Imperialist intervention and capitalism lie behind Haiti’s nightmare

THE USA is trying to occupy Haiti instead of helping it after last week’s massive earthquake.

That is the view of a French government minister, who said the UN would have to clarify the Americans’ role on the island. Reported The Times: “Thousands of American soldiers have poured in to Port-au-Prince airport since President Obama announced that he was ordering a ‘swift and aggressive’ campaign to help millions of Haitians left homeless by last week’s 7.0 magnitude earthquake.

“Seven days after the quake, however, precious little aid is getting beyond the airport perimeters – largely because of security concerns – and aid agencies with long experience of operating in disaster zones have complained that their flights in are being blocked unnecessarily.

“Among the aircraft turned back by American air traffic controllers who have assumed control at Port-au-Prince airport was a French government Airbus carrying a field hospital. “The plane was able to land the following day but the decision to turn it back prompted an official complaint from Alain Joyandet, the French Minister for Co-operation who is overseeing the French aid effort.

“Speaking to Europe 1 radio from an EU ministerial meeting in Brussels this morning, Mr Joyandet said that the UN would have to clarify the role of the US in the Haitian aid effort. ‘It’s a matter of helping Haiti, not occupying Haiti,’ he said.

Venezuelan president Hugh Chavez has also criticised US ‘humanitarian’ efforts in Haiti, reported the Press Association.

“It appears the gringos are militarily occupying Haiti,” Mr Chavez said. “Obama, send medicine, doctors and water – not more soldiers.”

As relief efforts are building in response to the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that hit Haiti last week. Centered 10 miles from the capital Port Au Prince, it was the worst earthquake to hit the region in more than 200 years and the devastation is enormous—thousands of structures have been destroyed, including hospitals and countless homes—people are trapped in the rubble, and we don’t even know the full extent of the damage.

Doctors Without Borders
Partners in Health
Grassroots International

Do not contribute to the Red Cross (organizational corruption) or Yele Haiti, Wyclef Jean’s organization which is distributing his call for US military intervention in Haiti.

The reality with earthquakes is they kill only if we let them. They are inevitable, but the death toll is not, and the silence from The Left/Anarchism is deafening if it was not for (projectsheffield ) it needs to be asked is there an occupation under way under the mask of humanitarian aid?

Readers of the The Shock Doctrine know that the Heritage Foundation has been one of the leading advocates of exploiting disasters to push through their unpopular pro-corporate policies. From this document, they’re at it again, not even waiting one day to use the devastating earthquake in Haiti to push for their so-called reforms.( things-to-remember-while-helping-haiti )

The following quote was hastily yanked by the Heritage Foundation and replaced with a more diplomatic quote, but their first instinct is revealing:-

“In addition to providing immediate humanitarian assistance, the U.S. response to the tragic earthquake in Haiti earthquake offers opportunities to re-shape Haiti’s long-dysfunctional government and economy as well as to improve the public image of the United States in the region.”

What is described is essentially an invasion and occupation of Haiti disguised as an assistance effort. US control of Haiti’s airspace and coastline. De facto control of all assistance flowing into the country (including that from other countries):-

“The U.S. government response should be bold and decisive. It must mobilize U.S. civilian and military capabilities for short-term rescue and relief and long-term recovery and reform.”..”This U.S. military presence, which should also include a large contingent of U.S. Coast Guard assets, can also prevent any large-scale movement by Haitians to take to the sea in dangerous and rickety watercraft to try to enter the U.S. illegally.”

There is a body lying outside L’Hôpital de la Paix in Port-au-Prince – but it is the sight that awaits you inside its grounds that is most alarming.It is as if a massacre has been ­perpetrated here. Dirty white sheets cover some of the dead, others lie out in the open, some, their limbs entwined with another’s.

International aid agencies have warned that Haitians are dying needlessly amid “utter chaos” in the organisation of relief efforts after last week’s devastating ­earthquake. Some have called for the US to take direct control over the rescue ­operation, while others have said the Americans are part of the problem.

A week into the disaster, aid has failed to reach most Haitians amid logistical confusion and disputes over priorities as the population grows ever more desperate.

Médecins sans Frontières says confusion over who is running the relief effort – the US which controls the main airport, or the UN which says it is overseeing distribution – may have led to hundreds of avoidable deaths because it has not been able to get essential supplies in to the country. “The co-ordination … is not existing or not functioning at this stage,” said Benoit Leduc, MSF’s operations manager in Port-au-Prince.

“I don’t really know who is in charge. Between the two systems (the US and the UN) I don’t think there is smooth liaison [over] who decides what.”

