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Haitian director accuses U.S. government of corruption

Carla St.Louis | 4/3/2014, 9 a.m.

While in town, filmmaker Raoul Peck discussed the politics of representation through visual media to a group of students at Florida International University (FIU).

Peck answered questions about his controversial documentary, Fatal Assistance, that alleges the majority of donated funds to Haiti are being used to pay United States officials. He referred to the entire charade as a “form of misrepresentation.”

“When less than 10 percent of the money that was donated as aid goes into your hand, you should ask where the 90 percent is going,” he reasoned. “In this country, we have a very special thing called lobbying and it’s a form of corruption, yet the U.S. always highlights Haitian corruption.”

Peck also discussed how Fatal Assistance is helping to explain Haiti's reconstruction efforts, a process that's stalled due to differing, conflicting and complex agendas.

“The problem is fundamentally the structure of the Haitian government,” said Peck. “They confront the same problem but deal with it differently. It's not so much the individuals, and it's not that the government is corrupt.”

Peck shared an example of the depths of US-approved corruption when discussing a power play between former U.S. president Bill Clinton and United States Secretary of State John Kerry.

“I couldn’t understand what had changed until I realized it’s a power play between John Kerry and Bill Clinton,” he said. “Kerry felt the money wasn't being distributed to his constituents and they weren't getting contracts. At the end of the day, donating money to Haiti is not about giving.”

The director also offered suggestions for rebuilding Haiti. He said the monumental effort needs to be done by the Haitian diaspora that's made up of Haitian emigrants, exiles and people of Haitian lineage as opposed to foreigners.

“We would be better off rebuilding our country with less interference,” he said. “The Haitian diaspora needs to get together, analyze, think and find new solutions in a very humble way. Don’t think that just because you studied in a university you know it all.”

“Haitians need your intelligence, but listen to them first because it's about them not you,” he said. “You are privileged; make a link with them.”

Peck also spoke on the importance of telenovela-type shows, a limited-run serial drama that's extremely popular in Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa. He said they allow new directors and actors to grow in their creative experience.

The lecture series later included a pre-screening reception and screening of Fatal Assistance at O Cinema located at 9806 NE 2nd Avenue in Miami Shores.

The event was presented by the Latin American and Caribbean Center in partnership with The Green Family Foundation.