The Great Haiti Humanitarian Aid Swindle
Book Summary The Great Haiti Humanitarian Aid Swindle is the inside story of how some of the world’s most respected humanitarian aid agencies have deceived and manipulated the overseas public regarding what is really happening in Haiti. Sometimes they’ve done it knowingly, sometimes through self-delusion, but always with the goal of collecting money from sympathetic donors and always by ignoring or burying data that would contradict their fantastic claims. Their greatest ally has been the mainstream press. Thirsting for sensational stories about hunger, suffering, and violence, the world’s most prestigious news agencies—the Associated Press (AP), Agence France-Presse (AFP), Reuters, CNN, CBS, The Guardian—have for decades uncritically repeated anything NGOs, UN agencies, or pseudo-researchers claim about Haiti. No vetting of data. No critical review. In the wake of January 2010 Haiti earthquake these exaggerations and lies erupted on a scale greater than ever before: apocalyptic disaster, machete wielding gangs with faces hidden behind bandannas battling in the streets for loot, dust covered earthquake survivors resurrected from concrete tombs, two million orphans and lost children, sexual predators and slave traders prowling the rubble-strewn slums of Port-au-Prince hunting the children down, marauding bands of armed men beating and raping women and children at will, and sprawling refugee camps infested with every kind of human affliction. The avalanche of exaggerations and outright lies precipitated a tsunami of sympathy and donations, the latter of which mostly disappeared into the coffers of aid agencies, pockets of consultants, flimflam experts, and the Haitian elite.
Schwartz’s writing style is clear and compelling storytelling – there is suspense about what fresh outrage has been done to truth and to Haitians, and what Schwartz delivers is always worse than the worst the reader could imagine.… Schwartz has many decades of scholarly and personal engagement with Haiti and lives on the island. He knows, and he cares. It shows. The book is well organized, well-written, meticulously researched, and of great interest to academics. It is shocking there’s no academic publisher for it, but Schwartz’s conclusions are scandalous. Maybe too scandalous? Anyone who considers themself a friend to Haiti or who has suspicions about the aid industry will want to read this book.
Justin Podur, Author of Haiti’s New Dictatorshp, Demands of the Dead and Empire’s Ally: Canada and the War in Afghanistan
…a great engaging read, with a bit dry humour and the reality that truth is much stranger than fiction. …. Though we shall never fix the bureaucracy, it is good to reflect with another that was there, and knows the truth. Most folks think we are exaggerating. ….it’s like ordering steak and being served tofu, yet they keep telling us its USDA PRIME.
Bill Vastine, Special adviser to the Interim Haiti Relief Commission
But the reader is also swept along by his sometimes entertaining, sometimes moving anecdotes and stories as well as a torrent of illuminating facts and figures, found on almost every one of Swindle’s 300 pages. Schwartz has exhaustively researched almost every assertion he makes so that the endnotes run for another 200 pages, and they are also fascinating reading…
Truth-telling is almost as difficult as truth-finding in Haiti, but Schwartz has managed to do both, at great personal risk and expense to himself. One only hopes that those who want to truly help Haiti, as well as Haitians themselves, overcome their naivete to recognize and appreciate the enormous value of “The Great Haiti Humanitarian Aid Swindle,” and use the book to reform, tame, or banish this reckless, unaccountable, injurious aid world with so many thieves, liars, and imposters posing as saviors and saints.
Haiti Liberte Kim Ives, Editor of Haiti Liberte, Director of Bitter Cane