Haitians protest outside Hillary HQ in Brooklyn
The ink is barely dry on the lease for Hillary Clinton’s headquarters at 1 Pierrepont Plaza in Brooklyn Heights, but the protests have already begun.
On Thursday, Haitian activists rallied at the Cadman Plaza West entrance to the building. Waving signs asking, “Where is the money?” they claimed that the Clintons wasted billions of dollars meant to reconstruct Haiti after the catastrophic January 2010 earthquake.
Former President Bill Clinton served as the United Nations’ special envoy to Haiti during the Haitian reconstruction. Hillary Clinton, as secretary of state, directed the U.S. emergency relief response and recovery plans.
The protestors claimed that a portion of money meant for the recovery was directed to favored investors. They also say that organizations and individuals associated with the Clinton Foundation were given an unfair advantage in auctions of Haitian commodities, including gold mining rights.
This assertion stems, in part, from the role of Tony Rodham, Hillary Clinton’s brother, who sits on the board of a gold mine in Haiti. According to an article in the Washington Post, his involvement with the mine has become a source of controversy in Haiti.
Craig Minassian, spokesperson for the Clinton Foundation, told the Eagle on Friday, “Their assertion about the Clinton Foundation is false.” He added, “The Clinton Foundation has no involvement in the mining sector in Haiti.”
The Clinton Foundation says on its website that it has raised a total of $36 million for Haiti, in relief funds as well as projects. Millions more have resulted from partnerships between businesses, NGOs, governments and individuals.
Much of the foundation’s work has been directed toward small businesses, entrepreneurs and farming cooperatives – such as the Smallholder Farmers Alliance, which works with roughly 2,000 small farmers growing limes and other crops. The foundation also facilitates projects such as manufacturing facilities and hotels, which provide living wages to residents.
The foundation was criticized in the pages of the Wall Street Journal earlier this year by journalist Mary O’Grady, who wrote that five years after the quake, Haiti “remains a poster child for waste, fraud and corruption in the handling of aid.” She singled out in particular a project launched by Hillary Clinton, under the supervision of the Clinton Foundation.
Bruce Lindsey, chairman of the board of the Clinton Foundation, said in published response to that article that O’Grady “continues to conflate the roles of many rebuilding organizations working in Haiti and continues to ascribe decision-making power to both President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton where it never existed.”
The foundation answers many questions about its accomplishments in Haiti on their website.
The emergency response to the devastating earthquake has been dogged by Haiti’s seemingly intractable economic and social conditions.
Human Rights Watch said in its 2015 World Report: “The Haitian government and international community made limited progress in 2014 to address the devastating impact of recent natural disasters and a deadly cholera epidemic. Political stalemates, resource constraints, and weak government institutions continued to hinder the Haitian government’s efforts to meet the basic needs of its people and address long-standing human rights problems, such as violence against women and inhumane prison conditions.”
Updated at 3:30 with a response from the Clinton Foundation
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