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Impoverished Haiti Slips Further as Remittances Dry Up

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Haiti's best chance to emerge from crisis, they say, could be a special trade preference granted by the U.S. Congress that will allow this impoverished nation to export garments duty-free to the United States for nine years.

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On Thursday, Clinton strolled through a huge factory in Port-au-Prince where rows of young men and women ran jeans and khaki slacks through sewing machines. Clinton noted that the nearly 500 workers earned two to three times the $2-a-day minimum wage.

"This is a direct result of actions taken by the U.S. Congress," she said. The trade preference program had created 11,000 jobs in Haiti so far, she said.

Clinton announced more than $50 million in additional funding for Haiti at the international conference Tuesday, including money for new roads to help get products to market.

The Haitian capital is full of reminders of what could happen if Haiti's economy continues to contract. In Petionville, a relatively upscale neighborhood, businesses still have spider-webbed windows that were attacked during food riots last year.

Mathias Pierre, 42, who grew up in a poor neighborhood but now runs a $2.5 million-a-year computer business, was stunned when protesters shattered the windows of his firm in Petionville.

"It created the fears we have today, that anything can happen," he said. "The level of poverty is too high."


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