Sunday, October 30, 2005

Aftermath of Hurricane Stan

There are two stories today which relate to the aftermath of Hurricane Stan.

First, Tony Saca visited California this week. According to news reports, Saca is advocating for an extension of Temporary Protected Status ("TPS") to Salvadorans living illegally in the US as a result of Hurricane Stan. TPS allows illegal aliens to remain in the country without being deported when their home country is suffering from war or natural disaster. More than 200,000 Salvadorans already remain in the US under TPS as a result of the 2001 earthquakes.

Second, the AP notes the growing trend among donors of relief aid to Central America to avoid funneling aid through the government. Donors perceive government aid distribution as inefficient and corrupt:

The two storms that slammed Central America brought into sharp focus a trend among U.S.-based development organizations and Hispanic community groups. When disaster strikes, the smart help goes directly to faith-based and other community organizations in the affected countries.

The approach gained popularity after Hurricane Mitch, the 1998 storm that killed at least 9,000 Central Americans and left in its path widespread allegations of government corruption and misuse of international aid given to help the recovery.

During reconstruction in El Salvador [following Mitch], donors derided the governing National Republican Alliance party for distributing clothes with party logos to victims. In Guatemala, developers hired by the government allegedly failed to do the work, leaving thousands homeless.

Officials in those countries have repeatedly denied allegations of corrupt handling of international aid. Those assurances, however, have not swayed U.S. aid groups this hurricane season, one of the worst on record.

Philanthropy experts say changing donation practices involving Latin America are part of a worldwide trend, as scandals like the U.N. oil-for-food debacle in Iraq and numerous problems with food donations to Africa have made donors more skeptical of governments.

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