Posts Tagged 'Haiti'

Angry Haitians demonstrate against visiting Sarkozy

Angry demonstrators demand Sarkozy to pay up and return Aristide to Haiti

Haitians demonstrate as Sarkozy arrives

Demonstrators demand restitution and reparations as French president Sarkozy arrives by helicopter. All photos ©2010 HIP/Kevin Pina

by Kevin Pina

Port au Prince, HaitiHIP — Thousands of supporters of ousted president Jean-Bertrand Aristide took to the streets on Wednesday as French president Nicolas Sarkozy toured the earthquake ravaged capital of Port au Prince. Holding pictures of the ousted president aloft they chanted for France to pay more then 21 billion dollars in restitution and reparations and to return Aristide as Sarkozy’s helicopter landed near Haiti’s quake damaged national palace. Their demands stem from a long held dispute over compensation a nascent Haiti was forced to pay French slave owners in exchange for recognition of their independence and France’s role in ousting Aristide in 2004.

Haitians supporting Aristide

Demonstrators show photos in support of ousted president Jean-Bertrand Aristide on Feb. 17, 2010

Haitians demonstrating for Aristide

Haitians demonstrating for Aristide

Aristide, who remains widely popular among Haiti’s poor, first raised the issue of restitution and reparations in April 2003. His government argued that an agreement reached in 1825 forcing Haiti to pay 90 million gold francs to compensate their former slave masters severely crippled Haiti’s economic development. The debt included massive interest and took 122 years to pay off with the final installment made in 1947. His government calculated that the total sum of the debt Haiti was forced to pay with interest, along with reparations for the unpaid labor of millions of slaves kidnapped from Africa and forced to work on French plantations in Haiti, came to more that 21 billion dollars.  Aristide’s administration pushed the issue on the international stage while airing commercials several times a day in Haiti that said, “We demand reparations and restitution. France, pay me my money, $21,685,135,571.48.”

Aristide was forced out of the country in a coup ten months later on Feb. 29, 2004 and flown to the former French colony of the Central African Republic. Although the main author of the coup is still seen as the administration of George W. Bush, Haitians have never forgotten the role that France played in supporting the opposition movement to Aristide and their demands that he resign.

Several weeks before Aristide was forced onto a plane and flown into exile, the government of then French president Jacques Chirac dispatched Véronique Albanel and Régis Debray to demand that he resign. In an interview with writer Claude Ribbe one year after his ouster Aristide said, “These two French personalities came to the National Palace and asked me so. That is already known. The threats were groundless, they were evident and direct. As good Haitians, we are respectful but we demand to be respected and we replied with respect and dignity. The threats were evident and direct: you resign or you might be [killed]!”

Before his tour of the destruction in Haiti’s capital and during an address to Haitian dignitaries, French president Sarkozy offered $400 million dollars in emergency assistance, reconstruction funds, and support for the Haitian government’s operating budget. This was in addition to France’s earlier decision to cancel Haiti’s debt of $77 million dollars.

Paulette Joseph, a member of the Lavalas Mobilization Commission and one of the organizers of the demonstration responded, “That’s great that Sarkozy has come to give France’s support to the Haitian people in this difficult moment after the terrible earthquake that killed so many of our people and now forces us to live in greater misery.” Joseph continued, “But $477 million dollars doesn’t even come close to the damage France inflicted upon Haiti before the earthquake.  We were suffering from poverty before this crisis as a result of the debt Haiti was forced to pay the slave masters to recognize our independence. If our country is not equipped to handle this crisis and we are suffering more after the earthquake it is a direct result of that debt.”

Haititans demand Aristide.

Haitians demand Aristide.

Preval turns his back

Haitian president Rene Preval turns his back on the crowd and leaves after demonstrators demand he allow ousted president Jean-Bertrand Aristide to return

“We need Aristide to return!” shouted demonstrators as Haitian president Preval made a rare appearance on the lawn in front of Haiti’s destroyed seat of government following Sarkozy’s visit. Waving photos of Aristide they also began chanting, “If Aristide were here he would be suffering along with us!” as Preval turned his back on the crowd and withdrew to his luxury jeep amid tight security.

©2010 Haiti Information Project

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Minister JR from Haiti, Part 1: Starvation and Jim Crow racism

San Francisco Bay View, February 12

Minister JR from Haiti, Part 1: Starvation and Jim Crow racism

by Minister of Information JR

(JR is on trial on trumped-up arson charges stemming from his coverage of the rebellion in downtown Oakland following BART police murder of Oscar Grant.  His is one of only two remaining charges, after baseless charges were dropped for hundreds of arrestees, and since there is no evidence for his non-existent crime, this prosecution is clearly retaliation for his coverage of police racism.  Please help pack the courtroom at his trial beginning MONDAY, FEBRUARY 22, at 8:30 AM, at Alameda County Courthouse, 1225 Fallon St., Courtroom 11, Oakland (map).

For more information, call (415) 671-0789 or email blockreportradio@gmail.com. Thank you.)

Hunger in Haiti

Today, on the one month anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti, I went all over Port au Prince and saw the devastation firsthand and the occupation by Brazil under the guise of the U.N., and of course the U.S.A. I rode through Port au Prince all day and didn’t see one act of recovery going on.  (Picture to left: Some people waiting in seemingly endless lines, knowing there were not enough bags of rice on the truck for everyone, stepped out of line and were pepper sprayed by these U.N. “peacekeepers.” This desperately hungry woman and her daughter pleaded for food. A month after the earthquake, many people in Port au Prince still have received no aid – no food, water, shelter or medical care. – Photo: Ben Gurr, The Times)

I haven’t left Port au Prince. Here it looks like the city was hit with an atomic bomb. All through the city you could smell dead bodies and see people going through the rubble lookin for scraps of metal to build a shanty-house and for anything that can be eaten, drunk or sold.

I don’t see where the millions of dollars that have been raised for Haiti is going. Everywhere people is starving. Me and my comrades gave some of the most desperate some money, but the thing is that it might help them today; what about tomorrow?

We been staying at a makeshift hospital run by some white so-called American missionaries. Today at the house I witnessed my first act of Jim Crow-type racism from so-called friends on this particular trip.

Haiti is like a time machine. It’s like 1920 here in terms of the apartheid type of relationships that the whites have with the Blacks. The white woman of “God” that runs the house says that Haitians can’t come in the house from their shantytown in the backyard after the hospital closes, but check this out: Multiple dogs have free reign all over the property. So in other words, these dogs are more important than the Haitians – including the hungry babies, the old people, the wounded and maimed and regular everyday people.

One of the members of our delegation was told not to feed the Haitians in the tent city in the backyard because they already eat once a day. The issue is, why do they think that they can determine who I share my food with? The house is full of white people who have free reign to eat as much as they want, and whenever they want.

One of the members of our delegation was told not to feed the Haitians in the tent city in the backyard because they already eat once a day.

The second issue is that when we went to Port au Prince we had a 19-year-old Haitian translator named Gady who helped our team. When we got back, the rooster-neck nun who is ultimately in charge of the house told him that he can’t be in the house, although we met him in the house the day before and hung out and listened to music to about 1 a.m.

We asked why, and she told us he wasn’t a good translator. I told her he did great with us, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. She told me he doesn’t know enough English medical terms to assist the doctors. I informed her that my team consists of journalists, and we didn’t need him to know English medical terms.

She then quickly said there were other reasons, then told us that she just didn’t want him in the house, and if we needed a translator, contact her and she would hook it up. Most of the translators that I met were very subservient, except ours, and that’s why we got along.

She kicked him out, and we went out the house after him and paid him a third of what he would make in a month as a translator, because we realize how hard it is to find money, water and food, let alone a regular job.

I’m currently writing this from the house, and God knows I wish I had somewhere else to go out here rather than deal with these undercover racists. I don’t, so like my Haitian “auntie” told me, I’m supposed to see all of this so I can report it.

