While I am not an expert on Haitian history, it seems that we may be providing a poverty-stricken nation with aid a bit after the fact. Was it not the US that helped France enforce an embargo and then heavy taxation ("reparations") against Haiti for almost two centuries, that led to economic desperation and denudation of natural resources upon which their economy depended? It is no wonder that the border between Haiti and D.R. shows trees only on one side (check googlemaps), and that the questionably constructed buildings in Port-au-Prince are crumbling under very well expected earthquakes. See http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/
for instance. Excerpt: "In 1825, crippled by the U.S.-led international embargo that was enforced by French warships, Haiti agreed to pay France 150 million francs in compensation for the lost "property" — including slaves — of French plantation owners. By comparison, France sold the United States its immensely larger Louisiana Territory in 1803 for just 60 million francs. The amount for Haiti was later lowered to 90 million gold francs. Haiti did not finish paying the debilitating debt — which was swollen by massive interest payments to French and American banks — until 1947." Could this be true? Do they reap now what we sowed then, even as late as the 1990's? Perhaps our historians can shed some light? Meanwhile, we really need to help Haiti recover the production of the ecosystem goods and services that they need to support their economy. We take what we have here (forests, productive wetlands, fertile soil, diverse and functional ecosystems, etc.) for granted, but once they are gone, these services are very costly to replace artificially (see papers by Bob Costanza et al.). This should serve as a lesson for the rest of us, by the way. Hopefully, our aid can be used for Haiti to restore the continuing ecosystem functions that provide clean water, good soil, and all the other critical services provided by the ecosystem that have been stripped away in the last couple of centuries.