Haiti won its independence 210 years ago, on the 1st of January 1804. It was the second Republic in the Americas, the first independent nation in Latin American and the Caribbean. At the end of February 2004, 200 years after Haiti won its independence, the US, France, and Canada removed its democratically elected President, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, for the second time. Elections of President Aristide were monitored and recognized as valid. Since the end of April 2004, Haiti has been under occupation by around 8,000 military and police personnel and about 700 to 1,000 civilian personnel. Shortly thereafter, the US built this monstrosity of an Embassy for tiny Haiti, along with 37 new houses for Embassy workers. This is in a country where homelessness-shantytowns has been a problem for decades. The Embassy was completed in early 2008. After the 2010 earthquake, homelessness became an even greater problem, but not for Embassy workers who got more homes.
New US Embassy in Port-au-Prince Haiti
Picture perfect homes in a gated community for US Embassy Personnel. They look toy but they are real. They and the Embassy were constructed to be resistant to earthquakes. The first 18 homes were finished in 2009. Construction of the next 19 homes started in late 2010 and was already finished in 2012.
Meanwhile, according to Amnesty International “More than three and a half years after the devastating January 2010 earthquake, an estimated 278,000 individuals are still living in makeshift camps. Nearly 30% of them are under risk of forced eviction“. http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/AMR36/020/2013/en/30f0f9bb-4d24-4ee7-ad5b-cf80d2378678/amr360202013en.pdf
Around 1,000 or more Haitians apparently were still living in the area of this concrete quarry, at the end of November 2013. According to Nancy Roc, the camp “Adoken”, situated at Delmas 33 has around a thousand homeless. http://nancyroc.com/component/k2/item/1742-les-remous-de-l-actualite-du-vendredi-22-novembre-2013.html This appears the same camp. You can count the shelters on the map and it is at least 1,000. Google maps shows them there still in February 2013 (see map below).
The country remains under UN occupation – a UN occupation which brought to it a deadly cholera outbreak. The imposing size of the New US Embassy speaks for itself — occupation writ large, possibly to protect the Windward Passage shipping routes, although no one knows for certain. Tiny Haiti only has less than 10 million people, which hardly warrants such an imposing edifice as the new US Embassy.
Of what proper use is an Embassy anyway? Replacing lost passports or perhaps notarizing documents for citizens, and language and cultural understanding for non-citizens. Saving its citizens in an emergency? Well, the US didn’t bother to save its own citizens in New Orleans, post-Katrina, for the longest. Rescue of US citizens in Haiti could be more prompt from Miami or the Dominican Republic, than it was in New Orleans, after Katrina.
There is no legitimate justification for such a huge Embassy for any country nor for so many personnel. Really, Haiti and the Dominican Republic could share a US (or any other) Embassy. They could probably even share with Jamaica. The size of the French Embassy (see below) is a good size for a tiny country like Haiti. It is more than large enough to carry out proper functions for an Embassy. Of course, as is so often the case for countries, despite so-called debt worries, in the US, by all appearances, the sky is the limit on how much money the government spends. There appears no concern for the tax-payer (or the debt). There is rarely, if ever, “government” money, but rather tax-payer money, something many seem to forget.
The US government opened its new earthquake proof embassy, near the airport, and away from the downtown central city of Port-au-Prince in 2008, well before the earthquake. By July of 2009, they had completed construction on 18 picture perfect single family homes in a gated community across from the Embassy for Embassy personnel. Construction was disrupted subsequent to the January 2010 earthquake but re-started by the end of 2010 and by March 2012 there were already 37 beautiful new homes, as seen on google maps.
US Embassy housing property before construction (May 10, 2008)
First Group of US Embassy Houses Finished by 7/27/2009
US Embassy House Gated Community finished shortly after the earthquake, as it appeared on 3/27/2012, while Haitians remain homeless.
As Haitians have been chased from many of their tent cities in public spaces and elsewhere, well over a thousand found a place to put their “tents”, which appear more bedsheets or makeshift shanties with bedsheet roofs, in the area of a concrete quarry.
Why did the USA need a new Embassy? It was built before the earthquake. The only reason can be that they wanted the Embassy closer to the airport and away from the poor slums. This is our own evaluation, but we found that at least one other person online concurs with it. The new Embassy is huge, especially for a tiny poor country of less than 10 million. Simply by its size it symbolizes power and authority. Is it any wonder that thousands tried to protest before it, at the end of November 2013?
Former US Embassy in downtown Port-au-Prince. What was wrong with it? It was replaced before the earthquake.
A Few Homes in the US Embassy Gated Community “Canne à Sucre”, with swimming pool. It is located across the street from the New Embassy so there is no commute!
A Few Haitian makeshift “homes” in the area of a concrete quarry – 1,000 plus Haitians apparently still in refuge there as of the end of November 2013.
Haitians living in or near quarry property, February 2013
The same area on 2/23/2010, a month and a half after the earthquake
US Embassy Facing the Gated Community for Embassy Personnel. What are the buildings in between? Why a furniture and appliance store, of course! And, considering that 30 plus years ago US Embassies had their own stores for shopping, we must wonder if there is a Wal-Mart like store within that Embassy? Is that why it’s so big? It could account for the size but doesn’t account for the 37 homes for embassy personnel.
Gated US Embassy Community next to rubble and tents
The entrance gate for the Embassy gated community
Former US Embassy Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Former US Embassy
Embassy of Canada Haiti
Former French Embassy Port-au-Prince, Haiti. It survived the earthquake but was deemed structurally unsound and is being replaced with what appears a very modest round structure that looks like a large kiosk. Although we are currently no lovers of the French government, this is a proper size for an Embassy. Do they go swimming in the US Embassy pool?