On another note, most of the Black people from the U.S. out here that I have met are complicit in this Jim Crow racism. They act like they don’t see it because it is not affecting them. These dumb ass people don’t recognize that these same crackers were doing this to their grandparents 60 years ago. It’s like Malcolm taught us, when he talked about the house slave and the field slave.  (Picture at left: A woman salvages clothing from a store in Port au Prince. Is this the kind of “looting” that is the excuse for the U.S. and U.N. to post some 50,000 troops in Haiti? – Photo: Nikki Kahn, Washington Post)

Like my Haitian “auntie” told me, I’m supposed to see all of this so I can report it.

This is my first report, on my first full day here. There is more to come, so stay tuned …

Email POCC Minister of Information JR, Bay View associate editor, at blockreportradio@gmail.com and visit www.blockreportradio.com.

Editor’s note: POCC Minister of Information JR and Chris Zamani, M.D., who were political organizing comrades years ago, have reunited to form the Haiti Media-Medical Team to minister to the needs of the people of Haiti and tell their truth. With Minister JR on the media team are filmmaker Angela Carroll and photojournalist Siraj Fowler; with Dr. Zamani on the medical team are a nurse and a mental health therapist. They arrived in Haiti Feb. 11 thanks to the generous donations of many good folks, most notably Mos Def, Kamel Bell of Ankh Marketing, Pierre Labossiere of the Haiti Action Committee and Walter Riley of the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund. Their reports will be posted here as soon as they are received.

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To the governments and organizations gathered in Montreal on the situation in Haiti

We reject the militarization of the country as a false response to the recent disaster, including in particular U.S. unilateral action to send an additional 20,000 troops to safeguard its economic and geopolitical interests. The occupation troops of the MINUSTAH, over the past six years, did not contribute effectively to the stabilization or the provision of infrastructure and public goods, and nothing indicates that maintaining this policy would be effective from now on.

A statement from Via Campesina a propos of the Montreal Conference regarding Haiti,  January 27, 2010

To the governments and organizations gathered in Montreal on the situation in Haiti

The recent tragedy in Haiti shocked the people of the world for its destructive impact, the environmental and social consequences, and especially for the loss of human lives. Unfortunately, natural disasters are not new in that Caribbean country, which was impacted in 2008 by hurricanes Hanna and Ike.

Nor is it the first time we have watched the international community make pledges of cooperation and assistance to Haiti. We are concerned, as organizations and social movements and on the basis of permanent contact and consultation with our partners there, that the international response be coordinated on the basis of respect for their sovereignty and in full accordance with the needs and demands of the Haitian people.

Now is the moment for the governments that form part of the United Nations Mission for the Stabilization of Haiti (MINUSTAH), the United Nations, and especially the U.S., Canada, and France, to reasses the many mistaken policies they have implemented in Haiti. The country’s condition of vulnerability to natural disasters – in large part caused by the devastation of the environment, the lack of basic infrastructure and the weak capacity of state social action – is not unrelated to these policies, which have historically undermined the sovereignty of the people and their country, thus generating a historical, social, economic, environmental, and cultural debt in which these same countries and institutions have a major share of responsibility. Reparations must be made to the Haitian people for these debts, and all the more so in the face of the present situation affecting the country.

In this regard, we reject the militarization of the country as a false response to the recent disaster, including in particular U.S. unilateral action to send an additional 20,000 troops to safeguard its economic and geopolitical interests. The occupation troops of the MINUSTAH, over the past six years, did not contribute effectively to the stabilization or the provision of infrastructure and public goods, and nothing indicates that maintaining this policy would be effective from now on.

We call on governments and international organizations to immediately and unconditionally cancel the external debt claimed of Haiti, the servicing of which affects millions of lives. We also demand that the resources allocated for relief and reconstruction do not create new debt, or conditionalities that are imposed or any other form of external imposition which vitiates this goal, as is the practice of international financial institutions like the World Bank, the Interamerican Development Bank, the IMF, and the so-called donor countries. We also reject the intervention of private multinational companies who seek to take advantage of this tragedy to reap multibillion dollar profits in the reconstruction of Haiti, as happened in Iraq, or to exploit cheap labor and continue to plunder the country’s natural resources.

Haitian society, its organizations, social movements and state representatives should be the protagonists of the international effort to rebuild their country: the first to be heard and the final and sovereign decision over their destiny. The Haitian people have lifted themselves up many times on the basis of their own will, with the strength and conviction of their historical example of having been the first people to free themselves in America. Any cooperation can be effective only if it is based in this commitment and full popular participation.

We are alert, and following developments in dialogue with Haitian organizations, in order to ensure that international cooperation takes place on the basis of this kind of solidarity and that the errors of past policies are not repeated. For a free and sovereign Haiti!

January 25, 2010

SIGNATORIES

Global and regional organizations and networks

Jubileo Sur/Jubilee South – Marcha Mundial de Mujeres/World March of Women – Via Campesina – Amigos de la Tierra Internacional/Friends of the Earth International – Alianza de Pueblos del Sur Acreedores de Deuda Ecológica/ Southern Peoples’ Ecological Debt Creditors Alliance – LDC Watch – Confederación Sindical de Trabajadores y Trabajadoras de las Americas (CSA) / Trade Union Confederation of the Americas – Alianza Social Continental / Hemispheric Social Alliance – Jubileo Sur/Américas / Jubilee South/Americas – Confederación Latinoamericana de Organizaciones del Campo (CLOC) – Programa de Incidencia sobre Deuda Ilegítima de la Federación Luterana Mundial / Program on Illegitimate Debt of the Lutheran World Federation – Réseau CADTM mondial / CADTM International Network – Red Latinoamericana  Mujeres Transformando la Economía (REMTE) /Latin American Network of Women Transforming the Ecoomy – Latindadd –  Kairos Europa- Africa Jubilee South – CADTM Afrique – Caribbean Policy Development Centre – Grito de los/las Excluidos Mesoamérica – Jubilee South Asia-Pacic Movement on Debt and Developmnt APMDD – CADTM South asia Network

National and Local organizations and networks

Argentina Asamblea Permanente por los Derechos Humanos – ATTAC – Central de los Trabajadores de la Argentina (CTA), Secretarías de Relaciones Internacionales y Derechos Humanos – Centro Cultural la Muralla  – Centro de Políticas Públicas para el Socialismo (CEPPAS)- Comisión Justicia y Paz Misioneros Claretianos- Congregación La Santa Unión de los Sagrados Corazones – Dialogo 2000- Equipo de Educación Popular Pañuelos en Rebeldía- Espacio Ecuménico – Estudiantes Haitianos en Argentina – Frente Democrático para la liberación de Palestina – Fuerza Obrera Socialista FOS – Fundación para la defensa del ambiente- El Grito Argentino  – Grupo Ecológico 9 de Julio Valles del Carmen – Iglesia de Fátima de Isla Maciel – Iglesia Evangélica del Río de la Plata- Instituto de Relaciones Ecuménicas (IRE) – Liga Argentina por los Derechos del Hombre – MOCASE-V.C – Movimiento de Víctimas de crímenes de Estado en Colombia,  Capit. Arg. – Movimiento por la Paz, la Soberanía y la Solidaridad entre los Pueblos (Mopassol)- Movimiento por la Soberanía y la Integración de los Pueblos MoSIP – Movimiento Social Misiones- Multisectorial de Solidaridad con Cuba- Organización Feministas – Parroquía de Santa Cruz – Partido Comunista – Partido Humanista – Plataforma Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, Democracia y Desarrollo Capit. Arg Programa de Incidencia sobre Deuda Externa Ilegítima de la Federación Luterana Mundial- Red por el Uso Responsable del Agua de Traslasierra- Revista “La Resistencia- Servicio Paz y Justicia – Bachillerato UST – Vecinos Autoconvocados de Villa de las Rosas  Bangladesh EquityBD – Coastal Association for Social Tranformation Trust   Belgium/Bélgica Centre Tricontinental – CADTM  Bolivia Capitulo Boliviano de Derechos Humanos (CBDHDD)  Brasil Rede Jubileu Sul – PACS – Central Unica dos Trabalhadores (CUT) Brasil – Comitê Pró-Haiti Brasil – Auditoria Ciudadana de la Deuda – Centro de Pesquisa e Assessoria – Grito de los Excluídos – Pastoral da Mulher Marginalizada, Regional Norte- Casa da Mulher Oito de Março – Organização Feminista do Tocantins- Red Brasileira por la Integración de los Pueblos – Rede  Social  de  Justica  e  Direitos  Humanos- Rede Brasil sobre Instituições Financeiras Multilaterais  Canadá – Québec Federation de Femmes de Québec – Public Service Alliance of Canada / Alliance de la fonction publique du Canada – Common Frontiers – Canadians for Action on Climate Change – The Social Justice Committee of Montreal – Council of Canadians – Global and regional organizations and networks

