lundi 13 juin 2016

Did the Clinton Foundation raise ‘hundreds of millions of dollars’ for a hospital in Haiti that was never built?

“Hillary Clinton…took in hundreds of millions of dollars for a hospital in Haiti that went to the Clinton Foundation, that was never built — that was years ago. Where is that money?”
–Donald Trump surrogate Michael Cohen, interview on CNN, June 1, 2016
Cohen, the executive vice president of the Trump Organization and special counsel to Donald Trump, made this accusation while answering questions about Trump’s donations to veterans’ groups. He blamed the media for asking questions about Trump’s donations, yet letting Clinton’s allegedly squandered hospital promise go unquestioned.
While Cohen made the comment in passing, it was picked up by Diamond and Silk, a pro-Trump duo with a Twitter following of more than 80,600. They cited Cohen’s claim and doubled-down on the question in a video, which was retweeted or liked at least 4,600 times:
We reached out to Cohen directly and through the Trump Organization and Trump campaign several times, but he didn’t respond to our request for a source for his claim. So we dug around to see if there were any facts to support it. What we found was all the makings of a mishmash talking point stringing together different information relating to Haiti recovery efforts — like a message from the last player in a game of “Telephone.”
The Facts
The Clintons played a major role in recovery efforts in Haiti after the devastating earthquake in 2010. Bill Clinton was the public face of U.S. efforts in Haiti through several recovery roles. He was United Nations special envoy to Haiti, co-leader of the Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund (with President George W. Bush) and co-chair of the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission, a quasi-government planning body that approved hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. government-funded recovery projects.
The U.S. Agency for International Development supported the commission’s efforts, and Hillary Clinton led the U.S. response in Haiti as secretary of state. The Clinton Foundation raised more than $30 million for Haiti relief projects.
The Clinton family’s charitable work in Haiti has been a mix of success, disappointment and controversy. As our Washington Post colleagues reported, some Clinton-backed projects didn’t come through, like a $2 million housing expo for thousands of new housing units. The Government Accountability Office found poor planning and unsustainable outcomes for taxpayer funded projects through USAID, such as the $170 million power plant and port for the Caracol Industrial Park, which was promoted by the Clinton Foundation.
Hillary Clinton’s younger brother had ties to a mining project in Haiti, raising suspicions among Haitians about the Clintons’ motives. Luxury hotel projects paid by the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund promised construction jobs — but for Haitians, it represented another disconnect between Clinton-backed efforts and the realities of one of the poorest countries struggling to rebuild after one of the worst humanitarian disasters in the Western Hemisphere.
There’s real frustration among Haitians over failures in progress promised to them, not just by the Clintons but from the international community at large. In 2015, Haitian activists protested outside the Clinton Foundation in New York, claiming the Clintons mismanaged hundreds of millions in taxpayer money through the Interim Haiti Reconstruction Commission.
But there is no evidence Hillary Clinton, through the Clinton Foundation, raised “hundreds of millions of dollars” for a hospital that was never built. We consulted groups that have been critical of recovery delays in Haiti, but they could not point to a specific Clinton Foundation-funded hospital project, either.
“We’ve tried to figure out what he might be citing as well, but we can’t provide you with a source of his claim because one doesn’t exist,” said Craig Minassian, Clinton Foundation spokesman. “The Clinton Foundation never committed to build a hospital, nor did it accept, raise, or spend funds for that purpose. His claim is false.”

There are hospital projects that have been delayed, but there’s no evidence that there were “hundreds of millions of dollars” in foundation money promised to those efforts.
For example, the USAID inspector general found delays in the $99 million reconstruction of medical facilities and medical supply warehouses through the Health Infrastructure Program. This program included the $82.3 million construction of the country’s key public hospital, Hospital of the State University of Haiti in Port-au-Prince, one of the first projects that the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission approved. But the project is backed by money from the U.S. government, Haiti and France — not Clinton Foundation.
Another major hospital project was the University Hospital in Mirebalais, run by Partners in Health, a group that has worked on recovery efforts with the Clinton Foundation. This hospital opened in 2013, and Partners in Health confirmed there was no donation of “hundreds of millions of dollars” committed by the Clinton foundation for the project. (Clinton Foundation is not listed as a supporter.)
The Clinton Foundation helped provide solar panels at Hospital Bernard Mevs in Port-au-Prince, a trauma center. But Minassian said the foundation did not commit hundreds of millions of dollars for construction of a new facility.
Perhaps Cohen was referring to the $500 million in “commitments to action” that the Clinton Foundation announced would be used for projects in Haiti. These “commitments” were secured from private businesses through the Clinton Global Initiative.
These “commitments” are public pledges that companies make at a Clinton Global Initiative conference, promising to do good in the world. The Clinton Global Initiative tracks progress of these “commitments” but is not responsible for their implementation.
The Pinocchio Test
There’s a lot of criticism lodged against the Clintons for their involvement with recovery efforts in Haiti. But Cohen’s claim that Hillary Clinton raised hundreds of millions of dollars through the Clinton Foundation for a hospital that was never delivered is not credible.
There is, indeed, a major public hospital in Port-au-Prince that has been delayed, even though it was one of the first projects approved by the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission. The commission was co-chaired by Bill Clinton, who became the face of many recovery efforts in Haiti. Cohen can blame Bill Clinton’s leadership on the commission, or the managing of taxpayer money for this project. But that’s an entirely different claim than what Cohen actually said. Perhaps Cohen was referring to the $500 million in “commitments to action” for Haiti initiatives announced by the Clinton Foundation. But not all of the commitments were relating to health care or building a hospital, and the commitments don’t involve Clinton Foundation money.
We’ve done our part to check out his claim, but the burden of proof still lies with Cohen. If he wants to respond and point us to a specific source, we’re eager to take a look. In the meantime, he earns Four Pinocchios.

