MARCUS MABRY: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to the Council on Foreign Relations. It's a pleasure to be here this morning with everyone. I'm a journalist, so this is a very early hour for us. I apologize beforehand for any incipent (sic) things I utter this hour. That's why, it's because of the hour, not because of my innate insipidness. And also I'm a new dad, so I was up until 3:00 a.m. with one of my twin boys last night. So that was fun. (Laughs.)
But it is a real pleasure to be here this morning talking about an incredibly important topic. And we actually have a great panel, so I look forward to a fruitful discussion about not easy topics.
But the morning -- this morning's meeting is called "Beyond Relief: Helping Haiti," and the point of course is exactly that: we want to talk about more of the short-term goals. And oftentimes the media, especially for this story, which is such a fantastic story in a certain sense of that word, we don't necessarily talk about long-term issues and we don't necessarily stay on the ground for the long term. Some of us will, as journalists, because of the importance, for the first time perhaps, stay in Haiti for a little while. I don't know how long, and I don't know if it will be long enough.
As I said, we have a great panel this morning. We have, from Washington, joining us, Pamela Cox, who is the World Bank's vice president for Latin America and the Caribbean region. She's had that job since 2005.
Good morning, Pamela.
PAMELA COX: Good morning.
MABRY: You can read the rest of her bio here, but she's a development economist by training, so I think that will come in handy this morning with extensive experience in places like Africa and East Asia, Southeast Asia.
We also have, in Washington, Arvind Subramanian. Is that close, Arvind? (Chuckles.) Arvind is a senior fellow jointly at the Peterson Institute for International Economics and the Center for Global Development, and he is a senior research professor at Johns Hopkins as well. His experience before being a scholar of the first order was as a researcher as well in trade and development issues in Africa, India and the Middle East; spent many, many years at the IMF, and also at the Uruguay Round of the GATT -- which, if we come to that issue of global trade will certainly be interesting as well, and where Haiti and other developing countries fit in this morning.
So good morning, Arvind, and welcome.
ARVIND SUBRAMANIAN: Thanks, thanks.
MABRY: And joining me here in New York, to my left, we have Michele Wucker. And Michele is the executive director -- am I right? -- at the World Policy Institute. Michele has extensive experience in Hispaniola, meaning both the Dominican Republic and Haiti, and has -- is author of this wonderful book: "Why the Cocks Fight: Dominicans, Haitians, and the Struggle for Hispaniola," which we were just talking about. I was just saying, as an author, what an attractive cover it was. And that's rare for books of this order.
So thank you so much, Michele, for joining me here, who's written extensively about this region.
The way our meeting's going to work this morning is we'll be talking amongst ourselves, between New York and Washington here, for about, oh, 20, 25 minutes, maximum.
This meeting, unlike many council meetings, is actually on the record. So what you say can be attributed, as far as the speaker and the place you heard it.
After that, we will open up for -- the remainder of our meeting to Q and A from folks here and in Washington as well, I believe. So I look forward to that technological marvel, which still, as a person from old media mostly, amazes me.
So let's start off with kind of going down our panel with just some initial questions, to kind of situate us in Haiti and in the challenges we face.
I wonder if we couldn't start with you, Pamela.
I was very interested in our, kind of, preparations for this morning's meeting, in the fact that Pamela had a perspective that I think is often not very understood; a perspective that we don't often hear, certainly in the media.
And that is that, in fact, there were positive developments happening in Haiti. Haiti's often looked at as the basket case of the Western Hemisphere, a country with historically huge issues, challenges that -- a basket case that can't be helped.
I remember this Economist cover about Africa saying that some years ago, and the controversy around that.
Haiti is often viewed as a hopeless case. So Pamela, maybe you can tell us about some of the progress that meant -- that Haiti actually was making progress before this earthquake, this natural catastrophe happened and we had a quarter of a million Haitians, perhaps, killed in that.
So tell us about the progress that was happening beforehand. Situate us in that, because it may give us a different view of Haiti as far as a "hopeless," quote-unquote, case.
COX: Well, thanks very much, Marcus.
And I think we never want to call any country in the world a basket case, so I want to start out with that point. We are, at the World Bank, in the business of development, so we all would see possibilities.
But clearly, Haiti, in the last two years, has been improving quite a bit. In the last year before the hurricane (sic) struck, Haiti was growing at 2 percent.
Now, 2 percent doesn't sound a lot, usually. But it's better than most countries in the Caribbean; it's better than many countries around the world. Haiti was growing at 2 percent at a time when most of the world was in crisis.
There's a lot of renewed interest by investors. Bill Clinton, as many people know, led a group of investors down there at the end of September. Lots of renewed interest there.
The country has had its debts written off by the World Bank and the IMF and other donors. It had put together a very good poverty-reduction strategy, and I think we were really starting to implement.
But let's go back a little bit on the Haiti issue, because a lot of what's happened to Haiti has not been Haiti's fault.
If we go back before the earthquake, first of all, Haiti was hit by the very high food and fuel prices in April of 2008.
It was then hit by four hurricanes in about a month. Now, I think any country that's hit by four hurricanes in a month has had a huge, huge, challenge to deal with.
So despite these challenges, the country was starting to pull itself out, and was starting to see progress on the growth front.
So I think, when we look at Haiti, one of the challenges we see is it's a very complex development case because of these repeated impacts of external shocks. And that's something we have to think about, going forward.
MABRY: I wonder, Pamela, if you have a sense of -- and I was looking for this number and couldn't find it readily.
