Plots and Thoughts

Reasons Not to Help in Haiti

Posted in Musings, Observations by Captain Optimistic on February 4, 2010

I think what the 10 Baptists are accused of doing is wrong.  And the tragedy in Haiti is horrible.  But at the same time, this caught my eye:

Coq said that under Haiti’s legal system, there won’t be an open trial, but a judge will consider the evidence and could render a verdict in about three months.

Coq said a Haitian prosecutor told him the Americans were charged because they had the children in their possession. No one from the Haitian government could be reached immediately for comment.

Each kidnapping count carries a possible sentence of five to 15 years in prison. Each criminal association count has a potential sentence of three to nine years.

Haiti’s legal system is so backwards that anyone going in to help risks imprisonment or other punishment without a fair trial.

It provides a rather curious conundrum, one faced daily by people of immense bravery and compassion.  Women and Men who risk their lives to do human rights and aid work in hostile countries where their rights aren’t recognized.

While I don’t think we ought to refrain from helping in these instances, I believe they call out desperately for public shaming.  In a situation like this, while condemning the actions of the Baptists, we ought to with equal force and conviction condemn their legal system.

What do you think?

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4 Responses

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  1. prolepticlife said, on February 4, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    The truth about this whole mess is yet unknown. I’m guessing that this was a well-intentioned and compassionate effort that wasn’t thought through. I wrote an article recently about who and what was the best way to help Haiti in the long run. The Chalmers Center is doing a good work in training missionaries and relief workers and organizations in learning how to help without hurting.

    Too often we rush in to help and do more harm than good. No doubt much of the help was needed immediately, but at some point everyone needs to take a deep breath, think this through and figure out what is going to do Haiti the most good for the long term.

    Chalmers is holding a free webinar in a couple of weeks called “Helping Haiti without hurting” might be worth it for those wanting to get involved to check it out.

    I wrote and article about it here:

    • Captain Optimistic said, on February 4, 2010 at 7:32 pm

      That is a good point, the truth about the mess has yet to come out. For their sake, I hope it was a benign action, and the judge who will decide their fate in a closed trial agrees.

      I have a rather big issue with the idea of sending missionaries in to a crisis zone. That seems fairly predatory to me.

      That said, I think it wonderful you are taking a step back to analyze the rebuilding process that follows a disaster such as this. I worry though about some of the points you raise:

      The bottom line is the outsiders need to do everything they can to help quality Haitian leadership take the lead.

      How do you propose we do that?

  2. huzzah! said, on February 4, 2010 at 9:37 pm

    I think the thing is that, as people interested in helping Haitians, we need to be asking these question to the Haitians who are interested, and experienced at helping Haitians.

    If they can reach some sort of consensus, we can then follow their lead, in the best way to organize our aide in conjunction with the wants and needs of the Haitian government. But someone who is not from the area or an experienced expert in Haitian Studies could not even hope to know the best answer to this question because there are so many potential factors we are not even aware of.

    In short the best way to work with the Haitian leadership, is the same way the aide-providing Haitians are.

  3. Moe said, on February 10, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    I was listening to some panel on CSpan today and heard a very interesting idea, which they applied to Haiti.

    Perhaps the best way the world can help Haiti rebuild any kind of economy/society would be to take the foreign aid and relief money (not now! maybe in a year) and use it to ‘hire’ the Haitians to reforest their country. Fascinating idea. Applicable to countries where indiginous peoples have to turn to things like lumbering in order to make a living. Think the Amazon. Love this kind of outside the box thinking.

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