The US Spent $33 Million on Haiti’s Scrapped Elections — Here is Where it Went

Published: 07 June 2016
Haiti’s electoral council announced yesterday that new first-round presidential elections would be held in October after a commission found widespread fraud and irregularities in the previous vote. The prospect of the new vote — to be held alongside dozens of parliamentary seats still up for grabs, has raised questions about how it could be funded. The previous elections — determined to be too marred by fraud and violence to count — cost upward of $100 million, with the bulk of the funding coming from international donors.
But now, donors are balking. Last week the State Department’s Haiti Special Coordinator Ken Merten said that if elections are redone “from scratch” than it would put U.S. assistance in jeopardy. It “could also call into question whether the U.S. will be able to continue to support financially Haiti’s electoral process,” Merten added. In a separate interview, Merten explained:
We still do not know what position we will adopt regarding our financial support. U.S. taxpayers have already spent more than $33 million and that is a lot. We can ask ourselves what was done with the money or what guarantees there are that the same thing will not happen again.
To begin with, that figure seems to include money allocated in 2012 – years before the electoral process began. Local and legislative elections, which former president Michel Martelly was constitutionally required to organize, failed to happen. A significant share of this early funding likely went to staffing and overhead costs as international organizations or grantees kept their Haiti programs running, despite the absence of elections. It’s also worth pointing out that many millions of that money never went to electoral authorities, but rather to U.S. programs in support of elections.
In April 2013, USAID awarded a grant to the DC-based Consortium for Elections and Political Processes. In total, $7.23 million went to the consortium before the electoral process even began. An additional $4.95 million was awarded in July 2015, a month before legislative elections. The consortium consists of two DC-based organizations, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI). In a January report to Congress, the State Department explained further what some this money went towards:
1. “the creation and implementation of twenty-six Electoral Information Centers (EICs) … to provide information to the general public on the electoral process”
2. “training more than 100 journalists in several departments on topics such as the international standards for elections …”
3. “Funding through INL supported election security.”
4. “USAID also supported the creation of a new domestic election observation platform that helped build greater transparency into the electoral process by establishing a grassroots coalition of reputable and well-trained domestic observers …”
Some funding also went to increasing women’s participation in the electoral process. But it’s questionable what the return on that $12.18 million really was. Not a single woman was elected to parliament — though it now appears as though at least one was elected, only to have her seat stolen through the bribing of an electoral judge. In terms of providing information to the public about the elections, participation in both the legislative and presidential elections was only about a fifth of the population. The money spent on local observers may have been more successful, but not for U.S. interests. The local observer group, the Citizen Observatory for the Institutionalization of Democracy, led by Rosny Desroches, agreed with other local observation missions that a verification commission (opposed by the U.S.) was needed to restore confidence in the elections. The U.S. spent millions training local observers, only to later ignore their analysis. Instead, the U.S. has consistently pointed to the observation work of international organizations such as the Organization of American States (OAS) and the EU. The U.S. also provided $1 million to the OAS for their observation work.
Perhaps it’s not a surprise the funding didn’t have the intended effect. A 2012 evaluation of NDI conducted by Norway’s foreign development agency found that about “4 out of every 10 dollars” went to overhead, staff in Washington DC or to the expatriate country director who made more than a quarter of a million dollars.
The U.S. contributed $9.7 million to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) “basket fund” for elections. The UNDP controlled the pooled donor funds and also funds contributed by the Haitian government (more than any other individual donor). Funds were used to print ballots, train workers, and for other logistical operations. However, it’s important to note that $3 million of these funds were distributed in 2012 and 2014, well before any election would take place.
An additional $7.57 million went to the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) for logistical operations for the elections, mainly distributing and picking up ballots before and after the election. After the August legislative elections were plagued by violent groups that shut down voting, UNOPS shifted strategy for the October election. In certain “hot spots,” ballots would not follow the normal procedures for transportation to the tabulation center, instead, UNOPS would bypass the chain, picking up electoral information at 67 voting centers and bringing the materials straight to Port-au-Prince. According to diplomatic sources, UNOPS threatened to pull out entirely if additional funds for this measure were not given. The U.S. awarded $1.8 million to UNOPS on September 29, 2015.
An additional $1.77 million was given to UNOPS in December, but the second-round presidential election never took place. Though it was clear to many that the elections would not be held given widespread condemnation by local observers and civil society groups, the U.S. and others in the international community insisted the second round go ahead. With protests increasing, they moved forward and distributed electoral materials for an election that was never going to happen. This strengthened Martelly’s bargaining power over the opposition, but meant millions of dollars were spent for no reason.
In total, funding to UNOPS, UNDP, OAS, IFES and NDI totaled $30.45 million. This is the vast majority of the $33 million the U.S. says it contributed to the electoral process. Additional funds were also awarded through the State Department for election-related security.
So yes, the U.S. spent over $30 million on Haiti’s elections, but not all of that went directly to the elections or was event spent wisely in supporting them. It’s clear it would take far less for the U.S. to support a Haitian-led electoral process next October. And perhaps the best reason for the U.S. to continue to fund the election, if Haiti requests such support, is that it was the U.S. and other actors in the international community that pushed ahead and put millions of dollars into a fatally flawed electoral process that Haitians have now determined was irreparably marred by fraud. The problem is not that Haitian’s wasted U.S. taxpayer dollars by scrapping the election results; it’s that the U.S. was throwing good money after bad. That’s something that can be fixed.
All grantee funding data is from USASpending.gov.


