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Without Bribes, Food Containers Are Stuck In Customs Port
Many Haitians Regularly Eat Dirt Cookies
If you want to know what corruption does to a country and a people, look no further than our CARICOM neighbour Haiti.
Excerpts from Associated Press…
Tons Of Food Aid Rotting In Haiti Ports
CAP-HAITIEN, Haiti (AP) – While millions of Haitians go hungry, containers full of food are stacking up in the nation’s ports because of government red tape – leaving tons of beans, rice and other staples to rot under a sweltering sun or be devoured by vermin.
A government attempt to clean up a corrupt port system that has helped make Haiti a major conduit for Colombian cocaine has added new layers of bureaucracy – and led to backlogs so severe they are being felt 600 miles away in Miami, where cargo shipments to Haiti have ground almost to a standstill.
The problems are depriving desperate people of donated food. Some are so poor they are forced to eat cookies made of dirt, salt and vegetable oil to satisfy their hunger.
An Associated Press investigation found the situation is most severe in Cap-Haitien, Haiti’s second-largest city. One recent afternoon, garbage men shoveled a pile of rotting pinto beans that had turned gray and crumbled to dust as cockroaches and beetles scurried about.
The U.N. World Food Program and large-scale U.S. rice growers say they have been able to get their food into Haiti by hiring local agents to handle bureaucratic procedures. But smaller charities, merchants and private citizens have often been forced by the delays to throw away containers of food or pay exorbitant fees.
The problems stem in part from efforts to clean up a port system the World Bank recently ranked as the second-worst in the region, ahead of only Guyana.
And despite the reforms, some say the bribes are continuing.
Jean-Paul Michaud, a Canadian, said he sailed to the capital of Port-au-Prince late last year carrying 60 pounds of donated clothing and medicine – and that port authorities demanded $10,000 in “customs fees” – code for a bribe to make the fees disappear.
“I’d have rather thrown the aid in the water,” said Michaud. The Canadian Embassy intervened and the fee was later waived.
Krabacher’s group says it has paid nearly $16,000 in fees in the first six weeks of 2008 alone, compared to $23,418 for all of 2007.
… read the full article at MyWay: Tons Of Food Aid Rotting In Haiti Ports