Former President Bill Clinton is no stranger to Haiti and the factors that made it so vulnerable to the disastrous earthquake. A visitor to the country since 1975, during his presidency Clinton attempted--and in some ways succeeded--to bring change to Haiti's political system. The United Nations has since appointed him Special Envoy to Haiti, in recognition of his dedication to the impoverished, overlooked Caribbean nation. It is no surprise, then, that President Obama quickly dispatched Clinton to help with recovery.
Clinton, as representative of both the U.S. and the U.N., is an extremely important figure in Haiti's immediate future. As he explains today in both the Washington Post and Time, he he has every intention of making rebuilding a long- and not short-term endeavor. Though Clinton was likely far too busy to write either article personally, the policy plans they articulate have serious, concrete repercussions for a nation badly in need of help. From the Post:
I met with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday and with other key U.N. leaders to discuss Haiti's immediate and long-term needs. [...] This work helps create more jobs, better education, better health care, less deforestation and more clean energy for a nation in desperate need. We made a good beginning, and before the earthquake I believed that Haiti was closer than ever to securing a bright future. Despite this tragedy, I still believe that Haiti can succeed.
Once we deal with the immediate crisis, the development plans the world was already pursuing have to be implemented more quickly and on a broader scale. I'm interested in just pressing ahead with it. Haiti isn't doomed. Let's not forget, the damage from the earthquake is largely concentrated in the Port-au-Prince area. That has meant a tragic loss of life, but it also means there are opportunities to rebuild in other parts of the island. So all the development projects, the agriculture, the reforestation, the tourism, the airport that needs to be built in the northern part of Haiti -- everything else should stay on schedule.
Clinton makes clear that he feels a personal commitment to Haiti he
has every intention of honoring. For him, that means acknowledging and
addressing the centuries-old historical forces
that so weakened Haiti. Representing the U.S. and U.N., Clinton's goals reflect the world's goals in the country. Many
people wrote about Haiti today, discussing everything from immigration to divine intent. Opinions matter, but Clinton's reflect action, and action is what Haiti needs.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.