BY MIKE SULLIVAN
As a freelance writer from Bangkok, I travelled to Haiti on a dark day in May of 2016, six years after the earthquake. I agreed to meet Haitian activist and lawyer Jameson Henry at the Royal Oasis Hotel in Port-au-Prince. I usually don’t travel half way around the world on a lark. Why couldn’t we conduct business over the phone? I asked him. No, no, no, he told me, I don’t want the secret getting out. The promise of a unique story line involving Bill and Hillary Clinton’s cold, calculated act of looting Haiti of its wealth and resources perked my interest. Jameson’s phone call to my office in Bangkok revealed yet another unexpected surprise. The truth behind the looting had something to do with a memo written by Chelsea Clinton.
Instantly intrigued, I hopped on a plane, arriving in Haiti late in the afternoon a day and a half later. The following morning I rode in the back seat of a taxi heading for my 9 o’clock meeting. Half way there, my cell phone rang. I picked up the call. It was Jameson. He apologised. He was running late. Could I wait for him in the hotel lobby? He promised not to be long. I told him no problem and hung up.
The moment I stepped off the plane at the airport in Tabarre, all my feelings about Haiti surfaced in a dark cloud of doubt and suspicion. I was surprised by what I saw and at the same time disturbed. Through the open window of the taxi, the sight of poverty and devastation appeared everywhere, spreading like rain across the land. The closer I got to the outskirts of Port-au-Prince my writer’s scepticism seized control. My throat felt dry, my breath laboured heavily, burdened by the realisation that things here on the island were not as they seemed.
Row after row of blue, tented settlements caught my eye. Beyond the tents frail women dressed in ragged strips of cloth toiled at campfires, boiling water, cooking meals, some washing clothes. At sunset the shadows of children playing kickball flickered like naked branches across the hot, dry ground. It was a day where the common dream of peace and prosperity seemed to clash violently with life’s harsh realities. On an island awash in a sea of misery and desolation, I was to rely on a simple truth I’d learned early on in life. The biggest threat to people came from other people. Trying not to appear paranoid, but acting vigilant, I realised I needed to be careful here. I had to watch out, look around, and approach others cautiously…even Jameson Henry, whom I’d never met. Coming from a large, metropolitan city like Bangkok, I was conditioned to spot danger lurking in the most unlikely places.
At the hotel I paid the driver and got out. Rarely, in such a posh area would I be in jeopardy. Nonetheless, I scanned the grounds quickly to make sure. When I was certain the area was safe, I saw the driver disappear down the driveway and began taking pictures of the hotel with my I-Phone. In stark contrast to the tented, earthquake-ravaged settlements beyond the city, I noticed the hotel’s bright, up-scale, multi-coloured façade. It consisted of dazzling pinks, fading to lime greens and sunny yellows. The hotel, flanked by rows of tropical flowers, lay hidden among the shadows of a patrol of towering palm trees. The lobby inside was impeccable, a vast circular area polished by high gloss tile floors –and more palms trees in miniature –and more flowers.
Near the front desk I heard young, attractive Haitian desk clerks spreading the good news about an array of upscale amenities. Free Wifi, Free Parking, Free Breakfast, Free Airport Transport, Spa Services. I had done my research. I knew the hotel’s history before coming here. The two million dollar Royal Oasis was built from the deep pockets of elite corporatists. The cash flowed in on a wave of philanthropic virtue concealed by esoteric business deals and lukewarm public knowledge. It was indeed a rich man’s palace –and all for the modest price of only $200 dollars per night.
I walked to the bank of elevators on my right. Gleaming metal doors opened. I rode the car to the second floor, hoping to find a maid who would allow me a peek inside one of the lavishly decorated rooms. As a writer living from one story to another, there was no way I could afford to stay here even for one night. This was prime-time real estate for the rich and famous.
Elite business professionals dressed in black suits passed by me in the hall. They seemed in a rush to get downstairs, heading for a trade conference I had noticed posted on a sign as I entered the hotel. These men and women were destined to achieve fame and fortune in the high-powered world of commerce. Sort of like the Clintons in one way, but remarkably unlike them in another. Mountains of evidence revealed Bill and Hillary’s business plan had nothing to do with selling a product or service. They sold political favours for access to government services for fees amounting to millions of dollars. The group I’d passed in the hall was unlike the Clintons. They undoubtedly sold tangible, top of the line products. My guess was automobiles, furniture, toasters, irons, car wax, inflatable rubber Zodiacs, and foods like grain and beans and rice –products vital to our survival here on planet earth. Their products were vastly different from what the Clinton’s sell.
