USIP event highlights failures of the West in “state-building” in Haiti. HSG reporting from Downtown Washington DC, 13-10-2010
To the U.S. Institute of Peace on 17th Street NW for an event hosted by their Haiti Working Group and its excellent moderator Robert Maguire. Meghann Curtis, a senior Advisor to Hilary Clinton’s point woman on Haiti, Cheryl Mills, enunciated five principles of a “new US government strategy.” There is more emphasis on rebuilding the Haitian state but as ever the key is what all this means in practice. The RAND Corporation launched its new report, Building a More Resilient Haitian State which despite its title (more Orwellian expropriation of language) is pretty much what you’d expect from RAND. Both RAND and the US government are becoming adept a doing what the World Bank and IMF learned to do years ago – expropriating the jargon of progressive, people-centred development speak in speeches and policy documents but show no signs of understanding, let alone applying, what that means in terms of practical policies on the ground. The star of the show was Alex Dupuy, Professor of Sociology at Wesleyan University and a long-time Haiti expert who got up to announce “something different” and in 20-minutes gave us just that – an excoriating critique of past, present and, on the basis of what we had heard previously, probable future western economic/political policy towards Haiti. His talk was based on his article in the July/August issue of NACLA Volume 43, No.4 (Disaster Capitalism to the Rescue) and emphasized many of the points made in the September issue of the Haiti Briefing. Speaking truth to power – from the Haitian mud up. More of us should try it in the developed world; more need the chance to do so in Haiti.