Boston, MA – The Haitian community applauds the decision of newly inaugurated Haitian President Michel Martelly to impose fees on phone calls and wire transfers in an effort to raise funds to support his anti-corruption and free elementary education programs.
In most US cities where there are large Haitian immigrant populations, the news that the Haitian government will start collecting fees on phone calls and wire transfers to modernize the banking system and make elementary schools available to all children, was received with a sense of relief.
However, a few organizations that have made a fortune in the remittance industry, such as Fonkoze, quickly sent out gruesome propaganda through social networks and email in an attempt to derail this endeavor that many consider as Haiti’s last chance to educate its population .
After more than 207 years of independence, Haiti remains the poorest country on the planet with an illiteracy rate near 85%. Haiti’s social and economic structure has failed because of corruption and greed of former government officials and so-called social entrepreneurial non-profit organizations.
During the past few decades, the international community and more specifically the US have poured billions of dollars into the non-profit organizations tanks instead of the Haitian government with hopes of curbing the state sponsored corruption. Nevertheless, the charitable and non-profit organizations used the funds in an out-of-control manner to pay luxury hotels, nice office buildings and first class travel. In a time where the private industry has taken conscience steps to use technology to reduce the cost of frequent flights, non-profit operatives travel in first class cabins enjoying the most expensive wine at taxpayers’ and donors’ expenses while the conditions in Haiti have continued to deteriorate.
As promised on the campaign trail, President Martelly decided to clean up corruption in Haiti in order to restore the country’s respect and dignity in the world economy. The illiterate condition of the people allows abusers to portray themselves as angels who come bearing food, gifts and under-developed techniques to manage misery through false hope using religion and backward mini-projects to justify wasted funds donated by individuals, private corporations and by the government of affluent countries.
Because Haiti’s Central Bank does not adequately use technology to manage Haiti’s monetary system and control the flow of money circulating back and forth from the US and other countries to Haiti, the country has become a safe heaven for drug dealers, money laundering and corrupted non-profit operatives.
Haiti is virtually controlled by the bad boys with dirty money and shady non-profits. Today, the Martelly team has a plan to fight back, to restore the rules of law and to bring back the trust that the government lost in the past due to corruption and alarming street violence caused by poverty. To get re-established and place Haiti in line with the world’s monetary system, the Martelly administration is beginning to clean up the banking system and bring in the necessary technology to implement it. In critical times like these, the people of this fragile nation are being called upon to make sacrifices and Haitians everywhere and particularly in Massachusetts are ready.
Pastor Wisler Simon said: “Who in the world with a drop of Haitian blood would put up a fight against a movement to educate young children?”
Katleen Felix, the US coordinator and program manager of Fonkoze- a bank involved in remittance in Haiti, fell short in her analysis of the current decision of the new administration to impose fees on phone calls and wire transfers to support the much needed improvements of Haiti’s banking system and to build schools to reduce the disturbing rate of illiteracy in the country. Mrs. Felix’s opposition to this government effort is very disappointing and makes the genuine objectives of Fonkoze questionable within the Haitian community.
Reasonable people can disagree and argue over an issue reasonably. Like many social activists and friends of Haiti, Mrs. Felix should be happy to see at last there is a plan to change the conditions of the Haitian people. Opposing such a wonderful government effort is a crime that would bother father Tijean, the founder of Fonkoze, in his grave.
Mrs. Felix is a clever woman, a great personality with a genuine character who is being pushed by Fonkoze in a dangerous path against the will of a deprived population in quest for a better future. Mrs. Felix claims she is fighting for the working class men and women who will have to contribute $5 when they send money to Haiti, a $5 that her organization will keep and $1.50 that the poor receiver will have to contribute to have free schools for their kids. Felix position is a double standard when considering that her Zafem.org- a branch of Fonkoze, takes one third of every donation that a working individual make to support efforts in Haiti to cover operations expenses. Furthermore, zafem.org charges $25 to a donor to manage a $50 development investment made to support the rebuilding process after the earthquake. Fonkoze also receives grants from other organizations and uses it to provide high interest loans to mom and pop businesses. The way Fonkoze is conducting business in Haiti is morally wrong for many people, although it is an acceptable, arrogantly profitable but legal business strategy.
The Haitian government is entitled to funds to pay for operating costs, just like Fonkoze and zafem.org, including the modest fee of $1.50 that is imposed in order to offer most essential services to the citizens of the country. A proud citizen pays taxes and fees to support state-sponsored projects.
Rony Regis, a sociologist and real estate agent said this morning, “I supported Manigat but I am planning to send more money to Haiti and call my friends more often to support modernization and education at home.”
On every Boston Haitian radio program today, working class Haitian-Americans have been calling in to express their approval of this government decision and commend the new administration for this action. A special prayer will be held tomorrow at the Mattapan Presbyterian Church to pray for President Martelly in support of the first action of his administration that will directly benefit the poor and sanitize the banking system.
Jacques Dady Jean is an Engineer, a Project Management Instructor and the President of the Mattapan/Greater Boston Technology Learning Center
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