Haiti: US Profiting From Disaster With Conditional Aid?

As aid trickles into Haiti and news trickles out, and as the extent of the horror unfolding there following the earthquake becomes more widely known, decisions are already being made that will affect the kind of country surviving Haitians will live in that emerges from the disaster.

In this video from The Real News today independendent journalist Ansel Herz reports live from Port-Au-Prince on the role that the deployed US troops are playing, while author Peter Hallward weighs in on the role that the US has played in Haiti’s recent history and shares his concerns that post-earthquake Haiti will further cement the domination of the Haitian people by foreigners.



Real News Network – January 19, 2010

Transcript here


Haiti: Guns or food?

Presence of US troops provides both hope of relief, and fear of continuing legacy of US domination

Ansel Herz is an independent journalist and web designer originally from the United States but currently based in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti. His personal website can be found at www.mediahacker.com.

Peter Hallward is a Professor of Modern European Philosophy at Middlesex University in England. In 2007 he published the acclaimed historical account of post-1990 Haitian politics, Damming the Flood: Haiti, Aristide, and the Politics of Containment. He is the editor of the journal Radical Philosophy and a contributing editor to Angelaki: Journal of the Theoretical Humanities.

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    • Edger on January 20, 2010 at 2:03 am
      Author

    As Benjamin Dangl wrote yesterday in Profiting From Haiti’s Crisis:

    US corporations, private mercenaries, Washington and the International Monetary Fund are using the crisis in Haiti to make a profit, promote unpopular neoliberal policies, and extend military and economic control over the Haitian people.

    [snip]

    Disaster Capitalism Comes to Haiti

    As Noami Klein thoroughly proved in her book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, throughout history, “while people were reeling from natural disasters, wars and economic upheavals, savvy politicians and industry leaders nefariously implemented policies that would never have passed during less muddled times.” This push to apply unpopular neoliberal policies began almost immediately after the earthquake in Haiti.

    In a talk recorded by Democracy Now!, Klein explained that the disaster in Haiti is created on the one hand by nature, and on the other hand “is worsened by the poverty that our governments have been so complicit in deepening. Crises-natural disasters are so much worse in countries like Haiti, because you have soil erosion because the poverty means people are building in very, very precarious ways, so houses just slide down because they are built in places where they shouldn’t be built. All of this is interconnected. But we have to be absolutely clear that this tragedy, which is part natural, part unnatural, must, under no circumstances, be used to, one, further indebt Haiti, and, two, to push through unpopular corporatist policies in the interests of our corporations.”

    Following the disaster in Haiti, Klein pointed out that the Heritage Foundation, “one of the leading advocates of exploiting disasters to push through their unpopular pro-corporate policies,” issued a statement on its website after the earthquake hit: “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.”

    The mercenary trade group International Peace Operations Association (IPOA) immediately offered their services to provide “security” in Haiti to its member companies, according to Jeremy Scahill. Within hours of the earthquake, Scahill wrote, the IPOA website announced, “In the wake of the tragic events in Haiti, a number of IPOA’s member companies are available and prepared to provide a wide variety of critical relief services to the earthquake’s victims.”

    Kathy Robison, a Fortune 500 executive, formerly with Goldman Sachs Companies, wrote of the earthquake disaster in Haiti. “The business leaders I have been meeting with have seen enough disappointment and suffering,” she wrote. “What Haiti needs is economic development and the building of a true middle class. … There is much we are planning as far as creating new and innovative ways of using international aid and government support to promote private investment.”

    On January 14, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced a $100 million loan to Haiti to help with relief efforts. However, Richard Kim at The Nation wrote that this loan was added onto $165 million in debt made up of loans with conditions “including raising prices for electricity, refusing pay increases to all public employees except those making minimum wage and keeping inflation low.” This new $100 million loan has the same conditions. Kim writes, “in the face of this latest tragedy, the IMF is still using crisis and debt as leverage to compel neoliberal reforms.”

       

  1. has put out a petition on this issue:

    Food Not Troops – End the U.S. Military Occupation

    Send a message to President Obama, former Presidents Clinton and Bush: “The People of Haiti need food, water, and medical aid, not military occupation”

    Sign the Petition here

    According to news reports the Pentagon has been given complete control over the Port-au-Prince airport and is responsible for all air traffic control. There are increasing reports that aid organizations have accused the U.S. military “of focusing their efforts on getting their people and troops installed and lifting their citizens out.” (New York Times, Jan. 17, 2010)

    Under the pretext of stopping alleged looting, the U.S. has now forced the government of President Rene Preval to pass emergency measures that would delegate all security to the Pentagon.

