Op-Ed: To Rebuild, Put Haitians In The Lead

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Foreign ministers and international aid groups met Monday in Montreal to begin charting a course for reconstruction in quake-stricken Haiti. Michele Wucker, executive director of the World Policy Institute, says rebuilding will only succeed if Haitians themselves are part of the global effort.

NEAL CONAN, host:

And now it's time for the Opinion Page. It's been nearly two weeks since that powerful earthquake devastated Haiti. More than 150,000 bodies have been buried. There are immediate needs: food, water, housing. But over the longer term, Haiti must rebuild. How does a nation that already suffers from poverty, corrupt government, bad roads, lack of electricity and a thousand other problems even begin?

In Foreign Policy magazine, Michele Wucker argues that we should let the Haitians take the lead to avoid past mistakes. She wrote: Plans for recovery must actively involve Haitians and use the rebuilding as a chance to engage Haitian civil society.

We want to hear from you. What's the best way to reconstruct Haiti? Who decides where the money goes? 800-989-8255. Email us: talk@npr.org. You can join the conversation on our Web site too. That's at npr.org, click on TALK OF THE NATION.

Michele Wucker is executive director of the World Policy Institute. Her article called "Let the Haitians Take the Lead" appeared in Foreign Policy magazine's Web site on January 19th. And she's here with us in our New York bureau. Nice to have you on TALK OF THE NATION today.

Ms. MICHELE WUCKER (Executive Director, World Policy Institute): Great to be here.

CONAN: And a lot of people would say donor nations, donor organizations, you say in your piece, Haitians have a gripe with them in the past that they've come in to tell Haitians what's good for Haiti.

Ms. WUCKER: They absolutely have done that. And in many times, they've told Haiti that democracy is good for Haiti. Haiti needs to have democracy. But it's only democracy if Haiti does exactly what everybody else tells Haiti to do. One of the biggest examples of that is over the privatizations in the 1990s. After President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was kicked out of the country and then came back the first time, his government was given some money, some support, but told: You have to privatize things.

Now, there are some people who are very strongly for and people who are strongly against privatization. I'm going to I'm not going to take side in that one. But the problem is that Haiti wasn't allowed to do it itself, and the government actually fell over a policy prescription that was made from outside the country, which really undermined the democracy that supposedly the rest of the world was supporting Haiti in building.

CONAN: Well, okay, I can get that. But don't donors, whether that's United States or Great Britain or Canada or whoever or large foundations, NGOs, that sort of thing, don't they have a right to say, we want to make sure this money is spent in the way we think is productive and that is accountable?

Ms. WUCKER: Well, donors don't always have all the information that they need. If you're a business and you're launching a product, you go and you do focus groups. You see if the people who are taking the product are going to think it works or not. And that doesn't always happen in Haiti. And particularly when there's so much concern over Haitian democracy, over Haiti being able to do things for itself, if you come in and boss people around you, you're going to get exactly the opposite of what you hoped for.

CONAN: What were the lessons learned? I mean, there was the devastating series of hurricanes that swept through that country not all that long ago. Obviously, there was a lot of effort put into reconstruction after that disaster. Were there lessons learned?

Ms. WUCKER: I think there were a series of disasters in that place. And I think there wasn't enough money to rebuild at that point. Haiti was just starting to get together before this hit. But I think the important part about the earthquake and also about those storms was that they were things that weren't of Haiti's own making. And a lot of the rhetoric we hear right now is that it's Haiti's fault that it's in such a mess.

You look at the storms, that's very much the product of global warming, which raises sea temperatures which has created more and more violent hurricanes. And Haiti's percentage of global greenhouse gases is infinitesimal. I wish I could show on radio how close how tight my fingers are held together.

CONAN: Very tightly together indeed. Yes, they may suffer (unintelligible) you can't describe any series of hurricanes or individual storm to global warming, but nevertheless - I guess I get your point. But nevertheless, people worry if you're going to pour a lot of money into Haiti and put Haitians in charge, a lot of that money is not going to be spent to help the people necessarily.

Ms. WUCKER: Well, we've had similar problems with rich countries, too.

CONAN: I'm not arguing that.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: I'm not arguing with that.

