The Stream

Eyes on Haiti

After Hurricane Matthew, rethinking the global response to Haiti’s challenges.

After another devastating natural disaster, Haiti once again needs help. With the country still trying to recover from the 2010 earthquake, Hurricane Matthew was its worst storm in half a century.  Hundreds are dead, and more than 120,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed. More than 1.4 million people require urgent humanitarian assistance.

But foreign involvement in Haiti, recent and historic, has often done more harm than good. Haiti won its independence in 1804 but was forced to pay billions of dollars in “reparations” to former coloniser France through the mid-20th century. After occupying Haiti in the early 1900s, the US backed two presidential coups in 1990 and 2004, and  played a controversial role in its 2010 presidential election. Food aid to Haiti since the 1990s has hurt Haitian farmers unable to compete with subsidised US rice and corn. Post-earthquake aid from around the world was widely criticised for lining the pockets of contractors and NGOs while failing to reach those in need. A United Nations peacekeeping force brought cholera to Haiti in 2010, but only this year — after nearly 10,000 deaths — did the UN finally admit responsibility.

We’ll discuss the challenges facing Haiti today and whether foreign involvement — from governments to aid groups to media portrayals — can play a more constructive role. Join us today at 19:30 GMT.

In this episode of the Stream, we speak with:

Garry Pierre Pierre @GPPhaiti
Founder, The Haitian Times

Jake Johnston @JakobJohnston 
Research associate, Center for Economic and Policy Research

Danny Glover @mrdannyglover
Actor and activist

Stephane Vincent @stephane_vt
Chief Information Officer, Office of Prime Minister

Ninaj Raoul 
Executive Director, Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees

What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.