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Politics and Aid Intermingle in Haiti’s Recovery

July 12, 2010 at 12:00 AM EDT
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Margaret Warner talks with Ray Suarez, who has returned to Haiti six months after a devastating earthquake.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Margaret Warner talked with Ray right after he sent that report.

MARGARET WARNER: Hey, Ray, it’s good to see you. That was quite bleak picture you painted there. What’s the major roadblock to get reconstruction going faster?

RAY SUAREZ: Well, first they had to have a plan. Then they had to have institutions that could handle a gush of billions of dollars that is pledged over two years.

There are hold-ups all along the chain from the national capitals that have pledged the money to the intermediaries like the world bank to the government here.

So right now it seems that money has been damning up behind some of these blocks but now that there is an institutional setting, a commission set up by Bill Clinton and the prime minister, Jean-Max Bellerive, and now there are actual plans and people ready to get to work, money will start to flow more easily, more readily, and people will really start to see the work on the ground moving ahead more quickly.

MARGARET WARNER: Now, you were there six months ago. Any bright spots you see when you compare the two pictures?

RAY SUAREZ: Absolutely. People who are in need of medical care are getting it much more reliably than they were before.

Water is being delivered to all the camps almost all of the time. So people have a steadier and more reliable supply of water than they did before the earthquake.

And now Haitian school kids are heading back to temporary schools all around the city. They were out of school for months and that was one of the major complaints of the people who were homeless. Not get me out of this tent, but help me get a job and help me get my kids back to school.

MARGARET WARNER: And very briefly, you’re going to be there all week. What are we going to hear from you the rest of the week?

RAY SUAREZ: Well tomorrow night we’ll have an interview with the Haitian president, Preval. Later on in the week we’ll have reports on the efforts by the international community to get prosthesis for the thousands of amputees here in Port-au-Prince. And then another report on mental health services, which were already severely lacking before the earthquake but now with all the trauma and the stress and the dislocation, very much needed here in this capital.

MARGARET WARNER: Well, we’ll look forward to it, Ray. Thanks, take care.

RAY SUAREZ: Good to talk to you, Margaret.