Haiti's response to earthquake displeases Haitian-Americans

In a poll that provides a unique &mdash and unprecedented — glimpse of how Haitians living in the U.S. have been affected by their home country's devastating earthquake, a clear majority of Haitian Americans have lost faith in the Haitian government's ability to rebuild the shattered nation.

The New America Media/Bendixen & Amandi poll, which surveyed Haitians living in South Florida and across the country, found 63 percent disapprove of how Haitian President René Préval's government has responded to the natural disaster. The unhappiness runs so deep that a majority of Haitian Americans support the United Nations and the international community taking over Haiti's day-to-day operations — at least until Haiti recovers from the catastrophe.

"It is very sad to say, it's very painful to say, because this country is an independent country," said Joseph Jeanty of Pompano Beach, who took part in the poll. "Nobody would like to see foreign forces."

Still, he added, "that would be much better than the Haitian government."

Préval said Thursday he knows people have criticized him, especially for keeping a low profile after the quake. But he said that as he toured Port-au-Prince the night of the earthquake and the next day, "A lot of people would have chosen to go and be filmed touring hospitals, to talk to the injured. . . . I chose to get to work and try to find help to deal with the catastrophe."

The poll, released Thursday and conducted Jan. 22-24 in both English and Creole, sampled the opinions of 400 Haitian Americans deemed representative of the U.S. adult Haitian population. The survey carries a margin of error of five percentage points.

Among the findings:

The Haitian community in the United States has been "deeply affected" by the Jan. 12 earthquake, with three-fifths of all respondents saying at least some of their loved ones died as a result. Two-thirds of Haitian Americans polled are so concerned that they would be willing to move back to Haiti temporarily in order to assist in the reconstruction.

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