Jubileo Sur/Jubilee South – Marcha Mundial de Mujeres/World March of Women – Via Campesina – Amigos de la Tierra Internacional/Friends of the Earth International – Alianza de Pueblos del Sur Acreedores de Deuda Ecológica/ Southern Peoples’ Ecological Debt Creditors Alliance – LDC Watch – Confederación Sindical de Trabajadores y Trabajadoras de las Americas (CSA) / Trade Union Confederation of the Americas – Alianza Social Continental / Hemispheric Social Alliance – Jubileo Sur/Américas / Jubilee South/Americas – Confederación Latinoamericana de Organizaciones del Campo (CLOC) – Programa de Incidencia sobre Deuda Ilegítima de la Federación Luterana Mundial / Program on Illegitimate Debt of the Lutheran World Federation – Réseau CADTM mondial / CADTM International Network – Red Latinoamericana  Mujeres Transformando la Economía (REMTE) /Latin American Network of Women Transforming the Ecoomy – Latindadd –  Kairos Europa- Africa Jubilee South – CADTM Afrique – Caribbean Policy Development Centre – Grito de los/las Excluidos Mesoamérica – Jubilee South Asia-Pacic Movement on Debt and Developmnt APMDD – CADTM South asia Network

National and Local organizations and networks

Argentina Asamblea Permanente por los Derechos Humanos – ATTAC – Central de los Trabajadores de la Argentina (CTA), Secretarías de Relaciones Internacionales y Derechos Humanos – Centro Cultural la Muralla  – Centro de Políticas Públicas para el Socialismo (CEPPAS)- Comisión Justicia y Paz Misioneros Claretianos- Congregación La Santa Unión de los Sagrados Corazones – Dialogo 2000- Equipo de Educación Popular Pañuelos en Rebeldía- Espacio Ecuménico – Estudiantes Haitianos en Argentina – Frente Democrático para la liberación de Palestina – Fuerza Obrera Socialista FOS – Fundación para la defensa del ambiente- El Grito Argentino  – Grupo Ecológico 9 de Julio Valles del Carmen – Iglesia de Fátima de Isla Maciel – Iglesia Evangélica del Río de la Plata- Instituto de Relaciones Ecuménicas (IRE) – Liga Argentina por los Derechos del Hombre – MOCASE-V.C – Movimiento de Víctimas de crímenes de Estado en Colombia,  Capit. Arg. – Movimiento por la Paz, la Soberanía y la Solidaridad entre los Pueblos (Mopassol)- Movimiento por la Soberanía y la Integración de los Pueblos MoSIP – Movimiento Social Misiones- Multisectorial de Solidaridad con Cuba- Organización Feministas – Parroquía de Santa Cruz – Partido Comunista – Partido Humanista – Plataforma Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, Democracia y Desarrollo Capit. Arg Programa de Incidencia sobre Deuda Externa Ilegítima de la Federación Luterana Mundial- Red por el Uso Responsable del Agua de Traslasierra- Revista “La Resistencia- Servicio Paz y Justicia – Bachillerato UST – Vecinos Autoconvocados de Villa de las Rosas  Bangladesh EquityBD – Coastal Association for Social Tranformation Trust   Belgium/Bélgica Centre Tricontinental – CADTM  Bolivia Capitulo Boliviano de Derechos Humanos (CBDHDD)  Brasil Rede Jubileu Sul – PACS – Central Unica dos Trabalhadores (CUT) Brasil – Comitê Pró-Haiti Brasil – CONLUTAS – Auditoria Ciudadana de la Deuda – Centro de Pesquisa e Assessoria – Grito de los Excluídos – Pastoral da Mulher Marginalizada, Regional Norte- Casa da Mulher Oito de Março – Organização Feminista do Tocantins- Red Brasileira por la Integración de los Pueblos – Rede  Social  de  Justica  e  Direitos  Humanos- Rede Brasil sobre Instituições Financeiras Multilaterais  Canadá – Québec Federation de Femmes de Québec – Public Service Alliance of Canada / Alliance de la fonction publique du Canada – Common Frontiers – Canadians for Action on Climate Change – The Social Justice Committee of Montreal – Council of Canadians – Simple Living (Burlington, ON)  Cataluyna Asociación Ciudadana anti-SIDA- Educació per a l’Acció Crítica- Observatorio de la Deuda en la Globalización – Veterinarios sin fronteras – Comité Óscar Romero de Santa Margarida de Montbui- Colectivo RETS: Respuestas a las empresas transnacionalesARAGUAIA amb el bisbe Casaldàliga Chile Amigas de Los Vilos- Movimiento Teología de la Liberación- Internacional Bandera de los Niños- Enrique Orellana, Somos Iglesia  Colombia Red Colombiana de Acción frente al Libre Comercio (RECALCA) – CADTM Colombia- Campaña Colombiana “En Deuda con los Derechos” -FENASIBANCOL- Fundau Puica- Mesa Mujeres y Economía – UNEB Colombia- Proceso de Comunidades Negras- PCN  Cuba Centro Memorial Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.- Movimiento por la Paz   Ecuador Acción Ecológica- CADTM- Centro de Derechos Económicos y Sociales (Cdes) – Colectivo Feminista- FEDAEPS – Movimiento Tohalli – Centro de Documentación en Derechos Humanos “Segundo Montes Mozo S.J.” (CSMM)  El Salvador Colectivo de Comunicadores y Estudiantes Roque Dalton Francia Confédération paysanne – Attac – Europe solidaire sans frontières (ESSF) – Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt  Guatemala Pastoral Social, Diócesis de San Marcos  Haití Plateforme Haïtienne de Plaidoyer pour un Développement Alternatif (PAPDA) – Plate forme des Organisations Haïtiennes des Droits Humains (POHDH) – Solidarite Fanm Ayisyèn (SOFA)  India Vikas Adhyayan Kendra/Cadtm Irlanda Debt and Development Coalition – Latin America Solidarity Centre (LASC) Italia Campagna per la Riforma della Banca Mondiale / Mani Tese – Observatorio sobre Latinoamerica SELVAS Mali Comité pour la Abolition de la Dette México Red Mexicana de Acción frente al Libre Comercio- Observatorio Latinoamericano de Geopolítica Morocco/Marruecos Attac  Nicaragua Ecumenical Committee of English Speaking Church Personnel in Nicaragua (CEPRHI) Paraguay Foro de Mujeres del Mercosur Capítulo Paraguay Perú Grupo Red de Economía Solidaria del Perú (GRESP)- Jubileo Perú- Museo Afroperuano  Puerto Rico Comité Pro Niñez Dominico Haitiana – Grito de las/os Excluidas/os – Proyecto Caribeño de Justicia y Paz Scotland/Escocia Jubilee Scotland Spanish State/Estado Español Coordinadora Estatal de Solidaridad con Cuba Madrid- ATTAC – Colectivo de Solidaridad por la Justicia y Dignidad de los Pueblos – Ecologistas en Acción- Plataforma Simón Bolívar de Granada- Proyecto Cultura Y Solidaridad- Sotermun- Campaña ¿Quién debe a Quién?- Centro de acción Internacional- Asociación canaria de economía alternativa y de alternativa antimilitarista.moc de Canarias  Switzerland/Suiza Solidarité Suisse Trinidad y Tobago Federation of Independent Trade Unions and NGOs (FITUN)  UK/Reino Unido Haiti Support Group – Jubilee Debt Campaign – No Sweat – Kyoto2, Oliver Trickell  USA/Estados Unidos United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society – Gender Action – New Rules for Global Finance – Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti – Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns – Quixote Center – Foreign Policy In Focus – Office of the Americas (Los Angeles) – St. Louis Inter-Faith Committee on Latin America – Just Foreign Policy (Robert Naiman, Policy Director) – Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador – Puerto Rican Studies Association Uruguay REDES/Amigos de la Tierra Venezuela Red Venezolana contra la Deuda – CADTM Venezuela

