CARACOL, HAITI — Bill and Hillary Clinton arrived in northern Haiti on Monday at the head of a delegation of foreign investors and a crowd of celebrities to showcase the centerpiece of the U.S. effort to help the country recover from the 2010 earthquake.
An all-star turnout was expected for the opening of the industrial park more than 100 miles from the slowly recovering quake zone. Actor Sean Penn, who has run his own aid effort in Haiti, was there, along with actor Ben Stiller, fashion designer Donna Karan and British business magnate Richard Branson.
Earlier, thousands of Haitians, many of them standing outside small roadside huts, waved at the secretary of state’s motorcade as it passed. She and other U.S. officials, including Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., toured a housing development for industrial park workers supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Hillary Clinton told a roomful of investors that she had made Haiti a priority when she became secretary of state.
“We had learned that supporting long-term prosperity in Haiti meant more than providing aid,” she said. “It required investments in infrastructure and the economy that would help the Haitian people achieve their own dreams.”
Some Haitians have a sharply different view. They said the Caracol Industrial Park does little more than replicate failed efforts from the past and contend it will benefit outsiders more than Haitians. They also worry it will harm some of the few pieces of undamaged environment that still exist.