*******The Militarization of Emergency Aid to Haiti: Is it a Humanitarian Operation or an Invasion?
Have We Been Taken to the Cleaners or What?
04 February 2008
The Fateful Geological Prize Called Haiti
By F. William Engdahl
URL of this article: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=17287
Global Research, January 30, 2010
President becomes UN Special Envoy to earthquake-stricken Haiti.
A born-again neo-conservative US business wheeler-dealer preacher claims Haitians are condemned for making a literal pact with the Devil.
Venezuelan, Nicaraguan, Bolivian, French and Swiss rescue organizations accuse the US military of refusing landing rights to planes bearing necessary medicines and urgently needed potable water to the millions of Haitians stricken, injured and homeless.
Behind the smoke, rubble and unending drama of human tragedy in the hapless Caribbean country, a drama is in full play for control of what geophysicists believe may be one of the world s richest zones for hydrocarbons-oil and gas outside the Middle East, possibly orders of magnitude greater than that of nearby Venezuela.
Haiti, and the larger island of Hispaniola of which it is a part, has the geological fate that it straddles one of the world s most active geological zones, where the deepwater plates of three huge structures relentlessly rub against one another the intersection of the North American, South American and Caribbean tectonic plates. Below the ocean and the waters of the Caribbean, these plates consist of an oceanic crust some 3 to 6 miles thick, floating atop an adjacent mantle. Haiti also lies at the edge of the region known as the Bermuda Triangle, a vast area in the Caribbean subject to bizarre and unexplained disturbances.
Haiti, and the larger island of Hispaniola of which it is a part, has the geological fate that it straddles one of the world s most active geological zones, where the deepwater plates of three huge structures relentlessly rub against one another the intersection of the North American, South American and Caribbean tectonic plates. Below the ocean and the waters of the Caribbean, these plates consist of an oceanic crust some 3 to 6 miles thick, floating atop an adjacent mantle. Haiti also lies at the edge of the region known as the Bermuda Triangle, a vast area in the Caribbean subject to bizarre and unexplained disturbances.
This vast mass of underwater plates are in constant motion, rubbing against each other along lines analogous to cracks in a broken porcelain vase that has been reglued. The earth s tectonic plates typically move at a rate 50 to 100 mm annually in relation to one another, and are the origin of earthquakes and of volcanoes. The regions of convergence of such plates are also areas where vast volumes of oil and gas can be pushed upwards from the Earth s mantle. The geophysics surrounding the convergence of the three plates that run more or less directly beneath Port-au-Prince make the region prone to earthquakes such as the one that struck Haiti with devastating ferocity on January 12.
A relevant Texas geological project
Leaving aside the relevant question of how well in advance the Pentagon and US scientists knew the quake was about to occur, and what Pentagon plans were being laid before January 12, another issue emerges around the events in Haiti that might help explain the bizarre behavior to date of the major rescue players the United States, France and Canada. Aside from being prone to violent earthquakes, Haiti also happens to lie in a zone that, due to the unusual geographical intersection of its three tectonic plates, might well be straddling one of the world s largest unexplored zones of oil and gas, as well as of valuable rare strategic minerals.
The vast oil reserves of the Persian Gulf and of the region from the Red Sea into the Gulf of Aden are at a similar convergence zone of large tectonic plates, as are such oil-rich zones as Indonesia and the waters off the coast of California. In short, in terms of the physics of the earth, precisely such intersections of tectonic masses as run directly beneath Haiti have a remarkable tendency to be the sites of vast treasures of minerals, as well as oil and gas, throughout the world.
Notably, in 2005, a year after the Bush-Cheney Administration de facto deposed the democratically elected President of Haiti, Jean-Baptiste Aristide, a team of geologists from the Institute for Geophysics at the University of Texas began an ambitious and thorough two-phase mapping of all geological data of the Caribbean Basins. The project is due to be completed in 2011. Directed by Dr. Paul Mann, it is called Caribbean Basins, Tectonics and Hydrocarbons. It is all about determining as precisely as possible the relation between tectonic plates in the Caribbean and the potential for hydrocarbons oil and gas.
Notably, the sponsors of the multi-million dollar research project under Mann are the world s largest oil companies, including Chevron, ExxonMobil, the Anglo-Dutch Shell and BHP Billiton. Curiously enough, the project is the first comprehensive geological mapping of a region that, one would have thought, would have been a priority decades ago for the US oil majors. Given the immense, existing oil production off Mexico, Louisiana, and the entire Caribbean, as well as its proximity to the United States not to mention the US focus on its own energy security it is surprising that the region had not been mapped earlier. Now it emerges that major oil companies were at least generally aware of the huge oil potential of the region long ago, but apparently decided to keep it quiet.
Evidence that the US Administration may well have more in mind for Haiti than the improvement of the lot of the devastated Haitian people can be found in nearby waters off Cuba, directly across from Port-au-Prince. In October 2008 a consortium of oil companies led by Spain's Repsol, together with Cuba's state oil company, Cubapetroleo, announced discovery of one of the world's largest oilfields in the deep water off Cuba. It is what oil geologists call a Super-giant field. Estimates are that the Cuban field contains as much as 20 billion barrels of oil, making it the twelfth Super-giant oilfield discovered since 1996. The discovery also likely makes Cuba a new high-priority target for Pentagon destabilization and other nasty operations.
No doubt to the dismay of Washington, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev flew to Havana one month after the Cuban giant oil find to sign an agreement with acting-President Raul Castro for Russian oil companies to explore and develop Cuban oil.
The Cuba Super-giant oil find also leaves the advocates of Peak Oil theory with more egg on the face. Shortly before the Bush-Blair decision to invade and occupy Iraq, a theory made the rounds of cyberspace, that sometime after 2010, the world would reach an absolute peak in world oil production, initiating a period of decline with drastic social and economic implications. Its prominent spokesmen, including retired oil geologist Colin Campbell and Texas oil banker Matt Simmons, claimed that there had not been a single new Super-giant oil discovery since 1976, or thereabouts, and that new fields found over the past two decades had been tiny compared with the earlier giant discoveries in Saudi Arabia, Prudhoe Bay, Daquing in China and elsewhere.
The Russian and Ukrainian geophysicists then proved that the oil or gas produced in the earth's mantle was pushed upwards along faults or cracks in the earth as close to the surface as pressures permitted. The process was analogous to the production of molten lava in volcanoes. It means that the ability to find oil is limited, relatively speaking, only by the ability to identify deep fissures and complex geological activity conducive to bringing the oil out from deep in the earth. It seems that the waters of the Caribbean, especially those off Cuba and its neighbor Haiti, are just such a region of concentrated hydrocarbons (oil and gas) that have found their way upwards close to the surface, perhaps in a magnitude comparable to a new Saudi Arabia.
It is critical to note that, more than half a century ago, a group of Russian and Ukrainian geophysicists, working in state secrecy, confirmed that hydrocarbons originated deep in the earth's mantle under conditions similar to a giant burning cauldron at extreme temperature and pressure. They demonstrated that, contrary to US and accepted Western mainstream geology, hydrocarbons were not the result of dead dinosaur detritus concentrated and compressed and somehow transformed into oil and gas millions of years ago, nor of algae or other biological material.
Have We Been Taken to the Cleaners or What?
04 February 2008
*******Haiti, a new Saudi Arabia?
The remarkable geography of Haiti and Cuba and the discovery of world-class oil reserves in the waters off Cuba lend credence to anecdotal accounts of major oil discoveries in several parts of Haitian territory. It also could explain why two Bush Presidents and now special UN Haiti Envoy Bill Clinton have made Haiti such a priority. As well, it could explain why Washington and its NGOs moved so quickly to remove-- twice-- the democratically elected President Aristide, whose economic program for Haiti included, among other items, proposals for developing Haitian natural resources for the benefit of the Haitian people.
In March 2004, some months before the University of Texas and American Big Oil launched their ambitious mapping of the hydrocarbon potentials of the Caribbean, a Haitian writer, Dr. Georges Michel, published online an article titled Oil in Haiti. In it, Michel wrote,
According to a June 2008 article by Roberson Alphonse in the Haitian paper, Le Nouvelliste en Haiti, The signs, (indicators), justifying the explorations of oil (black gold) in Haiti are encouraging. In the middle of the oil shock, some 4 companies want official licenses from the Haitian State to drill for oil.
[I]t has been no secret that deep in the earthy bowels of the two states that share the island of Haiti and the surrounding waters that there are significant, still untapped deposits of oil. One knows not why they are still untapped. Since the early twentieth century, the physical and political map of the island of Haiti, erected in 1908 by Messrs. Alexander Poujol and Henry Thomasset, reported a major oil reservoir in Haiti near the source of the Rio Todo El Mondo, Tributary Right Artibonite River, better known today as the River Thomonde.
At the time, oil prices were climbing above $140 a barrel -- on manipulations by various Wall Street banks. Alphonse's article quoted Dieusuel Anglade, the Haitian State Director of the Office of Mining and Energy, telling the Haitian press: "We've received four requests for oil exploration permits. We have had encouraging indicators to justify the pursuit of the exploration of black gold (oil), which had stopped in 1979."
Alphonse reported the findings from a 1979 geological study in Haiti of 11 exploratory oil wells drilled at the Plaine du Cul-de-sac on the Plateau Central and at L'ile de La Gonaive: Surface (tentative) indicators for oil were found at the Southern peninsula and on the North coast, explained the engineer Anglade, who strongly believes in the immediate commercial viability of these explorations.
Journalist Alphonse cites an August 16, 1979 memo by Haitian attorney Francois Lamothe, in which he noted that five big wells were drilled down to depths of 9000 feet and that a sample that underwent a physical-chemical analysis in Munich, Germany had revealed tracks of oil.
Despite the promising 1979 results in Haiti, Dr. Georges Michel reported that, the big multinational oil companies operating in Haiti pushed for the discovered deposits not to be exploited. Oil exploration in and offshore Haiti ground to a sudden halt as a result.
Similar if less precise reports claiming that Haitian oil reserves could be vastly larger than those of Venezuela have appeared in Haitian websites. Then in 2010 the financial news site Bloomberg News carried the following:
The Jan. 12 earthquake was on a fault line that passes near potential gas reserves, said Stephen Pierce, a geologist who worked in the region for 30 years for companies that included the former Mobil Corp. The quake may have cracked rock formations along the fault, allowing gas or oil to temporarily seep toward the surface, he said Monday in a telephone interview. A geologist, callous as it may seem, tracing that fault zone from Port-au-Prince to the border looking for gas and oil seeps, may find a structure that hasn't been drilled, said Pierce, exploration manager at Zion Oil & Gas Inc., a Dallas-based company that's drilling in Israel.
In an interview with a Santo Domingo online paper, Leopoldo Espaillat Nanita, former head of the Dominican Petroleum Refinery (REFIDOMSA) stated, there is a multinational conspiracy to illegally take the mineral resources of the Haitian people. Haiti s minerals include gold, the valuable strategic metal iridium and oil, apparently lots of it.
Aristide s development plans
Marguerite Laurent ('Ezili Dantò'), president of the Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network (HLLN) who served as attorney for the deposed Aristide, notes that when Aristide was President -- up until his US-backed ouster during the Bush era in 2004 -- he had developed and published in book form his national development plans. These plans included, for the first time, a detailed list of known sites where the resources of Haiti were located. The publication of the plan sparked a national debate over Haitian radio and in the media about the future of the country. Aristide's plan was to implement a public-private partnership to ensure that the development of Haiti's oil, gold and other valuable resources would benefit the national economy and the broader population, and not merely the five Haitian oligarchic families and their US backers, the so-called Chimeres or gangsters.
Since the ouster of Aristide in 2004, Haiti has been an occupied country, with a dubiously-elected President, Rene Preval, a controversial follower of IMF privatization mandates and reportedly tied to the Chimeres or Haitian oligarchs who backed the removal of Aristide. Notably, the US State Department refuses to permit the return of Aristide from South African exile.
Now, in the wake of the devastating earthquake of January 12, the United States military has taken control of Haiti s four airports and presently has some 20,000 troops in the country. Journalists and international aid organizations have accused the US military of being more concerned with imposing military control, which it prefers to call security, than with bringing urgently needed water, food and medicine from the airport sites to the population.
According to Marguerite Laurent ('Ezili Dantò') of the Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network, under the guise of emergency relief work, the US, France and Canada are engaged in a balkanization of the island for future mineral control. She reports rumors that Canada wants the North of Haiti where Canadian mining interests are already present. The US wants Port-au-Prince and the island of La Gonaive just offshore an area identified in Aristide's development book as having vast oil resources, and which is bitterly contested by France. She further states that China, with UN veto power over the de facto UN-occupied country, may have something to say against such a US-France-Canada carve up of the vast wealth of the nation.*******
Schnews: Haiti - The Aftershock Doctrine
24 January 2010
As the rescue effort winds down and the body count piles up, SchNEWS takes a look at why this earthquake hit so many so hard, and how the international aid effort is being subverted by military and corporate power.
As Haiti’s total estimated dead hovers at around 200,000, the earthquake has hit the country so hard that it’s dropped a whole digit off its former population of 10 million. It’s almost a law of world injustice that the poorer the country, the more vague the body count.
Haiti is a unique place. The only nation to be founded by a slave rebellion, its angry population of African slaves managed to defeat the French back in 1791. Renamed as Haiti - the original Arawak name for the island - it was the Cuba of its day- an inspiration to enslaved peoples the world over and a thorn in the side of the imperial regimes.
Unfortunately for Haitians, the western powers have long memories. Unable to reconquer Haiti militarily, the people of Haiti have been subjected to blockades and one sided trade agreements ever since. The prize for most outrageous treaty probably goes to the 19th century French government, which demanded that Haitians pay France reparations for lost earnings following the loss of ‘their’ slaves.
As French neo-colonialism was replaced by the American variety, years of massive loans on impossible interest rates has meant that any money from Haiti’s cash crops have gone directly to international banks, after corrupt leaders took their cut.
The infamous hereditary dictatorship of ‘Papa’ Doc and ‘Baby’ Doc Duvalier ruled the country with a unique form of voodoo oppression between 1957 and 1986. The three decades of Duvalier rule saw Haiti change from being able to feed its population to becoming a cash crop economy reliant on US food imports.
One of the many unpleasant sights from the Haitian disaster was former US presidents George W Bush and Bill Clinton standing together, earnestly encouraging people to help Haiti. Haiti’s former president, Jean Bertrand Aristide, was deposed by Bush Senior in ’91, reinstated on Clinton’s orders by US troops (on condition that he sign up to harsh neo-liberal measures), only to be deposed by the Marines in 2004.
All of this provides some sort of context for the relief effort that’s underway. Lack of money and the complete absence of almost any social function of the state meant that when the magnitude 7 quake hit so close to Port au Prince, whole neighbourhoods of the slum city disintegrated. The airport, seaport, roads and communication links were all so badly built and their destruction so total that the normal routes for aid and rescue teams were barred.
Whilst everyone else from Medicine San Frontiers to the Icelandic government were busy sending food, medics and drinking water, the Americans dithered, sending the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson three days later, without emergency relief supplies but with plenty of sidewinder missiles and combat helicopters. In that peculiar form of helping that we’ve learned to know so well, the Americans sent in the marines (again). Some 10,000 troops have been, or are about to be deployed - a readymade army of occupation.
Even as the rest of the world pitched in, the Americans claimed they couldn’t deliver aid without making sure Haiti was safe first.As of Tuesday, the US military is officially in direct control of Haiti. But then, in reality, Haiti has been effectively under occupation on and off for years now. The troops providing aid should be seen in this light - As the Geneva Convention states: “The duties of the occupying power include ... providing the population with food and medical supplies; agreeing to relief schemes... maintaining medical facilities and services; [and] ensuring public health and hygiene.”
In an effort to prove that the military presence is somehow necessary, the US media has been hard at work painting a picture (just like New Orleans post Katrina) of criminal gangs, mass lootings and ‘human rats’ (to quote Time Magazine) that need pacifying in order to be given assistance. Yet the word from agencies on the ground is that, apart from the desperate search for food and basic supplies, the population has been relatively quiet.
The militarisation of the Haiti aid effort has caused huge problems for international NGOs. Medicine Sans Frontiers has publicly criticised the USA for slowing down and mismanaging the aid effort. Since Sunday MSF medics and 5 planes carrying 85 tonnes of drugs and surgical supplies have been turned away from the airport due to the prioritisation of military air traffic.
Francoise Saulnier, head of MSF’s legal department said, “We lost three days, and these three days have created a massive problem with infection, with gangrene, with amputations that are needed now, while we could have really spared this to those people."
Just as it did in Iraq, the US military has been trying to control the flow of information out of Haiti. Yesterday ( 21ST) the military ordered the removal of all international journalists from the Haitian capital’s airport, without bothering to supply any explanation.
Public pressure from debt relief activists such as Jubilee USA, complete with the facebook campaign “No shock doctrine for Haiti” managed to curtail some of the most obviously exploitative aspects of the IMF’s proposal. Anti-capitalista Naomi Klein called this victory "unprecedented in my experience and shows that public pressure in moments of disaster can seriously subvert shock doctrine tactics."
As witnessed during Katrina and the ‘04 Tsunami, the public response looks set to overwhelm the response of governments and international institutions. In Britain alone, the public has already donated £31 million via the Disasters Emergency Committee. The DEC is part run by the government, and, although they may be good at distributing aid, don’t expect much in the way of criticism over the handling of Haiti’s ongoing disaster. For anarchists/activists who do want to donate to the aid effort without compromising their anti-state credentials, Medicine Sans Frontiers and Medicine Du Monden have a consistent track record of doing (and saying) the right thing.*******
Haiti in America
Aftermath of the Haitian quake
By Lynn M Stuter
Friday, January 22, 2010
On January 12, 2010, an earthquake, 7.0 on the Richter Scale, hit the tiny country of Haiti in the Caribbean. The quake, felt as far away as Tampa, Florida and Caracas, Venezuela, was centered (epicenter) very close to Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti. The last approximated seismic activity along the tectonic plates believed responsible for the quake was in the mid-1800’s. There have been approximately 50 aftershocks, the largest measuring 5.9 on the Richter Scale occurring on January 20, 2010 with the epicenter 30 miles west-southwest of Port-au-Prince.
Because Haiti is a relatively poor country, the damage was extensive. Buildings, not built to withstand earthquake activity, collapsed killing and injuring many inside. Estimates of the number killed have reached as high as 200,000 people. The hunt for the living continues with the probability of survivors dwindling with each passing day.
There is no doubt the situation in Haiti is dire. In a matter of seconds, the people of Haiti went from living their lives to facing the havoc nature can wreak. But the Haitian people, living in the hurricane zone, are not unaware of the destructive force of nature. More than one hurricane has devastated the country in the past, leaving thousands dead in the aftermath. What makes an earthquake so much more horrifying is that it strikes without warning.
Immediately following the quake, every news organization in the United States started soliciting money from Americans to help. Benefits were quickly put together, every broadcast featured those soliciting donations and where Americans could donate. Also Known As (AKA) Obama enlisted the assistance of former presidents Bill Clinton and George W Bush in organizing and overseeing aid.
The machinations of trying to get help to a country, whose ability to accommodate large planes and ships was limited at best before the quake, has been excruciating to watch. Since government runs largely on the premise that money is no option, efficiency isn’t either. Much like trying to drive a square peg into a round hole, instead of looking at what would work, given the situation, they tried to force the situation to accommodate them, which never works. The result has been aid planes being forced to divert as they were unable to land and off-load supplies and ships that could not dock because the ports were mostly destroyed by the quake.