Ms. WUCKER: But no, you're point is well taken. The transparency and accountability is really important. So I think you build in, whether something is done in the private sector or the public sector, you build in ways for people to be held accountable and ways for Haitians to be part of the process of holding accountable to people who are distributing the money.

CONAN: Let's get some callers in on the conversation. Our guest, Michele Wucker, 800-989-8255. Email us: talk@npr.org. And we'll start with Carlo calling from Coral Springs in Florida.

CARLO (Caller): Yes. Good evening. This is a wonderful show and I really appreciate it. It's so much needed at this time. But my point about the Haitian government - this is a country that I travel every year and I do have an experience of how they function. Right now we do not have even a judicial system in place. So, in other words, if you have a problem, there's nowhere to go. It's corruption here and there. Having to pour so much money and not have a check and balances on the Haitian government will be a terrible mistake from my point.

CONAN: And Carlo, from your experience, what does Haiti need the most right now?

CARLO: First of all, we need to have a functional government. That's something we do not have at this point. And we need to have a judicial system in place. What if you have a problem, you can go somewhere and have it resolved instead of taking it on your own hand. And third, I think we need the medical system to be updated.

Port-au-Prince by itself was a city built for 50,000 people. Now you have three million people there. I mean, it's (unintelligible) to live there. Something has to be done to that level to sort of disperse the Haitians in the outside of the country and have some sort of development on the outskirt of Haiti in order to keep them outside. And those are the levels that I think we need to touch if we really want to have rebuild Haiti.

CONAN: Carlo, thanks very much for the call. Appreciate it.

CARLO: I thank you.

CONAN: And he's got a point. If there is not a functional government, it's going to be difficult no matter what you do.

Ms. WUCKER: Absolutely. I think that we've got to think about how the government is going to be brought back together. I think what you can do with the at the outset is to start engaging on a much more micro level - Haitian civil society, neighborhoods, communities.

There's been a lot of talk about the delivery of aid supplies and worries over security. And I've heard stories about some other reconstruction efforts in Haiti where the donors have actually gone in and organized the community ahead of time. Yele Haiti has talked about doing this, where it's been organized ahead of time. They get people in the community who've taken a stake in making sure that things get distributed safely. And you don't have that kind of riots and things that the national teams are afraid of.

I think that's the kind of organization on a very micro level that you start with. And obviously on the broader national level, you need the judicial system obviously. I think you need a lot of technical assistance. But I think, also, this key point of letting Haitians decide once they've got the institutions. If they don't think they're going to be able to decide anyway, then what's the point of making sure that these institutions are done right?

CONAN: Then they don't have a stake in it.

Ms. WUCKER: Exactly.

CONAN: Right. You mentioned a foundation, and there's also been questions about the transparency and accountability in that foundation.

Ms. WUCKER: I bet there would be about a lot of foundations as well. And I think that that pressure, that accountability is good. I think it's important that those questions be asked of everyone. So maybe it's a teaching moment.

CONAN: A teachable moment. All right, those are generally not happy for the people getting the lessons. Nevertheless, the as you look at the situation, I mean, for example, a lot of people are now leaving places like Port-au-Prince and moving back to the countryside because the city simply can't house them, can't feed them, can't they can't get clean water. Nevertheless, they're putting these they're sort of moving the difficulty back to their home villages. And distributing supplies, well, it has to be done by helicopter at the moment because the roads are so bad. I mean, these problems mount up one after another.

Ms. WUCKER: Absolutely. And this question of where people are going is actually quite concerning too. The Dominican Republic next door has been watching this carefully because many Haitians do go over to the Dominican Republic. I've written about this in my book, "Why the Cocks Fight" which talks about the difficult relationship between the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

And I think it's very important to look at the role of the Dominican Republic in the situation, realizing that they're going to be suffering from some of the population pressure. But they also have a lot of engineers, a lot of doctors, a lot of other people who could be involved in helping to rebuild. And I think that that's a very important ingredient to include.

CONAN: Yet, as you know better than I, these are very different cultures and there is a great deal of rivalry there.

Ms. WUCKER: Well, as in any close siblings. And, in fact, there was a very sad situation recently where two Dominican aid workers went in and were killed. And then the Dominican Republic had offered soldiers as part of the U.N. mission, and the immediate response was, no, that's impossible.

CONAN: Anybody but them.