How much aid, at this point -- globally, it's been a tremendous outpouring -- has been designated or raised for Haiti.
Does anyone have a sense of that?
COX: Well, we don't have a number yet. There hasn't been what we call a pledging conference.
There will be a major conference on March 31st that Secretary of State Clinton will chair in New York, and I think that will be the time when people will announce the aid going forward.
It should be based on a plan. And we, together with the U.N., the IDB and the E.U. are working with Haiti to do this post-disaster needs assessment.
But this post-disaster needs assessment is more than just an inventory of buildings to be rebuilt. It really is also going to focus on people's lives that need to be rebuilt and it's going to be very forward-looking.
And on the basis of that, the government of Haiti is going to produce a vision paper. Because we believe very strongly the government of Haiti needs to be -- the people of Haiti -- need to be at the forefront of this effort.
MABRY: Excellent. I wonder if you want to elaborate any more about what the Bank itself is doing. That needs assessment was kind of extraordinary; kind of a country stopping after this kind of a natural disaster.
And as some have discussed, the ability to maybe start over in a way Haiti -- on a better footing than Haiti had previously. A kind of tabula rasa after a natural disaster, which would be interesting.
But I wonder if you can tell us other things that the Bank, programs that the Bank has in the pipeline now that will continue, their long-term development --
COX: Well, we already -- right.
We have about 15 projects already on the ground, with $200 million committed. Those are being implemented.
Those are in the areas of education, including school feeding. They're in the area of post-hurricane reconstruction.
We have a very interesting -- what we call a community-driven development project, where we give small grants to urban groups to develop their neighborhoods.
We coordinate very closely with other donors, and that's why we've taken the lead on education and we've taken the lead on some of the urban and infrastructure issues.
And I do want to mention this point, that coordination with donors is going to be very, very important, in that it's important that all of the international community doesn't swarm in and overwhelm the effort.
So what we see is that each donor tends to have areas that they go into.
Looking ahead, we've committed immediately another $100 million. We have an earthquake recovery project which is going to recover some basic infrastructure, but also recover the functions of the government.
We've been working with the government on reestablishing payment systems for banks, reestablishing some of the ministries, the central bank, getting the computer systems up and running again -- all the sort of basic infrastructure a government needs to run an economy.
MABRY: Thank you, Pam.
Arvind, I wonder if we could turn to you now. And to some extent, one might say, although there's actually an, I think, surprising unanimity on our panel this morning, kind of what the needs are, going forward and how Haiti must be an example of where we try to avoid the mistakes of the past we've made in development.
At the same time, I think you have an -- perhaps a different perspective from our other panelists in that you've been a proponent -- and you've written about this in Foreign Affairs and a bunch of other places -- of an idea of not-trade-and-not-aid for developing countries, but something else.
We know, many of us are familiar with the old debate of not aid but trade. And yours is often framed not-aid-and-not-trade.
What do we do, then? (Chuckles.) What is our -- how do we help? How does the world help Haiti in particular, but also more generally the development question. How does one help, if not trade and not aid?
SUBRAMANIAN: Right. Thanks, Marcus.
Let me just begin, Marcus, by picking up on a phrase that you used, tabula rasa. There is a kind of new-beginnings optimism that people are propagating here.
But I think you need to be really careful here that this is not Germany or Japan after World War II. This is a country with dysfunctional institutions, a really violent and fractured history.
So it's tabula rasa physically, but tabula rasa not institutionally. So I think that's very important to keep in mind.
That's important because, you know, I am an aid skeptic, and the history of aid, development assistance in terms of government-to-government lending shows that, you know, it's very mixed. It may help, but we know that where domestic institutions are weak, aid, you know, does not really help.
So the focus has to be, for outsiders, how to help in two ways: not rely too much on just money, one, and to credibly exit so that Haiti can develop on its own.
And in the meanwhile, what are the minimum things that outsiders can do that do no harm, but also can provide some kind of help in the long run.
So with that in mind, I think we need to be modest in our ambitions and fresh and creative in thinking about alternatives.
So let me spell out two or three alternatives, starting from reasonably plausible to somewhat overly creative and overly, kind of, quixotic, if I may.
SUBRAMANIAN: So I think one proposal on trade I would say is that in this case, Haiti benefits from pretty generous access to U.S. markets. I think it's not generous enough.
The United States extends duty-free, quota-free access to Africa under the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, without encumbering this thing with restrictive rules of origin; you know, Africa can, you know, no matter where it sources the yarn, as long as it's done domestically, it can sell it to the United States. That's not the case with Haiti. And I think -- so we can, I think, be completely generous on that score. And there's a bill in Congress; Senators Wyden and Nelson are doing something on that. So that's on the trade side.
Aid, I think we have to be very careful. So on the non-aid, non-trade agenda, I would put three or four items.
One, I think my colleague Michael Clemens at the Center for Global Development has made a very powerful case that I think the United States should allow more Haitians in -- kind of migration as a way of poverty alleviation.
An average Haitian in the U.S. earns six times as much as an average Haitian in Haiti for similar qualifications.
So can we be more generous? Can we have a kind of golden visa policy where we allow more Haitians to come in, one.
Two, I think if you think about it, one of the problems, one of the reasons why we have weak institutions in Haiti is also because Haiti is a center for drugs and drug trafficking.
