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I, Hillary Rodham Clinton: Haiti's Pay-to-Play IHRC

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From its inception, and well before it made $10 billion of earthquake aid money disappear, Bill and Hillary Clinton's Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC) was a vicious joke on Haitians. The original name, Commission Inte'rimaire pour la Reconstruction d'Haïti, should have been simply translated as Interim Commission for the Reconstruction of Haiti. After all, it was the commission that was temporary, not Haiti. There was also no need to change the word reconstruction to the vague term recovery, unless one deliberately wanted to suggest the collection of something. As the I-HRC, however, the organization not only acquired Hillary Rodham Clinton's initials but also boasted that it would scoop up Haiti's reconstruction funds and turn the world's first black republic into a temporary construct. If Mrs. Clinton has become a zombie and the "I" in I-HRC has faded, this could easily be interpreted as a sign of the Haitian gods' wicked sense of humor.

The great writer Toni Morrison once described Bill Clinton as "our first black President," because of his background as a poor boy in Arkansas from a single-parent home, his fondness for junk food, and the political attacks on his sexuality. If so, then he has graduated to being the first black-American dictator of Haiti. For six years of a full dictatorship of the Clintons and their surrogates, on earthquake anniversaries Haitians at home and in the diaspora have made a ritual of searching through the rubble for the reconstruction funds that were donated by good people from all around the world. "Where did the money go?" everyone asks. The answer is simple: for a while it probably sat in the Swiss and Caribbean offshore banks where dictators stash their loots.

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In 2012, the United States presidential elections cost a record $2.6 billion. The Republican challenger Mitt Romney raised $0.99 billion, and the Democratic incumbent Barack Obama managed to raise an unprecedented $1.07 billion. Both politicians are regarded as champion fundraisers because of their feats. In 2016, by all estimates, the cost of the US presidential elections doubled or quadrupled to about $5-10 billion. This is the most expensive presidential bid in history, and Hillary Clinton has vastly outspent Donald Trump. Where did the money come from?

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As of August 22, 2016, Clinton had officially raised only $0.436 billion, and her top six donors had contributed about one tenth of these funds. Donald Trump, for his part, had raised $0.129 billion, and the money from his top six contributors amounted to $0.011 billion. These sums fell quite short of the money being spent by the two politicians, especially Clinton, who had already spent about $0.1 billion on television advertisements alone by the end of August and had planned to spend $0.077 billion more for advertisements in September and October. Furthermore, Mrs. Clinton has relied on a large and well-paid entourage that has probably included medical personnel, and during her busy campaign schedule, she has used private airplanes like some of us take buses and taxis. Most of the money for her campaign has probably come as "disbursements," which are not counted as carefully as money donations. These include out-of-pocket funds from the candidates and friendly donations of various services. Such disbursements have obscured the engine of the 2016 US elections to an unprecedented degree.

It is not possible to raise billions to tens of billions of dollars legitimately for political campaigns. More and more, in the West and in emerging market economies, these astronomical sums for elections are extracted from unsuspecting taxpayers. We have Brazil to thank for some insights into the machinations of politicians to finance their campaigns. In Brazil, the state energy company, Petrobras, was granting contracts to construction companies with the understanding that a percentage of the funds would be applied to the campaigns of various corrupt politicians. The money-laundering scandal, which involved more than $15 billion and led to President Dilma Rousseff's impeachment, is estimated to have touched every political party and 70 percent of the country's ministers and legislators.

For the Clintons, the boon from Haiti's earthquake of January 12, 2010 came while HRC was Secretary of State, and Bill Clinton was the United Nations Special Envoy to Haiti. As soon as massive numbers of Americans began to donate small sums of money for earthquake relief, Bill and Hillary Clinton transformed themselves into the face of Haiti. In their most calculated compassionate voices, they told stories about their marvelous honeymoon on the island and implored the public for donations. In reality, in the US State Department, the mood was festive. On February 1, the US Ambassador to Haiti, Kenneth Merten, cheerfully titled a section of his situation report, "THE GOLD RUSH IS ON!"

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By March 8, 2010, Bill Clinton had applied sufficient pressure on President Rene' Pre'val, to force Haiti's Lower House to vote yes on a State of Emergency that would allow a group of rich donors to run the country for 18 months via the IHRC. During the same month, Hillary Clinton went to Montreal to raise money, ostensibly for Haiti's reconstruction, and Bill Clinton went to Davos to collect the rich donors. The next month, Bill Clinton worked to push his project on Haiti's Senate, where it was ironically called a coup d'e'tat d'urgence. The Senate voted no on April 8, but President Pre'val insisted on another vote. In the next vote on April 13, 10 out of 25 senators stayed home to prevent a quorum. On April 14, Michelle Obama made a special trip to Haiti, and the next day the deal was done. The vote was 9 away, 2 abstaining, 1 no, and 13 yes. All but one of the yes votes had come from Pre'val's party. Thus slightly more than three months after the earthquake, on April 21, 2010 the IHRC was inaugurated.

With the IHRC, the Clintons established in Haiti their dream government, which I described, when I first observed it, as "pay-to-play," meaning: an unelected government where political participation is based on money invested. In the IHRC, there were two parts: one foreign and the other Haitian. Bill Clinton chaired the foreign section, which included the representatives of 14 donors [US, European Union (EU), France, Canada, Brazil, Venezuela, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), United Nations, World Bank, Organization of American States, CARICOM, the private donors, the diaspora, and the NGOs]. Each donor had to pledge to the IHRC $0.10 billion over two years or forgive $0.20 billion of Haitian debt.

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Dady Chery grew up at the heart of an extended working-class family in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. She emigrated to New York when she was fourteen and since then has traveled throughout the world and lived in Europe and several North American cities. She (more...)
 

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