As Haiti deals with the aftermath of another natural disaster with Hurricane Matthew, new documents from a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request reveal clues about what went wrong in the rebuilding effort after the country suffered an earthquake in 2010.
Despite over $10 billion in disaster relief, Haiti largely remains just as worst off as it did before the earthquake. Part of the reason appears to be that funds that were supposed to be used to develop the country were siphoned off by corrupt political and business elites. Many of those elites are connected to Bill and Hillary Clinton, who have had a long and substantial impact on the country.
The FOIA documents reveal that a senior aide to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “gave special attention to those identified by the abbreviations “FOB” (friends of Bill Clinton) or “WJC VIPs” (William Jefferson Clinton VIPs).”
Some of those identified as FOBs/WJC VIPs included Digicel CEO and major Clinton Foundation donor Denis O’Brien; Texas state chairman for Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign Gary Mauro; and Clinton Foundation board member Rolando Gonzalez-Bunster. All of these individuals had financial interests in Haiti.
Mauro was shilling for DRC Emergency Services and told ABC News he contacted the Clinton Foundation because DRC “wanted to get some business” in Haiti from the Clinton-led State Department and “The Clinton Foundation was a facilitator.” Mauro is noted on the Clinton Foundation website as having donated between $25,000 to $50,000 to the Clinton Foundation.
Gonzalez-Bunster, who has power plant assets in neighboring Dominican Republic, used his Clinton Foundation connections to try and get information about Haiti’s power grid and “do a reconnaissance of the status of the transmission and distribution lines and power plants.”
But it is with telcom billionaire Denis O’Brien that things really get obnoxious. According to the Clinton Foundation website, O’Brien has donated between $5 to 10 million. He also paid Bill Clinton hundreds of thousands of dollars directly through speeches.
O’Brien used his connections to Clinton aide Doug Band to get landing slots for his company’s planes. Later, O’Brien’s company Digicel would make millions off a State Department contract for the Haiti Mobile Money Initiative:
On September 29, 2010—just weeks after Digicel applied to receive millions of dollars worth of grants from a State Department-controlled agency to provide mobile payment services in Haiti—Clinton gave a speech in Dublin sponsored by O’Brien. Clinton was not paid, a Clinton spokesman told BuzzFeed, but acknowledged that the Clinton Foundation did receive a donation after the speech. Clinton Foundation records show that O’Brien personally donated between $5 million and $10 million sometime between 2010 and 2011.
A few weeks after the September 2010 speech in Ireland, Clinton was paid $225,000 for a Digicel-sponsored speech in Kingston, Jamaica. Two months later, Digicel received its first installment of USAID grant money.
Not soon after O’Brien’s charitable work with the Clintons in Haiti, Digicel grabbed 80% of Haiti’s mobile market. The rich always get richer with the Clintons.
The people of Haiti, however, did not do so well. The disaster funds appear to have been largely wasted. A federal audit [PDF] concluded the housing program had “mixed results and faced sustainability challenges.”
The State Department itself admits the Haiti housing program failed to meet its objectives. The USAID Inspector General reported, [PDF] “The mission did not achieve its goals for constructing houses and developing home sites within budget and on schedule.”
Like most political machines, the Clintons seem more invested in their benefactors than the communities they purport to help.