Ms. WUCKER: Anybody but them. But at the same time, there is a lot of caring. You know, Dominican Republic had two days of national mourning. And there were a lot of ties between the two countries. And I think, you know, Dominicans care very, very deeply about the human side of this crisis.

CONAN: This from Angie(ph) in Jacksonville, Florida. And I hope I'm pronouncing the name correctly. She says: You are so right. Haitians should have the largest say, however, small contract should be appropriated to Haitians to do the job.

Ms. WUCKER: Absolutely. Absolutely. You know, it's amazing when the images you hear you see the talk, you hear about Haiti as, oh, poor Haiti, so desperate, so this - I'm not going to repeat more of it - when you don't get the sense of the resilience of the Haitian people, the amazing art that comes out of the country, the huge, huge cadres of Haitian professionals, of doctors, of lawyers, of all kinds of very, very successful people who've gone abroad.

And the fact that Haiti, this slave republic was able to defeat Napoleon was something you never ever would have thought of. And Haiti really isn't given enough credit for that. And I think it is. That's - we need to think about how strong Haitians are and how capable they are and use that energy and skill.

CONAN: And how resilient they are. As you've said, they've suffered any number of disasters and any sequence of bad governments over the past century or so. Nevertheless, at this point, what gives you optimism about Haiti?

Ms. WUCKER: The Haitian people, definitely what Haiti has accomplished in the past. And also there's a sense among many Haitians I've heard from and also people who love Haiti that this might be a chance for a new beginning. Because if you don't have optimism, then what's the point?

CONAN: Michele Wucker, the executive director of the World Policy Institute, is with us on the Opinion Page this week. Her article called "Let the Haitians Take the Lead" appeared in the Foreign Policy Web site on January 19th. There's a link to it on our Web site at npr.org, click on TALK OF THE NATION.

This is TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

And let's get this is Gamaf(ph). Help me pronounce your name, would you? Hello?

GAMALIO(ph) (Caller): Hello?

CONAN: Yes. Help me pronounce your name, would you?

GAMALIO: It's Gamalio, Gamalio.

CONAN: Gamalio is on the line with us from Boston. Now I can say it. Go ahead please.

GAMALIO: Okay. Yeah. My it's more than opinion on whether or not foreign organizations should get involved in rebuilding Haiti. I think we have technical knowledge that is required to rebuild Haiti, and I don't think Haitians necessarily have the expertise to do that. However, bringing in only foreign organizations the problem is they will help you rebuild, but when they are done, they will go back to their own countries and they will need Haitians will have the acquired expertise. So because of that, we need to have both Haitians and international organizations involved in the rebuilding of the country so that they can pass on the knowledge and the how to, you know, how to do it prior to leaving the country. And I think this would be a real process which may actually end up helping the country in so many ways.

CONAN: Michele Wucker, in your piece you were saying outside organizations should take care to hire Haitians, not just bring in expensive outside consultants.

GAMALIO: Yes. I'm looking at it more than hire Haitians. You have a process that requires that people understand the underpinning of society in how it works and how to organize rebuilding a society. If they are involved at the highest level of decision making, it will be possible for them to learn how it actually works. And then when these organizations are rebuilding, you will need people able to maintain the system that they are rebuilding in Haiti.

CONAN: Michele Wucker?

Ms. WUCKER: That's such a good point. And I would love to see this process as a way to develop skills in Haitian in Haiti and among Haitians. You may not have the educational system that's there to develop that, but perhaps we could have apprenticeships as part of the various parts of rebuilding and find ways of making sure that those skills, that - the international technicians and other people bring in -stay in Haiti.

CONAN: Gamalio, thanks very much for the call. Appreciate it.

GAMALIO: You're welcome.

CONAN: Here's an email that we got from John(ph) in Birmingham, Alabama. The idea of putting Haiti under a U.N. mandate status in order to rebuild it has been bandied about. Your thoughts, maybe the General McArthur model used as in post-World War II Japan might work better. Haiti is and has been a complete failure as a viable state.

Ms. WUCKER: I think that a U.N. mandate of the top force in Haiti would be a grave mistake. I think that it would counteract the importance of Haiti being able to rebuild its government, of empowering its citizens, of getting a civil society dialogue going. That said, the U.N. as a very strong partner supporting Haiti is absolutely essential. And I think that that's the organization that should do it as opposed to, you know, the United States being in charge or any other country. A group of international countries coming together and taking responsibility for supporting Haiti in its aspirations is what we need to be looking at.