How these same government personnel could fight a war with any hope of winning is undoubtedly a question that has crossed more than a few minds even though the circumstances are different.
Americans have been approached to give, give, give, to help the poor people of Haiti. From an article, published in the Tennessean on January 20, 2010 comes this little jewel, “We need so much. Food, clothes, we need everything. I don’t know whose responsibility it is, but they need to give us something soon.”
It’s been eight days since the quake hit. What this quip intones is that a majority of the Haitian people are sitting back, expecting someone else to be responsible for them: feed, clothe and shelter them.
Since when is anyone else responsible for them? Yes, helping the relief effort is a good thing, but this rather indicates they expect it.
And Americans, by the accounts given by news organizations, nation-wide, have been more than generous, not only in what they have given out of their pocket, but in the cost to them for all the military people, ships, planes and supplies showing up in Haiti on the American taxpayer dime, including those that have had to divert because they couldn’t land.
And Americans are also being ordered to sacrifice. By Executive Order, AKA has instituted involuntary recall of reserves; people who have jobs and families who must now leave those jobs and families to head to Haiti. That is happening at this time.
Estimates are that it will be six months before the Haitian people can become self-sufficient again. I’m sure most can see cost estimates reaching into the billions, coming right out of the pockets of the American taxpayer, already swamped by an national debt rapidly approaching $13,000,000,000,000!
In addition, an article published in the Miami Herald, states that 200,000 Haitians could file for temporary protective status, meaning they are, at this time, in the United States illegally but will be allowed to remain here for another eighteen months rather than be deported. Illegal aliens are taking jobs that Americans need to survive and too many illegals end up utilizing the already over-stressed social welfare systems of the United States, the cost of which is coming right out of the pocket of the American taxpayers.
On August 29, 2005, a hurricane named Katrina devastated New Orleans, Louisiana. Many lost their lives as they expected the government would help them, save them, look out for them; they learned, too late, how inefficient and ineffective government bureaucracy is.
The devastation from water breaching dikes was catastrophic; Katrina was the costliest hurricane in history.
As happened in the aftermath of the Haitian quake, the machinations of those who should have been there, immediately, to help, was embarrassing at best, inefficient and disorganized at worst. When the government finally got its act somewhat together, it provided formaldehyde saturated trailers for survivors to live in. Many are still living in those trailers today, five years later. The money and help, supposed to be there for them, has never arrived.
Where did all the money go that the American people so generously gave to help the people of New Orleans? No one seems to know. There has been no accounting.
But one cannot help but remember GW Bush’s comment, in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, to FEMA Director Mike Brown, “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job!!!!” This is the same GW Bush now enlisted to help in the Haiti relief effort!
The following is an e-mail I received from a colleague whose name shall remain anonymous for obvious reasons:
I deplore anybody demanding that I give my money to the RED Cross / Clinton-Bush!! First off - Let the IMF -World Bank that bankrupted these folks do the bailing out! How about Baby Doc with his exclusive Paris Apt - mansion on the Riviera! Most appalling was appointing Clinton-Bush to head financial part of this crisis! Right! Bush Sr. - Clinton supposedly did this for Indonesia - billions disappeared - the victims left in the lurch! Same with Katrina!
Billions gone missing. How dare there be this GREAT outpouring, when people in the Gulf are still living in FEMA trailers - and in Aug, President Obama told (stopped over for a couple hrs!) folks in New Orleans, that there was ‘no money for a hospital’.
Before this ‘convenient’ earthquake - the coast guard would STOP any Haitians (unlike Cubans) trying to land - and escort them BACK to Haiti. A few weeks ago Homeland Security was ‘deporting some 30 thousand’!!
What makes this an unbelievable travesty is the FACT that many citizens are being put off dialysis treatment in Florida — NO MONEY. Millions (Americans) are living in their cars - shelters - flea bag motels and TENT Cities from Seattle to HAWAII ( 3,400) which I noted that the Obama’s did not visit on their 2 week vacation with the gang from Chicago (a thank you).
Meantime, we have millions out of work - taxes upon taxes being put on homeowners. It appears to me that any relocation should be to ‘other’ islands - South America (climate wise) - NOT in a bankrupt country where we’re borrowing money from China to give to Haiti.
What is not being discussed, is the epidemic of AIDS in this population and TB (incurable). But God forbid you say anything — you’re labeled inhumane!!
But - note, you will not see these sick, illiterate people, relocated to Hawaii (near Oprah’s’ massive acreage) - West Palm Beach - CaptiviaIsland - Jackson Hole, Wyoming etc. Plus the Red Cross! Are you kidding me - ask folk (9/11 - Katrina) about where all the millions went? They are the LAST people I’d give to.
The anger here is unmistakable which brings us to another aspect of this.
Where are all the charitable organizations when an American family loses their home and is forced to live in their vehicle, under a bridge, in a tent, or in a shelter (if one can be found that can and will accommodate them) because of circumstances beyond their control, because of the policies instituted by Congress, and the current and past administrations that have resulted in home loans now in foreclosure and jobs sent overseas?
What about those people, and there are literally hundreds of thousands now, if not millions, in the United States who are homeless, starving and dying because of circumstances beyond their control?
No, they didn’t suffer catastrophic and sudden loss, evoking TV cameras and a rush of reporters to record their gut-wrenching plight; but are they any less victims? Are they any less in need of help?
Where is the outpouring of generosity to help these people? What, generosity is only forthcoming if there are TV cameras, notoriety, and a pat on the head from a celebrity for helping the cause?
Shouldn’t we look out for our own first? Do these people need a building to fall on them, a bridge to collapse, a dike to burst, or some such calamity to get the help they need?
What a sad indictment of the need of the American people to be entertained by the trauma of others brought to them in daily doses through the lens of a camera from places like earthquake-ravaged Haiti!
What a sad indictment of the American people that they will fork over billions to help Haiti but ignore those in need in their own country!
What happened in Haiti is horrible, gut-wrenching; of that there is no doubt and no quarrel; but what is happening to our own people in our own country is just as bad, if not worse, and it’s been going on for a whole lot longer than eight days!*******
Haiti: An Unwelcome Katrina Redux
by Cynthia McKinney
Global Research, January 19, 2010
President Obama's response to the tragedy in Haiti has been robust in military deployment and puny in what the Haitians need most: food; first responders and their specialized equipment; doctors and medical facilities and equipment; and engineers, heavy equipment, and heavy movers. Sadly, President Obama is dispatching Presidents Bush and Clinton, and thousands of Marines and U.S. soldiers. By contrast, Cuba has over 400 doctors on the ground and is sending in more; Cubans, Argentinians, Icelanders, Nicaraguans, Venezuelans, and many others are already on the ground working--saving lives and treating the injured. Senegal has offered land to Haitians willing to relocate to Africa.
The United States, on the day after the tragedy struck, confirmed that an entire Marine Expeditionary Force was being considered "to help restore order," when the "disorder" had been caused by an earthquake striking Haiti; not since 1751, 1770, 1842, 1860, and 1887 had Haiti experienced an earthquake. But, I remember the bogus reports of chaos and violence the led to the deployment of military assets, including Blackwater, in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. One Katrina survivor noted that the people needed food and shelter and the U.S. government sent men with guns. Much to my disquiet, it seems, here we go again. From the very beginning, U.S. assistance to Haiti has looked to me more like an invasion than a humanitarian relief operation.
On Day Two of the tragedy, a C-130 plane with a military assessment team landed in Haiti, with the rest of the team expected to land soon thereafter. The stated purpose of this team was to determine what military resources were needed.
An Air Force special operations team was also expected to land to provide air traffic control. Now, the reports are that the U.S. is not allowing assistance in, shades of Hurricane Katrina, all over again.
On President Obama's orders military aircraft "flew over the island, mapping the destruction." So, the first U.S. contribution to the humanitarian relief needed in Haiti were reconnaissance drones whose staffing are more accustomed to looking for hidden weapon sites and surface-to-air missile batteries than wrecked infrastructure. The scope of the U.S. response soon became clear: aircraft carrer, Marine transport ship, four C-140 airlifts, and evacuations to Guantanamo. By the end of Day Two, according to the Washington Post report, the United States had evacuated to Guantanamo Bay about eight  severely injured patients, in addition to U.S. Embassy staffers, who had been "designated as priorities by the U.S. Ambassador and his staff."
On Day Three we learned that other U.S. ships, including destroyers, were moving toward Haiti. Interestingly, the Washington Post reported that the standing task force that coordinates the U.S. response to mass migration events from Cuba or Haiti was monitoring events, but had not yet ramped up its operations. That tidbit was interesting in and of itself, that those two countries are attended to by a standing task force, but the treatment of their nationals is vastly different, with Cubans being awarded immediate acceptance from the U.S. government, and by contrast, internment for Haitian nationals.
U.S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral James Watson IV reassured Americans, "Our focus right now is to prevent that, and we are going to work with the Defense Department, the State Department, FEMA and all the agencies of the federal government to minimize the risk of Haitians who want to flee their country," Watson said. "We want to provide them those releif supplies so they can live in Haiti."
By the end of Day Four, the U.S. reportedly had evacuated over 800 U.S. nationals.
For those of us who have been following events in Haiti before the tragic earthquake, it is worth noting that several items have caused deep concern:
1. the continued exile of Haiti's democratically-elected and well-loved, yet twice-removed former priest, President Jean-Bertrand Aristide;
2. the unexplained continued occupation of the country by United Nations troops who have killed innocent Haitians and are hardly there for "security" (I've personally seen them on the roads that only lead to Haiti's sparsely-populated areas teeming with beautiful beaches);
3. U.S. construction of its fifth-largest embassy in the world in Port-au-Prince, Haiti;
4. mining and port licenses and contracts, including the privatization of Haiti's deep water ports, because certain off-shore oil and transshipment arrangements would not be possible inside the U.S. for environmental and other considerations; and
5. Extensive foreign NGO presence in Haiti that could be rendered unnecessary if, instead, appropriate U.S. and other government policy allowed the Haitian people some modicum of political and economic self-determination.
Therefore, we note here the writings of Ms. Marguerite Laurent, whom I met in her capacity as attorney for ousted President of Haiti Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Ms. Laurent reminds us of Haiti's offshore oil and other mineral riches and recent revivial of an old idea to use Haiti and an oil refinery to be built there as a transshipment terminal for U.S. supertankers. Ms. Laurent, also known as Ezili Danto of the Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network (HLLN), writes:
"There is evidence that the United States found oil in Haiti decades ago and due to the geopolitical circumstances and big business interests of that era made the decision to keep Haitian oil in reserve for when Middle Eastern oil had dried up. This is detailed by Dr. Georges Michel in an article dated March 27, 2004 outlining the history of oil explorations and oil reserves in Haiti and in the research of Dr. Ginette and Daniel Mathurin.
"There is also good evidence that these very same big US oil companies and their inter-related monopolies of engineering and defense contractors made plans, decades ago, to use Haiti's deep water ports either for oil refineries or to develop oil tank farm sites or depots where crude oil could be stored and later transferred to small tankers to serve U.S. and Caribbean ports. This is detailed in a paper about the Dunn Plantation at Fort Liberte in Haiti.
"Ezili's HLLN underlines these two papers on Haiti's oil resources and the works of Dr. Ginette and Daniel Mathurin in order to provide a view one will not find in the mainstream media nor anywhere else as to the economic and strategic reasons the US has constructed its fifth largest embassy in the world - fifth only besides the US embassy in China, Iraq, Iran and Germany - in tiny Haiti, post the 2004 Haiti Bush regime change."
Unfortunately, before the tragedy struck, and despite pleading to the Administration by Haiti activists inside the United States, President Obama failed to stop the deportation of Haitians inside the United States and failed to grant TPS, temporary protected status, to Haitians inside the U.S. in peril of being deported due to visa expirations. That was corrected on Day Three of Haiti's earthquake tragedy with the January 15, 2010 announcement that Haiti would join Honduras, Nicaragua, Somalia, El Salvador, and Sudan as a country granted TPS by the Secretary of Homeland Security.
President Obama's appointment of President Bush to the Haiti relief effort is a swift left jab to the face, in my opinion. After President Bush's performance in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the fact that still today, Hurricane Katrina survivors who want to return still have not been provided a way back home, the appointment might augur well for fundraising activities, but I doubt that it bodes well for the Haitian people. Afterall, the coup against and the kidnapping of President Aristide occurred under the watch of a Bush Presidency.
This pesky, persistent, stubbornly non-Western, proudly African people of this piece of land that we call Haiti know their history and they know that they militarily defeated the ruling world empire of the day, Napoleon's France, and the global elite at that time who supported him. They know that they defeated the armies of England and Spain.
Haitians know that they used their status as a free state to help liberate Latin Americans from Spain, by funding and fighting alongside Simon Bolivar; their example inspired their still-enslaved African brothers and sisters on the American mainland; and before Haitians were even free, they fought against the British inside the U.S. during its war of independence and won a decisive battle in Savannah, Georgia, where I have visited the statue commemorating that victory.
Haitians know that France imposed reparations on them for being free, and Haiti paid them in full, but that President Aristide called for France to give that money back ($21 billion in 2003 dollars).
Haitians know that their "brother," then-Secretary of State Colin Powell lied to the world upon the kidnapping and second ouster of their President. (Sadly, it wouldn't be the last time that Secretary of State Colin Powell would lie to the world.) Haitians know, all-too-well, that high-ranking blacks in the United States are capable of helping them and of betraying them.
Haitians know, too, that the United States has installed its political proxies and even its own soldiers onto Haitian soil when the U.S. felt it was necessary. All in an effort to control the indomitable Haitian spirit that directs much-needed light to the rest of the oppressed world.
While the tears of the people of Haiti swell in my own eyes, and I remember their tremendous capacity for love, my broken heart and wet eyes don't dampen my ability to understand the grave danger that now faces my friends in Haiti.
I shudder to think that the "rollback" policies believed in by some foreign policy advisors to President Obama could use a prolonged U.S. military presence in Haiti as a springboard for rollback of areas in Latin America that have liberated themselves from U.S. neo-colonial domination. I would hate to think that this would even be attempted under the Presidency of Barack Obama. All of us must have our eyes wide open on Haiti and other parts of the world now dripping in blood as a result of the relentless onward march of the U.S. military machine.
So, on this remembrance of the birth of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I note that it was the U.S. government's own illegal Operation Lantern Spike that snuffed out the promise and light of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Every plane of humanitarian assistance that is turned away by the U.S. military (so far from CARICOM, the Caribbean Community, Médecins Sans Frontieres, Brazil, France, Italy, and even the U.S. Red Cross)--as was done in the wake of Hurricane Katrina--and the expected arrival on this very day of up to 10,000 U.S. troops, are lasting reminders of the existential threat that now looms over the valiant, proud people and the Republic of Haiti.*******
Bush, Clinton and the Crimes of US Imperialism in Haiti
by Patrick Martin
Global Research, January 19, 2010
The Obama administration has announced that former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush will head the fundraising for relief efforts in the wake of the Haiti earthquake. In his radio speech Saturday, Obama declared: “These two leaders send an unmistakable message to the people of Haiti and the world. In a moment of need, the United States stands united.”
The message of the Clinton-Bush appointment is indeed significant, but hardly what the White House and the American media have suggested. In selecting his two immediate predecessors, those who have set US policy in the Caribbean since 1993, Obama demonstrates that the devastating human tragedy in Haiti will not bring any alteration in the rapacious role of US imperialism in that impoverished semi-colonial country.
For eight years apiece, Clinton and Bush were directly and deeply involved in a series of political machinations and military interventions that have played a major role in perpetuating the poverty, backwardness and repression in Haiti that have vastly compounded by the disaster that struck that country last Tuesday.Clinton took office in the immediate aftermath of the military coup which ousted Haiti’s first democratically elected president, the populist cleric Jean-Bertrand Aristide. That coup was backed by the administration of Bush’s father, who saw Aristide as an unwanted and potentially dangerous radical.
Both men have the blood of Haitian workers and peasants on their hands.The new Democratic Party administration undertook a tactical shift in policy. Clinton imposed economic sanctions on the Haitian junta, which destroyed Haiti’s fledgling export industries, then dispatched the Marines to Haiti—for the third time in the 20th century—to compel Gen. Raoul Cedras, the junta leader, to depart. The US restored Aristide to the presidency, after he had given assurances that he would do nothing to challenge the domination of either Washington or the native Haitian elite, and that he would leave office in 1996 without seeking reelection.
After Aristide obediently left office on schedule, he was succeeded by René Préval, who served the first of his two terms as president from 1996 to 2001, carrying out the dictates of an International Monetary Fund “structural adjustment” program that slashed employment, cut public services, and ruined domestic rice farmers.
When Aristide’s Fanmi Lavalas party won a clear victory in May 2000 legislative elections, the Clinton administration and the Republican-controlled Congress refused to accept the election and cut off US aid. Aristide himself returned to the presidency after winning a landslide election victory in November 2000, only to face an implacable enemy in the incoming Bush administration.
For three years, Haiti was systematically starved by the US aid cutoff and measures taken by the Bush administration to block international aid and isolate the Aristide government. Finally, in February 2004, amid protests fomented by the Haitian ruling elite with covert American backing, the US military again intervened in the country, seizing Aristide and shipping him out of the country to exile.
The Marines turned over effective control of the country to a United Nations peacekeeping force, with Brazil providing the biggest troop contingent, propping up a series of unelected Haitian prime ministers until elections in 2006, from which candidates of Fanmi Lavalas were largely excluded. René Préval was elected president for the second time, in a term scheduled to end late this year. Once a supporter and professed political “twin” of Aristide, Préval has long since made his peace with both Washington and the Haitian ruling elite, and his second term has been characterized by slavish subservience to the economic prescriptions of Wall Street and the International Monetary Fund.
Throughout the Clinton and Bush administrations, US demands for adherence to IMF austerity policies were combined with a vicious program of repression against Haitians fleeing the country of their birth to seek refuge and a better life in the United States. In his first campaign for the presidency, in 1992, Clinton criticized the persecution and forced repatriation of Haitian refugees, only to reverse himself and continue those policies unaltered. For the next 17 years—and continuing with no change from Obama—hundreds of refugees have died in small boats seeking to evade the US Coast Guard blockade.
Most recently, Clinton has been the official UN envoy for Haiti, backing the corrupt Préval regime and seeking to develop Haiti as a base for a profitable US-run garment industry founded on near-starvation wages. Food riots swept the country in April 2008, but that did not stop Préval from blocking legislation that would have raised the minimum wage of $1.72 a day for workers in the garment factories.
As for George W. Bush, his selection as co-leader of a supposed humanitarian campaign is an insult to the people of both Haiti and the United States. His appointment by Obama is in keeping with the Democratic president’s unflagging efforts since his election, the result of popular hatred of Bush and his party, to rehabilitate the Republicans.
An unapologetic war criminal who is responsible for the slaughter of a million Iraqis, Bush’s signature domestic “achievement” was the abject failure of the US government either to prevent the devastation of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast in Hurricane Katrina, or to mount an effective relief and recovery effort afterwards.
This is the record of the two men whom Barack Obama has selected as the public face of the latest US initiative in Haiti. Bush and Clinton made a series of media appearances over the weekend, including interviews on all five Sunday television news programs, during which they emphasized the need to restore “stability” to Haiti, and the important role that the United States would have to play in that effort.
