Haiti Action, January 22, 2010
Stop the US Militarization of Haiti Relief Efforts
Emergency Haiti Earthquake Protest -
Mon., Jan. 25th – 5 pm – Powell & Market, San Francisco
A day of coordinated protests in many cities
Despite a world-wide outpouring of aid to help Haiti, large amounts of desperately needed food, medicine, and other relief materials remains in warehouses in Haiti and is not reaching Haitians themselves. Serious obstacles to distribution exist, but the worst is a takeover of relief operations by a US military that is concerned with security more than aid. Consider the following:
1. U.S. forces refused to allow aid planes to land
at the Port au Prince and Jacmel airports. Planes from the Caribbean Community, France, World Food Program and Doctors Without Borders — some loaded with desperately needed medical equipment and field hospitals – were repeatedly turned away by U.S. Marines. Unloading military gear and “securing the perimeter” was the Pentagon’s priority. French Cooperation Minister Alain Joyandet could not contain his outrage: “This should be about helping Haiti, not about occupying Haiti.”
2. By one week after the earthquake, the U.S. had only airlifted 70,000 bottles of water
into Port au Prince…a drop in the bucket for an estimated 3 million dehydrated people in the Haitian heat. [USA Today, Jan. 19].
The U.S. military is denying port and airport access even to established aid organizations, leading a Haiti-based aid group to conclude: “Right now the U.S. is blocking [water, food and medical] aid.”
3. The Pentagon’s first response was to send in reconnaissance drones. Destroyers steamed toward Haiti. Aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson finally showed up in Haiti, with Sidewinder missiles and helicopters…but without any emergency relief supplies! [www.gregpalast.com]
4. The U.S. occupying force, obsessed with “security,” is holding back aid.
Defense Secretary Gates “wouldn’t send in food and water because, he said, there was no ‘structure…to provide security.’” [www.gregpalast.com]
Yet the President of faraway Iceland ordered rescue teams in the air almost immediately. Rescue teams from Cuba, Venezuela and China moved to provide relief right away without waiting for “security.”
5. “Aid is sitting at the airport – while millions suffer.
Why? People are afraid to give it out for fear of provoking riots.” [Bill Quigley]
Yet the overwhelming response of Haitians to this tragedy is one of sharing and caring for each other, showing “remarkable levels of patience and solidarity on the streets.” The main source of “violence” is the 12,000-strong U.S. occupying force which is allowing thousands to die by withholding aid.
6. The media show “images of poor people searching for food, calling them ‘looters’,
when in fact mass starvation occurs as shotgun-wielding security guards attempt to cordon off…the larger markets.” [www.haitianalysis.com]
7. On 1/20, eight days after the quake, hard-hit areas like Carrefour and Leogane “still hadn’t received any food, aid or medical help.” [Telesur]
A large refugee camp at Champs de Mars reported ”no relief has arrived; it is all being delivered on other side of town, by the U.S. Embassy.” Washington Post reported U.S. rescue operations focused on places frequented by foreigners, such as U.N. headquarters, Montana Hotel and Caribe supermarket. [P. Hallward, www.haitianalysis.com]
The massive U.S. military operation in Haiti comes 6 years after invading U.S. forces overthrew the democratic Aristide government, and replaced it with a brutal coup regime. Meanwhile, the Haitian people – many of them dying from lack of water and medicine, starving while food supplies sit on the airport tarmac — are demanding the return of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to his homeland.
It is time to hit the streets and express our outrage at the shameful actions by U.S. military authorities in Haiti. To withhold aid desperately needed by the people - so reminiscent of their behavior in New Orleans after Katrina - is a monstrous crime.
Here’s what you can do:
Demonstrate with us at 5 pm, Monday, Jan. 25th, Powell & Market, San Francisco, as part of coordinated protests in many cities.
Donate to the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund: www.haitiaction.net
* Join us in raising these demands:
- Get the people of Port-au-Prince clean water, food, and medical treatment now.
- Allow President Aristide to return to Haiti from forced exile in South Africa, as the vast majority of Haitians demand.
- Respect Haiti. Do not criminalize a courageous people who need water, food and medical help.
- End the foreign military occupation of Haiti.