I found a Haitian maid at the end of the hall. The door was open. She allowed me a quick peek inside. I was surprised to see such elegance. A living room opened to an attached bedroom with a king-sized bed. Seascapes lined the walls. Everything was arranged painstakingly after hours of careful thought to add to the aqua-coloured ambiance. I took pictures. I told the maid I was writing a travel article. Eventually, I poked my head into another room. It was a gleaming white kitchen with table and chairs. The bathroom was tucked inside a domed alcove down the hall. I didn’t stay long. I handed the maid a few dollars. She bowed as she looked at me and her face flushed. I left a moment later.
Downstairs, I sat in a cushion chair waiting for Jameson. My earlier obsession about being safe here on the island had suddenly disappeared. I had other places to go near the settlements on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince and people to meet later on, so I would keep a watchful eye. As I sat relaxing in the chair, uniformed attendants scooted in and out of the front door, hauling luggage in and out of the building while the front desk swelled with customers checking into the hotel. It was 9:30 am. A fleet of vans and sleek dark sedans were parked out front. A group of affluent young professionals crowded into the vehicles. I discovered they were here to tour the textile factory built after the earthquake on the north side of the island.
In time, a stout, muscular man in glasses, a dark suit and red tie entered the hotel. Spotting me in the middle of the lobby, he waved a hand and moved toward the bank of chairs where I sat. Jameson must have recognised me from the picture I emailed him before I left Bangkok. I stood up, we shook hands, and Jameson sat down in a chair beside me. He seemed harmless and instantly I felt comfortable around him. Wasting no time, he removed the memo written by Chelsea Clinton from his black briefcase.
It was a rather long, detailed analysis of the United Nation Development Program for Haiti –clearly showing Chelsea Clinton’s expertise in the area of development and foreign aid. Her lengthy commentary was filled with hard-edged facts, statistics, and expert on site analysis showing the UN relief effort in Haiti as being a total disaster. Chelsea was reviewing work development programs where US tax dollars were utilised. Her scathing comments were shocking for a young lady whose mother was US Secretary of State –a position where undue criticism of UN efforts toward disaster relief had to be politically correct and handled with kid-glove diplomacy.
But Chelsea was laying it all out for everyone to see. “The incompetence is mind numbing,” she told her parents in the memo. “The UN people I encountered were frequently out of touch…anachronistic in their thinking at best and arrogant and incompetent at worst. There is no accountability in the UN system or international humanitarian system.”
Chelsea cited instances where the Haitian people were organised in their settlements and wanted to help themselves. But the help wasn’t coming. Aid groups ignored their requests for food, flashlights, and well constructed latrines. T-shirts used to recognise authorised members allowed into the settlements were never sent. Money to pay for security inside the settlements was practically non-existent. Chelsea wrote, “The settlements’ governing bodies—as they shared with me—are beginning to experience UN/INGO (International Non-Governmental Organisation) fatigue given how often they articulate their needs, willingness to work—and how little is coming their way.”
Jameson skimmed through the pages. He stopped at a notation near the bottom of a page in the middle of the memo, and looked back at me. “Here, this is it…what I want you to write about… the reason for the disaster in Haiti. It’s here in one simple sentence –the deceit, the cunning, the systematic looting of my country.” I wasn’t sure I was following him. He looked at me, his forehead stitched in a frown. “You don’t see what I’m seeing, do you?”
I shook my head and looked closer. He pointed back at the memo. “See. Look. ‘Office of Special Envoy –i.e., you Dad –needs authority over the UN and all its myriad parts.’ ” He stabbed his right index finger at the sheet of paper. “Chelsea wrote to her father about taking control of the UN relief program. At the time I think Bill Clinton was marginally aware of what needed to be done, but this one, simple sentence convinced him to act. It was the green light he needed to completely take over.”
I nodded my head to let Jameson know I understood. What transpired was a clever power play by the Clintons. As US Secretary of State, Hillary flew into Haiti to make Bill head of the Haiti Relief Organisation. Now all the money donated from around the world flowed through him –a total of 13 billion dollars in relief aid. The stage was set for the looting of Haiti to begin.
FOR PART 2 – THE FINAL PART OF MIKE’S INVESTIGATION – CLICK HERE
Mike Sullivan’s writing credits include three thriller novels published by Eden Press, Santa Rosa, California. As a US ex-pat and freelance writer, Mike lives and works in Bangkok, Thailand. His novels Dead Girl Beach, Ransom Drop, and Eden2 are listed on Amazon. They can be acquired via clicking on this link here.