by Julie Lévesque
Global Research, June 28, 2012
As some 500 000 Haitians still live in displaced camps, five star hotels are being built amid shanty towns.
It is worth noting that Western governments have insisted that aid money for Haiti be given to NGOs and foundations rather than to the Haitian government, which they consider to be "corrupt".
Royal Oasis hotel. More pictures at http://www.oasishaiti.com/
Royal Oasis Infomercial
The “10-story building […] will include an art gallery, three restaurants, a commercial bank and high-end shops. Construction on the Royal Oasis began before the earthquake and is expected to finish by the end of the year.” The earthquake was therefore a blessing for the hotel promoter and contractors, bringing $2 million dollars originally raised to “go directly to supplying these material needs [food, water, shelter, first-aid supplies]” (see add below). Among the companies involved in the construction of the Royal Oasis two are Haitian, one is Canadian (Montreal) and the other American (Miami).
Foreign Aid: Who Benefits?
According to [U.S] government figures, 1,537 contracts had been awarded [to U.S. Companies] for a total of $204,604,670, as of last fall. Only 23 of the contracts went to Haitian companies, totaling $4,841,426. (Marjorie Valbrun, Haitian firms few and far between on reconstruction rosters, iWatch News, January 11, 2012.)
The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a division of the World Bank, has also invested $7.5 million in the project, claiming it will “create employment, generate business opportunities for small businesses and promote sustainable development.” Since 2006, $68.6 millions have been invested by IFC in the Haitian private sector. Despite those investments, the per capita GDP in Haiti has seen very little improvement during that period. There is a fine line between slavery and an average $2 a day salary, which ousted president Jean Bertrand Aristide wanted to abolish prior to his overthrow in a US-French-Canadian sponsored Coup d'Etat. (La Société Financière Internationale (IFC) investit dans un projet ..., IFC, June 30, 2010.)
"The good news" is that the project will create jobs for Haitians. The Oasis foundation has also created a program to train workers for the tourism industry. The project promoter, Jerry Tardieu told AP “the new hotels will help more people get out of the camps by giving them jobs to pay for rent on homes being rehabilitated by government and non-profit organizations.” He says 600 people have been employed for the hotel’s construction and once open and running, 250 to 300 new jobs will be created. On top of the $2 million invested in the hotel, a modest grant of $264,000 goes to the “Oasis Hotel’s nonprofit arm, the Oasis Foundation [...] bolstering the hospitality sector by reopening l’École Hôtelière Haitienne (the Haiti Hotel School) [...] (Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, Programs: Oasis). Basically those funds are used to make comfortable hotel rooms, lounges and cafes for foreigners and "train Haitians to serve them " in a congenial five star environment.
While, Haiti was lacking in hotel rooms in the wake of the earthquake and job creation is a key to poverty reduction, a majority of the population still live in makeshift shelters of cardboard, scrap metal and old bed sheets. People struggle to have water to drink and food on their table — and in many cases they do not have a table. Meanwhile, the construction of luxury hotels for foreigners is a number one priority, in comparison to "housing for the locals".
Tourism Minister Stephanie B. Villedrouin “said all of those  hotel rooms [destroyed in the earthquake] will have been replaced by the end of the year [...] Villedrouin said Port-au-Prince officially has a 60 percent occupancy rate but many of the hotels are too rustic for international travelers [including the NGO, World Bank and USAID staff on mission to Haiti]."(AP, op cit, emphasis added)
The "international travelers" are the unspoken victims of rudimentary and rustic hotel accomodation when on mission to Haiti, according to Mariott's executive Alejandro Acevedo. "Marriott International, ...is building a $45 million, 174-room hotel [in Haiti] in partnership with mobile phone company Digicel Group." Marriott's Acevedo complained that "even he had to share a room with his boss on a recent visit because of the dearth of hotel space.”
Camp near Royal Oasis (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
Anastasia Moloney, Haiti's homeless face housing lottery, AlertNet, February 23, 2012.)
While several hotels are being built to provide "room and board" for potential foreign investors, very few homes are being built for locals and “the vast majority of construction has been temporary shelters with a life span between two, maximum five years”, according to Gerardo Ducos from Amnesty International. (AlertNet, op. cit.)
In order to shut down the Champ de Mars camp, which would be tantamount to the expulsion of more than 17,000 people, a controversial Haitian government program funded by Canada has been offering 500$ to dwellers who leave and find a home elsewhere. In practice this project leads to the de facto expropriation of slum dwellers in high value central downtown area of Port-au-Prince. While the amount is enough to pay the rent for a year, Ducos wonders: “What happens to the people when their rent money runs out in a year?” (Ibid.).