So if we were really serious about helping Haiti build its domestic institutions, can we think about, say, decriminalizing drugs in the U.S. as a way of helping Haiti? (Laughter.) Then I think if you wanted to --
MABRY: You mentioned there was a continuum of ideas, because -- (laughter) --
SUBRAMANIAN: Exactly. This is -- this is -- this is on the kind of zanier end of things.
But I think less crazy, perhaps, is that if we really wanted to help Haitians help themselves, I think two things we need to -- we could think of is instead of providing aid through regular, conventional channels, can we ensure that every Haitian household, for example, has a cell phone that can be used?
Because the transformational part of cell phones in Africa has been demonstrated. It's really very, very powerful.
And if we are going to give cash, can we give it directly to the people so that they can build their own micro enterprises and so on, instead of all of it being routed through government, and so on.
So I would say migration, decriminalization, cell phones, and cash: four ideas to kind of think about for the long run, in terms of -- and taking into account the very mixed record of conventional development assistance.
MABRY: Excellent. Thank you so much.
Michele, there's a lot to chew on there. (Laughs.) And I'd love to hear your thoughts on some of Arvind's ideas.
You certainly have talked a lot yourself about immigration. You've examined that issue greatly.
It's interesting, because now we -- and it's, I guess, inevitable. Haiti is a neighbor of ours; we very quickly get into American domestic political considerations, as we start talking about these ideas, which is interesting.
So I wonder if you want to address specifically some of the things we've already heard from Washington, but also talk about, again, this general idea we've had this morning of how do we balance the kind of internal and external imperatives here, and who decides how Haitians will do what, verse the rest of us.
MICHELE WUCKER: Yeah. Well, this question of who decides how is important.
I've actually been quite heartened to see how many people are asking that question and paying attention to it, as a lot of Haiti's very tortured history with aid has involved people from the outside saying, okay, we'll give you aid if you do this, without actually looking at whether it's going to work, politically or otherwise.
Haiti's gotten caught into a lot of ideological debates between the crowd who says it has to be the state, and it has to be the private sector.
I think that everybody has to be involved, and you figure out what the right roles are for people.
I think that the state can play a much better role in sort of coordinating some of the aid and seeing what is all going in, where the specific needs are. I think that there's a very strong need for that, deciding what's happening and what's where.
Of course, we've got a very, very strong need for building capacity of government to be able to do that.
The question of migration is also, I think, very important. It ties into this question of who gets to say what.
Haiti has a long, in many ways wonderful, relationship with its diaspora but, in many ways, quite complicated. For some people the word "diaspora" is not such a nice thing to say.
MABRY: Haitians themselves view the diaspora negatively.
WUCKER: Exactly. And a lot Haitian Americans I know who've gone down to Haiti say, oh, there they call me a "blond," which can mean a white person, but it can also mean a foreigner. And they say, I'm treated as a foreigner in my own country.
Lots and lots of Haitian Americans have just really poured out enthusiasm, help, raised money. A lot of people have the kind the skills that I think Haiti could really use right now.
But I think that there are some things that Haiti has to resolve within itself to be able to employ some of these skills.
I think absolutely allowing more people to emigrate to the United States is important. But the flip side of that is a long-going debate over brain drain versus brain circulation.
I was talking to someone the other day, thinking oh, Canada has taken all of Haiti's best and brightest, so they're not left in the country.
I think that the idea of best-and-brightest should be defined pretty broadly. Some of those cab drivers or small-business owners are actually also, frankly, part of Haiti's best and brightest.
And I think a lot of them do want to contribute their skills. What they've learned helps to train other Haitians to help, to be involved in engineering projects and education projects.
Haitian physicians abroad have been incredibly generous -- a sort of a long-running relationship, going back and trying to help with hospitals there.
So but at the same time there are -- a lot of these best-and-brightest, until recently, weren't allowed access to legal status. And I think that very much limited their ability to go back and forth, to be able to earn enough money to really contribute what they could back home. Instead, they were very much in limbo.
So I think we do need to look at more flexible arrangements for Haitians aboard. And that's going to involve some changes in attitudes in Haiti, some changes in attitudes here, and also a lot of attention to how do you also make sure that we're building skills in Haiti to stay in Haiti, not just to go abroad.
MABRY: I wonder if we could --
SUBRAMANIAN: Marcus, can I just add?
MABRY: Sure, Arvind. Sure, go ahead.
SUBRAMANIAN: So just to add to what Michele said, just one number.
Haitians, the diaspora, sends back about 2 billion (dollars) in remittances to Haiti, which compares with about a billion (dollars) in foreign aid.
And we know that even aside from those numbers, which -- remittances are quite high, the fact is that we know remittances go directly to people and so have these other qualities that aid does not have.
But to look at migration, I think one has to look at some of the issues that Michele was raising, the broader issues, including how much remittances are generated by Haitians living abroad.
MABRY: Just to deal with this question again, and the kind of skepticism that one could say -- certainly rightly so, viewing the country historically -- that may be an order of the day --
I wonder if we could point to examples in the past that have been successful development examples, that have shown that countries with the kind of massive challenges facing Haiti can in fact become positive case examples of development.
So what are some of those that you might toss up?
WUCKER: Well, I actually think there are a couple of examples just within Haiti, one that we've heard a lot about.
But one that I think deserves to be heard a lot about is what Partners in Health does.
They have a very, very high percentage of Haitians who are working there. A lot of local organizations who put priority on hiring people from within the country, I think is a very, very important model to follow.
