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Help the Haitian innocents

Tue, 01/26/2010 - 5:00am

alix paultre editorSince the tragedy in Haiti, I have thought long and hard on what to say about the cataclysm since I have a Haitian heritage.

My father was a (legal) immigrant who came from Haiti in his late teens. He then worked two jobs until he could buy his own business, and then worked for himself until the day he died. His determination and perseverance ensured that his children would go to good schools and become a manifestation of the American Dream. I would not be sitting here at the helm of ECN without that man's efforts.

Haiti is full of hard-working and industrious people just looking for a chance to break out of the vicious cycle of poverty and nonfunctional social systems that keep it the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. They only need a hand up, not a hand out, to "jump over their own shadows" and build a nation that functions for all of its people.

Haiti needs you. Haiti needs you to not just give, although I implore you to do so (the Lambi Fund of Haiti is a good local group that does great work: www.lambifund.org). What Haiti needs is a partner in the difficult times ahead, aid and guidance without attempts to shoehorn Haiti back into its role as the wretched little unstable place in the Caribbean.

Just as a burned-out building on your street reduces the safety (and land value) of all the houses on the block, leaving Haiti as an impoverished nation reduces our regional safety and provides a haven for criminal elements. A strong Haiti would increase stability in the region and provide a bulwark against anti-American foreign-policy initiatives such as those pursued by Chavez and others.

We must re-examine our policies in the region, we must create intelligent strategies for forward development, and we must partner with the Haitian people to ensure that any gains we make aren’t simply discarded when our aid workers leave.

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