Bush and Clinton personify the pernicious and reactionary role that American imperialism has played in Haiti for the last century. It is no exaggeration to say that the policies of their administrations have caused as much death and devastation in that country as last Tuesday’s earthquake.*******
U.S. Using Relief Mission As Pretext to Occupy Haiti
by Patrick Goodenough
Global Research, January 19, 2010
To support the massive aid operation following last Tuesday’s devastating quake, the U.S. was set to have up to 10,000 troops on the ground or in the waters off Haiti by early this week
But the presence of 82nd Airborne Division troops at Port-au-Prince airport, Air Force C-17s ferrying in equipment, water and supplies and the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson equipped with 19 helicopters off Haiti, along with the news that more troops and assets including a hospital ship are on their way, raised suspicions in some quarters.
“What is happening in Haiti seriously concerns me as U.S. troops have already taken control of the airport,” Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega said late Friday.
The Nicaraguan newspaper El Nuevo Diario said Ortega accused the U.S. of manipulating the tragedy to install troops in Haiti. It said the comments were made during a meeting with a Syrian government minister.
“Haiti seeks humanitarian aid, not troops,” he said. “I hope they will withdraw troops occupying Haiti.”
Ortega also expressed satisfaction that members of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) – a left-wing regional grouping led by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez – were involved in the humanitarian effort. Nicaragua earlier sent 31 military doctors and Venezuela has sent doctors, medicines and food.
On Sunday Chavez weighed in, using his weekly television and radio show to question U.S. motives in Haiti, and accusing it of “occupying Haiti undercover.”
“[President] Obama, stop sending troops to Haiti, send doctors,” the official Venezuelan ABN news agency quoted him as saying. “Haiti does not need troops.”
According to U.S. Southern Command, which is overseeing the U.S. military relief effort in Haiti, as of Sunday military aircraft and helicopters had airlifted 130,000 daily rations and 70,000 bottles of water into Port-au-Prince, with a further 600,000 daily rations scheduled to arrive in the coming days.
To alleviate the immediate need for water supplies, reverse osmosis water purification units were in Haiti to make water, with more en route.
Chavez and other ALBA leaders frequently allege that the U.S. is conspiring to bring down their governments and has plans to intervene militarily in the region.
In recent months they have pointed to a U.S. agreement to use military bases in Colombia as supposed proof of such a plot. The U.S. and Colombia say the agreement is in support of counter narcotics operations in the region. It followed the refusal of Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa – another ALBA member – to renew a 10-year lease for the use of an Ecuadorian airbase for the anti-drug mission.*******
No, Mister, You Can't Share My Pain
Haiti's Bill of Particulars
By John Maxwell
January 19, 2010
If you shared my pain you would not continue to make me suffer, to torture me, to deny me my dignity and my rights, especially my rights to self-determination and self-expression.
Six years ago you sent your Ambassador Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to perform an action illegal under the laws of your country, my country and of the international community of nations.
It was an act so outrageous, so bestially vile and wicked that your journalists and news agencies, your diplomats and politicians to this day cannot bring themselves to truthfully describe or own up to the crime that was committed when US Ambassador James Foley, a career diplomat, arrived at the house of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide with a bunch of CIA thugs and US Marines to kidnap the president of Haiti and his wife.
The Aristides were stowed aboard a CIA plane normally used for 'renditions' of suspected terrorists to the worldwide US gulag of dungeons and torture chambers.
The plane, on which the Aristides are listed as "cargo", flew to Antigua - an hour away - and remained on the ground in Antigua while Colin Powell's State Department and the CIA tried to blackmail and bribe various African countries to accept ("give asylum to") the kidnapped president and his wife.
The Central African Republic - one of George W Bush's 'Dark Corners of the World' - agreed for an undisclosed sum, to give the Aristides temporary asylum.
Before any credible plot can be designed and paid for - for the disappearance of the Aristides - they are rescued by friends, flown to temporary asylum in Jamaica where the Government cravenly yielded to the blackmail of Condoleezza Rice to deny them the permanent asylum to which they were entitled and which most Jamaicans had hoped for.
Meanwhile, in Haiti, the US Marines protected an undisciplined ragbag of rapists and murderers to allow them entry to the capital. The Marines chased the medical students out of the new Medical School established by Aristide with Cuban help and teachers. The Marines bivouac in the school, going out on nightly raids, trailed by fleets of ambulances with body bags, hunting down Fanmi Lavalas activists described as 'chimeres' - terrorists.
The real terrorists, led by two convicted murderers, Chamblain and Philippe, assisted the Marines in the eradication of 'chimeres' until the Marines were replaced by foreign troops, paid by the United Nations, who took up the hunt on behalf of the civilised world - France, Canada, the US and Brazil.
The terrorists and the remains of the Duvalier tontons and the CIA-bred FRAPF declared open season on the remnants of Aristide's programmes to build democracy. They burnt down the new museum of Haitian culture, destroyed the children's television station and generally laid waste to anything and everything which could remind Haitians of their glorious history.
Haitians don't know that without their help Latin America might still be part of the Spanish Empire and Simon Bolivar a brief historical footnote.
Imagine, Niggers Speaking French!
About 90 years ago when Professor Woodrow Wilson was president of the USA, his secretary of state was a fundamentalist lawyer named William Jennings Bryan who had three times run unsuccessfully for president.
The Americans had decided to invade Haiti to collect debts owed by Haiti to Citibank.
General Smedley Butler, the only American soldier to have twice won the Congressional Medal of Honour, described his role in the US Army:
"I helped make Mexico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half-a-dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long.
General Butler said: "I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. ... My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical in the military service." Butler compared himself unfavourably to Al Capone. He said his official racketeering made Capone look like an amateur.
Secretary Bryan was dumbfounded by the Haitians. "Imagine," he said, "Niggers speaking French!"
Smedley Butler and Bryan were involved in Haiti because of something that happened nearly a hundred years before. The French slave-masters, expelled from Haiti and defeated again when they tried to re-enslave the Haitians, connived with the Americans to starve them into submission by a trade embargo. With no sale for Haitian sugar, the country was weak and run-down when a French fleet arrived bearing a demand for reparations. Having bought their freedom in blood, the Haitians were to purchase it again in gold.
The French demanded, essentially, that the Haitians pay France an amount equivalent to 90 per cent of the entire Haitian budget for the foreseeable future. When this commitment proved too arduous to honour, the City Bank offered the Haitians a 'debt exchange", paying off the French in exchange for a lower-interest, longer-term debt. The terms may have seemed better but were just as usurious and it was not paid off until 1947.
Because of the debt the Americans invaded Haiti, seized the Treasury, exiled the president, their Jim Crow policies were used to divide the society, to harass the poor and finally provoked a second struggle for freedom which was one of the most brutal episodes in colonial history.
Long before Franco bombed Guernica, exciting the horror and revulsion of civilised people, the Americans perfected their dive-bombing techniques against unarmed Haitian peasants, many of whom had never seen aircraft before.
The Americans set up a Haitian Army in the image of their Jim Crow Marines, and it was these people, the alien and alienated Élite who, with some conscripted blacks like the Duvaliers, have ruled Haiti for most of the last century.
When I flew over Haiti for the first time in 1959 en route from New York to San Juan, Puerto Rico, I saw for the first time the border between the green Dominican Republic and brown Haiti.
First-world journalists interpret the absence of trees on the Haitian side to the predations of the poor, disregarding the fact that Western religion and American capitalism were mainly responsible.
Why is it that nowhere else in the Caribbean is there similar deforestation?
Haiti's Dessalines constitution offered sanctuary to every escaped slave of any colour. All such people of whatever colour were deemed 'black' and entitled to citizenship. Only officially certified 'blacks' could own land in Haiti.
The American occupation, anticipating Hayek, Freedman and Greenspan, decided that such a rule was a hindrance to development. The assistant secretary of the US Navy, one Franklin D Roosevelt, was given the job of writing a new, modern constitution for Haiti.
This constitution meant foreigners could own land. Within a very short time the lumberjacks were busy, felling old growth Mahogany and Caribbean Pine for carved doors for the rich and mahogany speedboats, boardroom tables seating 40, etc. The devastated land was put to produce rubber, sisal for ropes and all sorts of pie in the sky plantations.
When President Paul Magloire came to Jamaica 50 years ago Haitians were still speaking of an Artibonite dam for electricity and irrigation. But the ravages of the recent past were too much to recover.
As Marguerite Laurent (EziliDanto) writes: Don't expect to learn how a people with a Vodun culture that reveres nature and especially the Mapou (oak-like or ceiba pendantra/bombax) trees, and other such big trees as the abode of living entities and therefore as sacred things, were forced to watch the Catholic Church, during Rejete - the violent anti-Vodun crusade - gather whole communities at gunpoint into public squares, and forced them to watch their agents burn Haitian trees in order to teach Haitians their Vodun Gods were not in nature, that the trees were the "houses of Satan".
In partnership with the US, the mulatto President Elie Lescot (1941-45) summarily expelled peasants from more than 100,000 hectares of land, razing their homes and destroying more than a million fruit trees in the vain effort to cultivate rubber on a large plantation scale. Also, under the pretext of the Rejete campaign, thousands of acres of peasant lands were cleared of sacred trees so that the US could take their lands for agribusiness.
After the Flood
Norman Manley used to say "River Come Down" when his party seemed likely to prevail. The Kreyol word Lavalas conveys the same meaning.
Since the Haitian people's decisive rejection of the Duvalier dictatorships in the early 90s, their spark and leader has been Jean-Bertrand Aristide whose bona fides may be assessed from the fact that the CIA and conservative Americans have been trying to discredit him almost from the word go.
As he put it in one of his books, his intention has been to build a paradise on the garbage heap bequeathed to Haiti by the US and the Elite.
The bill of particulars is too long to go into here, but the destruction of the new museum of Culture, the breaking up of the medical school, the destruction of the children's television station gives you the flavour. But the essence is captured in the brutal attempt to obliterate the spirit of Haitian community; the attempt to destroy Lavalas by murdering its men and raping its women, the American-directed subversion of a real police force, the attacks on education and the obliteration of the community self-help systems which meant that when Hurricane Jeanne and all the other weather systems since have struck Haiti, many more have died than in any other country similarly stricken. In an earthquake, totally unpredictable, every bad factor is multiplied.
The American blocking of international aid means that there is no modern water supply anywhere, no town planning, no safe roads, none of the ordinary infrastructure of any other Caribbean state. There are no building standards, no emergency shelters, no parks.
So, when I write about mothers unwittingly walking on dead babies in the mud, when I write about people so poor they must eat patties made of clay and shortening, when I write about people with their faces 'chopped off' or about any of eight million horror stories from the crime scene that is Haiti, please don't tell me you share their pain or mine.
Tell me, where is Lovinsky Pierre Antoine and ten thousand like him?
If you want to understand me, look at the woman in the picture (above), and the children half-buried with her. You cannot hear their screams because they know there is no point in screaming. It will do no more good than voting.
What is she thinking: perhaps it is something like this - No, mister! You cannot share my pain!
Some time, perhaps after the camera is gone, people will return to dig us out with their bare hands. But not you.
John Maxwell writes for the Jamaica Observer, where this article originally appeared.*******
Haiti: The Science of a Seismic Storm
by Alan Boyle
Global Research, January 18, 2010
In this satellite image of the capital the damaged buildings are marked with red dots. Those with black ones are damaged but not yet been officially confirmed as such
The death toll seems certain to rise into the tens of thousands [200,000 - Fox News, 19 January 2010] in the wake of Port-au-Prince's magnitude-7 quake, compared with a death toll of 63 after the magnitude-7 Loma Prieta quake. The difference clearly has to do with the woeful state of infrastructure in Haiti, the Western Hemisphere's poorest country.
"A large part of the death toll and destruction tends to be in the infrastructure. ... In developing countries, we don't know what kind of building infrastructure they have, but it's safe to assume that it's less safe there in terms of shaking activity," said Alex Hutko, a research seismologist at the U.S. Geological Survey's National Earthquake Information Center in Golden, Colo.
*******Experts say Tuesday's earthquake was the strongest shock to hit what is now known as Haiti since 1770. However, the Dominican Republic, Haiti's eastern neighbor on the island of Hispaniola, fell victim to a magnitude-8.0 tremor in 1946. That event killed about 100 people, with most of those lost in the tsunami created by the offshore quake. About 20,000 were left homeless.
Dominicans back then were relatively lucky in that the quake occurred in the early afternoon on a holiday, when most people were outdoors. In contrast, the Haiti quake was close to a perfect seismic storm:
The area where the shock occurred, known as the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden fault zone or EPGFZ, had not had a major rupture in more than a century. Haiti sits at the boundary between the North American and the Caribbean tectonic plates, which move across each other at a rate of nearly an inch (20 millimeters) per year. In the EPGFZ in particular, the average annual slippage is a third of an inch (7 to 8 mm). But all that strain has been building up for decades. The really eerie thing is that seismologists predicted almost two years ago that Port-au-Prince could be in for a 7.2 earthquake, due to the buildup of strain in the EPGFZ.
A magnitude-7 earthquake is toward the high end of the scale, but magnitude is not the only factor that determines how damaging a quake can be. A little more than two years ago, for example, a 7.7 quake in Chile killed just two people. This time, however, the epicenter was relatively close to the surface (6 miles or 10 kilometers deep) and relatively close to Haiti's biggest population center (10 miles or 15 kilometers from Port-au-Prince, with a population of more than 2 million). Shallower seismic activity is much more dangerous than deep rumblings, and the level of shaking drops off substantially over distance. This quake was so strong that it reportedly broke water lines at the U.S. military's Guantanamo Bay base in Cuba, 200 miles away.
The geology of the area hit by the quake is also a big factor. "Soft ground tends to amplify the shaking and also can tend to break up the foundation of structures if the ground ruptures underneath them," Michael Blanpied, associate coordinator for the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program, said in a podcast about the Haiti earthquake. Hutko told me the USGS didn't have information about the soil geology in Port-au-Prince. However, the large number of collapsed structures would fit the pattern for a soft-ground quake.
The timing of the quake, at 4:53 p.m. Haiti time (ET) on a weekday, caught many people in their offices - the worst place to be when buildings are falling. Among those who were caught in that situation was the chief of the U.N.'s Haiti mission, who was meeting with a Chinese delegation at the five-story office building and was among those unaccounted for.
The state of infrastructure in Haiti was the real killer. After the tragic collapse of a school in 2008, Port-au-Prince's mayor estimated that about 60 percent of the city's buildings were shoddily built and dangerous under normal conditions. The country has been struggling with grinding poverty for years, due to decades of political instability as well as a series of natural disasters. Ironically, Haiti's horrible infrastructure is a disincentive for investment, creating a vicious circle of economic hardship.
The 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake provides several parallels for Tuesday's quake in Haiti: Both involved strike-slip faults - the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden fault in Haiti, and the San Andreas fault system in California. Both caused catastrophic damage to infrastructure: Twenty-one years ago, most of the quake victims died when Oakland's Cypress Street Viaduct collapsed. A day ago, hundreds of thousands of people were trapped in collapsed structures ranging from simple shacks to the National Palace.
The timelines for the two events could diverge dramatically during the aftermath.
Lessons learned from Loma Prieta were put to use in a wave of large-scale rebuilding projects, in the Bay Area as well as in other quake-prone areas such as Seattle. It will be a miracle if Haiti can recover as quickly, even with the millions of dollars of international aid likely to come its way. It's not a scientific certainty that the country will recover at all. That part of the story is up to all of us.
More about earthquake science:
Want to learn more about earthquake basics? Get more of the basics about the Haiti earthquake from this Q&A. Click through ourinteractive graphic on seismic science, or study this archived itemabout how magnitudes are measured. You can also browse through the National Earthquake Information Center online, or look at this snapshot of recent earthquakes worldwide. The USGS PAGER system estimates the alert level for recent quakes, based on population as well as seismology. USGS also links to a variety ofseismic hazard maps.
Can earthquakes be predicted? We looked into that question a couple of years ago, and even checked in with some unorthodox seismic forecasters. "Earthquake sensitive" Cal Orey, for example, contends that she made a "bull's-eye" prediction about last weekend's magnitude-6.5 quake off the California coast, thanks in part to her pets. Even orthodox scientists accept that animals can sometimes pick up the early signs of an earthquake. Hutko, for example, pointed to an online video that shows a dog fleeing an office seconds before the serious shaking started in California. He says the effect is due to the way different seismic waves spread out. A quake's "P" wave is known to precede the slower-moving but more damaging "S" wave. In Haiti, the difference amounted to four seconds, Hutko said. This online gallery provides more perspectives on earthquake prediction.*******
A Lootin' an' a Burnin'? Media Disinformation on Haiti
by William Bowles
Global Research, January 18, 2010
And yet again in another BBC ‘news’ item:
“Many are trying to leave the city, and there are security concerns amid reports of looting and violence.” — ‘UN chief Ban Ki-Moon calls for Haiti aid patience’ , BBC News, 18 January, 2010
Meanwhile, the US has de facto occupied Haiti, no doubt to preserve its sweatshop investments, amongst which are Walt Disney and Walmart. And no wonder aid can’t get through, the US seemed to have moved Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) to Haiti, even blocking the organization of Caribbean states, Caricom, from landing badly needed assistance.
The attitude of the West towards people of colour is best illustrated by the following, also from the preceding BBC story:
“The US and Dutch authorities have said they are speeding up the process of flying orphaned children away from Haiti to adoptive parents abroad.
“Six Haitian children adopted by Dutch families arrived in the Netherlands on Sunday and the justice ministry said it was expediting the adoption process and paperwork for about 100 others.”
So whilst people are dying because the US military is blocking aid flights coming in, it seems it has no problem stealing babies and flying them out!
The Times of London continues in the same, racist vein (with the predictable image of a ‘looter’ holding a knife that I will not reproduce here):
Hoisted by their own, racist pétard
By contrast, a report from Canada Haiti Action Network reveals where the ‘aid’ went first:
‘Thus far…the rescue teams cluster at the high profile and safer walled sites and were literally afraid to enter the barrios. They gravitated to the sites where they had secure compounds and big buildings.
‘Meanwhile, the neighbourhoods where the damage appears to be much wider, and anywhere there were loose crowds, they avoided. In the large sites, and in the nice neighbourhoods, and where the press can be found, there would be teams from every country imaginable. Dogs and extraction units with more arriving, yet with 90% or more of them just sitting around.’
‘Meanwhile, in the poor neighbourhoods, awash in rubble, there was not a foreigner in sight.”
/../ “News crews are looking for the story of desperate Haitians that are in hysterics. When in reality it is more often the Haitians that are acting calmly while the international community, the elite and politicians have melted down over the issue, and none seem to have the remotest idea what is going on.” — ‘Where is the aid in Haiti’ — by Roger Annis, 16 January, 2010*******
War Criminals Peddle “Humanitarian” Aid for Haiti
by Kurt Nimmo
Global Research, January 18, 2010
On Sunday, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush mounted the corporate media propaganda platform and complained about the politicization of the Haitian relief effort.
Clinton said the devastating earthquake offers a chance to put aside politics and help people in despair. “I’d say now is not the time to focus on politics,” said Bush in an interview taped Saturday for CBS’ “Face the Nation” when the ex-presidents’ visited the White House in response to Obama’s call for a “bipartisan effort” to help Haiti.
Clinton and Bush were responding to Rush Limbaugh who said he did not trust the administration to use money donated via the White House website for earthquake victims.
The disaster “reminds us of our common humanity. It reminds us of needs that go beyond fleeting disagreements,” said Clinton.