Individuales

Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, Premio Nobel de la Paz – Nora Cortiñas, Madre de Plaza de Mayo Línea Fundadora – Professor Norman Girvan, University of the West Indies – Anibal Quijano – Raúl Zibechi – Enrique Leff- Alicia Villolde de Botana- ANAHIT  AHARONIAN- – Antonio Gustavo Gomez- Carlos Walter Porto-Gonçalcves- Cecilia Fernandez- Catherine Walsh – Cesar Garcia Garcia-Conde- Cristina Arnulphi- Denise Comanne- Dolores Soto- Domènec Haro Muñoz – Dragutin Lauric – Eduardo D. Polo- Fernando Coronil – Flor Nayeli Grajales Martínez- Francisco A. Scarano- Graciela Ferrario- James B. Luken- Jesus Muñoz Pastor – Kelvin Santiago – María Isabel Magallón- María Estela Ríos González- Mary García Bravo- Miguel Esquirol- Nayla Azzinnari-Obed Juan Vizcaíno Nájera- Oscar Revilla Alguacil- Patricia Cahill- Rodrigo Ibáñez- Ruben Elías- Silvia Martinez- Susana Aparicio- Walter Mignolo

International Operational Secretariat

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La Via Campesina – International Secretariat:

Jln. Mampang Prapatan XIV No. 5 Jakarta Selatan 12790,  Indonesia

Phone : +62-21-7991890, Fax : +62-21-7993426

E-mail: viacampesina@viacampesina.org ; Website: http://www.viacampesina.org

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Stand Shoulder to Shoulder with the People of Haiti

Now more than ever, the aftermath of Haiti’s earthquake beckons us to further dismantle the deep structure of racism that violates humanity, and stand shoulder to shoulder with our Haitian sisters and brothers. To this end we must insist that delivery of vital earthquake aid be accelerated, that Haiti’s foreign debt be cancelled and Haitians given the wherewithal to rebuild their own country on their own terms, that foreign military occupiers be removed, that the election ban on Haiti’s popular Lavalas party be lifted and that Aristide be allowed to return.

Stand Shoulder to Shoulder with the People of Haiti

Marilyn Langlois, Board member, Haiti Emergency Relief Fund,  January 22, 2010

–When asked “How are they surviving?” Haitian journalist Wadner Pierre responded, “Well, they’re all sharing. That’s what we do. That’s the way Haitians are.” (January 16)

–“The city has seen little violence, despite persistent fears that shortages of food, water and shelter will spark unrest.” (January 21)

–Photograph of a white female US Navy medic cradling and feeding a dehydrated Haitian child. (January 21)

I thank my local newspaper, the Contra Costa Times, for including the above images in its coverage of the disastrous January 12, 2010 earthquake in Haiti. These images are vital because they reflect our true human nature that is too often clouded by a pernicious deep structure.

In 2005, upon first hearing about hurricane Katrina on radio newscasts I thought in my head how tragic it was. But when I saw pictures of Katrina, showing how aid and rescue efforts had been needlessly slow to reach poor, African American neighborhoods amid unrealized fears of widespread looting and unrest, my heart was gripped with terror. I felt a visceral pain when faced with the reality that the deep structure of racism on which my nation was founded still persists, despite the abolition of slavery, passage of the Civil Rights Act, and the awakening consciousness of so many people of all races that we truly are equal.

This deep structure is built on the notion that poor people of African descent are less than human, to be exploited economically in good times and to be feared in times of crisis. It is a structure designed to protect the wealth of a few, at the expense of our common humanity.

After the earthquake struck Haiti, my heart was again gripped with terror to see more evidence of this deep structure: When I heard that the US response prioritized “security” over urgent humanitarian assistance; when I read that the US military took control of the Port-au-Prince airport and turned away airplanes carrying medical field hospitals; when I saw that donations of water, food and supplies were not reaching many affected areas at all and some only after thousands who survived the initial quake had needlessly died of infection and dehydration.

The deep structure of racism has infected much of the media that shapes people’s consciousness, but as our eyes and hearts are opened, the outpouring of solidarity at a basic human level emerges. As soon as we get to know people of different races and circumstances on a personal level, the deep structure already begins to crumble. I see people in my home town of Richmond, California breaking down the deep structure every day by seeing their neighbors as brothers and sisters, challenging the negative stereotypes of our city that this structure perpetuates. Ever since I was a teenager and first sensed the existence of this structure, I, a white woman, have been working on breaking it down within myself.

People all over the world are giving generously without hesitation to support those suffering in Haiti, and aid workers are rushing there to help. That’s what people do. It’s human nature. I suspect that individual soldiers, as evidenced from the photograph mentioned above, would rather care for people immediately than be ordered to guard shipments of supplies bottle-necked at the airport. Long before the earthquake, I learned about hundreds of people-to-people partnerships between local groups in the US and Haiti to collaborate on schools, clinics, and other constructive projects. Cuban doctors who have been in Haiti for years are joining Haitian doctors round the clock treating earthquake victims with minimal supplies (though the US military has turned away additional Cuban doctors who want to come). Everyone I know who travels to Haiti and becomes personally acquainted with Haitians and their invincible spirit invariably falls in love with them, as did I.

The earthquake is very personal for me because I first started to learn about Haiti and her history shortly before the political earthquake of the February 29, 2004 coup d’etat in which the US helped topple the vastly popular and democratically elected government of the Lavalas party, kidnapping President Aristide and banishing him from the Western Hemisphere. I visited Haiti twice since the coup and have many friends there who are struggling under UN military occupation to maintain strong networks to dismantle the deep structure of racism, asserting their dignity as human beings who care for their communities.

A tiny segment of Haiti’s population is fabulously wealthy, while the vast majority are desperately poor. Ever since the poor had the nerve to stand up for themselves and break the shackles of slavery and colonialism 206 years ago, the US government has colluded with the wealthy few to maintain this gross inequality, most recently taking the form of ensuring an abundant pool of cheap labor for offshore assembly plants.

Under the leadership of twice elected President Aristide, Haiti moved in the direction of improving the lives of the poor. Since the coup, he remains exiled in South Africa, ready to return home but not allowed to by the US controlled Haitian government. Why is Aristide so often demonized by media pundits? Is it because he challenges the Haitian elite’s contempt for the common people and invites them to stand shoulder to shoulder with blacks rather than get down on their knees with the whites? Is it because he calls for everyone to have a place at the table, including poor, rich, black, brown and white?

Now more than ever, the aftermath of Haiti’s earthquake beckons us to further dismantle the deep structure of racism that violates humanity, and stand shoulder to shoulder with our Haitian sisters and brothers. To this end we must insist that delivery of vital earthquake aid be accelerated, that Haiti’s foreign debt be cancelled and Haitians given the wherewithal to rebuild their own country on their own terms, that foreign military occupiers be removed, that the election ban on Haiti’s popular Lavalas party be lifted and that Aristide be allowed to return.

It’s time for the wealthy to get in touch with their true human nature and do a better job of sharing the resources of the earth. We must build new structures that join us together in embracing the Haitian motto “tout moun se moun”–Haitian Kreyol for “every person is a human being”.

Marilyn Langlois
Board member, Haiti Emergency Relief Fund
Member, Haiti Action Committee
http://www.haitiaction.net, http://www.haitisolidarity.net

shortlink to this post:  http://wp.me/p3xLR-mz

Haiti Emergency Demonstration, Mon, Jan 25, 5 PM, Market & Powell, SF

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]
8. “Most Haitians have seen little humanitarian aid….What they have seen is guns, and lots of them. Armored personnel carriers cruise the streets, and inside the well-guarded perimeter [of the airport], the US has taken control,” reported Al Jazeera. “It looks more like the Green Zone in Baghdad than a center for aid distribution.”

