The little reported highlight of the March donor conference at the United Nations was the part about what Haitians in Haiti want. I checked. Media coverage focused on the billions donated, doubts about whether pledges will be kept and how to track all that money. Very little ink went into broadcasting what a sample of 1,750 Haitians told donors they want. And it wasn’t just dignity and respect.
I don’t mean to be flip but the few (seriously, like, three) articles which even mention former Haitian journalist and UN spokesperson Michele Montas’ presentation of survey results focused on airy-fairy demands for inclusion, dignity and respect. Why the basic prerequisites for healthy human existence is presented as news, I haven’t a clue. But while businessmen are understood to want tangibles like money, property and ownership the poor are frequently reported by others to want some existential reward–like they can eat inclusion, dignity and respect. The appropriate and more telling question, in keeping with a political and not philosophical discussion, is: what tangibles did the Haitian people demand?