Fine words coming from one of the world’s foremost war criminals. Not only did Bill Clinton terror bomb to death an untold number of people in Iraq and the former Yugoslavia, he also facilitated death squads in Colombia. He is responsible for bombing a crucial pharmaceutical factory in the Sudan. He helped the United Nations kill 500,000 Iraqi children. Bill Clinton’s favorite targets were the sort of poor people he is now claiming to help in Haiti.
Like father, like son. George built on the legacy of his father. Bush Senior invaded Iraq in 1991 under false pretense and carried out the destruction of Iraq’s civilian infrastructure, at one time the envy of the Middle East. “One of the most diabolical decisions in the campaign was to destroy Iraq’s water supply, resulting in the death of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children long after the war was over,” writes David Model (Lying for Empire: How to Commit War Crimes With A Straight Face).Bush the humanitarian who decries the politicization of the Haiti relief effort killed over a million people in Iraq. His crimes approach those of Hitler and the Nazis. Bush is responsible for Abu Ghraib, the destruction of Fallouja and Ramadi, civilian massacres in Haditha and elsewhere. On his watch, over a million Iraqis were butchered and an undetermined number of Afghan civilians were slaughtered. He began a concerted effort to kill Pakistanis, an effort picked up by Obama.
If you really want to know what’s going on in Haiti, read John Maxwell’s article, No, Mister! You Cannot Share My Pain! The corporate media sheds crocodile tears over Haiti (between bank and big pharma adverts) and tells us about the country’s immeasurable poverty while providing zero background on why Haiti is a hell-hole of misery and destitution.
Credit for this massive suffering can be attributed to the bankers (specifically National City Bank, later Rockefeller’s Citibank). As late as 1915, more than a hundred years after a successful slave revolt against the French colonialists and slave masters, some 80 percent of the Haitian government’s resources were being paid out in debt service to French and American banks on loans that had been made to enable Haiti to pay reparations to France.
What Bush did to Haiti
The February 29, 2004 Coup D'Etat instigated by the Bush Administration
by David Swanson
Global Research, January 18, 2010
If a group of dedicated scholars, attorneys, journalists, and activists had tried to generate a comprehensive list of impeachable offenses committed by George W. Bush as president, and only 35 of them had been introduced into Congress, one of the many discarded ones, in rough and overly detailed form, might have read something like this:
In his conduct while President of the United States, George W. Bush, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty under Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution "to take care that the laws be faithfully executed", has both personally and acting through his agents and subordinates, caused the United States of America to kidnap, imprison, intimidate, coerce, threaten, confine, abduct, and carry away the elected, constitutional President of Haiti, and his wife, a U.S citizen, in violation of United States statutes, to wit:
a. The President, both personally and acting through his agents and subordinates, prevented the security contractors working for Haiti's elected, constitutional government led by President Jean-Bertrand Aristide from receiving reinforcements at a time when Haiti's constitutional government was under attack. The removal of the security contractors facilitated the kidnapping of President Aristide:
b. On February 17, 2004, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell defended President Aristide as the "free and fairly elected President of Haiti." Referring to insurgents who brutally attacked police stations and other government building over the previous weeks, Secretary Powell further stated that the United States "cannot buy into a proposition that says the elected President must be forced out of office by thugs and those who do not respect law and are bringing terrible violence to the Haitian people."
c. On the afternoon of Saturday, February 28, 2004, the Steele Foundation, a U.S. company that had been providing private security services to the Haitian government, informed President Aristide that the U.S. government had asked it to withdraw all of its personnel from Haiti. The Steele Foundation also told President Aristide that the U.S. government was blocking the Steele Foundation's efforts to bring to Haiti additional personnel needed to protect the President. Later that day, the Steele Foundation informed President Aristide that without the additional personnel, the Foundation would not be able to protect the President or his wife.
d. The President, both personally and acting through his agents and subordinates, misrepresented the immediacy of the threat against President Aristide, and informed him that U.S. forces in the country would not help either the President or his constitutional government:
e. On February 28, members of the U.S. Foreign Service informed President Aristide that rebel forces under the command of Guy Philippe, a U.S.-trained former army and police officer, were less than 50 miles outside Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince. The diplomats informed President Aristide that Mr. Philippe's forces would attack the next day. At the time, Mr. Philippe and his soldiers were in Cap-Haitian, at the far northern end of Haiti, and could not have reached Port-au-Prince for several days.
f. Members of the U.S. Foreign service told President Aristide that if he remained in Port-au-Prince, the United States would not provide any assistance when the expected attack by the insurgents occurred, and that they expected that the insurgents would kill him, his wife and many of his supporters.
g. That night, the U.S. Deputy Charge de Mission (DCM) in Haiti, Luis Moreno, accompanied by a contingent of U.S. troops, met with President Aristide. Moreno reiterated the expectation that an attack by the insurgents was imminent and the promise that the U.S. would not intervene to protect President Aristide or his supporters. He then informed President Aristide that if he left at that moment, the United States would provide aircraft for him to leave, but only if he provided the United States with a letter of resignation.
h. On February 28, Secretary Powell called former Representative Ron Dellums, who had been engaged as a lobbyist in Washington by the Haitian government. Secretary Powell informed Mr. Dellums that the insurgents were going to attack Port-au-Prince the next day (February 29), and that the United States would do nothing to interfere with their plans.
i. The President, acting through his agents and subordinates, forced President Aristide onto an unmarked U.S. plane that filed a false flight plan, and flew him against his will to the Central African Republic.
j. On February 25, Secretary Powell issued a threat to President Aristide, telling the press: "whether or not Aristide is able to effectively continue as President is something he will have to examine carefully in the interests of the Haitian people." On February 28, a senior State Department official told CNN that the "international community" is "putting pressure on Aristide to live up to his responsibilities and to think hard about his future," which implied more pressure for President Aristide to step down. The CNN article also reported that "privately the United States continues to distance itself from Aristide and suggests it might be time for him to step down." Timothy Carney, who was appointed by President Bush to run Iraq's Ministry of Minerals and Mines in 2003 and coordinator of Iraq reconstruction in January 2007, announced to the press that "Aristide is toast. He's gone. The only question is whether he goes out in a pine box or on an airplane." These statements contradicted the earlier statements of the Secretary of State, which recognized Aristide as the democratically elected President of Haiti and blamed the rebel groups for the violence gripping the country.
k. On February 28, White House spokesman Scott McClellan stated, "Aristide's own actions have called into question his fitness to govern Haiti. We urge him to examine his position carefully…."
l. President Aristide, at all times, publicly and privately, insisted that he would remain in office to serve out his constitutional term.
m. On February 28, President Aristide conferred with U.S. Ambassador to Haiti James Foley and DCM Luis Moreno about ways of avoiding further violence in Port-au-Prince. Early in the morning of February 29, at Mr. Moreno's request, President Aristide agreed to go with a U.S. escort to a location where he could appear on television to appeal for calm. The escort that arrived at President Aristide's house consisted of heavily armed, uniformed members of the U.S. Armed Forces traveling in a convoy. The escorts took President Aristide and his wife from his house, and instead of taking him to a television studio, took him to the Port-au-Prince airport.
n. The Steele Foundation security contractors protecting President Aristide were told to plan for a move to the U.S. Embassy where President Aristide would make a TV broadcast. Then minutes before they left President Aristide's residence, they were told they were going to the airport and that they would be leaving with him on the plane.
o. An unmarked white aircraft, with a U.S. flag, had been flown in by the U.S. government, and sat on the airport runway According to a customs declaration at a refueling stop, the aircraft was owned or operated by Technilink, and was registered in the U.S.A, registration number N145CA. Haiti's national airport was secured by U.S. soldiers. President Aristide reported that DCM Moreno forced him to sign a letter and board the plane.
p. President Aristide claims that the statement that he signed was not a resignation letter, that he did not intend to resign – that it included a conditional statement, "[i]f I am obliged to leave in order to avoid bloodshed . . . ." The United States Government reported this letter as a resignation, to the United States public, to the United Nations and to the Organization of American States even though the Creole expert the government asked to translate it, Professor Bryant Freeman of the University of Kansas, concluded that the statement was not a resignation letter.
q. Uniformed and heavily-armed members of the U.S. armed forces boarded the plane along with President Aristide. They changed into civilian clothes after boarding. Nineteen members of the Steele Foundation security detail also boarded the plane, although they were taking direction not from President Aristide, but from officials of the United States. Also on board were President Aristide's wife, Mildred Trouillot Aristide, a U.S. citizen, and two Haitian security officials.
r. The plane left Port-au-Prince at about 6 AM on February 29. Once placed on the aircraft, President Aristide and his wife were kept incommunicado by United States military personnel, even though the plane was equipped with faxes, satellite telephones, and other means of communication. The passengers were forced to keep the shutters on the aircraft closed at all times. They were denied the right to leave the aircraft when it landed in Antigua and thereafter when it refueled.
s. The operators of the aircraft provided the Antiguan government a fraudulent customs declaration that stated there were no passengers on board, that the flight had originated in "Guantanamo Bay," and that there had been no intermediate stops. No destination was listed.
t. Neither the President nor his wife, who is a United States citizen, was told by the United States military personnel where the aircraft was going or when they would land. They were kept as prisoners on the aircraft and were only told a short time before the aircraft landed that the Central African Republic was their country of destination.
u. When the unmarked plane landed at the airport in Bangui, Central Africa Republic, it was met by French soldiers, who were based in the Republic. Officials of the Central African Republic informed President Aristide's lawyer that they were in consultation with both French and United States officials about keeping President Aristide in the country, and that they were doing it as a "favor" for those countries.
v. President Aristide was kept against his will in the Central African Republic. He was not allowed to leave his lodging on the grounds of the Presidential Palace without government permission and an escort, and he was not allowed to speak on the telephone after he made a few calls explaining what had happened to him, which Central African Republic officials called "regrettable statements. President Aristide was kept there for two weeks, until a mission led by U.S. Representative Maxine Waters flew to the country and negotiated his release with the President of the Central African Republic, Francis Bozize.
x. Under 18 U.S.C. section 112, it is a criminal offense to imprison, intimidate, coerce, or threaten an "Internationally Protected Person." The statute's definition of "Internationally Protected Person" includes both President Aristide and his wife, Mildred Trouillot Aristide. The actions by President Bush and his agents and subordinates, including Secretary Powell, Ambassador Foley and DCM Moreno, included imprisonment, intimidation, coercion and threats within the statute. The statute penalizes such illegal conduct with prison sentences up to ten years. The statute confers jurisdiction for these crimes to U.S. courts, because the offenders were nationals of the United States, and were afterward found within the United States.
y. Under 18 U.S.C. section 1201, it is a criminal offense to unlawfully confine, kidnap, abduct, or carry away an "Internationally Protected Person." The statute's definition of "Internationally Protected Person" includes both President Aristide and his wife, Mildred Trouillot Aristide. The actions by President Bush and his agents and subordinates, including Secretary Powell, Ambassador Foley and DCM Moreno, included seizing, confining, kidnapping, abducting, and carrying away of both President Aristide and his wife. The statute penalizes such illegal conduct with prison sentences of up to life in prison. The statute confers jurisdiction for these crimes to U.S. courts, because the offenders were nationals of the United States, and were afterward found within the United States.
In all of these actions and decisions, President George W. Bush has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President and Commander in Chief, and subversive of constitutional government, to the prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States. Wherefore, President George W. Bush, by such conduct, is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office.*******
History of a Haitian Holocaust
Blackwater before drinking water
by Greg Palast
Global Research, January 18, 2010
gregpalast.com - 2010-01-17
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.*******
Haiti: Humanitarian Aid to Repay an Odious Debt?
by Eric Toussaint and Sophie Perchellet
Global Research, January 18, 2010
There is a great risk that one of the largest relief operations in history will be similar in nature to the tsunami relief efforts in 2004, unless a radically different approach to a reconstruction model is adopted. Haiti was partially destroyed by an earthquake measuring 7 on the Richter scale. We have all shed tears and the media, as they bombard us with apocalyptic images, report on financial pledges generous States have made. We know that Haiti needs to be rebuilt, this country hard-hit by poverty and “its curse”. Therefore, at the moment, the focus is on Haiti. Comments fail to look beyond the terrible earthquake. We are told that it is one of the poorest countries in the world without any explanations provided. We are led to believe that poverty just happened, that it is a situation beyond remedy: “Haiti is an accursed land”.
There is no doubt that this recent natural disaster has lead to considerable and unforeseeable material and human damage. Emergency aid is therefore needed and everyone can agree on this point. However, this earthquake was not the root cause of poverty and squalor. This country needs to be re-built because it has been stripped of its means to rebuild itself. Haiti is neither a free nor a sovereign country. In recent years, its domestic policy choices have been made by a government constantly under pressure by orders coming from outside the country and by manoeuvres carried out by the local elites.
At best, Haiti is described as a violent, poor and repressive country. There are few comments remembering the independence gained in 1804, after a hard-fought struggle against Napoleon’s French armies. Rather than focusing on their humane approach and their fight for Human Rights, savagery and violence are the traits attributed to Haitians. Eduardo Galeano talks about “the white curse.”
“At the border where the Dominican Republic ends and Haiti begins, there is a large sign with the following warning: The bad path. On the other side, it is black hell. Blood and hunger, poverty, plagues.”
It is therefore necessary to look back at the struggle for emancipation waged by the Haitian population, because in retaliation against this double-faceted revolution, both anti-slavery and anti-colonial in nature, the country inherited the ransom France demanded for independence, amounting to 150 million francs (that is, France’s annual budget at the time). In 1825, France decided that “The current inhabitants of the French part of Santo Domingo will pay into France’s Federal deposit and consignment offices, the sum of one hundred and fifty million francs, to be paid in five instalments, year after year, with the first term due 31 December 1825. The money will be used to compensate the former colonists who will demand compensation.” That is equivalent to approximately 21 billion dollars nowadays. From the outset Haiti had to pay a very high price. Debt became the neo-colonial instrument used to maintain access to this country’s many natural resources.
The payment of this ransom is therefore the founding element of the Haitian State. In legal terms, this means that it was contracted by a despotic regime and this contract was used against the interests of the people. First France, then the United States, whose sphere of influence expanded to Haiti from 1915, are entirely responsible for this.
Now, whilst it would have been possible to face up to their painful responsibilities of the past in 2004, the Régis Debray Commission report preferred to scrap the idea of repaying this sum on the pretext that it was “legally unfounded” and that this action would open a “Pandora’s box.” The Haitian government’s request was rejected by France: no compensation was warranted. Moreover, France does not recognize the role it played in the shameful present it gave to the dictator in exile “Baby Doc” Duvalier, by granting him political refugee status and thus, immunity.
The Duvaliers’ rule began with the help of the United States in 1957: it lasted till 1986, when the son “Baby Doc” was thrown out of power by a popular uprising. The violent dictatorship, broadly supported by Western countries, ravaged the country for almost 30 years. It was marked by an exponential growth in its debt. Between 1957 and 1986, foreign debt had multiplied by 17.5. At the time Duvalier fled, it amounted to 750 million dollars. It then rose, through interest and penalties, to over 1,884 million dollars. This debt, far from serving the interests of the impoverished population, was actually aimed at enriching the ruling regime: it is therefore an odious debt. A recent inquiry reveals that the Duvalier family’s personal wealth (well protected by their western bank accounts) amounted to 900 million dollars, or in other words, a greater sum than the total debt of the country at the time “Baby Doc” fled. A trial is currently taking place before the Swiss courts for the restitution of goods and assets to the state of Haiti, embezzled during the Duvalier dictatorship. For the moment, these assets remain frozen by the Swiss bank UBS, which has put forward unacceptable conditions for the restitution of these funds. Jean-Baptiste Aristide, by contrast, was enthusiastically elected, however he was soon accused of corruption, before being put back in office as a United States puppet and finally ousted by the US army. So Aristide, unfortunately, is not innocent in relation to debt and embezzlement of funds. Furthermore, according to the World Bank, between 1995 and 2001, the debt service, that is to say capital and the reimbursed interests, had reached the considerable sum of 321 million dollars.
According to the latest estimates, over 80% of Haiti’s foreign debt is with the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank (IBD) with up to 40% each. Under their leadership, the government applied “structural adjustment plans”, now disguised as “Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers” (PRSP). In exchange for contracting more loans, Haiti has been given some insignificant amount of debt relief or cancellations, which cast the creditors in a positive light. The Highly Indebted Poor Countries initiative (HIPC), for which Haiti was accepted, is a typical odious-debt laundering manoeuvre, as was the case with the Democratic Republic of Congo. Odious debt is replaced by new so-called legitimate loans. CADTM views these new loans as a key part of odious debt as they are used to pay off the old debt. The offence continues to be committed.
As stated in the recent international appeal, “Haiti calls for solidarity and the respect for the sovereignty of the people”: “ Together with many Haitian organizations, over recent years we have denounced the military occupation of the country by United Nations (UN) troops and the impacts of the domination imposed via the mechanisms of debt, free trade, the looting of its natural habitat and the invasion of transnational interests. The vulnerability of the country to natural tragedies – provoked to a large extent by the environmental devastation, the non-existence of basic infrastructure, and the systematic weakening of the state’s capacity to act - should not be seen as something disconnected from these policies, which have historically undermined the sovereignty of the people.
Now is the time for the governments that form part of the MINUSTAH, the UN and in particular France and the United States, the governments of Latin America, to revise this action that is contrary to the basic needs of the Haitian people. We demand of those governments and international organizations that they substitute the military occupation with a true mission of solidarity, and that they take action to ensure the urgent cancellation of the debt that is still being collected of Haiti.”
Irrespective of the debt issue, it is feared that the aid will take the same form as that provided after the tsunami hit several Asian countries at the end of December 2004 (Sri Lanka, Indonesia, India, Bangladesh) or after cyclone Jeanne hit Haiti in 2004. Promises were not kept and a large part of the funds were used to line the pockets of foreign or local elites. The majority of these “generous donations” came from the creditor countries. Can we really speak of donations when we know that this most of this money will either be used to repay foreign debt or to implement “national development projects” decided on the basis of the interests of these creditors or local elites? It is clear that without these immediate donations, it will not be possible to secure repayment of this debt, at least half of which corresponds to odious debt. The major international conferences, whether G8 or G20 expanded to include IFIs, will not produce any progress whatsoever in terms of Haiti’s development rather, they will rebuild instruments to help them secure neo-colonial control of the country. The purpose is ensuring that debt repayments continue, the basis for submission, as has been the case since the recent debt relief initiatives.
Rather than giving donations, it would be preferable that they cancel Haiti’s debt: totally, unconditionally and immediately.
On the contrary, in order for Haiti to rebuild itself in dignity, national sovereignty is the fundamental issue. A total and unconditional debt cancellation for Haiti must be the first step towards a more general course of action. A new alternative development model to the IFIs and the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA signed in December 2009, the Hope II Accord…), is necessary and urgent. The most industrialized countries, which have systematically exploited Haiti, beginning with France and the United States, must pay compensation towards a fund aimed at financing the reconstruction of the country, controlled by the Haitian people’s organizations.
Translated by Francesca Denley in collaboration with Marie Lagatta.*******
The Haiti Disaster Response: Is Another Katrina Relief Effort in the Making
by Danny Schechter
Global Research, January 17, 2010
Much of the coverage focuses on the upbeat--people being saved, although despite the frame which is about a compassionate America's response, the Haitian reality is only barely getting through. It's not pretty.
Everyone wants to believe in the best intentions of all involved but five days after the quake, with so few being helped, we have to ask, how did this get so badly done?