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.
Sponsored by Haiti Action Committee   www.haitisolidarity.net
Be sure and check out the San Francisco BayView’s article  “From Cynthia McKinney:  An Unwelcome Katrina Redux”
shortlink to this posting:  http://wp.me/p3xLR-mk

Haiti: How much is US’s $100 million worth? How much has it cost?

Workers World, January 21, 2010

U.S. aid comes with strings attached

By Sara Flounders

How much is $100 million in U.S. aid to Haiti really worth? $100 million is less than what the U.S. spends in five hours on the wars and occupation in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The $100 million President Barack Obama promised in emergency aid to Haiti for earthquake relief sounds like a lot of money. But it is a tiny amount when compared to what the rulers of France and the United States stole from Haiti and its people over centuries.

The U.S. imposed 60 years of sanctions and blockade on Haiti after the victory of the first successful slave revolution in history. This blockade impoverished Haiti. France demanded in 1825, with warships in the harbor, that Haiti repay French slave owners $21 billion for the value of the enslaved Africans who were liberated. Haiti was forced to pay interest on this debt for more than 100 years.

U.S.-supported dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier diverted $500 million in U.S. loans into his personal bank accounts in just the last six years before he fled the country. But the Haitian people still had to repay all the Duvalier loans.

Billions of dollars in debt, Haiti was forced to accept an International Monetary Fund structural adjustment program that promised “debt forgiveness.” This IMF program destroyed Haiti’s sustainable agriculture, bankrupted its cash crops of rice and sugar, raised the price of electricity, and froze pay on public transit, infrastructure and vital social service providers such as doctors, nurses and teachers.

Haiti’s debt to the Inter-American Development Bank was not “forgiven.” It is more than $500 million — five times the amount of U.S. aid pledged for earthquake relief.

It is always important to remember that whatever U.S. imperialism gives with one hand, it takes away with the other. The IMF announced on Jan. 14, the same day that President Obama promised $100 million in aid, that it would be adding a $100 million loan to its current program in Haiti. This only leaves Haiti further in debt.

$100 million is just 7 percent of the $1.4 billion that Haitian workers in the Diaspora send home to their families every year. Half of the population of Haiti lives on less than $1 a day. Yet this U.S. aid and U.S. loan will force even more Haitians to immigrate to find work for their families’ survival.

The people of Haiti are owed reparations from the U.S. and French banks, which have extracted billions of dollars in profits from Haiti for hundreds of years. $100 million is far less than 1 percent of the $18 billion that Goldman Sachs executives will receive in bonuses this year, after a $700 billion U.S. government bailout of the banks.

And $100 million in U.S. aid to Haiti comes with a high price tag: U.S. military occupation.

shortlink to this post:  http://wp.me/p3xLR-mc

The Right Testicle Of Hell: History Of A Haitian Holocaust

CounterCurrents,  January 17, 2009

The Right Testicle Of Hell:  History Of A Haitian Holocaust

By Greg Palast

1.  Bless the President for having rescue teams in the air almost immediately. That was President Olafur Grimsson of Iceland. On Wednesday, the AP reported that the President of the United States promised, “The initial contingent of 2,000 Marines could be deployed to the quake-ravaged country within the next few days.” “In a few days,” Mr. Obama?

2.  There’s no such thing as a ‘natural’ disaster. 200,000 Haitians have been slaughtered by slum housing and IMF “austerity” plans.

3.  A friend of mine called. Do I know a journalist who could get medicine to her father? And she added, trying to hold her voice together, “My sister, she’s under the rubble. Is anyone going who can help, anyone?” Should I tell her, “Obama will have Marines there in ‘a few days’”?

4.  China deployed rescuers with sniffer dogs within 48 hours. China, Mr. President. China: 8,000 miles distant. Miami: 700 miles close. US bases in Puerto Rico: right there.

5.  Obama’s Defense Secretary Robert Gates said, “I don’t know how this government could have responded faster or more comprehensively than it has.” We know Gates doesn’t know.

6.  From my own work in the field, I know that FEMA has access to ready-to-go potable water, generators, mobile medical equipment and more for hurricane relief on the Gulf Coast. It’s all still there. Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré, who served as the task force commander for emergency response after Hurricane Katrina, told the Christian Science Monitor, “I thought we had learned that from Katrina, take food and water and start evacuating people.” Maybe we learned but, apparently, Gates and the Defense Department missed school that day.

7.  Send in the Marines. That’s America’s response. That’s what we’re good at. The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson finally showed up after three days. With what? It was dramatically deployed — without any emergency relief supplies. It has sidewinder missiles and 19 helicopters.

8.  But don’t worry, the International Search and Rescue Team, fully equipped and self-sufficient for up to seven days in the field, deployed immediately with ten metric tons of tools and equipment, three tons of water, tents, advanced communication equipment and water purifying capability. They’re from Iceland.

9.  Gates wouldn’t send in food and water because, he said, there was no “structure … to provide security.” For Gates, appointed by Bush and allowed to hang around by Obama, it’s security first. That was his lesson from Hurricane Katrina. Blackwater before drinking water.

10.  Previous US presidents have acted far more swiftly in getting troops on the ground on that island. Haiti is the right half of the island of Hispaniola. It’s treated like the right testicle of Hell. The Dominican Republic the left. In 1965, when Dominicans demanded the return of Juan Bosch, their elected President, deposed by a junta, Lyndon Johnson reacted to this crisis rapidly, landing 45,000 US Marines on the beaches to prevent the return of the elected president.

11.  How did Haiti end up so economically weakened, with infrastructure, from hospitals to water systems, busted or non-existent – there are two fire stations in the entire nation – and infrastructure so frail that the nation was simply waiting for “nature” to finish it off?

Don’t blame Mother Nature for all this death and destruction. That dishonor goes to Papa Doc and Baby Doc, the Duvalier dictatorship, which looted the nation for 28 years. Papa and his Baby put an estimated 80% of world aid into their own pockets – with the complicity of the US government happy to have the Duvaliers and their voodoo militia, Tonton Macoutes, as allies in the Cold War. (The war was easily won: the Duvaliers’ death squads murdered as many as 60,000 opponents of the regime.)

12.  What Papa and Baby didn’t run off with, the IMF finished off through its “austerity” plans. An austerity plan is a form of voodoo orchestrated by economists zomby-fied by an irrational belief that cutting government services will somehow help a nation prosper.

13.  In 1991, five years after the murderous Baby fled, Haitians elected a priest, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who resisted the IMF’s austerity diktats. Within months, the military, to the applause of Papa George HW Bush, deposed him.

History repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce. The farce was George W. Bush. In 2004, after the priest Aristide was re-elected President, he was kidnapped and removed again, to the applause of Baby Bush.

14.  Haiti was once a wealthy nation, the wealthiest in the hemisphere, worth more, wrote Voltaire in the 18th century, than that rocky, cold colony known as New England. Haiti’s wealth was in black gold: slaves. But then the slaves rebelled – and have been paying for it ever since.

From 1825 to 1947, France forced Haiti to pay an annual fee to reimburse the profits lost by French slaveholders caused by their slaves’ successful uprising. Rather than enslave individual Haitians, France thought it more efficient to simply enslave the entire nation.

15.  Secretary Gates tells us, “There are just some certain facts of life that affect how quickly you can do some of these things.” The Navy’s hospital boat will be there in, oh, a week or so. Heckuva job, Brownie!

16.  Note just received from my friend. Her sister was found, dead; and her other sister had to bury her. Her father needs his anti-seizure medicines. That’s a fact of life too, Mr. President.

***

Through our journalism network, we are trying to get my friend’s medicines to her father. If any reader does have someone getting into or near Port-au-Prince, please contact Haiti@GregPalast.com immediately.

Urgently recommended reading – The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution, the history of the successful slave uprising in Hispaniola by the brilliant CLR James.

Why the US Owes Haiti Billions: The Briefest History

CounterCurrents,  January 17, 2010

Why the US Owes Haiti Billions: The Briefest History

By Bill Quigley

Why does the US owe Haiti Billions? Colin Powell, former US Secretary of State, stated his foreign policy view as the “Pottery Barn rule.” That is – “if you break it, you own it.”

The US has worked to break Haiti for over 200 years. We owe Haiti. Not charity. We owe Haiti as a matter of justice. Reparations. And not the $100 million promised by President Obama either – that is Powerball money. The US owes Haiti Billions – with a big B.

The US has worked for centuries to break Haiti. The US has used Haiti like a plantation. The US helped bleed the country economically since it freed itself, repeatedly invaded the country militarily, supported dictators who abused the people, used the country as a dumping ground for our own economic advantage, ruined their roads and agriculture, and toppled popularly elected officials. The US has even used Haiti like the old plantation owner and slipped over there repeatedly for sexual recreation.

Here is the briefest history of some of the major US efforts to break Haiti.

In 1804, when Haiti achieved its freedom from France in the world’s first successful slave revolution, the United States refused to recognize the country. The US continued to refuse recognition to Haiti for 60 more years. Why? Because the US continued to enslave millions of its own citizens and feared recognizing Haiti would encourage slave revolution in the US.

After the 1804 revolution, Haiti was the subject of a crippling economic embargo by France and the US. US sanctions lasted until 1863. France ultimately used its military power to force Haiti to pay reparations for the slaves who were freed. The reparations were 150 million francs. (France sold the entire Louisiana territory to the US for 80 million francs!)

Haiti was forced to borrow money from banks in France and the US to pay reparations to France. A major loan from the US to pay off the French was finally paid off in 1947. The current value of the money Haiti was forced to pay to French and US banks? Over $20 Billion – with a big B.

The US occupied and ruled Haiti by force from 1915 to 1934. President Woodrow Wilson sent troops to invade in 1915. Revolts by Haitians were put down by US military – killing over 2000 in one skirmish alone. For the next nineteen years, the US controlled customs in Haiti, collected taxes, and ran many governmental institutions. How many billions were siphoned off by the US during these 19 years?

From 1957 to 1986 Haiti was forced to live under US backed dictators “Papa Doc” and “Baby Doc” Duvlaier. The US supported these dictators economically and militarily because they did what the US wanted and were politically “anti-communist” – now translatable as against human rights for their people. Duvalier stole millions from Haiti and ran up hundreds of millions in debt that Haiti still owes. Ten thousand Haitians lost their lives. Estimates say that Haiti owes $1.3 billion in external debt and that 40% of that debt was run up by the US-backed Duvaliers.

Thirty years ago Haiti imported no rice. Today Haiti imports nearly all its rice. Though Haiti was the sugar growing capital of the Caribbean, it now imports sugar as well. Why? The US and the US dominated world financial institutions – the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank – forced Haiti to open its markets to the world. Then the US dumped millions of tons of US subsidized rice and sugar into Haiti – undercutting their farmers and ruining Haitian agriculture. By ruining Haitian agriculture, the US has forced Haiti into becoming the third largest world market for US rice. Good for US farmers, bad for Haiti.

In 2002, the US stopped hundreds of millions of dollars in loans to Haiti which were to be used for, among other public projects like education, roads. These are the same roads which relief teams are having so much trouble navigating now!

In 2004, the US again destroyed democracy in Haiti when they supported the coup against Haiti’s elected President Aristide.

Haiti is even used for sexual recreation just like the old time plantations. Check the news carefully and you will find numerous stories of abuse of minors by missionaries, soldiers and charity workers. Plus there are the frequent sexual vacations taken to Haiti by people from the US and elsewhere. What is owed for that? What value would you put on it if it was your sisters and brothers?

US based corporations have for years been teaming up with Haitian elite to run sweatshops teeming with tens of thousands of Haitians who earn less than $2 a day.

The Haitian people have resisted the economic and military power of the US and others ever since their independence. Like all of us, Haitians made their own mistakes as well. But US power has forced Haitians to pay great prices – deaths, debt and abuse.

It is time for the people of the US to join with Haitians and reverse the course of US-Haitian relations.

This brief history shows why the US owes Haiti Billions – with a big B. This is not charity. This is justice. This is reparations. The current crisis is an opportunity for people in the US to own up to our country’s history of dominating Haiti and to make a truly just response.

(For more on the history of exploitation of Haiti by the US see: Paul Farmer, The Uses of Haiti; Peter Hallward, Damming the Flood; and Randall Robinson, An Unbroken Agony)

Bill is Legal Director at the Center for Constitutional Rights and a law professor at Loyola University New Orleans. He is a Katrina survivor and has been active in human rights in Haiti for years with the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. Quigley77@gmail.com

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Militarization of Haiti Aid: Humanitarian Operation or Invasion?

“The unspoken mission of US Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) with headquarters in Miami and US military installations throughout Latin America is to ensure the maintenance of subservient national regimes, namely US proxy governments, committed to the Washington Consensus and the neoliberal policy agenda. While US military personnel will at the outset be actively involved in emergency and disaster relief, this renewed US military presence in Haiti will be used  to establish a foothold in the country as well pursue America’s strategic and geopolitical objectives in the Caribbean basin, which are largely directed against Cuba and Venezuela.”

Global Research, January 15, 2010
And thanks to Dandelion Salad for posting this earlier!

The Militarization of Emergency Aid to Haiti: Is it a Humanitarian Operation or is it an Invasion?

Haiti has a longstanding history of US military intervention and occupation going back to the beginning of the 20th Century. US interventionism has contributed to the destruction of Haiti’s national economy and the impoverishment of its population.

The devastating earthquake is presented to World public opinion as the sole cause of the country’s predicament.

A country has been destroyed, its infrastructure demolished. Its people precipitated into abysmal poverty and despair.

Haiti’s history, its colonial past have been erased.

The US military has come to the rescue of an impoverished Nation. What is its Mandate?

Is it Humanitarian Operation or an Invasion?

The main actors in America’s “humanitarian operation” are the Department of Defense, the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). (See USAID Speeches: On-The-Record Briefing on the Situation in Haiti, 01/13/10). USAID has also been entrusted in channelling food aid to Haiti, which is distributed by the World Food Program. (See USAID Press Release: USAID to Provide Emergency Food Aid for Haiti Earthquake Victims)

The military component of the US mission, however, tends to overshadow the civilian functions of rescuing a desperate and impoverished population. The overall humanitarian operation is not being led by civilian governmental agencies such as FEMA or USAID, but by the Pentagon.

The dominant decision making role has been entrusted to US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM).

A massive deployment of military hardware personnel is contemplated. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen has confirmed that the US will be sending nine to ten thousand troops to Haiti, including 2000 marines. (American Forces Press Service, January 14, 2010)

Aircraft carrier, USS Carl Vinson and its complement of supporting ships has already arrived in Port au Prince. (January 15, 2010).  The  2,000-member Marine Amphibious Unit as well as and soldiers from the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne division “are trained in a wide variety of missions including security and riot-control in addition to humanitarian tasks.”

In contrast to rescue and relief teams dispatched by various civilian teams and organizations, the humanitarian mandate of the US military is not clearly defined:

“Marines are definitely warriors first, and that is what the world knows the Marines for,… [but] we’re equally as compassionate when we need to be, and this is a role that we’d like to show — that compassionate warrior, reaching out with a helping hand for those who need it. We are very excited about this.” (Marines’ Spokesman, Marines Embark on Haiti Response Mission, Army Forces Press Services, January 14, 2010)

While presidents Obama and Preval spoke on the phone, there was no discussions between the two governments, regarding the entry and deployment of  US troops on Haitian soil. The decision was taken and imposed unilaterally by Washington. The total lack of a functioning government in Haiti was used to legitimize, on humanitarian grounds, the sending in of a powerful military force, which has de facto taken over several governmental functions.


TABLE 1

Military assets  to be sent to Haiti. (according to official announcements)

The amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) and amphibious dock landing ships USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43) and USS Carter Hall (LSD 50).

A 2,000-member Marine Amphibious Unit from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit and soldiers from the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne division. 900 soldiers are slated to arrive in Haiti by January 15th.

Aircraft carrier, USS Carl Vinson and its complement of supporting ships. (arrived in Port au Prince on January 15, 2010):  USS Carl Vinson CVN 70

The hospital ship USNS Comfort

Several U.S. Coast Guard vessels and helicopters

The three amphibious ships will join aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy and guided-missile frigate USS Underwood.


Leading Role of US Southern Command

US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) with headquarters in Miami is the “lead agency” in Haiti. Its mandate as a regional military command is to carry out modern warfare. Its stated mission in Latin America and the Caribbean is  “to conduct military operations and promote security cooperation to achieve U.S. strategic objectives.” (Our Mission – U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) The commanding officers  are trained to oversee theater operations, military policing as well “counterinsurgency” in Latin America and the Caribbean, including the recent establishment of new US military bases in Colombia, within proximity of the Venezuelan border.

General Douglas Fraser, commander of U.S. Southern Command has defined the Haiti emergency operation as a Command, Control, Communications operation (C3). US Southern Command is to oversee a massive deployment of military hardware, including several warships, an aircraft carrier, airborne combat divisions, etc:

So we’re focused on getting command and control and communications there so that we can really get a better understanding of what’s going on. MINUSTAH [United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti], as their headquarters partially collapsed, lost a lot of their communication, and so we’re looking to robust that communication, also.

We’re also sending in assessment teams in conjunction with USAID, supporting their efforts, as well as putting in some of our own to support their efforts.

We’re moving various ships that we had in the region — they’re small ships, Coast Guard cutters, destroyers — in that direction, to provide whatever immediate assistance that we can on the ground.

We also have a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, the USS Carl Vinson, moving in that direction. It was at sea off of Norfolk, and so it’s going to take a couple of days for it to get there. We need to also just resupply it and give it the provisions it needs to support the effort as we look at Haiti. And then we’re looking across the international agencies to figure out how we support their efforts as well as our efforts.

We also are looking at a large-deck amphibious ship with an embarked Marine Expeditionary Unit on it that will be a couple of days behind the USS Vinson.

And that gives us a broader range of capability to move supplies around, to have lift capability to help support the effort there also.

So bottom line to it is, we don’t have a clear assessment right now of what the situation on the ground is, what the needs within Port-au-Prince are, how extensive the situation is.

We also, finally, have a team that’s headed in to the airport. From my understanding — because my deputy commander just happened to be in Haiti when this situation happened, on a previously scheduled visit. He has been to the airport. He says the runway is functional but the tower doesn’t have communications capability. The passenger terminal — has structural damage to it, so we don’t know what the status of it is.

So we have a group going in to make sure we can gain and secure the airfield and operate from it, because that’s one of those locations we think we’re going to have a lot of the immediate effort from an international basis going into.

And then we’re out conducting all the other assessments that you would consider appropriate as we go in and work this effort.

We’re also coordinating on the ground with MINUSTAH, with the folks who are there. The commander for MINUSTAH happened to be in Miami when this situation happened, so he’s right now traveling back through and should be arriving in Port-au-Prince any time now. So that will help us coordinate our efforts there also, because again, obviously the United Nations suffered a significant loss there with the collapse — at least partial collapse of their headquarters.

So that’s — those are the initial efforts that we have ongoing And as we get the assessments of what’s coming next, then we’ll adjust as required.

The secretary of Defense, the president, have all stipulated that this is a significant effort, and we’re corralling all the resources within the Department of Defense to support this effort. (Defense.gov News Transcript: DOD News Briefing with Gen. Fraser from the Pentagon, January 13, 2010)

A Heritage Foundation report summarizes the substance of America’s mission in Haiti: “The earthquake has both humanitarian and U.S. national security implications [requiring] a rapid response that is not only bold but decisive, mobilizing U.S. military, governmental, and civilian capabilities for both a short-term rescue and relief effort and a longer-term recovery and reform program in Haiti.” (James M. Roberts and Ray Walser, American Leadership Necessary to Assist Haiti After Devastating Earthquake, Heritage Foundation, January 14, 2010).

At the outset, the military mission will be involved in first aid and emergency.

The US Air Force has taken over air traffic control functions as well as the management of Port au Prince airport. In other words, the US military regulates the flow of emergency aid and relief supplies which are being brought into the country in civilian planes. The US Air Force is not working under the instructions of Haitian Airport officials. These officials have been displaced. The airport is run by the US Military (Interview with Haitian Ambassador to the US R. Joseph, PBS News, January 15, 2010)

The 1,000-bed U.S. Navy hospital ship, USNS Comfort, which includes more than 1,000 medical and support personnel has been sent to Haiti under the jurisdiction of Southern Command. (See  Navy hospital ship with 1,000 beds readies for Haiti quake relief, Digital Journal, January 14, 2010).

There were, at the time of the Earthquake, some 7100 military personnel and over 2000 police, namely a foreign force of over 9000. In contrast, the international civilian personnel of MINUSTAH is less than 500. MINUSTAH Facts and Figures – United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti

TABLE 2 United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH)

Current strength (30 November 2009)9,065 total uniformed personnel

Estimated combined SOUTHCOM and MINUSTAH forces; 19,095*

*Excluding commitments by France (unconfirmed) and Canada (confirmed 800 troops), France and Canada were partners in the 2004 Coup d`État,


The contingent of US forces under SOUTHCOM combined with those of MINUSTAH brings foreign military presence in Haiti to close to 20,000 in a country of 9 million people. In  comparison to Afghanistan, prior to Obama’s military surge, combined US and NATO forces were of the order of  70,000 for a population of 28 million. In other words, on a per capita basis there will be more troops in Haiti than in Afghanistan.

Recent US Military Interventions in Haiti

There have been several US sponsored military interventions in recent history. In 1994, following three years of military rule, a force of  20,000 occupation troops and “peace-keepers” was sent to Haiti. The 1994 US military intervention “was not intended to restore democracy. Quite the contrary: it was carried out to prevent a popular insurrection against the military Junta and its neoliberal cohorts.” (Michel Chossudovsky, The Destabilization of Haiti, Global Research, February 29, 2004)

US and allied troops remained in the country until 1999. The Haitian armed forces were disbanded and the US State Department hired a mercenary company DynCorp to provide “technical advice” in restructuring the Haitian National Police (HNP). (Ibid).

The February 2004 Coup d’Etat

In the months leading up to the 2004 Coup d’Etat, US special forces and the CIA were training death squadrons composed of the former tonton macoute of the Duvalier era. The Rebel paramilitary army crossed the border from the Dominican Republic in early February 2004. “It was a well armed, trained and equipped paramilitary unit integrated by former members of Le Front pour l’avancement et le progrès d’Haiti (FRAPH), the “plain clothes” death squadrons, involved in mass killings of civilians and political assassinations during the CIA sponsored 1991 military coup, which led to the overthrow of the democratically elected government of President Jean Bertrand Aristide.” (see Michel Chossudovsky,  The Destabilization of Haiti: Global Research. February 29, 2004)

Foreign troops were sent into Haiti. MINUSTAH was set up in the wake of the US sponsored coup d’Etat in February 2004 and the kidnapping and deportation of the democratically elected president Jean Bertrand Aristide. The coup was insitigated by the US with the support of  France and Canada.

The FRAPH units subsequently integrated the country’s police force, which was under the supervision of MINUSTAH. In the political and social disarray triggered of the earthquake, the former armed militia and  Ton Ton macoute will be playing a new role.

Hidden Agenda

The unspoken mission of US Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) with headquarters in Miami and US military installations throughout Latin America is to ensure the maintenance of subservient national regimes, namely US proxy governments, committed to the Washington Consensus and the neoliberal policy agenda. While US military personnel will at the outset be actively involved in emergency and disaster relief, this renewed US military presence in Haiti will be used  to establish a foothold in the country as well pursue America’s strategic and geopolitical objectives in the Caribbean basin, which are largely directed against Cuba and Venezuela.

The objective is not to work towards the rehabilitation of the national government, the presidency, the parliament, all of which has been decimated by the earthquake. Since the fall of the Duvalier dictatorship, America’s design has been to gradually dismantle the Haitian State, restore colonial patterns and obstruct the functioning of a democratic government. In the present context, the objective is not only to do away with the government but also to revamp the mandate of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), of which the headquarters have been destroyed.