But then also to make sure that when you have all of these small organizations -- I've heard that there are 10,000 NGOs in Haiti -- that you make sure that people aren't working at cross purposes, that there might be some ways that people can combine their efforts or that there might be a big gap that's not being addressed.
So I think this need for coordination is certainly very important. A lot of the NGOs have been talking among themselves about how to coordinate better. I know that the U.N. is very aware of it, you know.
You know, Carol was mentioning also that that's something very important to do.
So I think those are good examples that we should build on.
MABRY: Who is the referee? Given the weakness at the center, the weakness of the state itself, who is the referee?
MABRY: Go ahead, Arvind.
SUBRAMANIAN: Marcus, you ask an excellent question. It's not -- you see, your question can be broken apart and ask two questions.
One, are there examples of countries with Haiti's initial conditions having broken through? That's one.
A second question, perhaps more relevant, is are there any examples of this having happened through extensive foreign intervention?
And my answer to the first question, of course, is, of course, several countries, by definition, have developed from weak institutions and grown up. For example, in Africa we've had Botswana, which has done very well. Mauritius also, weak history, and they have developed.
But the record of that having happened through extensive, intensive international assistance, that list is pretty small, Marcus. It's pretty small. So I think we should keep that in mind when we kind of jump in and say -- you know, there's a little -- don't see an irony even in us saying, you know, "How should Haitians decide for themselves?" There's a little bit of irony in that, right? These are questions that should be being posed in Haiti, by Haitians, by the diaspora, and so on.
So I think it's not easy to come across cases where outsiders have really, you know, spearheaded the development process. And that's why I think some of the things that Michele has been saying are very important and should give us pause about what outsiders can do more generally. And that's why I think we should look at more kind of creative -- you know, we should think of ways where we make minimal demands on Haiti's weak domestic institutions. That should be the kind of guiding criteria as we move forward in thinking about how we help Haiti.
COX: Marcus, let me come in here. I don't disagree with either Arvind or Michele.
Aid alone is not enough to do the job. We need the NGOs, we need the private sector, we need the people of Haiti, and we need foreign assistance. All of these are going to be elements.
When you asked for examples of countries, what comes to mind right away (is) Rwanda, who now, 16 years after a horrific internal war, is now one of the highest-performing countries in Africa. Mozambique comes to mind as well, also doing very well. These countries were helped by foreign resources. But these countries also had internal leadership. And when I say leadership, I don't just mean the government. We have to have leadership in the private sector. We have to have leadership, of course, in the public sector. We have to have leadership amongst communities.
Development is very complex. It's not an either/or situation. And I think what we need to ensure is that all these elements come in, that foreign aid does not crowd out the private sector, that the private sector comes in to invest and create jobs, that there is more migration. Remittances are very important, not only in Haiti but in Central America, in Mexico, very important source of income.
And, of course, one of the big issues on the NGOs is how do you coordinate them? It's wonderful there's 10,000 NGOs. But what we saw in Cambodia -- and I worked in Southeast Asia with Cambodia and Vietnam -- is the NGOs started substituting for government services. Now, that's a good thing when there are no services. But sooner or later, one needs to have some consistency across the country in who's providing services, the level and the type. So there are all sorts of questions about how you bring them in, how you maximize, how you coordinate. So I don't think it's an either/or. It's everybody needs to be on deck on this issue.
MABRY: Thank you so much for that perspective, Pamela.
To tell us more about, again, my question of who referees -- with a weak center in Port-au-Prince, who referees? Does no one referee? Is it letting a thousand flowers bloom between those different sectors -- private, public and NGO? Who referees? How do we do it? Do we need -- does the World Bank do it? Does the U.N. do it? Does the EU?
COX: No, no, no, no. The World Bank and the U.N. doesn't do it. The government has to do it.
But let me talk a little bit about that. First of all, there needs to be some sort of a plan about what the priorities are. The PDNA, the post-disaster needs assessment, which we do with terms of reference given to us by the government and under the government's leadership, provides that framework. What roads need to be built first? What services need to be? How much housing needs to be built? You know, what do we need to do first? There needs to be a basic plan. There needs to be a lot of consultation around that plan.
For example, there's been a lot of discussion about should we move the capital out of Port-au-Prince? Well, if you're going to do that, there needs to be consultations with the people of Haiti on that. That's not a decision that we from the outside make. We can give technical advice. We can cost it for you. But the people have to decide.
And I think we also have to figure out how do you get people into these decisions? And Arvind raised this very interesting point about the cell phones, because I think there's wonderful technological ways now that we can use to get people involved, to monitor the outcomes.
I want to talk a little bit about what we're doing on the PDNA. We, together with Google and Yahoo and NASA, have created an open-source platform with 103 agencies, universities and private people across the world who are actually going block by block, virtually with satellite imagery, and assessing the damage for us in Port-au-Prince. That means we don't have to do it on the ground. We have to ground-truth it. But when you have 103 people around the world -- institutions -- actually working on this disaster, this shows you the power of technology.
So, going forward, we can use technology; for example, cash payments. We're going to be doing a project with cash payments for people. You give them plastic credit cards. You give money to communities. You give people cell phones. You put up all the contracts on websites. We already do this across Latin America. You allow people, block by block, to monitor progress. There's all sorts of ways that we can bring technology in to bring the people of Haiti into this process.
Even though I understand that not everybody in Haiti has computers, there are ways to get this information out. NGOs can help on this. So we have, I think, the means which we've never had before to really get people much more involved. And so while the government does need to lead -- it is the government -- the people also need to be part of the process.