It’s like Obama’s plan to stop foreclopsures through modifying loans. Great idea, but only a handful of homeowners have benefited. There is often a yawning gap between the idea and its execution.
So what happened? The short answer: it is too little and, in many cases, much of it, too late. A natural disaster has been compounded by another well-intentioned man-made one.
Why? One global report I saw—sorry forget the publication, explained:
“United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon emphasized the importance of the first 72 hours following the 12 January disaster. But already much of that crucial time has been spent attempting to assess the situation.
The structures usually responsible for dealing with civilian emergencies have been unable to respond effectively due to widespread destruction of national and international power structures. (This means the UN and the Haitian government as well as the US effort, DS)
Lacking outside support, civilians have worked communally to try to save their own families.”
Supplies were sent but much of it has yet to got out of the airport. Troops have not been assigned to help deliver water or guard medical facilities. There is a fear of the wrath of a people that are pissed off at hearing about aid and money donated and, then, seeing nothing trickling down into their neighborhoods. Hence all the suggestions of violence as if it is all irrational.
And there is a deeper fear, a political fear. what with President Aristide, the man the US considers too radical for its tastes, anxious to return. There is a fear of a possible revolt against the lack of help could turn political and angry.
Private help is not getting through either/ Western Union offices are still closed in a country that relies on foreign remittances as a lifeline.
The media is finally admitting the aid mission is failing although that’s not the word used—they say the relief effort is “troubled!” Here’s the headline in the NY Times: “Officials Strain to Distribute Aid to Haiti as Violence Rises
“A sprawling assembly of international officials and aid workers struggled to fix a troubled relief effort.”
The Guardian/Observer focuses on a water delivery crisis. The article doesn’t ask why armed troops were not assigned to protecting drivers.
“Hundreds of thousands of Haitians are in desperate need of drinking water because of an earthquake-damaged municipal pipeline and truck drivers either unable or unwilling to deliver their cargo.
"Many drivers are afraid of being attacked if they go out, some drivers are still missing in the disaster and others are out there searching for missing relatives," said Dudu Jean, a 30-year-old driver who was attacked on Friday when he drove into the capital's sprawling Cite Soleil slum.
The lack of water has become one of the greatest dangers facing Haitians in part because earthquake survivors stay outdoors all day in the heat out of fear of aftershocks and unstable buildings.”
But there is something else going on.
The disaster planners have an agenda that goes beyond just saving lives. They want to use the crisis to rebuild Haiti along lines they support. (ie. Support of property rights etc) So far they have not spoken about how policies backed by the United States through the Caribbean Basin Initiative was responsible for uprooting peasants from the counttyside to move them to the city to be a cheap labor reserve. In that Reagan era effort, pigs were killed and imported food replaced home grown varieties to benefit US suppliers. Debt dependence grew—classic imperialist policies.
Read this report in coded uncritical top-down language from the Washington Post: “Even as rescuers are digging victims out of the rubble in Haiti, policymakers in Washington and around the world are grappling with how a destitute, corrupt and now devastated country might be transformed into a self-sustaining nation.
Development efforts have failed there, decade after decade, leaving Haitians with a dysfunctional government, a high crime rate and incomes averaging a dollar a day. But the leveled capital, Port-au-Prince, must be rebuilt, promising one of the largest economic development efforts ever undertaken in the hemisphere -- an effort "measured in months and even years," President Obama said Saturday in an appeal for donations alongside former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. And those who will help oversee it are thinking hard about how to use that money and attention to change the country forever.
"It's terrible to look at it this way, but out of crisis often comes real change," said C. Ross Anthony, the Rand Corp.'s global health director. "The people and the institutions take on the crisis and bring forth things they weren't able to do in the past."
The Rand Corporation is a military contractor primarily, a center for spooks and covert strategies. The fact that they are being quoted as saviors is scary in itself. In other words, Haiti’s future is being planned outside of Haiti and will be imposed step by step.
I don’t know about you but anything that George W Bush is supporting, I tend to be skeptical of, to say the least.
Let’s admit it, this disaster response is itself a disaster and helping to promote a new disaster to come.
Greg Palast points to some of the many contradictions that the TV networks that are milking Haiti’s pain in orgy of self-congratualtory reporting have yet to explore:
“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. (Greg, make that 25,000 miles away!)
•. 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.
• 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.
•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.
• 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.
(Hillary Clinton said proudly on Saturday that there are now 30 teams in place. No one asked, why only 30?)
• 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.
• 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. "
And Greg asks the question that our media heroes have yet to explore. (And some are heroes. Bob Bozell on NBC was very candid on Satirday night about how little was being done on MSNBC!)
“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? “
Good question. One of the many we should be asking. In the meantime, we need the press to start asking tougher questions and exposing a Katrina-like response that is still losing countless lives .
A country in pain deserves relief. Not more pain.
If you lived there, wouldn’t you be pissed and ready to explode?.*******
Canada and Haiti: Relief Efforts in the Shadow of Past “Help”
by Dan Freeman-Maloy
Global Research, January 17, 2010
Over the course of the past decade, Canada's leading officials and most prestigious commentators have learned how to approach Haiti in the spirit of cynical power politics and racist condescension (or worse) while maintaining a posture of national self-flattery. With attention again riveted on Haiti following the horrific tragedy inflicted by Tuesday's earthquake, this ugly mixture is once again on display. The need for emergency aid is, without question, urgent [see below for links]. But established patterns of “help” for Haiti need to be overcome if the destructive impact of this catastrophe is to be somehow limited.
Scattered self-congratulations can already be heard in Canada's mainstream press (a willing partner, for the most part, in recent Canadian government crimes against Haiti). On Thursday, papers across the country ran editorials on Canadian policy and the relief effort. Under the title “Helping Haiti,” the Calgary Herald editorialized that “Canada's response is not only appropriate, but one to be proud of. … Once again, Canada's humanitarianism and compassion shines brightly.” The Montreal Gazette concurred: “Canadians have, to their credit, been involved in helping Haiti help itself for years.” For its part, the Globe and Mail yet again cast Haiti as the “basket case of the Western hemisphere,” the editorial headline promising that “Today's rescue is just the beginning.”
In previous years, such benevolent rhetoric has been to Western policy in Haiti what anti-terrorist slogans have been to Western policy in the Middle East. It was under the cover of such declared benevolence that the elected Haitian government was overthrown in 2004 by means of U.S., French and Canadian involvement; it was amidst similar rhetoric that Haitian movements resisting this outrage were decimated in the ensuing years with the “security assistance” of foreign powers.
This is not to distract from the urgent need for a massive international relief effort. But it should give us reason for pause. The Haitian struggle for sovereignty and decolonization is very much ongoing. And for many years, it has been common practice to package assaults on Haiti as aid. It is imperative that genuine aid and relief work be disentangled, in our understanding and in practice, from the criminal policies they are often used to justify.
This article does not address the details of the ongoing catastrophe in Haiti triggered by the earthquake of January 12. Rather, it provides a reminder of how calls to “help” Haiti were a cornerstone justification for one of the greatest crimes in the past decade of Canadian foreign policy. It is beyond me to discuss how the Haitian struggle for independence is likely to adapt to the catastrophic circumstances that have now emerged. What is clear is the need to not only expand the evolving relief effort, but also engage with the inevitable tensions within it.
“Operation Halo” 2004: Regime Change as an Aid Package
The 2004 regime change in Haiti was one of most despicable episodes in a miserable decade of Western aggression. Early that year, Haiti faced intervention from the two powers which have most tormented it throughout its history: France, which grew rich on this slave colony through to the late 18th century (Haiti declared its independence in 1804); and the U.S., which occupied Haiti from 1915-1934 and maintained client dictatorships in the country through to the late 1980s, and then again from 1991-1994. The intervention of 2004 was preceded by years of destabilization. Aid to the government was cut and re-routed through sources more beholden to donors. Finally, on February 29, U.S. Marines occupied the National Palace and forced Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide into exile. Canadian troops secured the airport from which he was flown out of the country.
Put simply, the country produced by the world's only successful slave rebellion – punished for centuries by spiteful racist powers – marked its bicentennial with renewed Western occupation. And so a presidential term that was supposed to last until 2006 was violently cut short. Among the Aristide presidency's crimes was constructing a legal case for repayment by France of the massive payment extorted from Haiti in the 19th century to compensate for the slaves France lost when they freed themselves (the equivalent of $21.7-billion today). The aftermath of the coup saw paramilitary forces with a well-known record of torture and extra-judicial killing ruthlessly target Haiti's main mass-based political party, Lavalas. It is against the backdrop of centuries of such sabotage that Haiti has been made so vulnerable to disaster.
At the time, prestigious Canadian media joined officials in whitewashing the intervention as somehow charitable. Facing outrage from the 20-nation Caribbean Community (Caricom), Prime Minister Paul Martin framed the issue for the Globe and Mail immediately after Aristide's ouster: “their upset is not with Canada per se. Their upset is with the fact a constitutionally elected president has lost his position.” What was necessary, he implied, was to refocus on humanitarian assistance for Haitians and spin Canadian involvement in these terms. As Martin put it: “we’ve got to get aid in there.” Caricom, alongside the African Union (AU), refused to recognize the regime that had been installed with Canadian support. In the Canadian press, Martin found a more receptive audience.
Indeed, a sample of Globe and Mail headlines from the weeks of Canadian involvement leading up the coup is illustrative: “Martin helps in Haiti,” “PM offers to help solve Haitian crisis” (January 13); “How to help Haiti” (January 24); “U.S. asks Canada to help police chaotic Haiti” (February 13); “…Canada, U.S. adopt France’s suggestion that President’s departure might help Haiti” (February 27); “Canada considers sending troops to help Haiti” (February 28); “Time to help Haiti” (March 1); and so on. Official presentation of Canadian participation in the coup as an aid package fit all too naturally into such Globereports.
Riding out these diplomatic bumps, the Prime Minister would within a couple of months go on an official visit to Washington. Drew Fagan reported approvingly for the Globe how “Martin smiled broadly as Mr. Bush praised Canada's commitments in Afghanistan and Haiti.” By 2005, the Haitian regime change of February 2004 factored into news coverage as the start of a Canadian “peace mission.” The spinning of “Operation Halo” (the official name for Canada's February-July 2004 troop deployment) involved rewriting a state crime as a charity effort.
In the summer of 2004, the Canadian military role in Haiti gave way to such other forms of involvement as police deployment, financing and diplomatic support for the installed government of Gérard Latortue (who had been flown in from Florida to head the government after the coup). A combination of the reconstituted Haitian National Police (HNP), associated paramilitaries, and foreign police and military forces (now operating with United Nations authorization) acted to suppress movements calling for the restoration of democratic rule. Canadian involvement remained wide-ranging. In a period of mass political imprisonment without trial, for example, the installed Minister of Justice, Philippe Vixamar, explained to the University of Miami's Thomas M. Griffin “that he is a political appointee of the Latortue administration, but the Canadian International Development Agency ('CIDA') assigned him to his position and is his direct employer.”
Such were the forms of Canadian “aid.” With a willing press, the Canadian government had little problem maintaining this destructive fiction at home. The routine was often laughable.
The fall of 2004, for example, witnessed an upsurge of popular demonstrations calling for Aristide's return, and a wave of lethal repression. For Prime Minister Martin, Canadian involvement in such a fight compensated for the limitations of Canadian participation in the occupation of Iraq. “Think about what we're doing in Afghanistan, think about what we're doing in Haiti,” Martin explained in mid-October: “we are not on the sidelines.”
With Haitians reeling from the intensified repression, the Canadian government dispatched Prime Minister Martin for a November 2004 visit with the stated aim of bolstering the installed Haitian government's legitimacy. For good measure, Martin packed his plane with food and other aid supplies – a point Canadian reporters happily emphasized. The Globe and Mail account of his visit was published with a large picture of a young Haitian girl sitting on Martin’s lap, waving a Canadian flag for the camera. This visit was later cited as a “humanitarian trip.”
Within this setting, it has been all too easy for Canadian commentators to express thinly veiled racism toward Haitians and to openly question their right to independence. Sticking with the case of the Globe and Mail, one may recall Marina Jiménez giving voice to Canadian hopes that “the poor people of Cité Soleil will have a change of heart, switching allegiance from the shadowy and ruthless chimères [i.e., activists affiliated with Haiti's leading mass party] to ‘les blancs’ in the uniforms who, this time, are in it for the long haul.” Or Jeffrey Simpson, shedding crocodile tears over this “failed state” – whose “ills … have persisted and even grown worse despite a United Nations military and police presence and hundreds of millions of dollars of foreign aid” – only to propose that independent Haitian governance be revoked and formally (if temporarily) replaced by a UN protectorate. Simpson floated the proposal under a headline with the familiar message: “Hello, my name is Haiti and I really need your help.”
More “help” of this kind is the last thing that Haiti needs.
The election of René Préval in 2006 was a testament to the perseverance of Haitian society and its independent political organizations in the face of harsh circumstances. However, this decade's round of destabilization and repressive violence capped off a much longer period of imposed under-development, and again tipped the balance in favour of international and against sovereign Haitian institutions. Any country would require massive international support to cope with a disaster on the scale of this week's earthquake. Now, international relief efforts are plainly imperative.
Massive reparations from Western powers to Haiti are long overdue. (This is in addition to the minimalist demand that the indemnity France extorted from Haiti for lost slave labour be repaid.) It is at this point flatly obnoxious to accompany the sending of any Western funds, even on a massive scale, with the faintest hint of self-congratulations. But funds and resources certainly need to be sent. An immediate challenge, as Naomi Klein argues, is to ensure that all government resources are sent as grants, absolutely none as loans. Such demands are urgent and pressing.
The danger that Western powers will use this occasion to increase their leverage over Haitian society is real. President Obama's appointment of former president George W. Bush to join Bill Clinton in organizing the relief effort is a troubling sign. In Canada, while it was the Martin Liberals who carried out the intervention of 2004, the main apparent objection of the Harper Conservatives was that Canadian forces left too soon and should have participated more directly in repression. With Sarkozy's France calling a donors conference amidst a flurry of international commitments, the actual policies that emerge need to be carefully monitored and considered.
In sum, it is necessary to acknowledge and deliberately break with past crimes. Those who set up a continuum between recent years' intervention and proposed relief missions are issuing threats, not promises.
Over the past decade, the idea that more Western involvement in Haiti is always better has dovetailed with what Peter Hallward has flagged as “perhaps the most consistent theme of Western commentary on the island: that poor black people remain incapable of governing themselves.” At a time when the need for international involvement is indeed urgent, it is all the more important to keep this racist tendency in check.
Haiti Devastation: A Survivor Reports
by Jesse Hagopian
Global Research, January 17, 2010
I have been in Haiti since Sunday with my one-year-old son and my wife whose job centers on curbing HIV in the country. For some reason - some incredible stroke of luck, as she almost always works late - my wife came home early on Tuesday. Not 10 minutes after her arrival in our hotel room in the Villia Creole, the "tremblement du terre" struck - a 7.0 quake that threw our bed across the room, collapsed the other half of the hotel, and as we found out later, laid waste to Haiti.
We had one Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) at our hotel, a man who went by the initials JH, who went out front of the hotel helping people who were coming in injured. When word got out that there was a nurse at our hotel, people just started bringing their injured family members to the hotel. My wife and I were deputized by JH to help in whatever way we could. So he would tell me where a broken bone was, and I had to learn on the sly how to make a splint.
The injuries that we have seen over the last few days have been horrific. I was working on a boy whose house collapsed and he had been trapped under the rubble. His father spent all night digging him out and they brought him to our hotel. Most of the hospitals are totally over capacity, and so the fact that there was one medical professional was a huge draw to people. He brought his son here who was barely breathing and we went to work. He had a head injury. His bone was sticking out of his leg. We worked with the bed sheets that we'd stripped from the hotel and ripped into four-inch-long strips to wrap around his head and his leg to wrap a splint on. Despite our efforts that boy died right there in front of us and had to be just carried off.
Thousands - or tens of thousands - more are still trapped under the rubble and need rescue. Today is an absolutely critical day. If these people don't get water today they will die. If you listen to the politicians in the US they are doing everything they can to help.
President Barack Obama, flanked by his predecessors George W. Bush and Bill Clinton said, "By coming together in this way, these two leaders send an unmistakable message to the people of Haiti and to the people of the world."
Finally we hear the truth on a major foreign policy issue from Obama. A message has been sent: we have come to pillage your country in its greatest hour of need.
President Bush, during his first term, cut off desperately needed aid to Haiti and supported the overthrow of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Bush's father, former President George H.W. Bush, supported the first coup against Aristide in 1991. Clinton, meanwhile, helped restore Aristide, but only on condition that he accept harsh neoliberal policies.
Yesterday, Secretary Hilary Clinton was sent to Haiti and gave a speech saying that the US is doing "every thing we can" to help the Haitian people. But that fact that her trip to the Haitian airport stopped all aid from arriving for three hours - three critical hours on a day when the difference between life and death for tens of thousands is a drink of water - should tell you everything you need to know about the US relief effort.
Obama has pledged $100 million, which will only just begin to help; and only if it is used for direct aid at all and not squandered on private contractors looking to make a dime (or many millions of dimes) off the suffering of Haitians.
U.S. Bankers got bonuses totaling over $100 billion last year. The US is spending trillions to destroy countries in the Middle East. We can raise the money needed to help our brothers and sisters of Haiti, but it is going to take ordinary people doing extraordinary things to push even the liberals in power to help.*******
Chavez says U.S. occupying Haiti in name of aid
Sun Jan 17, 6:40 PM
CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez on Sunday accused the United States of using the earthquake in Haiti as a pretext to occupy the devastated Caribbean country and offered to send fuel from his OPEC nation.
"I read that 3,000 soldiers are arriving, Marines armed as if they were going to war. There is not a shortage of guns there, my God. Doctors, medicine, fuel, field hospitals, that's what the United States should send," Chavez said on his weekly television show. "They are occupying Haiti undercover."
"On top of that, you don't see them in the streets. Are they picking up bodies? ... Are they looking for the injured? You don't see them. I haven't seen them. Where are they?"
Chavez promised to send as much gasoline as Haiti needs for electricity generation and transport.
A perennial foe of U.S. "imperialism," Chavez said he did not wish to diminish the humanitarian effort made by the United States and was only questioning the need for so many troops.
The United States is sending more than 5,000 Marines and soldiers to Haiti, and a hospital ship is due to arrive later this week.
The country's president said U.S. troops would help keep order on Haiti's increasingly lawless streets.
Venezuela has sent several planes to Haiti with doctors, aid and some soldiers. A Russia-Venezuela mission was set to leave Venezuela on Monday carrying aid on Russian planes.
Chavez said Venezuela's planes were the first to land in Haiti after Tuesday's 7.0 magnitude earthquake, which wrecked the capital Port-Au-Prince and killed as many as 200,000 people.
(Reporting by Ana Isabel Martinez; Writing by Frank Jack Daniel; Editing by Xavier Briand)*******
By Michel Chossudovsky
URL of this article: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=17000
Global Research, January 15, 2010
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, January 13, 2010)
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.
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 Préval 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.
US 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
Leading Role of US Southern CommandUS 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.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).
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)
At the outset, the military mission will be involved in first aid and emergency as well as public security and police activities.
US Air Force Controls the Airport
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 FAA's team is working with DOD combat controllers to improve the flow of air traffic moving in and out of the airport. The US Air Force reopened the airport on 14 January, and on 15 January its contingency response group was granted senior airfield authority ... Senior airfield authority enables the Air Force to prioritise, schedule and control the airspace at the airport, ..." (flightglobal.com, January 16, 2010, emphasis added)
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 HaitiTable 2
United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH)
Current strength (30 November 2009)
9,065 total uniformed personnel
2,034 police 488 international civilian personnel
1,212 local civilian staff
214 United Nations Volunteers
MINUSTAH Facts and Figures - United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti
Estimated combined SOUTHCOM and MINUSTAH forces; 19,095*
*Excluding commitments by France (unconfirmed) and Canada (confirmed 800 troops), the US, France and Canada were "partners" in the February 29, 2004 Coup d'État.
Haiti has been under foreign military occupation since the US instigated February 2004 Coup d'Etat. 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 in 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'État
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 instigated 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 by the earthquake, the former armed militia and Ton Ton macoute will be playing a new role.
The unspoken mission of US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) 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: 10,000 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 instigated 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 detailed groundwork for the "militarization of emergency relief" involving a leading role for NORTHCOM 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
Haiti is a country under military occupation since the US instigated Coup d'Etat of February 2004.
The entry of ten thousand heavily armed US troops, coupled with the activities of local militia could potentially precipitate the country into social chaos.
These foreign forces have entered the country to reinforce MINUSTAH "peacekeepers" and Haitian police forces (integrated by former Tonton Macoute), which since 2004, have been responsible for war crimes directed against the Haitian people, including the indiscriminate killing of civilians.
These troups reinforce the existing occupation forces under UN mandate.
Twenty thousand foreign troops under SOUTHCOM and MINUSTAH commands will be present in the country. In all likelihood, there will be an integration or coordination of the command structures of SOUTHCOM and MINUSTAH.
The Haitian people have exhibited a high degree of solidarity, courage and social commitment.
Helping one another and acting with consciousness: under very difficult conditions, in the immediate wake of the disaster, citizens rescue teams were set up spontaneously.
The militarization of relief operations will weaken 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 continue to forcefully oppose the presence of foreign troops in their country, particularly in public security operations.
It is essential that Americans across the land forcefully oppose the decision of the Obama adminstration to send US combat troops to Haiti.
There can be no real reconstruction or development under foreign military occupation.
Haiti - The Rulers' Luck?
Bush and Clinton have shown extreme contempt for human life
by Dr Ken Hildebrandt
Global Research, January 18, 2010
Rense - 2010-01-17
It'd be amusing that Obama has enlisted former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush to lead the aid effort to Haiti, were it only mere fiction. These men have shown extreme contempt for human life on massive scales, yet we're all to believe we're just one big happy caring family in the face of a catastrophe.
What about the preventable catastrophes they turned their backs to, or worse yet, the ones they caused? For example, Clinton oversaw the Iraqi Embargo costing the lives of hundreds of thousands of children. Former US Ambassador to the United Nations Madeleine Albright said in response to the assertion that half a million children's lives were lost due the sanctions that,
"I think that is a very hard choice, but the price, we think, the price is worth it."
We're talking about half a million children, on purpose, not hurting Saddam Hussein in the least, but rather the very people he was oppressing. And we're to believe this guy's just a smiling saxophone player who cares about others. Can anyone explain why?
Domestically speaking, the prison population about doubled here in the US during the Clinton years, plus he lost millions of jobs by getting us involved in NAFTA and the World Trade Organization. As for Bush, the former governor signed over 150 death warrants, got us involved in two wars and gave tax cuts to his favorite one percent of the population. The invasion of Iraq drew protests in all seven continents, and has already cost the lives of hundreds of thousands, not to mention those who are maimed for life. The CIA and other intelligence organizations all said it would only increase terrorism, which it did (see, In the First Hour of the Obama Presidency with Noam Chomsky, at, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rHOfQM4xjhk&feature=related ).
What's Obama done, but carry on Bush's wars, not renegotiated NAFTA as he had promised, and ignored the fact that the US houses more people in cages than any nation on earth? He's done a lot more, like mocking those with Down's Syndrome on national television, bailing out wealthy bankers, and now he's trying to give the insurance industry a nice shot in the arm, by granting them some 30 million new customers. I could go on but what's the point? So much for, "Change we can believe in."
But this is a natural catastrophe in Haiti, most have every right to believe. Well, perhaps that's not the case. Please hear me out.
In this government link from 1997 (http://www.defense.gov/transcripts/transcript.aspx?transcriptid=674 ) former Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen stated in his answer to the forth question that,
"Others are engaging even in an eco- type of terrorism whereby they can alter the climate, set off earthquakes, volcanoes remotely through the use of electromagnetic waves."
If 'others' can do this, we can only imagine what the powerhouse of the world can do, especially in the near 13 years since the above mentioned admission was made by a top ranking government official.
You've likely guessed my suspicions about recent events. I'm not saying this is what occurred, though it's sure a possibility to be considered in my view.
This could hardly have happened at a more convenient time. The president's ratings are plummeting, and his bill to subsidize the insurance industry has essentially divided the nation in two.
What better way to lead the people into believing we're one big happy family than to reunite former Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush along with Obama in a joint humanitarian effort?
To top it off, when we see rabid zionist Wolf Blitzer leading the cause for CNN, the man who rushed former Senator Mike Gravel (who read the Pentagon Papers in front of the US Senate revealing the lies of three presidential administrations leading to the end of the Vietnam War) during the Democratic Debates, as if he was someone we didn't have time to hear, I can't help but recollect the words of Adolf Hitler,
"What luck for the rulers that men do not think."*******
Doctors Without Borders Cargo Plane With Full Hospital and Staff Blocked From Landing in Port-au-Prince
Global Research, January 18, 2010
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) - 2010-01-17
Port-au-Prince/Paris /New York — Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) urges that its cargo planes carrying essential medical and surgical material be allowed to land in Port-au-Prince in order to treat thousands of wounded waiting for vital surgical operations. Priority must be given immediately to planes carrying lifesaving equipment and medical personnel.
Despite guarantees, given by the United Nations and the US Defense Department, an MSF cargo plane carrying an inflatable surgical hospital was blocked from landing in Port-au-Prince on Saturday, and was re-routed to Samana, in Dominican Republic. All material from the cargo is now being sent by truck from Samana, but this has added a 24-hour delay for the arrival of the hospital.
A second MSF plane is currently on its way and scheduled to land today in Port- au-Prince at around 10 am local time with additional lifesaving medical material and the rest of the equipment for the hospital. If this plane is also rerouted then the installation of the hospital will be further delayed, in a situation where thousands of wounded are still in need of life saving treatment.
The inflatable hospital includes 2 operating theaters, an intensive care unit, 100-bed hospitalization capacity, an emergency room and all the necessary equipment needed for sterilizing material.
MSF teams are currently working around the clock in 5 different hospitals in Port-au-Prince, but only 2 operating theaters are fully functional, while a third operating theater has been improvised for minor surgery due to the massive influx of wounded and lack of functional referral structures.*******
What You're Not Hearing about Haiti (But Should Be)
by Carl Lindskoog
Global Research, January 15, 2010
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 capital 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."*******
The Truth about Haiti’s Suffering
by Finian Cunningham
Global Research, January 14, 2010
Even in its hour of utter devastation, Haiti, the western hemisphere’s poorest country, teaches the rest of the world some valuable truths.
This Caribbean island nation of nine million people has right now a third of its population cut off from basic supplies of food, water, medicine or shelter. In the blink of an eye, the earthquake that hit the country has buried a capital city of three million people under rubble for which the eventual death toll may be between 100,000 and 500,000. Just like that.
Like shutting the proverbial stable door after the horse has bolted, the US and other world powers are promising to send emergency aid to Haiti. Well intentioned no doubt. But where was the aid and economic development assistance to Haiti – over half the population live on $1 a day and 80 per cent are classed as poor – in the years before this calamity?
Haiti’s poverty – as for other poor countries hit by natural disasters – leaves its people wide open to the kind of devastation that has befallen them. And make no mistake, Haiti’s poverty is not just bad luck or something inherently faulty about its natural resources and people. The country has been kept underdeveloped by decades of political and economic interference from Washington to ensure that this former slave colony continues to serve as a cheap source of agricultural exports to the US and as a labour sweatshop for American corporations making textiles and other consumer goods.
While Washington spends $1,000 billion on wars allegedly to combat the threat of terrorism, Haiti’s poor – whose country’s economy is valued at $7 billion – show us a sobering perspective on what a real threat to life looks like. We live in a physical world where floods, tsunamis, earthquakes happen. These disasters claim multiple more lives than the threats that the US is fixated on and spends multiples more money on. Can you imagine how many lives could have been saved in Haiti’s earthquake if a fraction of the money squandered on futile wars had been directed to economic and social development of that country?
Of course, the moral and sensible logic of that idea does not apply in a world dictated by Washington’s foreign policy. This is because of the imperatives and logic of US-led capitalism, which requires countries like Haiti to be kept in a state of poverty for the sake of corporate profit and which requires the fixation on illusionary threats to cover up its need to control geopolitical resources (mainly energy). This is the true face of the economic system that Washington and its allies impose on the world. And Haiti has pulled the mask of this ugly face.
The harrowing anguish and suffering of Haiti teaches us something else. Heart-rending reports of streets filled with corpses and blood running from under rubble, children crying for parents, parents digging with their fingers for children, the sound of dying voices pervading the darkness of night. This is the horror of hundreds of thousands of people suddenly engulfed by suffering. Some observers have compared what has happened in Haiti to the aftermath of an atom bomb being dropped. So the next time, Washington spokespeople airily float plans on Sunday morning chat shows to obliterate Iran – that other “serious threat” (meaning not serious threat) – we should remember: this is what human suffering on a massive scale looks like.*******
Foreknowledge of a Natural Disaster: Geologist Warned of Risk of Haiti Earthquake in September 2008
by Phoenix Delacroix
Global Research, January 13, 2010
A recent article in Haiti’s Le Matin [28 September 2008] newspaper has quoted 65 year old geologist and former professor at the Geological Institute of Havana, Patrick Charles, as stating that “conditions are ripe for major seismic activity in Port-au-Prince. The inhabitants of the Haitian capital need to prepare themselves for an event which will inevitably occur...” According to him, the danger is imminent. He ads “Thank God that science has provided instruments that help predict these types of events and show how we have arrived at these conclusions.”
According to Patrick Charles, Port-au-Prince is traversed by a large fault which is part of the Enriquillo Fault Zone. The fault starts in Petionville and follows the Southern Peninsula ending at Tiburon. In 1751 and 1771, this town was completely destroyed by an earthquake. As proof to his claims, he referred to recent tremors that have occurred in Petionville, Delmas, Croix des Bouquets, and La Plaine. Minor tremors such as these usually signal a larger earthquake to come.
Haiti is no stranger to large quakes with the destruction of Palais Sans Souci near the Citadelle in 1842. It has also been 200 years since any major seismic activity has occurred in Port-au-Prince. This means that the level of built up stress and energy in the earth could one day be released resulting in an earthquake measuring 7.2 or more on the Richter Scale. This would be an event of catastrophic proportions in a city with loose building codes, and an abundance of shanty-towns built in ravines and other undesirable locations. Even the super-rich may not be immune as many own homes with great views, but precariously perched on the mountainsides above Petionville, on ground which is also susceptible to landslides.
Although city officials often discuss this, it is noted that no measures have been put into place to address the situation. Mr. Charles mentions the following devastating scenarios: A giant tsunami reaching all the way to Lake Azuéi (aka Étang Saumâtre) flooding La Plaine, and the complete destruction of Morne l’Hopital which is currently dotted with flimsy shantytowns. If we thought the recent back-to-back hurricanes were devastating, they surely will pale in comparison to a major earthquake in the densely populated Haitian capital.
Is this all scientific rhetoric, or something that Haitian officials should take seriously?*******
Homes Toppled, Bodies Piled in Streets After Devastating Haiti Quake
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Dazed survivors wandered past dead bodies in rubble-strewn streets Wednesday, crying for loved ones, and rescuers desperately searched collapsed buildings as fear rose that the death toll from Haiti's devastating earthquake could reach into the tens of thousands.
The first cargo planes with food, water, medical supplies, shelter and sniffer dogs headed to the Western Hemisphere's poorest nation a day after the magnitude-7 quake flattened much of the capital of 2 million people.
Tuesday's earthquake brought down buildings great and small — from shacks in shantytowns to President Rene Preval's gleaming white National Palace, where a dome tilted ominously above the manicured grounds.
Hospitals, schools and the main prison collapsed. The capital's Roman Catholic archbishop was killed when his office and the main cathedral fell. The head of the U.N. peacekeeping mission was missing in the ruins of the organization's multistory headquarters.
Police officers turned their pickup trucks into ambulances to carry the injured. Wisnel Occilus, a 24-year-old student, was wedged between two other survivors in a truck bed headed to a police station. He was in an English class when the earth shook at 4:53 p.m. and the building collapsed.
"The professor is dead. Some of the students are dead, too," said Occilus, who suspected he had several broken bones. "Everything hurts."
Other survivors carried injured to hospitals in wheelbarrows and on stretchers fashioned from doors.
In Petionville, next to the capital, people used sledgehammers and their bare hands to dig through a collapsed shopping center, tossing aside mattresses and office supplies. More than a dozen cars were entombed, including a U.N. truck.
Nearby, about 200 survivors, including many children, huddled in a theater parking lot using sheets to rig makeshift tents and shield themselves from the sun in 90-degree heat.
At a triage center improvised in a hotel parking lot, people with cuts, broken bones and crushed ribs moaned under tent-like covers fashioned from bloody sheets.
"I can't take it anymore. My back hurts too much," said Alex Georges, 28, who was still waiting for treatment a day after his school collapsed and killed 11 classmates. A body lay a few feet away.
"This is much worse than a hurricane," said doctors' assistant Jimitre Coquillon. "There's no water. There's nothing. Thirsty people are going to die."
If there were any organized efforts to distribute food or water, they were not visible.
The aid group Doctors Without Borders treated wounded at two hospitals that withstood the quake and set up tent clinics elsewhere to replace its damaged facilities. Cuba, which already had hundreds of doctors in Haiti, treated injured in field hospitals.
Bodies were everywhere in Port-au-Prince: those of tiny children adjacent to schools; women in the rubble-strewn streets with stunned expressions frozen on their faces; men hidden beneath plastic tarps and cotton sheets.
Haiti's leaders struggled to comprehend the extent of the catastrophe — the worst earthquake to hit the country in 200 years — even as aftershocks reverberated.
"It's incredible," Preval told CNN. "A lot of houses destroyed, hospitals, schools, personal homes. A lot of people in the street dead. ... I'm still looking to understand the magnitude of the event and how to manage."
Preval said thousands of people were probably killed. Leading Sen. Youri Latortue told The Associated Press that 500,000 could be dead, but conceded that nobody really knows.
"Let's say that it's too early to give a number," Preval said.
As dusk fell, thousands of people gathered on blankets outside the crumpled presidential palace, including hundreds of women who waved their hands and sang hymns in a joyful, even defiant tone.
Ricardo Dervil, 29, said he decided to join the crowd because he was worried about aftershocks and was tired of seeing dead bodies.
"I was listening to the radio and they were saying to stay away from buildings," he said. "All I was doing was walking the street and seeing dead people."
Balancing suitcases and belongings on their heads, people streamed on foot into the Haitian countryside, where wooden and cinderblock shacks showed little sign of damage. Ambulances and U.N. trucks raced in the opposite direction, toward Port-au-Prince.
About 3,000 police and international peacekeepers cleared debris, directed traffic and maintained security in the capital. But law enforcement was stretched thin even before the quake and would be ill-equipped to deal with major unrest. The U.N.'s 9,000-member peacekeeping force sent patrols across the capital's streets while securing the airport, port and main buildings.
Looting began immediately after the quake, with people seen carrying food from collapsed buildings. Many lugged what they could salvage and stacked it around them as they slept in streets and parks.
President Barack Obama promised an all-out rescue and humanitarian effort including the military and civilian emergency teams from across the U.S. Late Wednesday, the Navy said the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan had been ordered to sail as soon as possible with a 2,000-member Marine unit to join other warships headed to the Caribbean nation.
"We have to be there for them in their hour of need," Obama said.
The first C-130 plane carrying part of a U.S. military assessment team arrived in Haiti, the U.S. Southern Command said. The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson was expected to arrive off the coast Thursday and more U.S. Navy ships were under way.
A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter evacuated four critically injured U.S. Embassy staff to the hospital at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where the military has been detaining suspected terrorists.
A small contingent of U.S. ground troops could be on their way soon, although it was unclear whether they would be used for security operations or humanitarian efforts.
Port-au-Prince's ruined buildings fell on both the poor and the prominent: The body of Archbishop Joseph Serge Miot, 63, was found in the ruins of his office, according to the Rev. Pierre Le Beller at Miot's order, the Saint Jacques Missionary Center in Landivisiau, France.
The United Nations said 16 U.N. personnel were confirmed dead and between 100 and 150 U.N. workers were still missing, including U.N. mission head Hedi Annabi of Tunisia and his chief deputy, Luis Carlos da Costa.
Senate President Kelly Bastien was rescued from the collapsed Parliament building and taken to a hospital in the neighboring Dominican Republic. The president of Haiti's Citibank was also among the survivors being treated there, said Rafael Sanchez Espanol, director of the Homs Hospital in Santiago.
An American aid worker was trapped for about 10 hours under the rubble of her mission house before she was rescued by her husband, who told CBS's "Early Show" that he drove 100 miles (160 kilometers) to Port-au-Prince to find her. Frank Thorp said he dug for more than an hour to free his wife, Jillian, and a co-worker, from under about a foot of concrete.
Even the main prison in the capital fell down, "and there are reports of escaped inmates," U.N. humanitarian spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs said in Geneva.
Haiti seems especially prone to catastrophe — from natural disasters like hurricanes, storms, floods and mudslides to crushing poverty, unstable governments, poor building standards and low literacy rates.
The survivors likely will face an increased risk of dengue fever, malaria and measles — problems that plagued the impoverished country before, said Kimberley Shoaf, associate director of the UCLA Center for Public Health and Disasters.
Some of the biggest immediate health threats include respiratory disease from inhaling dust from collapsed buildings and diarrhea from drinking contaminated water.
The international Red Cross said a third of the country's 9 million people may need emergency aid, a burden that would test any nation and a crushing catastrophe for impoverished Haiti.
The U.S. Embassy had no confirmed reports of deaths among the estimated 40,000 to 45,000 Americans who live in Haiti, but many were struggling to find a way out of the country.
The quake damaged the airport, stranding dozens there. Kency Germain of Eatontown, N.J., kept his family — five adults and three children — at the airport until nearly 3 a.m. They made their way to the U.S. Embassy, where they were allowed to sleep briefly near the entrance.
"It was safer in there (the airport) than it was out there in Port-au-Prince," Germain said.*******
Haiti appeals for aid; official fears 100,000 dead after earthquake
January 13, 2010
Thousands of injured people waited for care outside badly damaged hospitals, while an unknown number remained trapped inside collapsed buildings. Basic services like water and electricity were out, and Haitian President Rene Preval said his government needs help clearing streets so rescuers can reach some of the hardest-hit areas.
"We need medicine. We need medical help in general," Preval told CNN. "Some of the hospitals, they collapsed."
People were digging though the rubble of leveled buildings with their hands Wednesday, looking for survivors or bodies, CNN's Anderson Cooper reported from Port-au-Prince. Other CNN correspondents in Port-au-Prince and its suburbs reported whole blocks of collapsed buildings, with dozens of bodies piled in the streets.
Video images captured just moments after the temblor show dust-covered survivors rushing through the streets, yelling in terror. Others trapped in buildings are seen punching out debris and bricks, and shouting for help and trying to squeeze themselves out through cracks in the structures.
Port-au-Prince "is flattened," said Haiti's consul general to the U.N., Felix Augustin, who said he believed more than 100,000 people were dead.
But Preval said other estimates ranged from 30,000 to 50,000.
"It's too early to give a number," Preval said.
The 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck shortly before 5 p.m. Tuesday, centered about 10 miles (15 kilometers) southwest of Port-au-Prince, the U.S. Geological Survey reported. It could be felt strongly in eastern Cuba, more than 200 miles away.
The earthquake's power matched that of several nuclear bombs, said Roger Searle, a professor of geophysics in the Earth Sciences Department at Durham University in England. He said the combination of its magnitude and geographical shallowness made it particularly dangerous.
About 3 million people -- one-third of Haiti's population -- were affected by the quake, the Red Cross said. About 10 million people most likely felt shaking from the earthquake, the U.S. Geological Survey said.
As night fell over the island Wednesday, gunshots sounded off in Port-au-Prince. Screams and wails could be heard with each aftershock. Some people who still had homes refused to go inside, fearing collapse. Scores huddled together in parks and sidewalks, trying to get rest.
Though planes carrying aid began arriving Wednesday, humanitarian groups struggled to get the supplies to victims due to the poor roads and debris.
There was no clear system for clearing debris, removing bodies and treating the injured, officials and journalists reported.
"Simply getting through the streets to collect the dead bodies is seemingly an impossible task," CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta reported from the capital, where shooting could be heard in the background. "There's hardly any heavy machinery to try and dig through the rubble -- people are doing it by hand.
"The hospitals themselves -- the destination of those patients who might survive -- they're nonexistent or have a terrible infrastructure," Gupta said.
Haiti native and "Heroes" cast member Jimmy Jean-Louis was searching for his elderly parents in Haiti on Wednesday. He said the Haitian government is not up to addressing the overwhelming nature of the disaster.
"Just as an example ... we had one school that collapsed -- one school, and we were unable to take care of that," he said, referring to a November 2008 incident that killed 90 people in Petionville, Haiti. "This year, we have the entire city [of Port-au-Prince] that collapsed, including the major points such as hospitals, hotels and even the presidential palace."
Former President Clinton, the U.N. special envoy to Haiti, appealed to the public to support programs that will provide food, water, shelter and medical supplies to the impoverished country.
"The most important thing you can do is not to send those supplies, but to send cash" to relief agencies, Clinton said.
Governments and agencies across the globe geared up to help, including rescue teams from China, Iceland and France, Haiti's onetime colonial ruler; aid flights and 3 million euros ($4.35 million) from Spain; doctors from Cuba; and a field hospital from Russia.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the United Nations plans to release $10 million in aid immediately, while the World Bank pledged another $100 million Wednesday afternoon.
President Obama promised a "swift, coordinated and aggressive" response from the United States.
"The reports and images that we've seen of collapsed hospitals, crumbled homes and men and women carrying their injured neighbors through the streets are truly heart-wrenching," Obama said.
Clinton also urged international leaders to fulfill their previous donor commitments to Haiti.
"Most countries are way behind on fulfilling it. ... If you can provide any emergency help, if you can give us helicopters or basic medical supplies -- we need that," Clinton said.
The U.S. military is working to get ground and air assessments of the damage, with Coast Guard cutters, airplanes and choppers deploying to the scene, and Navy ships preparing to leave.
Two Coast Guard crews of C-130 Hercules fixed-wing aircraft were evacuating nearly 140 U.S. personnel to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Nine critically injured peopled were taken to the U.S. Naval Hospital Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Numerous relief organizations were already working in Haiti, the Western Hemisphere's poorest country, when the quake struck Tuesday afternoon. Aid groups scrambled to help in the aftermath of the quake, but were struggling with the same problems as ordinary Haitians.
In a small clinic in Port-au-Prince, doctors were overwhelmed with the causalities coming in. Bodies and bleeding wounded seemed to cover every inch of the clinic.
A woman with a broken leg sat on the floor next to the body of a dead toddler who was covered by a sheet. She'd been waiting for treatment since Tuesday.
A CNN crew at the clinic counted at least 13 other adult bodies piled outside. Others were still alive, leaning on walls, lying on floors in despair.
None of the three aid centers run by Doctors Without Borders was operable Wednesday, the group said. The organization was focusing on re-establishing surgical capacity so it could deal with the crushed limbs and head wounds it is seeing.
The earthquake sheared huge slabs of concrete off structures and pancaked scores of buildings, trapping people inside those buildings, and knocking down phone and power lines.
"One woman, I could only see her head and the rest of her body was trapped under a block wall," said Jonathan de la Durantaye, who drove through Port-au-Prince after the quake. "I think she was dead. She had blood coming out of her eyes and nose and ears."
The headquarters of the U.N. mission in Haiti, a peacekeeping and police force established after the 2004 ouster of then-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, collapsed during the quake, leaving leaving about 150 members unaccounted for, U.N. officials in New York said Wednesday. At least 10 survivors were pulled from rubble at the U.N. mission, according to former President Clinton.
The top two civilian officials at the U.N. mission, Special Representative Hedi Annabi and his deputy, Luiz Carlos da Costa, were believed trapped in the rubble of the hotel that housed the world body's headquarters, their fates unknown, said Alain Le Roy, the undersecretary-general for peacekeeping operations.
The Brazilian-led mission has about 9,000 troops, police and civilian staff in Haiti, about a third of whom were in Port-au-Prince. At least 16 peacekeepers, including 11 Brazilians, three Jordanians, one Argentine and one Chadian, were reported dead Wednesday afternoon, U.N. officials said.
Also among the dead was Joseph Serge Miot, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Port-au-Prince, according to the official Vatican newspaper. The archbishop was buried beneath rubble along with 100 priests and aspiring priests attending a religious conference, Papal Nuncio Bernardito Auza told the Vatican's Fides news agency.
"There were priests and nuns in the street. ... Everywhere, you heard cries from beneath the rubble," Auza said.
Authorities braced for civil disturbances. Edmond Mulet, the U.N. assistant secretary-general for peacekeeping operations, told CNN that the 95-year-old, badly overcrowded National Penitentiary in the capital, collapsed and the inmates escaped, prompting worries about looting by escapees.
Obama urged Americans trying to locate family members in Haiti to telephone the State Department at 1-888-407-4747.
Are you looking for loved ones?
The presidential palace in Port-au-Prince was in ruins. Preval, Haiti's president, said he did not know where he was going to sleep Wednesday night.
"I have plenty of time to look for a bed," he said late in the afternoon. "But now I am working on how to rescue the people. Sleeping is not the problem."
CNN's Ivan Watson, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Susan Candiotti, Gary Tuchman, Chris Lawrence, Anderson Cooper, Brian Byrnes, Felicity Cruikshank, Hada Messia, Richard Greene and Mike Mount contributed to this report.*******
Haiti Lies in Ruins; Grim Search for Untold Dead
By Simon Romero
Published: January 13, 2010
In the midst of the chaos, no one was able to offer an estimate of the number of people who had been killed or injured, though there was widespread concern that there were likely to be thousands of casualties.
“Please save my baby!” Jeudy Francia, a woman in her 20s, shrieked outside the St.-Esprit Hospital in the city. Her child, a girl about 4 years old, writhed in pain in the hospital’s chaotic courtyard, near where a handful of corpses lay under white blankets. “There is no one, nothing, no medicines, no explanations for why my daughter is going to die.”
Governments and aid agencies from Beijing to Grand Rapids began marshaling supplies and staffs to send here, though the obstacles proved frustrating just one day after the powerful 7.0-magnitude earthquake hit. Power and phone service were out. Flights were severely limited at Port-au-Prince’s main airport, telecommunications were barely functioning, operations at the port were shut down and most of the medical facilities had been severely damaged, if not leveled.
A Red Cross field team of officials from several nations had to spend Wednesday night in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic to gather its staff before taking the six-hour drive in the morning across the border to the earthquake zone.
“We were on the plane here with a couple of different agencies, and they all are having similar challenges of access,” Colin Chaperon, a field director for the American Red Cross, said in a telephone interview. “There is a wealth of resources out there, and everybody has the good will to go in and support the Haitian Red Cross.”
The quake struck just before 5 p.m. on Tuesday about 10 miles southwest of Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital, ravaging the infrastructure of Haiti’s fragile government and destroying some of its most important cultural symbols.
“Parliament has collapsed,” Mr. Préval told The Miami Herald. “The tax office has collapsed. Schools have collapsed. Hospitals have collapsed. There are a lot of schools that have a lot of dead people in them.”
He added: “All of the hospitals are packed with people. It is a catastrophe.”
President Obama promised that Haiti would have the “unwavering support” of the United States.
Mr. Obama said that United States aid agencies were moving swiftly to get help to Haiti and that search-and-rescue teams were en route. He described the reports of destruction as “truly heart-wrenching,” made more cruel given Haiti’s long-troubled circumstances. Mr. Obama did not make a specific aid pledge, and administration officials said they were still trying to figure out what the nation needed. But he urged Americans to go to the White House’s Web site, www.whitehouse.gov, to find ways to donate money.
“This is a time when we are reminded of the common humanity that we all share,” Mr. Obama said, speaking in the morning in the White House diplomatic reception room with Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. at his side.
Aid agencies said they would open their storehouses of food and water in Haiti, and the World Food Program was flying in nearly 100 tons of ready-to-eat meals and high-energy biscuits from El Salvador. The United Nations said it was freeing up $10 million in emergency relief money, the European Union pledged $4.4 million and groups like Doctors Without Borders were setting up clinics in tents and open-air triage centers to treat the injured.
Supplies began filtering in from the Dominican Republic as charter flights were restarted between Santo Domingo and Port-au-Prince.
Some aid groups with offices in Port-au-Prince were also busy searching for their own dead and missing.
Sixteen members of the United Nations peacekeeping force in Haiti were killed and as many as 100 other United Nations employees were missing after the collapse of the mission’s headquarters in the Christopher Hotel in the hills above Port-au-Prince.
Forty or more other United Nations employees were missing at a sprawling compound occupied by United Nations agencies. Ten additional employees had been in a villa nearby.
It was one of the deadliest single days for United Nations employees. The head of the group’s Haitian mission, Mr. Annabi, a Tunisian, and his deputy were among the missing, said Alain Le Roy, the United Nations peacekeeping chief.
Earlier Wednesday, the French foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, said in radio interviews that Mr. Annabi had been killed in the collapse.
The Brazilian Army, which has one of the largest peacekeeping presences in Haiti, said 11 of its soldiers had been killed in the quake and seven had been injured; seven more were unaccounted for.
During a driving tour of the capital on Wednesday, Bernice Robertson, an analyst with the International Crisis Group, said she saw at least 30 bodies, most covered with plastic bags or sheets. She also witnessed heroic recovery efforts. “There are people digging with their hands, searching for people in the rubble,” she said in a video interview via Skype. “There was unimaginable destruction.”
Paul McPhun, operations manager for Doctors Without Borders, described scenes of chaos.
When staff members tried to travel by car, “they were mobbed by crowds of people,” Mr. McPhun said. “They just want help, and anybody with a car is better off than they are.”
Contaminated drinking water is a longstanding and severe problem in Haiti, causing high rates of illness that put many people in the hospital. Providing sanitation and clean water is one of the top priorities for aid organizations.
More than 30 significant aftershocks of a 4.5 magnitude or higher rattled Haiti through Tuesday night and into early Wednesday, according to Amy Vaughan, a geophysicist with the United States Geological Survey. “We’ve seen a lot of shaking still happening,” she said.
Bob Poff, a Salvation Army official, described in a written account posted on the Salvation Army’s Web site how he had loaded injured victims — “older, scared, bleeding and terrified” — into the back of his truck and set off in search of help. In two hours, he managed to travel less than a mile, he said.
The account described how Mr. Poff and hundreds of neighbors spent Tuesday night outside in a playground. Every tremor sent ripples of fear through the survivors, providing “another reminder that we are not yet finished with this calamity,” he wrote.
He continued, “And when it comes, all of the people cry out and the children are terrified.”
Louise Ivers, the clinical director of the aid group Partners in Health, said in an e-mail message to her colleagues: “Port-au-Prince is devastated, lot of deaths. S O S. S O S ... Temporary field hospital by us at UNDP needs supplies, pain meds, bandages. Please help us.”
Photos from Haiti on Wednesday showed a hillside scraped nearly bare of its houses, which had tumbled into the ravine below.
Simon Romero reported from Port-au-Prince and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Reporting was contributed by Marc Lacey and Elisabeth Malkin from Mexico City, Ginger Thompson and Brian Knowlton from Washington, Neil MacFarquhar, Denise Grady and Liz Robbins from New York, and Mery Galanternick from Rio de Janeiro.*******
The Destabilization of Haiti: February 29, 2004
by Michel Chossudovsky
Global Research, February 28, 2009
This article was written five years ago in the last days of February 2004 in response to the barrage of disinformation in the mainstream media.
It was completed and published on Global Research on February 29th, the day of President Jean Bertrand Aristide's kidnapping and deportation, with the complicity of France and Canada. The article focusses on the history of the US led coup, including its preparations. It also outlines the process of economic destabilization under the helm of the IMF and the World Bank which played a key role in the events leading up to the military coup.
On the fifth anniversary of the US sponsored military coup, which led to the unseating of Haiti's democratically elected president Jean Bertrand Aristide, the legitimacy of US and allied military presence under UN mandate in Haiti is being actively questioned. A one day conference is being held at the University of Ottawa to debate Canada's role in Haiti.
To view the live webcast of this event on Feb 28, 9am-5.30pm click below
Michel Chossudovsky, 28 February 2009
The armed insurrection which contributed to unseating President Aristide on February 29th 2004 was the result of a carefully staged military-intelligence operation.
The Rebel paramilitary army crossed the border from the Dominican Republic in early February. It constitutes 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
The self-proclaimed Front pour la Libération et la reconstruction nationale (FLRN) (National Liberation and Reconstruction Front) is led by Guy Philippe, a former member of the Haitian Armed Forces and Police Chief. Philippe had been trained during the 1991 coup years by US Special Forces in Ecuador, together with a dozen other Haitian Army officers. (See Juan Gonzalez, New York Daily News, 24 February 2004).
The two other rebel commanders and associates of Guy Philippe, who led the attacks on Gonaives and Cap Haitien are Emmanuel Constant, nicknamed "Toto" and Jodel Chamblain, both of whom are former Tonton Macoute and leaders of FRAPH.
In 1994, Emmanuel Constant led the FRAPH assassination squadron into the village of Raboteau, in what was later identified as "The Raboteau massacre":
"One of the last of the infamous massacres happened in April 1994 in Raboteau, a seaside slum about 100 miles north of the capital. Raboteau has about 6,000 residents, most fishermen and salt rakers, but it has a reputation as an opposition stronghold where political dissidents often went to hide... On April 18 , 100 soldiers and about 30 paramilitaries arrived in Raboteau for what investigators would later call a "dress rehearsal." They rousted people from their homes, demanding to know where Amiot "Cubain" Metayer, a well-known Aristide supporter, was hiding. They beat people, inducing a pregnant woman to miscarry, and forced others to drink from open sewers. Soldiers tortured a 65-year-old blind man until he vomited blood. He died the next day.
The soldiers returned before dawn on April 22. They ransacked homes and shot people in the streets, and when the residents fled for the water, other soldiers fired at them from boats they had commandeered. Bodies washed ashore for days; some were never found. The number of victims ranges from two dozen to 30. Hundreds more fled the town, fearing further reprisals." (St Petersburg Times, Florida, 1 September 2002)
During the military government (1991-1994), FRAPH was (unofficially) under the jurisdiction of the Armed Forces, taking orders from Commander in Chief General Raoul Cedras. According to a 1996 UN Human Rights Commission report, FRAPH had been supported by the CIA.
Under the military dictatorship, the narcotics trade, was protected by the military Junta, which in turn was supported by the CIA. The 1991 coup leaders including the FRAPH paramilitary commanders were on the CIA payroll. (See Paul DeRienzo, http://globalresearch.ca/articles/RIE402A.html , See also see Jim Lobe, IPS, 11 Oct 1996). Emmanuel Constant alias "Toto" confirmed, in this regard, in a CBS "60 Minutes" in 1995, that the CIA paid him about $700 a month and that he created FRAPH, while on the CIA payroll. (See Miami Herald, 1 August 2001). According to Constant, the FRAPH had been formed "with encouragement and financial backing from the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency and the CIA." (Miami New Times, 26 February 2004)
The so-called "Democratic Convergence" (DC) is a group of some 200 political organizations, led by former Port-au-Prince mayor Evans Paul. The "Democratic Convergence" (DC) together with "The Group of 184 Civil Society Organizations" (G-184) has formed a so-called "Democratic Platform of Civil Society Organizations and Opposition Political Parties".
The Group of 184 (G-184), is headed by Andre (Andy) Apaid, a US citizen of Haitian parents, born in the US. (Haiti Progres, http://www.haiti-progres.com/eng11-12.html ) Andy Apaid owns Alpha Industries, one of Haiti's largest cheap labor export assembly lines established during the Duvalier era. His sweatshop factories produce textile products and assemble electronic products for a number of US firms including Sperry/Unisys, IBM, Remington and Honeywell. Apaid is the largest industrial employer in Haiti with a workforce of some 4000 workers. Wages paid in Andy Apaid's factories are as low as 68 cents a day. (Miami Times, 26 Feb 2004). The current minimum wage is of the order of $1.50 a day:
"The U.S.-based National Labor Committee, which first revealed the Kathie Lee Gifford sweat shop scandal, reported several years ago that Apaid's factories in Haiti's free trade zone often pay below the minimum wage and that his employees are forced to work 78-hour weeks." (Daily News, New York, 24 Feb 2004)
Apaid was a firm supporter of the 1991 military coup. Both the Convergence démocratique and the G-184 have links to the FLRN (former FRAPH death squadrons) headed by Guy Philippe. The FLRN is also known to receive funding from the Haitian business community.
In other words, there is no watertight division between the civilian opposition, which claims to be non-violent and the FLRN paramilitary. The FLRN is collaborating with the so-called "Democratic Platform."
In Haiti, this "civil society opposition" is bankrolled by the National Endowment for Democracy which works hand in glove with the CIA. The Democratic Platform is supported by the International Republican Institute (IRI) , which is an arm of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). Senator John McCain is Chairman of IRI's Board of Directors. (See Laura Flynn, Pierre Labossière and Robert Roth, Hidden from the Headlines: The U.S. War Against Haiti, California-based Haiti Action Committee (HAC), http://www.haitiprogres.com/eng11-12.html ).
G-184 leader Andy Apaid was in liaison with Secretary of State Colin Powell in the days prior to the kidnapping and deportation of President Aristide by US forces on February 29. His umbrella organization of elite business organizations and religious NGOs, which is also supported by the International Republican Institute (IRI), receives sizeable amounts of money from the European Union.(http://haitisupport.gn.apc.org/184%20EC.htm ).
It is worth recalling that the NED, (which overseas the IRI) although not formally part of the CIA, performs an important intelligence function within the arena of civilian political parties and NGOs. It was created in 1983, when the CIA was being accused of covertly bribing politicians and setting up phony civil society front organizations. According to Allen Weinstein, who was responsible for setting up the NED during the Reagan Administration: "A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA." ('Washington Post', Sept. 21, 1991).