La Caye Means ‘Home’ in Haitian Creole, and It Shows

1.- A group of family and friends dined at La Caye  last month
while their children were at the prom. The restaurant serves
typical Haitian dishes like grilled conch, Creole-style  broiled
 red snapper, stewed goat andpen patat, a sweet potato
bread pudding with a rum-raisin sauce.
  Credit: Dave Sanders for The New York Times
On an 80-degree evening last month, three Beninese brothers in an Afropop band performing that night set up their conga drums and keyboards in a corner of La Caye.
Two women, speaking Haitian Creole at the copper-tiled bar, settled their tab of two red wines — they had a voodoo-song practice to get to.

A couple enjoyed the dimly lighted patio.
Sitting opposite them was a group of six women, with a 3-year-old in tow, who had just seen their teenage children off to a prom. They wanted to celebrate.
La Caye, a Haitian restaurant that opened in Fort Greene across the street from the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 2012, draws all kinds of people for all sorts of reasons — starting with a platter of fried plantains, marinated pork and pikliz, a spicy slaw.

The pikliz was what brought Tara Pierre Louis, who doesn’t get much Haitian cooking where she’s living nowadays, in Manassas, Va. She and her sister-in-law, Natacha Pierre Louis of Canarsie, were part of the party of six on the patio, which was adorned with metalwork and strings of twinkling lights.
With the exception of a few dishes that could be found at any trendy Brooklyn restaurant, La Caye’s menu hews to traditional Haitian cuisine: grilled conch, Creole-style broiled red snapper, stewed goat and pen patat, a sweet potato bread pudding with a rum-raisin sauce.
“It tastes like home,” said Tara, whose parents emigrated from Haiti. It was fitting, she added, because “la caye” in Haitian Creole means “home.”
La Caye, which is across the street from the Brooklyn
 Academy of Music, opened in 2012.
Credit: Dave Sanders for The New York Times
Behind the bar was the manager, Joshua Jagmohan, his forearm tattooed with a quotation he attributed to the Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho. He prepared cocktails that required some creativity, because the restaurant serves only beer and wine. Instead of rum, its mojito is made with sake and if someone is in the mood, a dash of passion fruit, pomegranate or lychee along with the usual mint and lime.
“You come in for a glass of wine or whatever,” Mr. Jagmohan said. Then you find yourself ordering an appetizer at the bar, then moving to a table for a full meal. “Next thing you know, you’re here four or five hours,” he said. “It’s that type of place.”

At the bar sat Leah Jordano-Kudalis, a teacher who lives in Bedford-Stuyvesant, and her friend Ciara Rivera, an education specialist for Unicef who was visiting from Bamako, Mali.
“I made her come here,” Ms. Jordano-Kudalis, drinking a chardonnay, said. “She always stays in the city.” But the promise of live music enticed Ms. Rivera.
Every Thursday night, the restaurant holds concerts of mostly Caribbean and African musicians playing jazz, folk and twoubadou, a style of guitar-based cabaret music in Haiti.

3.- Jomion and the Uklos performed at La Caye last month.
In the restaurant’s Thursday-night concerts, Caribbean and
 African musicians often play jazz, folk and twoubadou,
a style of guitar-based cabaret music in Haiti.
Credit: Dave Sanders for The New York Times
Earlier in the evening, Adi Presumé, one of the performers on her way to practice, spoke about the American news coverage of Haiti, where she was born. It pained her that articles rarely failed to mention the fact that Haiti is the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere.
“The first thing you see is that negative connotation toward all of our accomplishments,” she said. Why not mention instead that Haiti was the world’s first black republic?
Too many people, she said, assume that because Haiti is poor, it is poor in culture, too. “When all we have is culture,” she said with a laugh. “That’s what we’re rich in.”
Source : http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/12/nyregion/la-caye-means-home-in-haitian-creole-and-it-shows.html?_r=0