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United States and France Ask Haitians for Patience Eight Months After the Earthquake

By Dialogo
September 23, 2010

Slightly more than eight months after the earthquake that devastated Haiti, the United States and France asked the country’s inhabitants for patience with the slow pace of rebuilding.

“Those who expect progress immediately are unrealistic and doing a disservice to the many people who are working so hard,” U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said at a meeting in New York on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly.

The Haitians “need us,” Clinton emphasized, to “translate our good intentions to real concrete progress on the ground.”

“It seems to some people that this is going slowly, this rebuilding,” French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner admitted.

“Some people are surprised that with so much money collected, there isn’t tangible progress. But they don’t have an idea of the immensity of the disaster,” he added.

“There was a lot of money, a lot of things were done, but this can’t be immediately seen,” he explained.

The United States is by far the largest donor to Haiti, with a commitment to spend 1.15 billion dollars. France is also in the first rank, with a promise of 326 million euros (around 410 million dollars).

Both foreign ministers had met with the Haitian prime minister, Jean-Max Bellerive, who subsequently declared his concern about “the rhythm and the importance of what we’re doing.”

Brazil, the Latin American country that leads the coordination of the United Nations military effort (Minustah) in Haiti, reiterated for its part that putting the international aid to use is Haiti’s responsibility.

“The government of Haiti has the last word; Haiti is a sovereign country, not a collection of projects,” Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim said at a press conference.

“Evidently, the earthquake attracted a great deal of attention from the world, but the subject is losing importance in public opinion, and it was very important to maintain our commitment to and our relationship with Haiti” through this meeting in New York, he added.