Monday, January 18, 2010

HAITI UPDATE: tHugo Chavez Claims US 'Occupying' Haiti; Wyclef Jean's Charity Questioned; US GI Finds Kin in Haiti; CNN Doc Pressed Into Service

(Haiti's Presidential Palace before the earthquake- Garrett Crawford)

(and immediately after the earthquake- hotindienews)

Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez took time from his busy schedule of nationalizing private retailers and rationing electricity to second-guess the American Aid efforts in Haiti.

"I read that 3,000 soldiers are arriving, Marines armed as if they were going to war. There is not a shortage of guns there, my God. Doctors, medicine, fuel, field hospitals, that's what the United States should send," Chavez said on his weekly television show. "They are occupying Haiti undercover."

Chavez said he did not wish to diminish the humanitarian effort made by the United States and was only questioning the need for so many troops.

Nooo....of course not. Seems kind of silly that the soldiers and Marines we're sending to Haiti should be armed. I mean it's not like there's no functioning government, the UN Peacekeepers assigned to the capital were killed in the earthquake or rampant gangs of machete-wielding looters might attack aid groups distributing supplies or anything.

French Cooperation Minister Alain Joyandet was also critical of the American Military presence in the devestated capital of Port Au Prince. 'This is about helping Haiti, not occupying Haiti' Joyandet said from the comfort of Brussels.

Speaking of imperialist American soldiers occupying Port-Au-Prince, I came across this story earlier of a Hatian immigrant who's now a staff sargeant with the 82nd Airborne Division now deployed to Haiti.

Quake survivors implore the soldiers in halting English for more food and water and for medical help. Florestal responds in Creole — and surprised Haitians waiting in lines slap him on the back and shake his hand.“They feel good that there are Haitians in the U.S. Army,” he said.
Amazingly, he found one of his cousins, who told him most of his family survived. Later, he called his mother, who had been crying and still unable to reach any relatives in Haiti from her Orlando, Florida, home. She was overjoyed to hear that her sister and brother were alive, he said.

ELSEWHERE: CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, was the only doctor remaining at a field hospital set up in Port-au-Prince after Belgian doctors and staff had evacuated over security concerns. Some 25 patients were left in the doctors care as the Belgian medical personnel departed and took their supplies with them. [Full disclosure, I'm no fan of CNN, but way to go Dr Gupta!- NANESB!]

The Smoking Gun, Associated Press, Better Business Bureau and others have brought into question the
spending practices of Wyclef Jean's Yele Haiti charity over the last few days. Art Taylor of the BBB's Wise Giving Alliance said that IRS tax returns for the Yele Haiti Foundation between 2005 and 2007 were filed on one day- August 10, 2009- which can be considered a red flag. Also, in 2007, the foundation's spending of $411,000 exceeded its revenues of $79,000. It's revenue in 2008 was en estimated $1.9 million. Jean had been imploring the public to raise funds for Yele Haiti this week by texting 'Yele' to 501501 to donate $5 for earthquake relief. Estimates are that he managed to raise nearly $2 million via text, however the foundation cannot collect until the phone bills come due for each respective donor. Foundation president Cliff Locke said that the organization is seeking bridge funding for between the time the funds were pledged via text message and when the donors pay their bills.

UPDATE: For whatever reason,
Goodsearch has Wyclef Jean's Yele Haiti featured under their 'Who's Doing Good?' section on the main page. Maybe this has been cleared up to a degree, or the organization will perform beyond expectations with the increased scrutiny. Or maybe Goodsearch is still unaware of the accusations leveled against Yele Haiti.

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