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Why Is Sean Penn Tearing Down Haiti's Presidential Palace?



Bulldozers have started tearing down Haiti's National Palace. Once a symbol of national pride, its crumbling façade has become a constant reminder of the devastating earthquake that hit the country in 2010.

However, as the Palace demolition began on Thursday, the Haitian newspaper Le Nouvelliste criticized the government for not releasing information pertaining to the funding or completion of the reconstruction project.

The demolition work is being assumed by J/P Haitian Relief Organization (J/P HRO), the aid organization established by American actor Sean Penn. Many Haitians are questioning why J/P HRO, a foreign organization, has been chosen to go ahead with the projects rather than a company from Haiti.

The Miami Herald cited Le Matin's editor, Daley Valet, as saying: "Sean Penn tearing down the National Palace is a reflection of Haiti's vanishing sovereignty [...] The Haitian people have lost control over their destiny. If the international community and their NGOs have succeeded in one thing in Haiti, it is making Haiti anything but a real country with a respectable state.”

The earthquake, which killed more than 300,000 people, nearly toppled the presidential building and forced government workers to move elsewhere.

Le Matin reported that Haitian President Michel Martelly said that his priority has long been to find new quarters for those displaced by the disaster, however, the reconstruction of the nation's monuments can now restore the people's pride.

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