MABRY: That's fascinating to hear about those 103 agencies that are helping with things, the technology with that assessment, because the question does come back to is the government in Port-au-Prince able to help with this? I mean, are they -- do they have legitimacy? Do they have the wherewithal to help with the assessment, to be what a regular government would be?
COX: I think any government in this sort of situation, particularly when there are no buildings -- they've lost their computers, they've lost their records, they've lost their colleagues -- any government would struggle under this.
What we need is we can provide the technical advice. Consultations with people can provide their input. The government needs to provide leadership. The government doesn't need to do everything. That's where the capacity issues come in.
MABRY: A question for both you, Pamela, and for Michele; then we go back to you Arvind.
I wonder, one thing Arvind said was we have to be modest in our ambitions. One has not heard that thought much in the discussions, not just this morning but just in general, as we talk about what's happening in Haiti and what's next in long-term development.
Must we be modest in our ambitions, or must we be actually immodest in our ambitions?
WUCKER: I think being modest -- I think we need to be realistic, but being too modest, I think, would be a mistake. I mean, you talk to Haitians; a lot of the Haitians I know, they aren't talking about reconstruction. They're saying, "We're building a new Haiti. We don't want to rebuild the mess that was there before."
You know, Haiti, going back to the very beginning, was not a modest ambition; I mean, you know, the first free black former slave republic in the world. That's not modest at all. And, you know, you talk to Haitians about their -- it's just their resilience. I mean, I think -- what would you see Americans in this situation? I don't think that you would see the kind of, you know, fortitude and ability to look for opportunities in the rubble. So I think being modest would be selling Haiti short.
COX: I absolutely agree with Michele. This is going to take time. This is going to take five to 10 years. Aceh, which was supported by a very strong central government in Indonesia after the tsunami, it took them five years to do all the rebuilding.
When you have a situation that we're also trying to do development, when we're trying to look at a Rwanda or a Mozambique, this is obviously going to take time. So I think we should have, you know, stretched goals. This is an opportunity. It's an awful thing, awful, to happen to Haiti. But it is an opportunity, as Rwanda did, for a country to come together and think about its future.
SUBRAMANIAN: Marcus, you know, I agree with a lot of what Pamela and Michele have said. You see, my -- the question of the dilemma is the following. It's that, precisely because of what you said about there not being a strong center, the temptation for outsiders always is, with the best of intentions, is to say, you know, "We don't have this strong center. Let's do more. Let's stay on longer. Let's provide more things."
And there is a contradiction between the short run and the long run, because in the short run, that temptation is, you know, understandable and arguably also one we should give into. But that precisely militates against the kind of long-run development that you need with Haitians taking control and the Haitian government taking control.
I think with so many NGOs, so much aid, so much foreign presence, that temptation -- you know, I mean, is there a credible exit strategy is something that we need to be thinking about even now as we go in full-scale for humanitarian relief and development assistance. And often I find around the world that that is not easy to achieve. But I think we need to be thinking about that very strongly, even as we go in now with our assistance.
MABRY: Thank you. And thank you to all our panelists. I think we've done a good job of scratching the surface. (Laughs.) And I will open it to questions.
A few reminders to members. Please wait for the microphone. Speak directly into it. Actually, I guess we'll have these microphones. And you don't have to stand, but you should say your name and affiliation. And limit yourself, please, to one question so we can get as many folks in as possible.
I guess someone will be helping me in Washington to moderate down there for questions. No questions from Washington? Ah, for once, no questions from Washington -- (laughter) -- all New York. (Laughs.)
We'll start right here and we'll go around the table.
QUESTIONER: Thank you, Marcus, and the rest of the panel. My name is Jacques-Philippe Piverger. I'm with Pine Bridge Investments. I'm also the founder of the Global Syndicate, an organization that's focused on development in Haiti and other countries as well. I'm on the advisory board for the Hope for Haiti Now Fund with George Clooney and MTV.
My question is with respect to how us as Americans --
MABRY: Jacques, I wonder if you should tell us about your own personal history.
QUESTIONER: Well, I didn't want to talk too much, but if you insist. (Laughs.)
MABRY: I insist.
QUESTIONER: My entire family is from Haiti. I probably spend two to three months a year in Haiti for at least 22 to 25 years. I was born here, grew up here, but spend a lot of time there. I have a lot of family and friends who lost their home; lost some family and friends. I've been pretty involved with development. Thank you.
So my question is with respect to the American community and how we can be involved in supporting the effort in Haiti. So, for example, last year I attended meetings with President Clinton. I'm actually meeting with him today. And most of the thrust from the business side has been around textile, infrastructure, power. And I think there are potential opportunities for -- (inaudible) -- and partnerships between the U.S., the Haitian diaspora and Haitians in general. So maybe talk about some of those opportunities first to engage.
MABRY: Would you like to start with that, Michele, or (Washington ?), either one.
WUCKER: Yeah, I mean, I think the diaspora -- there's been an ongoing discussion for quite some time about how the diaspora can be involved. There have been, you know, conferences over the last 10 years in particular; the first ones a little more disjointed, but I think recently much more organized.
You know, I think -- and I also think that, you know, in Haiti there's been a lot more openness to the diaspora being involved. I mean, I think some of the things that Wyclef has done have been very, very high profile, very controversial as well, but I think he's, you know, taken the lead on saying, "Look, if we're going to deliver supplies or aid to a community, let's go in. We'll organize the community first and then we can deliver it things and don't have to do it with guns." You know, there's still a lot of complaints about the trucks coming in with lots of guns and really, you know, humiliating the communities that they're involved with.