“The role of heading the relief effort and managing the crisis quickly fell to the United States, for lack — in the short term, at least — of any other capable entity.” ( US Takes Charge in Haiti _ With Troops, Rescue Aid – NYTimes.com, January 14, 2009)

Prior to the earthquake, there were, according to US military sources, some 60 US military personnel in Haiti. From one day to the next, an outright military surge has occurred: 10000 troops, marines, special forces, intelligence operatives, etc, not to mention private mercenary forces on contract to the Pentagon.

In all likelihood the humanitarian operation will be used as a pretext and justification to establish a more permanent US military presence in Haiti.

We are dealing with a massive deployment, a “surge” of military personnel assigned to emergency relief.

The first mission of SOUTHCOM will be to take control of what remains of the country’s communications, transport and energy infrastructure. Already, the airport is under de facto US control. In all likelihood, the activities of MINUSTAH which from the outset in 2004 have served US foreign policy interests, will be coordinated with those of SOUTHCOM, namely the UN mission will be put under de facto control of the US military .

The Militarization of “Civil Society” Relief Organizations

The US military in Haiti seeks to oversee the activities of approved humanitarian organizations. It also purports to encroach upon the humanitarian activities of  Venezuela and Cuba:

“The government under President René Préval is weak and literally now in shambles. Cuba and Venezuela, already intent on minimizing U.S. influence in the region, are likely to seize this opportunity to raise their profile and influence…” ( James M. Roberts and Ray Walser, American Leadership Necessary to Assist Haiti After Devastating Earthquake, Heritage Foundation, January 14, 2010).

In the US, The militarization of emergency relief operations was established during the Katrina crisis, when the US military was called in to play a lead role.

The model of emergency intervention for SOUTHCOM is patterned on the role of  NORTHCOM, which was granted a mandate as “the lead agency” in US domestic emergency procedures. During Hurricane Rita in 2005, the groundwork for the “militarization of emergency relief” involving a leading role for the US military was established. In this regard, Bush had hinted to the central role of the military in emergency relief: “Is there a natural disaster–of a certain size–that would then enable the Defense Department to become the lead agency in coordinating and leading the response effort? That’s going to be a very important consideration for Congress to think about.” (Statement of President Bush at a press conference, Bush Urges Shift in Relief Responsibilities – washingtonpost.com, September 26, 2005).

“The response to the national disaster is not being coordinated by the civilian government out of Texas, but from a remote location and in accordance with military criteria. US Northern Command Headquarters will directly control the movement of military personnel and hardware in the Gulf of Mexico. As in the case of Katrina, it will override the actions of civilian bodies. Yet in this case, the entire operation is under the jurisdiction of the military rather than under that of FEMA.” (Michel Chossudovsky, US Northern Command and Hurricane Rita, Global Research, September 24, 2005)

Concluding Remarks

The entry of ten thousand heavily armed US troops, coupled with the activities of local militia could potentially precipitate the country into social chaos.

Twenty thousand foreign troops under SOUTHCOM and MINUSTAH commands will be present in the country.

The Haitian people have exhibited a high degree of solidarity, resilience and social commitment.

Helping one another and acting with consciousness: under very difficult conditions, citizens rescue teams were set up spontaneously.

The militarization of relief operations will break the organizational capabilities of Haitians to rebuild and reinstate the institutions of civilian government which have been destroyed. It will also encroach upon the efforts of  the international medical teams and civilian relief organisations.

It is absolutely essential that the Haitian people forcefully oppose the presence of foreign troops, particularly in public security operations.

It is essential that Americans forcefully oppose the sending of US combat troops to Haiti.

There can be no real reconstruction or development under foreign military occupation.

© Copyright Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, 2010

The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=17000

see

The West’s role in Haiti’s plight By Peter Hallward

Naomi Klein Issues Haiti Disaster Capitalism Alert + “The Sound of Screaming Is Constant”

from the archives:

A Man-Made Famine + Stuffed & Starved: Interview with Raj Patel

The Destabilization of Haiti: February 29, 2004, by Michel Chossudovsky


Haiti Didn’t Become a Poor Nation All on Its Own — The U.S’s Hidden Role

AlterNet, January 15, 2010

Haiti Didn’t Become a Poor Nation All on Its Own — The U.S’s Hidden Role in the Disaster

In the hours following Haiti’s devastating earthquake, CNN, the New York Times and other major news sources adopted a common interpretation for the severe destruction: the 7.0 earthquake was so devastating because it struck an urban area that was extremely over-populated and extremely poor. Houses “built on top of each other” and constructed by the poor people themselves made for a fragile city. And the country’s many years of underdevelopment and political turmoil made the Haitian government ill-prepared to respond to such a disaster.

True enough. But that’s not the whole story. What’s missing is any explanation of why there are so many Haitians living in and around Port-au-Prince and why so many of them are forced to survive on so little. Indeed, even when an explanation is ventured, it is often outrageously false such as a former U.S. diplomat’s testimony on CNN that Port-au-Prince’s overpopulation was due to the fact that Haitians, like most Third World people, know nothing of birth control.

It may startle news-hungry Americans to learn that these conditions the American media correctly attributes to magnifying the impact of this tremendous disaster were largely the product of American policies and an American-led development model.

From 1957-1971 Haitians lived under the dark shadow of “Papa Doc” Duvalier, a brutal dictator who enjoyed U.S. backing because he was seen by Americans as a reliable anti-Communist. After his death, Duvalier’s son, Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” became President-for-life at the age of 19 and he ruled Haiti until he was finally overthrown in 1986. It was in the 1970s and 1980s that Baby Doc and the United States government and business community worked together to put Haiti and Haiti’s capitol city on track to become what it was on January 12, 2010.

After the coronation of Baby Doc, American planners inside and outside the U.S. government initiated their plan to transform Haiti into the “Taiwan of the Caribbean.” This small, poor country situated conveniently close to the United States was instructed to abandon its agricultural past and develop a robust, export-oriented manufacturing sector. This, Duvalier and his allies were told, was the way toward modernization and economic development.

From the standpoint of the World Bank and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Haiti was the perfect candidate for this neoliberal facelift. The entrenched poverty of the Haitian masses could be used to force them into low-paying jobs sewing baseballs and assembling other products.

But USAID had plans for the countryside too. Not only were Haiti’s cities to become exporting bases but so was the countryside, with Haitian agriculture also reshaped along the lines of export-oriented, market-based production. To accomplish this USAID, along with urban industrialists and large landholders, worked to create agro-processing facilities, even while they increased their practice of dumping surplus agricultural products from the U.S. on the Haitian people.

This “aid” from the Americans, along with the structural changes in the countryside predictably forced Haitian peasants who could no longer survive to migrate to the cities, especially Port-au-Prince where the new manufacturing jobs were supposed to be. However, when they got there they found there weren’t nearly enough manufacturing jobs go around. The city became more and more crowded. Slum areas expanded. And to meet the housing needs of the displaced peasants, quickly and cheaply constructed housing was put up, sometimes placing houses right “on top of each other.”

Before too long, however, American planners and Haitian elites decided that perhaps their development model didn’t work so well in Haiti and they abandoned it. The consequences of these American-led changes remain, however.

When on the afternoon and evening of January 12, 2010 Haiti experienced that horrible earthquake and round after round of aftershock the destruction was, no doubt, greatly worsened by the very real over-crowding and poverty of Port-au-Prince and the surrounding areas. But shocked Americans can do more than shake their heads and, with pity, make a donation. They can confront their own country’s responsibility for the conditions in Port-au-Prince that magnified the earthquake’s impact, and they can acknowledge America’s role in keeping Haiti from achieving meaningful development. To accept the incomplete story of Haiti offered by CNN and the New York Times is to blame Haitians for being the victims of a scheme that was not of their own making. As John Milton wrote, “they who have put out the people’s eyes, reproach them of their blindness.”

Carl Lindskoog is a New York City-based activist and historian completing a doctoral degree at the City University of New York. You can contact him at cskoog79@yahoo.com

Also see “Why is Haiti Poor?”

shortlink to this post: http://wp.me/p3xLR-lU


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