China Plans $4.7 Billion Renovation of Haitian Capital
by Cynthia R. Rush
Sept. 5 (EIRNS)—On Aug. 25, Ralph Youri Chevy, mayor of the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, formally accepted a $4.7 billion proposal from China’s Southwest Municipal Engineering Design and Research Institute (SMEDRIC), to renovate and rebuild that city, including its port, over the next three years, providing all the infrastructure required to modernize the capital and uplift its impoverished population. This nation of ten million, which shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic, has never recovered from the effects of the January 2010 earthquake that killed 250,000 people, injured tens of thousands more, and wiped out what little infrastructure existed.
Although financing for the renovation is not yet pinned down, journalist Georgeanne Nienaber noted in an Aug. 27 article in The Huffington Post that “China has made good on similar projects in its estimated trillion-dollar Silk Road initiative, not to mention 30 futuristic infrastructure projects in its own country. Perhaps the future has finally arrived for Haiti, and as a result, the Caribbean corridor will be transformed.” Telesur news agency reported Sept. 1 that the initial idea for the project was conceived of at the May 14-15 summit of the Belt and Road Initiative in Beijing.
Obama the Killer
The Chinese proposal stands in stark contrast to the criminal actions of the Obama Administration and allied “Western donors,” who rejected the proposals made by American statesman Lyndon LaRouche in February 2010, by which the U.S. would sign a 25-year bilateral treaty with the Haitian government to rebuild the nation, based on an emergency deployment of the Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and other military and civilian agencies with expertise in responding to natural disasters. The immediate priority at that time was to relocate to higher ground, the almost two million homeless earthquake victims stranded in Port-au-Prince, with the necessary medical and other services, before the arrival of the rainy season brought another wave of mass deaths.
During a Jan. 30, 2010 international webcast, LaRouche warned that “you cannot apply a band-aid to Haiti, because the objective is, if the country is going to be viable . . . you have to have a sovereign Haiti.” Haitians, he added, have been “subjected to all kinds of terrible history; . . . promised this, and betrayed, and promised that, and betrayed, and promised and betrayed. . . . So, it’s a model approach: we make a contract with the government, as a treaty agreement between the United States and Haiti, to assure the rebuilding of their country, in a form in which it will actually be a functioning country which can survive.”
Barack Obama took the path of betrayal. Reliable sources told EIR in late February 2010 that a group of American “old hands” on Haiti agreed with LaRouche’s proposals and presented them to Obama, who rejected them out of hand. After allowing a very short term deployment of the USACE and medical facilities such as the U.S.S. Comfort, he handed the relief effort over to an army of competing non-governmental organizations (NGOs), whose activities and corruption ensured there would be no recovery in Haiti. For years afterward, homeless citizens remained “housed” in precarious tents in the center of the capital, or sent back to live in unsafe structures damaged by the earthquake.
Given conditions on the ground, the cholera outbreak that occurred in October of that year was entirely predictable. To date, this water-borne disease has infected 800,000 Haitians, killing close to 10,000. The necessary sanitation infrastructure—sewage treatment and guarantee of safe drinking water—was never built, and every new hurricane or tropical storm hitting the island brings disease and destruction in its wake.
As National Public Radio reported July 17, Port-au-Prince is one of the largest cities in the world without a central sewage system. The majority of the capital’s three million residents use outhouses, and much of the waste ends up in canals, ditches, and other unsanitary dumping grounds where it can contaminate drinking water and spread disease. There is only one open-air sewage treatment plant in the entire country, located in Morne Cabrit, about an hour from downtown Port-au-Prince.
A New Capital
The renovation proposed by China’s Southwestern Municipal Engineering and Design Institute, which is part of a $30 billion package offered by China to develop all of Haiti, will address these problems. It is divided into six sub-projects, involving water and drainage works, road improvements, environmental protections, drainage and sanitation, a communications network, transportation, and reconstruction of the historic “old city” of Port-au-Prince.
According to Georgeanne Nienaber, drainage engineering will be primary, with flood interception trenches and rainwater runoff collection systems routed to rivers and the ocean. A water purification plant capable of handling 225,000 cubic meters per day will be built, to ensure a supply of safe drinking water. A new sewage plant will treat 18,000 cubic meters per day to “required standards and be discharged along the rivers and sea,” according to project engineers. A new gas-fired power station has a planned 2,000 MW output.
The renovation plan includes installing 450 public toilets, and implementing a public garbage collection system and waste landfills, which will accept 1,500 tons per day for domestic waste.
Nienaber reports that work is expected to begin in December on a variety of sanitation, power, communications, and other projects in the capital, for which 20,000 workers will have to be hired. A beautiful, optimistic video of the renovation project was released by the Haitian firm Bati Aiyti, which will be partnering with Chinese firms to complete the project, to create “a brilliant future” for the city, as the states.
Many other Caribbean nations are also looking forward to “a brilliant future” with China’s help. Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Barbados, Guyana, and Cuba are among the governments that have signed major agreements with the Chinese government, or Chinese state-sector companies or private entities, to build needed infrastructure.