The diaspora, in terms of sending money down, is very important; a lot of sort of hometown-to-hometown involvement, organizations like Fonkoze, which is remittance -- started as a remittance transfer organization, but they also do microfinance and other opportunities like that on the ground.
I think that, you know, there's just so many places to start. The Association of Haitian Doctors Abroad goes down quite a bit. I would love to see more training, formal training, as part of the rebuilding process. And also I think some of the diaspora that's in the Dominican Republic is important. I've been hearing about a lot of Haitian students in Dominican medical schools for a long time. There's been a very large population there. You know, some of them all of a sudden don't have money to continue studying. So I think some attention to people there is important as well.
MABRY: Is there any -- is there any kind of larger private-sector hope, any multinational private-sector interests?
WUCKER: Well, I think --
COX: I could speak -- I could speak to that, Marcus. Actually, Mackenzie (sp) has very kindly offered pro bono, as part of this post-disaster needs assessment, to look at all the private-sector issues and to work with their partners here in the U.S. as well as in Haiti to look at opportunities for investment, private-sector involvement, as well as understanding what the private sector needs to come into Haiti in terms of infrastructure, in terms of incentives.
So I think there is a big push on engaging the private sector. I also understand that Canada is going to be doing another diaspora conference specifically around how Haitians in the North American continent can contribute.
QUESTIONER: Excellent. Thank you.
MABRY: Arvind, do you -- Arvind, yeah.
SUBRAMANIAN: I mean, let me -- can I invert roles and throw a question back to Jacques, for example, and ask, you know, what has the private-sector diaspora -- you know, what has been the -- what have been the constraints to much more private-sector investment in the past? And how is that going to change with this crisis?
MABRY: Jacques, if you could briefly answer.
MR. : Sure. Thank you for that question.
I think much of the resistance in the past has had to do with, as you mentioned before, weak institutions and fear in terms in terms of security and that type of thing. But the part of what Marcus mentioned and also one of the other panelists, the last couple of years has seen a lot of progress.
So one of my meetings with President Clinton -- it wasn't just President Clinton and I, but President Clinton/IBB had a big conference in Haiti in October of just 2009. And so members from Soros's team, Gap, Mars Company, a number of large institutions from across the globe were there looking at opportunities within the five areas that the government of Haiti had mentioned as key priorities for development. So there was significant optimism.
Part of the reason I created the Global Syndicate and the Haiti Project in particular was because when I went in '08, having not been there for a while, I saw a deep disparity in the eyes of otherwise proud people. And so that's why I created that. And when I went the following year, you could see a stark change in terms of the level of optimism and what could potentially be. And so there are definitely people interested on the private -- and my original question was not just about the Haitian diaspora and how we can be involved. It was about the American people and how Americans across -- in this room, for example, can engage and be involved.
WUCKER: Briefly --
MABRY: If you don't mind, I'd like to open it up to more questions.
Yes, at the end.
QUESTIONER: My question -- well, first, I'm Mark Forney (sp) from Credit Agricole corporate investment bank. And my question is primarily for Pamela, but for the whole panel.
Pamela, you mentioned and really emphasized the need to coordinate efforts and the importance of empowering the government to make a lot of the decisions going forward. Generally, after donor conferences, you have bilateral organizations, like the United States, Canada, the U.K., everybody else, announcing substantial amounts of money to support reconstruction. But oftentimes that's done in a bilateral basis with the government and the bilateral agency, whether it's the United States, Canada or the U.K. And it's not necessarily done in coordination with the other actors.
So I'm wondering, in this case, with the limited capacity of the government that has resulted from the earthquake, if it's more important this time for these funds coming into the country to be done on more of a multilateral basis or if it makes sense to be done on a bilateral basis.
COX: Thanks very much, Mark.
In fact, what we're working on right now -- and we have a conference call this morning; every Thursday morning the bilateral agencies have a conference call that Cheryl Mills hosts. We're proposing a multi-donor trust fund, which has been successfully used in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, in Aceh for rebuilding, in many other sorts of situations, where the bilateral donors would pool their money and we would use one set of procedures and processes, and this would help the government coordinate.
There's also a lot of discussion, still not settled, on whether one has a reconstruction agency going forward to do the physical reconstruction. And I do want to emphasize that reconstruction is not just building buildings. We have to build the economy. We have to rebuild people's lives. But we do also have to build the infrastructure; still a lot of debate on that. It worked very successfully in Aceh, perhaps not so successfully in some other places. But that's another way to coordinate the donors.
And finally, having the post-disaster needs assessment, having one plan that everybody buys into, means that the government can then say to bilaterals, "We'd like you to do this part of the plan and we'd like you to do that part of the plan."
MABRY: Thank you, Pamela.
Yes, right here, ma'am.
QUESTIONER: Yes, Evelyn Leopold, journalist at the U.N.
I just wanted to make one brief statement before I ask a question, which was that --
MABRY: Really brief.
MABRY: Really brief.
QUESTIONER: Yes, very brief -- that the investment, especially in the textile industry, before the earthquake -- there have been huge protests that the minimum wage is not a livable wage.