CONAN: Just giving Haitians money?

Ms. WUCKER: No, I think that there's accountability on all sides. I think a conversation between Haitians, some of the international aid organizations who are helping with things and requiring the accountability of international organizations as well.

CONAN: Let's see if we can get one more caller in. This is Barnaby. Barnaby with us from Massachusetts.

BARNABY (Caller): Yes. Thank you for (unintelligible) in your (unintelligible). Yes, I would say that I think the Haitian government, they really, like, they (unintelligible) anymore how to live. They have to it's like going to school, going back. It's almost like a learning process to know how to lead a country because they've been fooling themselves in thinking that they were fooling people so long that, you know, things turned the way they are. Not the earthquake, of course, but the country was like, you know, a mess before that. So and there are some models that worked in Africa and some places of Africa that could also work in Haiti, you know?

CONAN: Give me an example.

BARNABY: Excuse me?

CONAN: Give us an example.

BARNABY: Like the last country where President Obama went, you know, the country where, like, you know, we have a rising economy and stuff like that. I just forgot the country. You know, he didn't go his country with that country because it was a model of (unintelligible). So I think, you know, some of those things that make those countries become successful before they were not. Now...

CONAN: Okay.

BARNABY: ... that could work in Haiti, too.

CONAN: Okay, let's get a response from Michele Wucker.

Ms. WUCKER: I think that we should engage those countries that have examples of things that have been done right and make them part of the conversation, but not in telling Haiti what to do, but in giving Haiti some options.

CONAN: Michele Wucker joined us today in our bureau in New York. We're broadcasting the show from here today. She's executive director of the World Policy Institute. Her article called "Let the Haitians Take the Lead," appeared on the foreign policy Web site on January 19th. Thanks very much for being with us today.

Ms. WUCKER: Thank you.

CONAN: We'll have even more on the rebuilding effort tomorrow. Join us for a longer conversation about what's next for Haiti.

This is TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News. I'm Neal Conan in New York.

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Op-Ed: To Rebuild, Put Haitians In The Lead

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Foreign ministers and international aid groups met Monday in Montreal to begin charting a course for reconstruction in quake-stricken Haiti. Michele Wucker, executive director of the World Policy Institute, says rebuilding will only succeed if Haitians themselves are part of the global effort.

NEAL CONAN, host:

And now it's time for the Opinion Page. It's been nearly two weeks since that powerful earthquake devastated Haiti. More than 150,000 bodies have been buried. There are immediate needs: food, water, housing. But over the longer term, Haiti must rebuild. How does a nation that already suffers from poverty, corrupt government, bad roads, lack of electricity and a thousand other problems even begin?

In Foreign Policy magazine, Michele Wucker argues that we should let the Haitians take the lead to avoid past mistakes. She wrote: Plans for recovery must actively involve Haitians and use the rebuilding as a chance to engage Haitian civil society.

We want to hear from you. What's the best way to reconstruct Haiti? Who decides where the money goes? 800-989-8255. Email us: talk@npr.org. You can join the conversation on our Web site too. That's at npr.org, click on TALK OF THE NATION.

Michele Wucker is executive director of the World Policy Institute. Her article called "Let the Haitians Take the Lead" appeared in Foreign Policy magazine's Web site on January 19th. And she's here with us in our New York bureau. Nice to have you on TALK OF THE NATION today.

Ms. MICHELE WUCKER (Executive Director, World Policy Institute): Great to be here.

CONAN: And a lot of people would say donor nations, donor organizations, you say in your piece, Haitians have a gripe with them in the past that they've come in to tell Haitians what's good for Haiti.

Ms. WUCKER: They absolutely have done that. And in many times, they've told Haiti that democracy is good for Haiti. Haiti needs to have democracy. But it's only democracy if Haiti does exactly what everybody else tells Haiti to do. One of the biggest examples of that is over the privatizations in the 1990s. After President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was kicked out of the country and then came back the first time, his government was given some money, some support, but told: You have to privatize things.

