of semi-permanent structures which may or may not have fallen into disuse or been dismantled and put to different use since they were erected. Only an on-the-spot examination could tell.

Below is a small selection of articles and studies which we wrote during 2010 and 2011. In January of this year, I co-authored a comprehensive article examining Haiti five years following the earthquake: Haiti’s promised rebuilding unrealized as Haitians challenge authoritarian rule, by Roger Annis and Travis Ross, January 2015.

Our website is devoted, in part, to making known the very fine work of many advocacy and solidarity organizations in Haiti. They are active in promoting human rights, political accountability, health care, public education, agricultural development and other issues vital for Haiti’s national and social development. What makes them successful is their promotion of the two key pillars that must be at the heart of international assistance to Haiti–meaningful solidarity that assists social development, and respect and promotion of the national sovereignty of Haitians. They deserve our ongoing support, just as Haiti as a whole deserves our ongoing attention and solidarity.

Regards,
Roger Annis, Canada Haiti Action Network
www.canadahaitiaction.ca

Selection of articles published by the Canada Haiti Action Network:

The ‘exaggerated claim’ of the Canadian military’s ‘earthquake relief in Haiti, published in October 2010

Review of earthquake aid to Haiti on the one-year anniversary of Haiti earthquake, January 2011

Commentary on Canadian Parliamentarians examination of conditions in Haiti, September 2011

Report of investigative visit to Haiti in June 2011, published in English and in French in September 2011

Roger Annis is an editor of The New Cold War: Ukraine and beyond. In mid-April 2015, he joined a four-day reporting visit to the Donetsk People’s Republic. He is reporting from Moscow for one week after that.

More articles by:

Roger Annis is a retired aerospace worker in Vancouver BC. He writes regularly for Counterpunch and compiles his writings on a ‘A Socialist in Canada’. He is an editor of the website The New Cold War: Ukraine and beyond. He can be reached at rogerannis@hotmail.com.

October 17, 2018
John Steppling
Before the Law
James McEnteer
Larry Summers Trips Out
Frank Stricker
Wages Rising? 
Muhammad Othman
What You Can Do About the Saudi Atrocities in Yemen
Binoy Kampmark
Agents of Chaos: Trump, the Federal Reserve and Andrew Jackson
Karen J. Greenberg
Justice Derailed: From Gitmo to Kavanaugh
John Feffer
Why is the Radical Right Still Winning?
Dan Corjescu
Green Tsunami in Bavaria?
Rohullah Naderi
Why Afghan Girls Are Out of School?
George Ochenski
You Have to Give Respect to Get Any, Mr. Trump
Cesar Chelala
Is China Winning the War for Africa?
Mel Gurtov
Getting Away with Murder
W. T. Whitney
Colombian Lawyer Diego Martinez Needs Solidarity Now
Dean Baker
Nothing to Brag About: Scott Walker’s Economic Record in Wisconsin:
October 16, 2018
Gregory Elich
Diplomatic Deadlock: Can U.S.-North Korea Diplomacy Survive Maximum Pressure?
Rob Seimetz
Talking About Death While In Decadence
Kent Paterson
Fifty Years of Mexican October
Robert Fantina
Trump, Iran and Sanctions
Greg Macdougall
Indigenous Suicide in Canada
Kenneth Surin
On Reading the Diaries of Tony Benn, Britain’s Greatest Labour Politician
Andrew Bacevich
Unsolicited Advice for an Undeclared Presidential Candidate: a Letter to Elizabeth Warren
Thomas Knapp
Facebook Meddles in the 2018 Midterm Elections
Muhammad Othman
Khashoggi and Demetracopoulos
Gerry Brown
Lies, Damn Lies & Statistics: How the US Weaponizes Them to Accuse  China of Debt Trap Diplomacy
Christian Ingo Lenz Dunker – Peter Lehman
The Brazilian Presidential Elections and “The Rules of The Game”
Robert Fisk
What a Forgotten Shipwreck in the Irish Sea Can Tell Us About Brexit
Martin Billheimer
Here Cochise Everywhere
David Swanson
Humanitarian Bombs
Dean Baker
The Federal Reserve is Not a Church
October 15, 2018
Rob Urie
Climate Crisis is Upon Us
Conn Hallinan
Syria’s Chessboard
Patrick Cockburn
The Saudi Atrocities in Yemen are a Worse Story Than the Disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi
Sheldon Richman
Trump’s Middle East Delusions Persist
Justin T. McPhee
Uberrima Fides? Witness K, East Timor and the Economy of Espionage
Tom Gill
Spain’s Left Turn?
Jeff Cohen
Few Democrats Offer Alternatives to War-Weary Voters
Dean Baker
Corporate Debt Scares
Gary Leupp
The Khashoggi Affair and and the Anti-Iran Axis
Russell Mokhiber
Sarah Chayes Calls on West Virginians to Write In No More Manchins
Clark T. Scott
Acclimated Behaviorisms
Kary Love
Evolution of Religion
Colin Todhunter
From GM Potatoes to Glyphosate: Regulatory Delinquency and Toxic Agriculture
Binoy Kampmark
Evacuating Nauru: Médecins Sans Frontières and Australia’s Refugee Dilemma
Marvin Kitman
The Kitman Plan for Peace in the Middle East: Two Proposals
Weekend Edition
October 12, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Becky Grant
My History with Alexander Cockburn and The Financial Future of CounterPunch
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail