December 1, 2011, 1:16 pm Bob the Builder Goes to Haiti
By ANDREW ROSENTHAL[Vous devez être inscrit et connecté pour voir cette image]
A rendering of the Port-Au-Prince Marriott Hotel, scheduled to open in 2014.
Some good news from Haiti, or at least some glimmers:
International investors and donors are attending an investment forum in the capital, Port-au-Prince, sponsored by the Inter-American Development Bank. As The Miami Herald reported, President Michel Martelly, Prime Minister Garry Cornille, former President Bill Clinton and the head of the I.D.B., Luis Alberto Moreno, have spent the last few days cutting ribbons and making speeches, all to emphasize the idea that reconstruction is gaining momentum and that Haiti is open for business.
Lawrence Downes, who covers Haiti for the editorial board, says highlights from the forum include:
*The inauguration of the newly paved Route National 1, the main highway connecting the capital, Port-au-Prince, with the northern city of Cap Haitien.
*A cornerstone-laying ceremony for a $300 million, 65-acre industrial park north of the capital, where a Korean garment company, Sae-A, will eventually hire about 20,000 people, and 5,000 new homes will be built.
*The announcement of a new Marriott hotel in Port-au-Prince, scheduled for 2014. After the earthquake, there are only about 500 hotel rooms in the entire city, about as many as one good-sized airport Hilton. The 173-room Marriott will be built by Digicel, Haiti’s largest telecom company, whose owner, Denis O’Brien, said: “Today is Bob the Builder day in Haiti.”
Haiti can use such corny optimism. At the industrial park, President Martelly said that this is what they call “durable development.”
He was alluding to Haiti’s notorious non-durable development—its vicious cycle of ineffectual aid, where all too often projects open with fanfare then go to ruin for lack of money and maintenance. Haiti’s reliance on charity from nongovernmental organizations long ago gave it the derisive but sadly apt nickname: “the Republic of N.G.O.’s.”
Some outside groups are trying to break the cycle of dependency. Partners in Health, an acclaimed Boston-based nonprofit, is building a teaching hospital in the countryside, that will be staffed with Haitian doctors and nurses, to help build health-care infrastructure from the bottom up.
To make a difference, private businesses, too, will have to hire and empower Haitians — not just as low-wage workers but as managers, and at all levels in between.
“Haitians don’t want a gift,” Mr. Martelly said. “They want work.”