My question is that the interior minister threw out an idea, (one ?), to Colombia, because he felt that there were just too many NGOs and too many people with ideas, and thought that, as was done in one city in Colombia after an earthquake, that each country or major donor should take one region, one neighborhood of Port-au-Prince or one city elsewhere, and be in charge of the reconstruction there according to all sorts of standards that were set up. I wonder if that is just an idea he floated, or is it a serious one?
MABRY: Pamela, can you answer that? Are you familiar with that?
COX: Well, I'm certainly familiar with the Colombia case, which was reconstructing one city and not an economy, but that's a very good idea. And these are the types of ideas that will be floated in this post-disaster needs assessment. The needs assessment will be done by mid-March; the teams are working on it. We're open to all ideas. And I'll make sure that I remind the team that this idea is out there; but that's certainly one approach.
MABRY: Thank you.
QUESTIONER: Thank you. Steven Kanz (ph), (inaudible) Ledger. A comment and a question. The comment is, briefly, that I hope -- despite the laughter that we don't actually not think about Arvind's suggestion with respect to decriminalization. It's not just Haiti, it's Colombia, it's Mexico it's a good number of other countries. And we are never ever going to solve those issues unless we confront the issue here.
My question is a technical one about environmental review. It seems to me quite obvious that there will be significant environmental impacts that flow from any decision with respect to development locally, nationally or otherwise. What kind of environmental impact assessment process will there be? And it does after all provide not just disciplined thinking but a real opportunity for the public consultation that Pamela mentioned.
My concern, quite frankly, is that the only serious environmental impact process that I'm aware of among the people involved is the World Bank's or perhaps IDB's. But neither of those is national. And my real question is how can the government of Haiti go about conducting the environmental assessment that's required for the development of this overall development plan?
MABRY: Well, I hate to toss it back to the World Bank (laughs). Pamela, I think that would be the best of our panel to answer.
COX: The Multi-donor Trust Fund would use the World Blank/IDB procedures, which means that it would have to be -- anything would have to have an environmental impact assessment. But I think your point is even beyond individual projects. And it's a very important part of the dialogue particularly on the urban reconstruction. But even on the reconstruction from the hurricane as well.
Any discussion about moving capital cities and so on would have to go through that process. But beyond the physical infrastructure I think we're also concerned with the environmental impact, the health impact of this crisis with a lot of stuff and all sorts of things in the air; that's an environmental issue. And there are huge environmental issues about more people being pushed out into the countryside, and the pressure that they're being placed on the deforested area. So, I think we're going to be looking at all those issues -- very important point.
QUESTIONER: With respect, though --
MABRY: Actually you know, just because we have so little time, I'm going to keep going.
RICHARD N. HAASS: I'm Richard Haass; I work here at the Council on Foreign Relations. (Laughter.) The bias of the comments is essentially that outsiders should do as little as possible -- let the Haitians run this, we should not be paternalistic, and so forth. Let me challenge that.
If I were going to -- if I were voting in Congress to give $100 million in aid, or if I were in the private sector giving a -- making an enormous investment, given the history of Haiti, the unsuccessful decades of history and development, given the hurricanes, given the earthquakes, I'd be hard pressed to make the case to let the Haitians run their own show.
It's not -- at least from what I can see, a lot of history to suggest it. And just like you've had to bring in the American military to essentially make the airports work, to run the in and out of people and goods, just as you've got a growing security problem, why not argue just the opposite? That what we really want to do is make Haiti temporarily something of a ward of the international community?
Because you don't really have Haitian partners to work with and spend several years building up the human capacity as much as the physical capacity of the country. But trying to essentially hand things over sooner than you have a real partner to hand over, it seems to me -- I'm worried that five or 10 or 15 years from now, we're going to be having this same meeting. There is an optimism about this conversation that I've got to tell you, I do not have borne out by anyone I speak to who has recently been in Haiti.
MABRY: Who'd like to handle that?
MABRY: No, only if you disagree. (Laughter)
Talk to me.
SUBRAMANIAN: You know, I -- I think that really -- I don't disagree at all with what Richard said. Because I think there are really two models here. One model is to say, look, outsiders do very little, and we just do what you know needs to be done. And in the short run, it seems to me it will get worse, but in the long run there is no way out.
The alternative is, is frankly to go down Richard's (route ?) and say, you know, a trusteeship for 10, 15, 20 years time. And then, quote unquote, "hand over." But I don't know whether wherein in either is a world where that would be an acceptable solution. And so there's a big political problem, you know, or an ideological issue there.
But I think it's not, they're not actually mutually exclusive. The trouble now is we're stuck between -- in the middle. We're neither, you know, biting the bullet and saying, this country cannot be run on its own because of its history. That will let you take over. Nor are we saying look, the only really successful model is to just let go, face the consequences in the short run, but then, you know, things get worse, but then they eventually get better. Now we're in this half-space situation of doing the same things that we've done over and over and over again in the past, and that's the problem.
COX: I'd like to disagree strongly with Richard. I think the history of colonialism and the League of Nations and protectorates is not really a good one for nation building. And I want to make the point here this isn't just about the government. This is about the people of Haiti.
And having foreign governments decide that we should take over Haiti because the government doesn't work is not something I think that has been shown to work in the long run. Particularly, building capacity and building ownership for the issues. I don't think that the U.S. government came in and started running the city of New Orleans after Katrina, which was a very similar sort of catastrophe for a city.
The city of New Orleans did get a lot of help from the U.S. government. But the people of New Orleans also got together and helped rebuild the city. So I think we have to think about the longer-term impact.
