Barbara Lee is in Haiti

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, is part of a congressional delegation visiting Haiti today to examine recovery efforts following the devastating Jan. 12 earthquake. The trip comes just a week before the Haiti Donors Conference, for which the international community will gather at the United Nations in New York City to make long-term commitments towards Haiti’s reconstruction.

“Now, more than ever, the people of Haiti require the coordinated and sustained commitment of the Untied States,” Lee said in a news release. “As Congress prepares to consider the Haiti supplemental appropriations bill, this trip will give us an opportunity to survey ongoing recovery efforts and to determine what resources are still needed, both in terms of short-term relief in advance of the rainy season as well as long-term rebuilding.”

Lee in Haiti 3-26-10 (1)

(Lee’s staff, which provided this photo, says the man with the guitar is blind and singing something to the effect of “I am blind, give me some food.”)

“The people of Haiti have been courageous and resilient throughout this tragedy. However, we must ensure that the United States and the international community are doing all we can to not simply ‘rebuild Haiti’ back to what it was pre-earthquake, but to empower Haitians to transform their country into one that can sustain itself and provide for the basic needs and rights of its people. ”

Lee in Haiti 3-26-10 (3)

The Congressional Black Caucus, which Lee chairs, this week held a forum on Haiti entitled, “The Road to Recovery;” attending were USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah, Haitian Ambassador to the U.S. Raymond Joseph, and numerous other Haiti experts discussing the historical significance of U.S.-Haiti relations as well as policy prescriptions and opportunities for rebuilding.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • RR, Uninvited Columnist

    One can always depend upon MS Lee to oversimplify even the most complex situation. I’m sure the “international community” will respond to her urgings as swiftly as it has dealt with Somalia, Rwanda, Darfur, Afghanistan, etc.

  • Elwood

    If we make a donation, will she stay there?

  • Jonah

    @ “RR, Uninvited Columnist,” the fact that you compare Haiti to Somalia, Rwanda, Darfur, and Afghanistan in the same breath shows how little you know about the actual situation. Just to oversimplify even more, how about we throw another post-conflict country (unlike Afghanistan, Sudan, etc., which obviously are in the middle of conflicts) into the over-generalization pot – let’s say Liberia, where a strong domestic leadership backed by the international community has led to significant security and socioeconomic improvements since the days of its civil war. Granted, improvements are gradual and at times painstakingly slow, but they’re there. In the Haitian context, I don’t think anyone (including Ms. Lee) is under the illusion that reconstruction will be “swift,” but it will be nonexistent without the sustained support of the international community.

  • Elwood

    Are you the dude who was eaten by a whale?

    Did it start with your head?

  • RR, Uninvited Columnist

    Liberia’s economy is improving at a respectable clip; before the big slump it was approx.7%. But Liberia is still in the Intensive Care Unit. Haiti, whose principal export is people, has a per capita GDP income of $1,300. The comparable figure for Liberia is $500.

  • Jonah

    I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make. I agree, Liberia is still very fragile, and was certainly poorer than Haiti on most development indicators. The only point I was trying to make is that, for all the screw ups that the int’l community has had in trying to promote development in post-conflict or post-disaster contexts (and there’ve been plenty), there are also examples of (still not consolidated) respectable results. Haiti, in fact, for all its problems, had five consecutive years of economic growth and security improvements prior to the earthquake. This was unprecedented. The earthquake, of course, has wiped out these improvements. But if the int’l community, led by Haitians in-country, commit themselves to the scale of rebuilding efforts that we saw in the relief efforts (which were the largest in history), then there is a chance, at least, of promoting sustainable reconstruction.