John O’Shea , the head of the Irish medical charity, Goal, echoed the criticism. He said the Haitian earthquake was one of the most difficult disasters his agency had dealt with but at least there were no political obstacles to aid deliveries, as in Burma and Sudan.(guardian.co.uk )

The US paratrooper had a simple message for the people of Haiti. Dressed in khaki, carrying an assault rifle and with the iconic sight of Black Hawk helicopters taking off  behind him, he said: “I don’t plan on firing a single shot while I’m here. I’ve been in Iraq three times and I’ve done enough of that.”

The paratrooper was part of the 82nd airborne division from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, a toughened crew of battle-ready fighters accustomed to forming the front- line in many American war efforts.

This time, though, they and their commanding officers – right up to the rank of commander-in-chief, Barack Obama – were keen as mustard to present themselves as helpers and carers, not warriors.

The order has come down from on high that when out patrolling the stricken streets of the city of Port-au-Prince, the paratroopers should have their rifles slung behind their backs. None of that strong-arm brandishing of metal that epitomised the early days in Iraq. “We’ve been told not to draw attention to our guns,” the paratrooper, Sgt David Gurba, said.(guardian.co.uk)

Imperialist intervention and capitalism lie behind Haiti’s nightmare

Tens of thousands of people in Haiti are dead and hundreds of thousands more wounded or homeless after the earthquake that tore through the country on Tuesday. People across the world will feel deep sympathy for those who have lost so much, and a great desire to help. Earthquakes are natural events: but the scale of the suffering depends on where they happen and how much assistance the victims receive.

The world’s great powers have been criminally slow to respond. They have dragged their feet while huge numbers of people are left without food or clean water and have to sleep in the open.

The US can always get a cruise missile to its target anywhere in the world. There is never a lack of money for a military “surge”. But there’s always delay and lack of resources when poor people suffer. Haitians will not get even 1 percent of the trillions handed out to the bankers to shore up the financial system.

And even now while Haitians face such pain, the millionaire tourists are still enjoying luxury in the Dominican Republic that shares the same island as Haiti. By Friday sections of the starving and thirsty population of Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince were building barricade of bodies in protest at the lack of aid. The destruction in Haiti is so serious because of its extreme poverty, and because it has suffered from two centuries of imperialist intervention.

Sixty percent of the housing in Port-au-Prince was sub-standard. Even before the earthquake prices for rice, beans, water, cooking oil and gas had skyrocketed to the point where many Haitians simply cannot afford to eat. The Associated Press recently ran an article reporting that many Haitians were now eating “mud cookies.”

Over half the population survive on less than $1 a day.

This is all the legacy of capitalism and imperialism. In the eighteenth century thousands of slaves were transported to Haiti by the European powers. The great slave revolts under Toussaint L’Ouverture not only defeated the slave-owners and three European armies but also struck a magnificent blow against the whole slave system.

The revolt frightened and enraged the rich everywhere – and still does. While most people have reacted to the earthquake by trying to help, the racist US evangelist Pat Robertson said that Haitians had “sworn a pact to the devil” when they rose up against slavery.

Although freed from slavery, Haiti was forced by military threats to pay compensation to France of 150 million francs (the equivalent of $25 billion today) – which it did not finally finish paying until 1947.

In 1915, the US invaded Haiti to police debt repayments and to protect US firms. The troops stayed until 1934, running Haiti as a virtual colony.

The US then backed the brutal Duvalier dictatorships from 1957 on the basis that they represented a barrier against Communism.

In 1986, a massive uprising overthrew “Baby Doc” Duvalier, who fled the country. But Western interference continued.

Haitians elected Jean-Bertrand Aristide to be president after he promised land reform, better housing and improved wages but the US then backed a coup that removed him from office.

US president Bill Clinton eventually restored Aristide – but only on the condition that he implement the US neoliberal plan – which Haitians called the “plan of death.” When Aristide was slow to do his master’s will, the US conspired with Haiti’s rich to drive out Aristide again. US and then UN troops have occupied the country ever since.

Geography and bad luck are only partly to blame for Haiti’s tragedy. There are, plainly, more propitious places for a country and its capital city to find themselves than straddling the major fault line between the North American and Caribbean tectonic plates. It’s more than unfortunate to be positioned plumb on the region’s principal hurricane track, meaning you would be hit, in the 2008 season alone, by a quartet of storms as deadly and destructive as Fay, Gustav, Hannah and Ike (between them, they killed 800 people, and ­devastated more than 70% of Haiti’s agricultural land). Wretched, also, to have fallen victim to calamitous flooding in 2002, 2003 (twice), 2006 and 2007.(projectsheffield.)

One week on we need to ask is the Imperialist intervention an occupation and have the USA once more have blood on there hands, we need only remind of the continued support of Israel and the genocide being committed upon the people there from Afghanistan to Iraq the interest of the imperialist have always been the same there is no doubt the lack of aid is to little to late and no doubt hundreds lay dead, and those looting in Haiti are taking direct action to feed there loved ones along with themselves we need not condone there actions but the utter failings of capitalism and the silence from some of The Left/Anarchism is deafening.

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