Now, there are some people who are very strongly for and people who are strongly against privatization. I'm going to I'm not going to take side in that one. But the problem is that Haiti wasn't allowed to do it itself, and the government actually fell over a policy prescription that was made from outside the country, which really undermined the democracy that supposedly the rest of the world was supporting Haiti in building.

CONAN: Well, okay, I can get that. But don't donors, whether that's United States or Great Britain or Canada or whoever or large foundations, NGOs, that sort of thing, don't they have a right to say, we want to make sure this money is spent in the way we think is productive and that is accountable?

Ms. WUCKER: Well, donors don't always have all the information that they need. If you're a business and you're launching a product, you go and you do focus groups. You see if the people who are taking the product are going to think it works or not. And that doesn't always happen in Haiti. And particularly when there's so much concern over Haitian democracy, over Haiti being able to do things for itself, if you come in and boss people around you, you're going to get exactly the opposite of what you hoped for.

CONAN: What were the lessons learned? I mean, there was the devastating series of hurricanes that swept through that country not all that long ago. Obviously, there was a lot of effort put into reconstruction after that disaster. Were there lessons learned?

Ms. WUCKER: I think there were a series of disasters in that place. And I think there wasn't enough money to rebuild at that point. Haiti was just starting to get together before this hit. But I think the important part about the earthquake and also about those storms was that they were things that weren't of Haiti's own making. And a lot of the rhetoric we hear right now is that it's Haiti's fault that it's in such a mess.

You look at the storms, that's very much the product of global warming, which raises sea temperatures which has created more and more violent hurricanes. And Haiti's percentage of global greenhouse gases is infinitesimal. I wish I could show on radio how close how tight my fingers are held together.

CONAN: Very tightly together indeed. Yes, they may suffer (unintelligible) you can't describe any series of hurricanes or individual storm to global warming, but nevertheless - I guess I get your point. But nevertheless, people worry if you're going to pour a lot of money into Haiti and put Haitians in charge, a lot of that money is not going to be spent to help the people necessarily.

Ms. WUCKER: Well, we've had similar problems with rich countries, too.

CONAN: I'm not arguing that.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: I'm not arguing with that.

Ms. WUCKER: But no, you're point is well taken. The transparency and accountability is really important. So I think you build in, whether something is done in the private sector or the public sector, you build in ways for people to be held accountable and ways for Haitians to be part of the process of holding accountable to people who are distributing the money.

CONAN: Let's get some callers in on the conversation. Our guest, Michele Wucker, 800-989-8255. Email us: talk@npr.org. And we'll start with Carlo calling from Coral Springs in Florida.

CARLO (Caller): Yes. Good evening. This is a wonderful show and I really appreciate it. It's so much needed at this time. But my point about the Haitian government - this is a country that I travel every year and I do have an experience of how they function. Right now we do not have even a judicial system in place. So, in other words, if you have a problem, there's nowhere to go. It's corruption here and there. Having to pour so much money and not have a check and balances on the Haitian government will be a terrible mistake from my point.

CONAN: And Carlo, from your experience, what does Haiti need the most right now?

CARLO: First of all, we need to have a functional government. That's something we do not have at this point. And we need to have a judicial system in place. What if you have a problem, you can go somewhere and have it resolved instead of taking it on your own hand. And third, I think we need the medical system to be updated.

Port-au-Prince by itself was a city built for 50,000 people. Now you have three million people there. I mean, it's (unintelligible) to live there. Something has to be done to that level to sort of disperse the Haitians in the outside of the country and have some sort of development on the outskirt of Haiti in order to keep them outside. And those are the levels that I think we need to touch if we really want to have rebuild Haiti.

CONAN: Carlo, thanks very much for the call. Appreciate it.

CARLO: I thank you.

CONAN: And he's got a point. If there is not a functional government, it's going to be difficult no matter what you do.

Ms. WUCKER: Absolutely. I think that we've got to think about how the government is going to be brought back together. I think what you can do with the at the outset is to start engaging on a much more micro level - Haitian civil society, neighborhoods, communities.

There's been a lot of talk about the delivery of aid supplies and worries over security. And I've heard stories about some other reconstruction efforts in Haiti where the donors have actually gone in and organized the community ahead of time. Yele Haiti has talked about doing this, where it's been organized ahead of time. They get people in the community who've taken a stake in making sure that things get distributed safely. And you don't have that kind of riots and things that the national teams are afraid of.