Maybe we do have to go back and have more modest goals in the sense of how long the rebuilding is going to take. But I firmly believe that you're not going to have a strong rebuilding, build a strong civil society, build strong institutions, unless the people of Haiti are behind it, push for it, and are in a leadership role. Our role is to provide resources, to provide opportunities such as migration opportunities, investment opportunities, to provide cash. But it is not our job to do it.
WUCKER: I agree very strongly with Pamela. In fact, there are a lot of examples of the international community getting involved and actually undermining the democracy promotion or other goals that we talk about having. For example, actually just a few months ago Haiti had a crisis and the prime minister was kicked out. And one of the complaints -- she was actually, you know, a very, very competent person; but one of the complaints that was leveled, fairly or not, was that she was sort of, you know, too beholden to the international community.
If you go back to the time under Aristide, most people don't remember that during the very first Aristide term, he was very, very cooperative with international recommendations of cutting back sort of, you know bloated states, you know, payola, personnel and streamlining the economy, liberalizing. And then, the international community pushed and pushed and pushed.
When he came back they said, okay, you'll only get this money if you privatize X, Y and Z even though there was very, very strong opposition at home. And you have governments falling over and over again because they're not doing what the governments -- what the people want, but what international governments want. So I think that there are some cases where you need to let Haiti find Haiti's own solution. And that's the only way that you're going to build the capacity of the government.
We've got a long history of, you know, American officials bragging that they wrote the Haitian constitution. If you go to American -- you know, corporate-speak about you know getting buy-in and things like that, you know, you want a product to work, you go and you get focus groups and see what's going to work. I think we need to apply some of that same thinking to -- you know, to Haiti.
If you want a democracy to work, you've got to give people a chance to have a say and to feel like they're stakeholders. And if they're going to have confidence in the government, they've got to have some confidence that, you know, what they express is going to have something to do with what comes out.
MABRY: Yes, right here.
QUESTIONER: I'm Ellen Chester from Hunter College. And I was a member of the Clinton delegation in October. And along with Abby Gardner, who is actually on the staff of the special envoy's office. And I just wanted to respond to Richard for a moment, and say that I wonder if you're setting up an unnecessary dichotomy.
And use Pamela's example of Partners in Health to sort of conclude the conversation where we began, which is a partnership that's clearly an American-based, U.S. -- in its technical capacity, a focused institution. But one that has learned to work with the Haitian government now runs 11 of the World Health facilities, hospitals. And has rebuilt them along with its own model in Conge, employs 5,000 Haitians, and is now happily the beneficiary of quite a bit of the money that's been raised by some of the individuals at this table and elsewhere.
And we'll expand using that model in addition to the health system offering the rebuilding -- the building of a health system in Haiti offering opportunities for economic growth. There are some of the other areas that were part of the mission in October that we haven't mentioned here at all today. And trade being one of them, the garment sector, Haiti was a place with 100,000 garment jobs in the 1980s. And the absence of security and the really weak and in fact problematic U.S. trade policies ended those jobs. But we have now changed our legislation. We have hope to -- and we could rebuild that sector.
There were 4,000 jobs on the ground in October when we were there, that's right, (inaudible) -- I mean sadly, 500 of those individuals were killed in the earthquake. But there is still the potential there. But mostly what we haven't talked about is agriculture. And the one area that I think does have some hope and where ironically and perhaps tragically, but with some cause for optimism, various -- the earthquake may have given us an opportunity to do more rather than less. Given the area of agricultural rebuilding and sustainability environmentally that speaks to another point that was made here.
Because you do have so many people leaving the capital city and returning. And that is an area which I know President Clinton and the U.N. special envoy's officer quite focused on, because you have people who need jobs. And you could put together a private and public partnership to do the kind of planting that's necessary not only for the purposes of creating jobs and food, which is in desperate need, but also of -- environmental sustainability.
And finally, the area of energy which we spoke of briefly. I mean, Haiti is a place that is well-positioned from an environmental standpoint to build wind as a source of energy. And we are a country that's way behind the rest of the world, certainly China in doing that. We have the technology in this country if we could share it with the Haitian people. They have very cheap land and a very good position in which to -- you know to build wind as a source of energy.
So you know again, one doesn't want to be a foolish optimist in a situation like this. And I think everybody who has talked about realism is necessary. But I think to sort of create a dichotomy between whether the United States were -- and other donors should be in the lead, or whether we can take over Haiti or create a protectorate, or whether we can work in a collaboration with the Haitian government is sort of an unnecessary dichotomy. I think there are some models for moving forward in a more companionable and cooperative way.
MABRY: Thank you. I hate not to use every minute we have. So we only have about two left. But one final question.
QUESTIONER: Sorry, Ann Cooper from Columbia Journalism School. I wanted to ask Pamela whether the World Bank has made any kind of estimates on what might happen with remittances as a result of temporary protected status being invoked here, or any of the other migration ideas that have been talked about. And put remittances in some perspective.
You talked about the need for you know a range of options. And remittances you said was important, but important in what way? I mean, are remittances going to really bring Haiti out of -- you know, into a newly developed world? Or is it just going to alleviate poverty over the next few months, or what?
MABRY: Thank you.
Pamela, hopefully we still have audio. No, we don't.
MR. : Somebody yanked the plug.
MABRY: It's a good question. (Laughter)
We'll send an e-mail. (Laughter)
Thank you all for coming this morning. This has been a fantastic discussion. Again, we scratched the surface but hopefully we started a discussion.
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