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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 6/9/10

The HOPE Deception of Haiti

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Chantal Laurent
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The following is a guest post by terroroftyrants
--Rep. Charles Rangel takes questions from reporters regarding alleged financial improprieties on Capitol Hill in Washington. Photo Credit: Associated Press
They are working their plans while keeping folks busy.

Between 2005 to 2007 the apparel industry of the Dominican Republic was in bad shape. So Charlie Rangel -- who has a superb residence in the Dominican Republic-- introduced legislation to rescue and enrich DR captains. But there was something missing that the earthquake provided. Hence came H.R. 5160 Haiti Economic Lift Program Act of 2010 (HELP). At first, everyone worried about the creation of sweatshop jobs in Haiti. Well, the first to benefit from this bill is not Haiti. Although the bill title leads everyone to believe that it was about Haiti, everywhere in the bill, the real beneficiaries are "Haiti or the Dominican Republic."

Note the bill title: "To extend the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act, to provide customs support services to Haiti, and for other purposes."

Both the Senate and House version of the bill acknowledged that the factories and infrastructure in Haiti were destroyed by the earthquake, so the immediate theater of operations is the Dominican Republic.

There are 168 textile companies in Dominican Republic that are benefiting now from the signing of the HELP Act into law.

In Haiti, there were 24 textile companies before January 12, 2010, but most did not survive the wrath of the quake.

Rangel, the miracle worker for the Dominicans, introduced the bill on 4/28/2010. There was only 40 minutes allocated for debate, enough time for the co-sponsors to speak on behalf of the bill and the measure was passed. Believe it or not, in four weeks, the bill was introduced, voted on and signed into law by the president on 5/24/2010.

It was Congressman Hank Johnson who said something that raised suspicion. He told the speaker of house that the bill will benefit Haiti, the Dominican Republic and their economy. Three weeks earlier, Hank Johnson asked a general if the island of Guam would capsize if the number of soldiers are increased. This time, it was his support of the bill, since there was no recorded vote, which capsized Haiti on the floor of the House. He also let the cat out of the bag. He was the only one of the co-sponsors who mentioned the Dominican Republic on the floor of the House.

Why would a bill design for Haiti/post earthquake be beneficial to the Dominican Republic? Of course, Rangel. Since the president signed the bill into law on 5/24/2010, these companies can now export duty free to the States no matter where the fabric originated from. So the guys in Brazil got their lobbying money's worth and cheap labor. Also, we know that all the big names in clothing in the US have their clothing made in DR.

The president of the DR quietly signed his version of TPS to all Haitians living in the DR. That was probably part of the deal; no more ugly scenes of mass deportations of Haitian nationals from the DR. All Haitians on Dominican soil have a three year permit to stay in the DR legally until they can have permanent residency. All Haitian students in the DR have either a substantial reduction in tuition or free tuition for one year. So the DR gets to keep the labor force in case anyone notices that no Haitian workers benefited from the bill. Rangel successfully rallied members of the black caucus to co-sponsor the bill his retirement package abroad. Since no one asked for a recorded vote, the measure passed with Voice Vote only. So we won't know who else screwed Haiti on the Hill besides the co-sponsors. Well we know, except there is no record of it.

So, although this is a bill to revive Haiti after the quake, there was no mention of it in the media about the president signing the bill into law. The New York Times chose to write about something else. Distrust of the Haitian government and in-fighting within Haitians have always been the tool used to rob Haiti. It is used to empower NGOs and special business interests. In order to overcome the struggle, we must always keep an eye on the money and who stands to benefit from everything. As always, it is rarely the Haitian people. Remember that Brazil was asking for favorable treatment for clothing made in Haiti, but the factories are in the DR. They hired a law firm in DC and they took care of business. Perhaps DC stands for Diabolical Circle and not District of Columbia.

Here are the Senate version and the House version. The language used in both redirect operations to the Dominican Republic, which stands to benefit from the Haiti bill. Note that the bill arrived in the Senate on 5/5/2010 and it passed on 5/6/2010 and I guess they ran to the white house with it before the end of the day.



[...] (2) The earthquake has devastated Haiti's infrastructure, including homes, offices, factories, roads, ports, communications, and other facilities. The loss of life attributable to the earthquake was massive.

(6) However, the Haitian apparel sector has been hard hit by the January 12, 2010, earthquake. A number of apparel factories based in and around Port-au-Prince have been heavily damaged, including the collapse of one major apparel factory that had employed nearly 4,000 workers.

(7) The Port-au-Prince seaport that had served the apparel trade has been badly damaged. And extensive damage to roads has made it difficult to transport apparel to the Dominican Republic for shipment from ports in that country.

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Chantal Laurent is a Haitian-American who blogs about Haiti, socio-economic, environmental and political issues at thehaitianblogger
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