I think that's the kind of organization on a very micro level that you start with. And obviously on the broader national level, you need the judicial system obviously. I think you need a lot of technical assistance. But I think, also, this key point of letting Haitians decide once they've got the institutions. If they don't think they're going to be able to decide anyway, then what's the point of making sure that these institutions are done right?

CONAN: Then they don't have a stake in it.

Ms. WUCKER: Exactly.

CONAN: Right. You mentioned a foundation, and there's also been questions about the transparency and accountability in that foundation.

Ms. WUCKER: I bet there would be about a lot of foundations as well. And I think that that pressure, that accountability is good. I think it's important that those questions be asked of everyone. So maybe it's a teaching moment.

CONAN: A teachable moment. All right, those are generally not happy for the people getting the lessons. Nevertheless, the as you look at the situation, I mean, for example, a lot of people are now leaving places like Port-au-Prince and moving back to the countryside because the city simply can't house them, can't feed them, can't they can't get clean water. Nevertheless, they're putting these they're sort of moving the difficulty back to their home villages. And distributing supplies, well, it has to be done by helicopter at the moment because the roads are so bad. I mean, these problems mount up one after another.

Ms. WUCKER: Absolutely. And this question of where people are going is actually quite concerning too. The Dominican Republic next door has been watching this carefully because many Haitians do go over to the Dominican Republic. I've written about this in my book, "Why the Cocks Fight" which talks about the difficult relationship between the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

And I think it's very important to look at the role of the Dominican Republic in the situation, realizing that they're going to be suffering from some of the population pressure. But they also have a lot of engineers, a lot of doctors, a lot of other people who could be involved in helping to rebuild. And I think that that's a very important ingredient to include.

CONAN: Yet, as you know better than I, these are very different cultures and there is a great deal of rivalry there.

Ms. WUCKER: Well, as in any close siblings. And, in fact, there was a very sad situation recently where two Dominican aid workers went in and were killed. And then the Dominican Republic had offered soldiers as part of the U.N. mission, and the immediate response was, no, that's impossible.

CONAN: Anybody but them.

Ms. WUCKER: Anybody but them. But at the same time, there is a lot of caring. You know, Dominican Republic had two days of national mourning. And there were a lot of ties between the two countries. And I think, you know, Dominicans care very, very deeply about the human side of this crisis.

CONAN: This from Angie(ph) in Jacksonville, Florida. And I hope I'm pronouncing the name correctly. She says: You are so right. Haitians should have the largest say, however, small contract should be appropriated to Haitians to do the job.

Ms. WUCKER: Absolutely. Absolutely. You know, it's amazing when the images you hear you see the talk, you hear about Haiti as, oh, poor Haiti, so desperate, so this - I'm not going to repeat more of it - when you don't get the sense of the resilience of the Haitian people, the amazing art that comes out of the country, the huge, huge cadres of Haitian professionals, of doctors, of lawyers, of all kinds of very, very successful people who've gone abroad.

And the fact that Haiti, this slave republic was able to defeat Napoleon was something you never ever would have thought of. And Haiti really isn't given enough credit for that. And I think it is. That's - we need to think about how strong Haitians are and how capable they are and use that energy and skill.

CONAN: And how resilient they are. As you've said, they've suffered any number of disasters and any sequence of bad governments over the past century or so. Nevertheless, at this point, what gives you optimism about Haiti?

Ms. WUCKER: The Haitian people, definitely what Haiti has accomplished in the past. And also there's a sense among many Haitians I've heard from and also people who love Haiti that this might be a chance for a new beginning. Because if you don't have optimism, then what's the point?

CONAN: Michele Wucker, the executive director of the World Policy Institute, is with us on the Opinion Page this week. Her article called "Let the Haitians Take the Lead" appeared in the Foreign Policy Web site on January 19th. There's a link to it on our Web site at npr.org, click on TALK OF THE NATION.

This is TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

And let's get this is Gamaf(ph). Help me pronounce your name, would you? Hello?

GAMALIO(ph) (Caller): Hello?

CONAN: Yes. Help me pronounce your name, would you?

GAMALIO: It's Gamalio, Gamalio.

CONAN: Gamalio is on the line with us from Boston. Now I can say it. Go ahead please.

