The citizens of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, gathered today to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the cataclysmic earthquake that struck the Haitian capital last year, killing an estimated 300,000 people, leaving thousands homeless and causing $8 billion to $14 billion in damage.
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, who is now the United Nations special envoy to Haiti and co-chair of an Interim Haiti Recovery Commission, responded from Port-au-Prince to widespread criticism that the international community’s efforts to help rebuild Haiti have achieved little in the past 12 months. Mr. Clinton says he was encouraged by the quickened pace of reconstruction in the final months of 2010.
One symbol of the speedier recovery, says Clinton, is the recent signing of an investment agreement between the Haitian government and South Korean garment manufacturer Sae-A, which plans to build a $78 million plant in Haiti that will create 20,000 and make it the largest private sector employer in the country. Outgoing Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive also commented on the deal, saying the ineptitude of the international relief efforts highlight the need for private-sector investment: “This will help Haiti overcome dependence on aid … we need jobs,” Bellerive told reporters.