Fear of the poor is hampering Haiti rescue
Linda Polman, Timesonline
Aid workers have already baptised the earthquake in Haiti a “historical disaster”. It will rate high in the annals of the humanitarian aid world because of the number of victims and scale of the destruction. But the rescue operation is also becoming notorious for the slowness with which aid is reaching the victims. Five days after the quake hit, many places are still largely bereft of international aid.
Not through lack of funds, supplies or emergency experts. Those are all pouring in from dozens of countries. But most of the aid — and aid workers — seems stuck at the airport.
Rescue teams have pulled survivors from five-star hotels, university buildings, a supermarket and the UN headquarters, all in Port-au-Prince’s better neighbourhoods. In poor areas, where the damage appears much greater, apparently forgotten victims report on Twitter that they have yet to encounter the first foreign rescuer.
Many aid workers are reported to have orders not to venture out without armed guards — which are not there at all, or only after long debates with the UN military command. The UN has lost a number of staff in the quake, and is not keen to risk more lives…
(18 Jan 2010)
Why The US Owes Haiti Billions – The Briefest History
Bill Quigley znet
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…
(18 Jan 2010)
Senegal offers land to Haitians
Senegal’s president says he will offer free land and “repatriation” to people affected by the earthquake in Haiti.
President Abdoulaye Wade said Haitians were sons and daughters of Africa since Haiti was founded by slaves, including some thought to be from Senegal.
“The president is offering voluntary repatriation to any Haitian that wants to return to their origin,” said Mr Wade’s spokesman, Mamadou Bemba Ndiaye…
(17 Jan 2010)
Year 501: The Tragedy of Haiti
Noam Chomsky, znet
Editor’s Note | The excerpt below is from “Year 501” – a book written by Noam Chomsky in 1993. The text is heavily footnoted. To view those footnotes in their entirety, click the link to the original which has been provided. – wrp
1. “The First Free Nation of Free Men”
“Haiti was more than the New World’s second oldest republic,” anthropologist Ira Lowenthal observed, “more than even the first black republic of the modern world. Haiti was the first free nation of free men to arise within, and in resistance to, the emerging constellation of Western European empire.” The interaction of the New World’s two oldest republics for 200 years again illustrates the persistence of basic themes of policy, their institutional roots and cultural concomitants.
The Republic of Haiti was established on January 1, 1804, after a slave revolt expelled the French colonial rulers and their allies. The revolutionary chiefs discarded the French “Saint-Domingue” in favor of the name used by the people who had greeted Columbus in 1492, as he arrived to establish his first settlement in Europe’s New World. The descendants of the original inhabitants could not celebrate the liberation. They had been reduced to a few hundred within 50 years from a pre-Colombian population estimated variously from hundreds of thousands to 8 million, with none remaining at all, according to contemporary French scholars, when France took the western third of Hispaniola, now Haiti, from Spain in 1697. The leader of the revolt, Toussaint L’Ouverture, could not celebrate the victory either. He had been captured by deceit and sent to a French prison to die a “slow death from cold and misery,” in the words of a 19th century French historian. Medical anthropologist Paul Farmer observes that Haitian schoolchildren to this day know by heart his final words as he was led to prison: “In overthrowing me, you have cut down in Saint-Domingue only the tree of liberty. It will spring up again by the roots for they are numerous and deep.”1
The tree of liberty broke through the soil again in 1985, as the population revolted against the murderous Duvalier dictatorship. After many bitter struggles, the popular revolution led to the overwhelming victory of Haiti’s first freely elected president, the populist priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Seven months after his February 1991 inauguration he was driven from office by the military and commercial elite who had ruled for 200 years, and would not tolerate loss of their traditional rights of terror and exploitation…
Haiti: a long descent to hell
Jon Henley, the guardian
Geography and bad luck are only partly to blame for Haiti’s tragedy. There are, plainly, more propitious places for a country and its capital city to find themselves than straddling the major fault line between the North American and Caribbean tectonic plates. It’s more than unfortunate to be positioned plumb on the region’s principal hurricane track, meaning you would be hit, in the 2008 season alone, by a quartet of storms as deadly and destructive as Fay, Gustav, Hannah and Ike (between them, they killed 800 people, and devastated more than 70% of Haiti’s agricultural land). Wretched, also, to have fallen victim to calamitous flooding in 2002, 2003 (twice), 2006 and 2007.
But what has really left Haiti in such a state today, what makes the country a constant and heart-rending site of recurring catastrophe, is its history. In Haiti, the last five centuries have combined to produce a people so poor, an infrastructure so nonexistent and a state so hopelessly ineffectual that whatever natural disaster chooses to strike next, its impact on the population will be magnified many, many times over. Every single factor that international experts look for when trying to measure a nation’s vulnerability to natural disasters is, in Haiti, at the very top of the scale. Countries, when it comes to dealing with disaster, do not get worse.
“Haiti has had slavery, revolution, debt, deforestation, corruption, exploitation and violence,” says Alex von Tunzelmann, a historian and writer currently working on a book about the country and its near neighbours, the Dominican Republic and Cuba. “Now it has poverty, illiteracy, overcrowding, no infrastructure, environmental disaster and large areas without the rule of law. And that was before the earthquake. It sounds a terrible cliche, but it really is a perfect storm. This is a catastrophe beyond our worst imagination.”…
(14 Jan 2010)