GAMALIO: Okay. Yeah. My it's more than opinion on whether or not foreign organizations should get involved in rebuilding Haiti. I think we have technical knowledge that is required to rebuild Haiti, and I don't think Haitians necessarily have the expertise to do that. However, bringing in only foreign organizations the problem is they will help you rebuild, but when they are done, they will go back to their own countries and they will need Haitians will have the acquired expertise. So because of that, we need to have both Haitians and international organizations involved in the rebuilding of the country so that they can pass on the knowledge and the how to, you know, how to do it prior to leaving the country. And I think this would be a real process which may actually end up helping the country in so many ways.

CONAN: Michele Wucker, in your piece you were saying outside organizations should take care to hire Haitians, not just bring in expensive outside consultants.

GAMALIO: Yes. I'm looking at it more than hire Haitians. You have a process that requires that people understand the underpinning of society in how it works and how to organize rebuilding a society. If they are involved at the highest level of decision making, it will be possible for them to learn how it actually works. And then when these organizations are rebuilding, you will need people able to maintain the system that they are rebuilding in Haiti.

CONAN: Michele Wucker?

Ms. WUCKER: That's such a good point. And I would love to see this process as a way to develop skills in Haitian in Haiti and among Haitians. You may not have the educational system that's there to develop that, but perhaps we could have apprenticeships as part of the various parts of rebuilding and find ways of making sure that those skills, that - the international technicians and other people bring in -stay in Haiti.

CONAN: Gamalio, thanks very much for the call. Appreciate it.

GAMALIO: You're welcome.

CONAN: Here's an email that we got from John(ph) in Birmingham, Alabama. The idea of putting Haiti under a U.N. mandate status in order to rebuild it has been bandied about. Your thoughts, maybe the General McArthur model used as in post-World War II Japan might work better. Haiti is and has been a complete failure as a viable state.

Ms. WUCKER: I think that a U.N. mandate of the top force in Haiti would be a grave mistake. I think that it would counteract the importance of Haiti being able to rebuild its government, of empowering its citizens, of getting a civil society dialogue going. That said, the U.N. as a very strong partner supporting Haiti is absolutely essential. And I think that that's the organization that should do it as opposed to, you know, the United States being in charge or any other country. A group of international countries coming together and taking responsibility for supporting Haiti in its aspirations is what we need to be looking at.

CONAN: Just giving Haitians money?

Ms. WUCKER: No, I think that there's accountability on all sides. I think a conversation between Haitians, some of the international aid organizations who are helping with things and requiring the accountability of international organizations as well.

CONAN: Let's see if we can get one more caller in. This is Barnaby. Barnaby with us from Massachusetts.

BARNABY (Caller): Yes. Thank you for (unintelligible) in your (unintelligible). Yes, I would say that I think the Haitian government, they really, like, they (unintelligible) anymore how to live. They have to it's like going to school, going back. It's almost like a learning process to know how to lead a country because they've been fooling themselves in thinking that they were fooling people so long that, you know, things turned the way they are. Not the earthquake, of course, but the country was like, you know, a mess before that. So and there are some models that worked in Africa and some places of Africa that could also work in Haiti, you know?

CONAN: Give me an example.

BARNABY: Excuse me?

CONAN: Give us an example.

BARNABY: Like the last country where President Obama went, you know, the country where, like, you know, we have a rising economy and stuff like that. I just forgot the country. You know, he didn't go his country with that country because it was a model of (unintelligible). So I think, you know, some of those things that make those countries become successful before they were not. Now...

CONAN: Okay.

BARNABY: ... that could work in Haiti, too.

CONAN: Okay, let's get a response from Michele Wucker.

Ms. WUCKER: I think that we should engage those countries that have examples of things that have been done right and make them part of the conversation, but not in telling Haiti what to do, but in giving Haiti some options.

CONAN: Michele Wucker joined us today in our bureau in New York. We're broadcasting the show from here today. She's executive director of the World Policy Institute. Her article called "Let the Haitians Take the Lead," appeared on the foreign policy Web site on January 19th. Thanks very much for being with us today.

Ms. WUCKER: Thank you.

CONAN: We'll have even more on the rebuilding effort tomorrow. Join us for a longer conversation about what's next for Haiti.

This is TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News. I'm Neal Conan in New York.

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