Former U.S. President Bill Clinton’s “apology” to the Haitian public for what he said were wrong decisions by his administration on its aid policy for the poor Caribbean country is very significant, according to academics and aid officials, IRIN reports.
“I think it’s hugely significant. It’s very rare that a former president will apologize for anything he did,” said Mark Weisbrot, co-director the Center for Economic Policy Research.
“It was mistake… I was a party to … I have to live everyday with the consequences of the lost capacity to produce a rice crop in Haiti to feed those people, because of what I did – nobody else,” Clinton was quoted by IRIN as saying during a March 10 testimony before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Clinton was referring to his administration’s part in exporting subsidized food items to Haiti, the news agency explains. He reiterated this regret during the March 31 Haiti donors’ conference in New York, where he also pledged to help promote Haiti’s self-sufficiency.
“I think it’s a huge opening,” said Neil Watkins, Action Aid USA’s director of policy and campaigns, “If nothing else, he has cast a spotlight on the urgent need for a change in US policy … which has severely undermined local production in Haiti. We can help Haiti feed itself by making how we provide food assistance more flexible, which will help the country recover and rebuild in the long term.”