    The U.S. military presence has expanded from 3,500 soldiers of the 82nd Airborne Division, 2,200 U.S. Marines, to an estimated 10,000 troops. It is outrageous that the Haitian people are being forced to endure even greater hardship so that the U.S. can expand their military occupation.

    According to Jarry Emmanuel, air logistics officer for World Food Organization: “There are 200 flights going in and out every day, which is an incredible amount for a country like Haiti. But most of those flights are for the U.S. military. Their priorities are to secure the country. Ours are to feed.”

    A plane from Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontiéres (MSF) carrying medical supplies was denied permission to land on Jan. 16. After Red Cross flights were continually diverted they choose to attempt to enter with a truck convoy via the Dominican Republic. The news media has reported that France, Brazil and Italy along with major international relief agencies were so upset by having aid shipments diverted that they have lodged formal complaints. Argentine, Peruvian and Mexican flights filled with rescuers and supplies were also turned back. The Caricom, the Caribbean Community’s emergency aid mission to Haiti, was refused landing.

    French Secretary of State for Cooperation Alain Joyandet told reporters he had lodged a complaint with the United States over its handling of the Port-au-Prince airport. “I have made an official protest to the Americans through the U.S. embassy,” he said at the Haitian airport after a French plane carrying a field hospital was turned away. (AFP Jan. 17) After two relief flights were turned away the French ambassador to Haiti, Didier Le Bret, said that the Port-au-Prince airport has become “not an airport for the international community. It is an annex of Washington.” (The Guardian UK Jan. 17)

    Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez on Jan. 17 said the United States was using the earthquake in Haiti as a pretext to occupy the devastated country and offered to send fuel. Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega says that the United States has taken advantage of the massive quake in Haiti and deployed troops in the country.

    Haiti is the poorest and least developed country in the hemisphere, everyone repeats. That is true, but it is because Haiti has been occupied by U.S. military forces again and again. This is what makes the latest U.S. troop deployment to Haiti so ominous. As in the past, it will not help Haiti.

    >From 1804, when the first successful slave revolution in history drove out the French colonialists and slave masters, until the present, Washington has continually imposed sanctions, debt repayments and military intervention in an attempt to crush Haitian independence. The U.S. directly occupied the country from 1915 to 1934 and again in the last 20 years.

    In 2004 in a coup, planned from Washington and supported by troops from France and Canada, President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a president democratically elected by over 90 percent of the vote in the last election was kidnapped and removed. The U.S. still prevents President Aristide from returning to Haiti from South Africa, where he is exiled. The U.S. set up an occupation of Haiti under UN command. Six years of this UN occupation has done nothing to develop Haiti or improve its infrastructure. Instead it has led to still greater poverty and hunger and unsustainable debt.

    This is an important time to oppose to all forms of U.S. military occupation of Haiti. The peoples movement must demand that Haiti’s airport be used for flights carrying desperately needed medical aid, food and water, not U.S. troops.

    Your message to U.S. officials, U.S. and international media and to UN officials is an important step to call for international humanitarian assistance and to show international opposition to continued U.S. occupation of Haiti.

    PETITION

    To President Barack Obama, former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush:

    The People of Haiti need food, water, and medical aid, not military occupation.

    According to news reports, the Pentagon has been given complete control over the Port Au Prince airport and is responsible for all air traffic control. There are increasing reports that aid organizations have accused the U.S. military “of focusing their efforts on getting their people and troops installed and lifting their citizens out.” (New York Times, Jan. 17)

    Under the pretext of stopping alleged looting, the U.S. has now forced the government of President Rene Preval to pass emergency measures that would delegate all security to the Pentagon.

    The U.S. military presence has expanded from 3,500 soldiers of the 82nd Airborne Division, 2,200 U.S. Marines, to an estimated 10,000 troops. It is outrageous that the Haitian people are being forced to endure even greater hardship so that the U.S. can expand their military occupation.

    Haiti’s airport must be devoted to humanitarian relief flights. Haiti needs food water and medical aid, not a U.S. military occupation. Haiti’s sovereignty and democratically elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide must be restored.

    Sign the Petition here

    • dkmich on January 20, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    a time share during the funeral.  Everytime you think you’ve seen it all, here comes another record low.  

  2. …all day today on KPFA-FM, Pacifica radio out of Berkeley.  All monies raised will go to Doctors Without Borders and Partners for Health.

    Tune in to 94.1 in the SF Bay Area or listen on line at kpfa dot org.

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