The irritating whine of quadbikes speeding past the restaurant drew angry glares from diners around and drowned out the waiter’s recounting of what was available on the menu that day. A few minutes later they were back, doing a lap of the streets around Petionville. Outside the restaurant there was an impressive display of expensive sports cars, with their owners standing proudly by.
Later the same cars sped past us and we saw them parked in a row outside the ruined remains of the Presidential palace, a stark contrast next to the rubble and the tents that still fill the public square of Champ de Mars. It brought home the reality that the top 1% of Haiti’s population controls 50% of the country’s wealth – while 80% of Haiti’s citizens live on less than two dollars per day.
Corruption is still a huge problem in Haiti, and is one of the reasons why funds have been delayed in reaching the country, with the US holding back from delivering on its pledges until the government is better established and represents an institution that can be trusted to deliver the funds to those who need it most. The perception of the country as corrupt has deterred many investors from seeing the potential in Haiti.
As with many cities there is often a visible contrast between rich and poor, and it struck me again as I looked from the sleek red sports car to the shabby USAID tarpaulins opposite and back again.Haitiis slowly rebuilding and reconstructing after the devastation of the earthquake, yet there remain deep root causes to be addressed in order to build a better future for the country.