The NED channels congressional funds to the four institutes: The International Republican Institute (IRI), the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI), the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), and the American Center for International Labor Solidarity (ACILS). These organizations are said to be "uniquely qualified to provide technical assistance to aspiring democrats worldwide." See IRI, http://www.iri.org/history.asp )
In other words, there is a division of tasks between the CIA and the NED. While the CIA provides covert support to armed paramilitary rebel groups and death squadrons, the NED and its four constituent organizations finance "civilian" political parties and non governmental organizations with a view to instating American "democracy" around the World.
The NED constitutes, so to speak, the CIA's "civilian arm". CIA-NED interventions in different part of the World are characterized by a consistent pattern, which is applied in numerous countries.
The NED provided funds to the "civil society" organizations in Venezuela, which initiated an attempted coup against President Hugo Chavez. In Venezuela it was the "Democratic Coordination", which was the recipient of NED support; in Haiti it is the "Democratic Convergence" and G-184.
Similarly, in former Yugoslavia, the CIA channeled support to the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) (since 1995), a paramilitary group involved in terrorist attacks on the Yugoslav police and military. Meanwhile, the NED through the "Center for International Private Enterprise" (CIPE) was backing the DOS opposition coalition in Serbia and Montenegro. More specifically, NED was financing the G-17, an opposition group of economists responsible for formulating (in liaison with the IMF) the DOS coalition's "free market" reform platform in the 2000 presidential election, which led to the downfall of Slobodan Milosevic.
The IMF's Bitter "Economic Medicine"
The IMF and the World Bank are key players in the process of economic and political destabilization. While carried out under the auspices of an intergovernmental body, the IMF reforms tend to support US strategic and foreign policy objectives.
Based on the so-called "Washington consensus", IMF austerity and restructuring measures through their devastating impacts, often contribute to triggering social and ethnic strife. IMF reforms have often precipitated the downfall of elected governments. In extreme cases of economic and social dislocation, the IMF's bitter economic medicine has contributed to the destabilization of entire countries, as occurred in Somalia, Rwanda and Yugoslavia. (See Michel Chossudovsky, The globalization of Poverty and the New World Order, Second Edition, 2003, http://globalresearch.ca/globaloutlook/GofP.html )
The IMF program is a consistent instrument of economic dislocation. The IMF's reforms contribute to reshaping and downsizing State institutions through drastic austerity measures. The latter are implemented alongside other forms of intervention and political interference, including CIA covert activities in support of rebel paramilitary groups and opposition political parties.
Moreover, so-called "Emergency Recovery" and "Post-conflict" reforms are often introduced under IMF guidance, in the wake of a civil war, a regime change or "a national emergency".
In Haiti, the IMF sponsored "free market" reforms have been carried out consistently since the Duvalier era. They have been applied in several stages since the first election of president Aristide in 1990.
The 1991 military coup, which took place 8 months following Jean Bertrand Aristide's accession to the presidency, was in part intended to reverse the Aristide government's progressive reforms and reinstate the neoliberal policy agenda of the Duvalier era.
A former World Bank official Mr. Marc Bazin was appointed Prime minister by the Military Junta in June 1992. In fact, it was the US State Department which sought his appointment.
Bazin had a track record of working for the "Washington consensus." In 1983, he had been appointed Finance Minister under the Duvalier regime, In fact he had been recommended to the Finance portfolio by the IMF: "President-for-Life Jean-Claude Duvalier had agreed to the appointment of an IMF nominee, former World Bank official Marc Bazin, as Minister of Finance". (Mining Annual Review, June, 1983). Bazin, who was considered Washington's "favorite", later ran against Aristide in the 1990 presidential elections.
Bazin, was called in by the Military Junta in 1992 to form a so-called "consensus government". It is worth noting that it was precisely during Bazin's term in office as Prime Minister that the political massacres and extra judicial killings by the CIA supported FRAPH death squadrons were unleashed, leading to the killing of more than 4000 civilians. Some 300,000 people became internal refugees, "thousands more fled across the border to the Dominican Republic, and more than 60,000 took to the high seas" (Statement of Dina Paul Parks, Executive Director, National Coalition for Haitian Rights, Committee on Senate Judiciary, US Senate, Washington DC, 1 October 2002). Meanwhile, the CIA had launched a smear campaign representing Aristide as "mentally unstable" (Boston Globe, 21 Sept 1994).
The 1994 US Military Intervention
In other words, the US military occupation was implemented to ensure political continuity.
While the members of the military Junta were sent into exile, the return to constitutional government required compliance to IMF diktats, thereby foreclosing the possibility of a progressive "alternative" to the neoliberal agenda. Moreover, US 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).
"DynCorp has always functioned as a cut-out for Pentagon and CIA covert operations." (See Jeffrey St. Clair and Alexander Cockburn, Counterpunch, February 27, 2002, http://www.corpwatch.org/issues/PID.jsp?articleid=1988 ) Under DynCorp advice in Haiti, former Tonton Macoute and Haitian military officers involved in the 1991 Coup d'Etat were brought into the HNP. (See Ken Silverstein, Privatizing War, The Nation, July 28, 1997, http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/silver.htm )
In October 1994, Aristide returned from exile and reintegrated the presidency until the end of his mandate in 1996. "Free market" reformers were brought into his Cabinet. A new wave of deadly macro-economic policies was adopted under a so-called Emergency Economic Recovery Plan (EERP) "that sought to achieve rapid macroeconomic stabilization, restore public administration, and attend to the most pressing needs." (See IMF Approves Three-Year ESAF Loan for Haiti, Washington, 1996, http://www.imf.org/external/np/sec/pr/1996/pr9653.htm ).
The restoration of Constitutional government had been negotiated behind closed doors with Haiti's external creditors. Prior to Aristide's reinstatement as the country's president, the new government was obliged to clear the country's debt arrears with its external creditors. In fact the new loans provided by the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and the IMF were used to meet Haiti's obligations with international creditors. Fresh money was used to pay back old debt leading to a spiraling external debt.
Broadly coinciding with the military government, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) declined by 30 percent (1992-1994). With a per capita income of $250 per annum, Haiti is the poorest country in the Western hemisphere and among the poorest in the world. (see World Bank, Haiti: The Challenges of Poverty Reduction, Washington, August 1998, http://lnweb18.worldbank.org/External/lac/lac.nsf/0/8479e9126e3537f0852567ea000fa239/$FILE/Haiti1.doc ).
The World Bank estimates unemployment to be of the order of 60 percent. (A 2000 US Congressional Report estimates it to be as high as 80 percent. See US House of Representatives, Criminal Justice, Drug Policy and Human Resources Subcommittee, FDHC Transcripts, 12 April 2000).
In the wake of three years of military rule and economic decline, there was no "Economic Emergency Recovery" as envisaged under the IMF loan agreement. In fact quite the opposite: The IMF imposed "stabilization" under the "Recovery" program required further budget cuts in almost non-existent social sector programs. A civil service reform program was launched, which consisted in reducing the size of the civil service and the firing of "surplus" State employees. The IMF-World Bank package was in part instrumental in the paralysis of public services, leading to the eventual demise of the entire State system. In a country where health and educational services were virtually nonexistent, the IMF had demanded the lay off of "surplus" teachers and health workers with a view to meeting its target for the budget deficit.
Washington's foreign policy initiatives were coordinated with the application of the IMF's deadly economic medicine. The country had been literally pushed to the brink of economic and social disaster.
The Fate of Haitian Agriculture
More than 75 percent of the Haitian population is engaged in agriculture, producing both food crops for the domestic market as well a number of cash crops for export. Already during the Duvalier era, the peasant economy had been undermined. With the adoption of the IMF-World Bank sponsored trade reforms, the agricultural system, which previously produced food for the local market, had been destabilized. With the lifting of trade barriers, the local market was opened up to the dumping of US agricultural surpluses including rice, sugar and corn, leading to the destruction of the entire peasant economy. Gonaives, which used to be Haiti's rice basket region, with extensive paddy fields had been precipitated into bankruptcy:
More than 75 percent of the Haitian population is engaged in agriculture, producing both food crops for the domestic market as well a number of cash crops for export. Already during the Duvalier era, the peasant economy had been undermined. With the adoption of the IMF-World Bank sponsored trade reforms, the agricultural system, which previously produced food for the local market, had been destabilized. With the lifting of trade barriers, the local market was opened up to the dumping of US agricultural surpluses including rice, sugar and corn, leading to the destruction of the entire peasant economy. Gonaives, which used to be Haiti's rice basket region, with extensive paddy fields had been precipitated into bankruptcy:
In matter of a few years, Haiti, a small impoverished country in the Caribbean, had become the World's fourth largest importer of American rice after Japan, Mexico and Canada.
The presidential elections were scheduled for November 23, 2000. The Clinton Administration had put an embargo on development aid to Haiti in 2000. Barely two weeks prior to the elections, the outgoing administration signed a Letter of Intent with the IMF. Perfect timing: the agreement with the IMF virtually foreclosed from the outset any departure from the neoliberal agenda.
The Minister of Finance had sent the amended budget to the Parliament on December 14th. Donor support was conditional upon its rubber stamp approval by the Legislature. While Aristide had promised to increase the minimum wage, embark on school construction and literacy programs, the hands of the new government were tied. All major decisions regarding the State budget, the management of the public sector, public investment, privatization, trade and monetary policy had already been taken. They were part of the agreement reached with the IMF on November 6, 2000.
In 2003, the IMF imposed the application of a so-called "flexible price system in fuel", which immediately triggered an inflationary spiral. The currency was devalued. Petroleum prices increased by about 130 percent in January-February 2003, which served to increase popular resentment against the Aristide government, which had supported the implementation of the IMF economic reforms.
While a humanitarian catastrophe is looming, the collapse of the economy spearheaded by the IMF, had served to boost the popularity of the Democratic Platform, which had accused Aristide of "economic mismanagement." Needless to say, the leaders of the Democratic Platform including Andy Apaid --who actually owns the sweatshops-- are the main protagonists of the low wage economy.
In February 2003, Washington announced the appointment of James Foley as Ambassador to Haiti . Foley had been a State Department spokesman under the Clinton administration during the war on Kosovo. He previously held a position at NATO headquarters in Brussels. Foley had been sent to Port au Prince in advance of the CIA sponsored operation. He was transferred to Port au Prince in September 2003, from a prestige diplomatic position in Geneva, where he was Deputy Head of Mission to the UN European office.
It is worth recalling Ambassador Foley's involvement in support of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) in 1999.
Amply documented, the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) was financed by drug money and supported by the CIA. ( See Michel Chossudovsky, Kosovo Freedom Fighters Financed by Organized Crime, Covert Action Quarterly, 1999, http://www.heise.de/tp/english/inhalt/co/2743/1.html )
The KLA had been involved in similar targeted political assassinations and killings of civilians, in the months leading up to the 1999 NATO invasion as well as in its aftermath. Following the NATO led invasion and occupation of Kosovo, the KLA was transformed into the Kosovo Protection Force (KPF) under UN auspices. Rather than being disarmed to prevent the massacres of civilians, a terrorist organization with links to organized crime and the Balkans drug trade, was granted a legitimate political status.
At the time of the Kosovo war, the current ambassador to Haiti James Foley was in charge of State Department briefings, working closely with his NATO counterpart in Brussels, Jamie Shea. Barely two months before the onslaught of the NATO led war on 24 March 1999, James Foley had called for the "transformation" of the KLA into a respectable political organization:
"We want to develop a good relationship with them [the KLA] as they transform themselves into a politically-oriented organization,' ..`[W]e believe that we have a lot of advice and a lot of help that we can provide to them if they become precisely the kind of political actor we would like to see them become... "If we can help them and they want us to help them in that effort of transformation, I think it's nothing that anybody can argue with..' (quoted in the New York Times, 2 February 1999)
In the wake of the invasion "a self-proclaimed Kosovar administration was set up composed of the KLA and the Democratic Union Movement (LBD), a coalition of five opposition parties opposed to Rugova's Democratic League (LDK). In addition to the position of prime minister, the KLA controlled the ministries of finance, public order and defense." (Michel Chossudovsky, NATO's War of Aggression against Yugoslavia, 1999, http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/CHO309C.html )
The Golden Crescent drug trade, launched by the CIA in the early 1980s, continues to be protected by US intelligence, in liason with NATO occupation forces and the British military. In recent developments, British occupation forces have promoted opium cultivation through paid radio advertisements. - Michel Chossudovsky
*******The US State Department's position as conveyed in Foley's statement was that the KLA would "not be allowed to continue as a military force but would have the chance to move forward in their quest for self government under a 'different context'" meaning the inauguration of a de facto "narco-democracy" under NATO protection. (Ibid).
With regard to the drug trade, Kosovo and Albania occupy a similar position to that of Haiti: they constitute "a hub" in the transit (transshipment) of narcotics from the Golden Crescent, through Iran and Turkey into Western Europe. While supported by the CIA, Germany's Bundes Nachrichten Dienst (BND) and NATO, the KLA has links to the Albanian Mafia and criminal syndicates involved in the narcotics trade.( See Michel Chossudovsky, Kosovo Freedom Fighters Financed by Organized Crime, Covert Action Quarterly, 1999, http://www.heise.de/tp/english/inhalt/co/2743/1.html )
Is this the model for Haiti, as formulated in 1999 by the current US Ambassador to Haiti James Foley?
For the CIA and the State Department the FLRN and Guy Philippe are to Haiti what the KLA and Hashim Thaci are to Kosovo.
In other words, Washington's design is "regime change": topple the Lavalas administration and install a compliant US puppet regime, integrated by the Democratic Platform and the self-proclaimed Front pour la libération et la reconstruction nationale (FLRN), whose leaders are former FRAPH and Tonton Macoute terrorists. The latter are slated to integrate a "national unity government" alongside the leaders of the Democratic Convergence and The Group of 184 Civil Society Organizations led by Andy Apaid. More specifically, the FLRN led by Guy Philippe is slated to rebuild the Haitian Armed forces, which were disbanded in 1995.
What is at stake is an eventual power sharing arrangement between the various Opposition groups and the CIA supported Rebels, which have links to the cocaine transit trade from Colombia via Haiti to Florida. The protection of this trade has a bearing on the formation of a new "narco-government", which will serve US interests.
A bogus (symbolic) disarmament of the Rebels may be contemplated under international supervision, as occurred with the KLA in Kosovo in 2000. The "former terrorists" could then be integrated into the civilian police as well as into the task of "rebuilding" the Haitian Armed forces under US supervision.
What this scenario suggests, is that the Duvalier-era terrorist structures have been restored. A program of civilian killings and political assassinations directed against Lavalas supporter is in fact already underway.
In other words, if Washington were really motivated by humanitarian considerations, why then is it supporting and financing the FRAPH death squadrons? Its objective is not to prevent the massacre of civilians. Modeled on previous CIA led operations (e.g. Guatemala, Indonesia, El Salvador), the FLRN death squadrons have been set loose and are involved in targeted political assassinations of Aristide supporters.
The Narcotics Transshipment Trade
While the real economy had been driven into bankruptcy under the brunt of the IMF reforms, the narcotics transshipment trade continues to flourish. According to the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Haiti remains "the major drug trans-shipment country for the entire Caribbean region, funneling huge shipments of cocaine from Colombia to the United States." (See US House of Representatives, Criminal Justice, Drug Policy and Human Resources Subcommittee, FDHC Transcripts, 12 April 2000).
The global trade in narcotics is estimated to be of the order of 500 billion dollars.
It is estimated that Haiti is now responsible for 14 percent of all the cocaine entering the United States, representing billions of dollars of revenue for organized crime and US financial institutions, which launder vast amounts of dirty money.Much of this transshipment trade goes directly to Miami, which also constitutes a haven for the recycling of dirty money into bona fide investments, e.g. in real estate and other related activities.
The evidence confirms that the CIA was protecting this trade during the Duvalier era as well as during the military dictatorship (1991-1994). In 1987, Senator John Kerry as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Narcotics, Terrorism and International Operations of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee was entrusted with a major investigation, which focused on the links between the CIA and the drug trade, including the laundering of drug money to finance armed insurgencies. "The Kerry Report" published in 1989, while centering its attention on the financing of the Nicaraguan Contra, also included a section on Haiti:
"Kerry had developed detailed information on drug trafficking by Haiti’s military rulers that led to the indictment in Miami in 1988, of Lt. Col. Jean Paul. The indictment was a major embarrassment to the Haitian military, especially since Paul defiantly refused to surrender to U.S. authorities.. In November 1989, Col. Paul was found dead after he consumed a traditional Haitian good will gift—a bowel of pumpkin soup...
The U.S. senate also heard testimony in 1988 that then interior minister, Gen. Williams Regala, and his DEA liaison officer, protected and supervised cocaine shipments. The testimony also charged the then Haitian military commander Gen. Henry Namphy with accepting bribes from Colombian traffickers in return for landing rights in the mid 1980’s.
It was in 1989 that yet another military coup brought Lt. Gen. Prosper Avril to power... According to a witness before Senator John Kerry’s subcommittee, Avril is in fact a major player in Haiti’s role as a transit point in the cocaine trade." ( Paul DeRienzo, Haiti’s Nightmare: The Cocaine Coup & The CIA Connection, Spring 1994, http://globalresearch.ca/articles/RIE402A.html )
Jack Blum, who was Kerry's Special Counsel, points to the complicity of US officials in a 1996 statement to the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on Drug Trafficking and the Contra War:
"...In Haiti ... intelligence "sources" of ours in the Haitian military had turned their facilities over to the drug cartels. Instead of putting pressure on the rotten leadership of the military, we defended them. We held our noses and looked the other way as they and their criminal friends in the United States distributed cocaine in Miami, Philadelphia and New, York." (http://www.totse.com/en/politics/central_intelligence_agency/ciacont2.html )
Haiti not only remains at the hub of the transshipment cocaine trade, the latter has grown markedly since the 1980s. The current crisis bears a relationship to Haiti's role in the drug trade. Washington wants a compliant Haitian government which will protect the drug transshipment routes, out of Colombia through Haiti and into Florida.
The inflow of narco-dollars --which remains the major source of the country's foreign exchange earnings-- are used to service Haiti's spiraling external debt, thereby also serving the interests of the external creditors.
In this regard, the liberalization of the foreign-exchange market imposed by the IMF has provided (despite the authorities pro forma commitment to combating the drug trade) a convenient avenue for the laundering of narco-dollars in the domestic banking system. The inflow of narco-dollars alongside bona fide "remittances" from Haitians living abroad, are deposited in the commercial banking system and exchanged into local currency. The foreign exchange proceeds of these inflows can then be recycled towards the Treasury where they are used to meet debt servicing obligations.
Haiti, however, reaps a very small percentage of the total foreign exchange proceeds of this lucrative contraband. Most of the revenue resulting from the cocaine transshipment trade accrues to criminal intermediaries in the wholesale and retail narcotics trade, to the intelligence agencies which protect the drug trade as well as to the financial and banking institutions where the proceeds of this criminal activity are laundered.
The narco-dollars are also channeled into "private banking" accounts in numerous offshore banking havens. (These havens are controlled by the large Western banks and financial institutions). Drug money is also invested in a number of financial instruments including hedge funds and stock market transactions. The major Wall Street and European banks and stock brokerage firms launder billions of dollars resulting from the trade in narcotics.
Moreover, the expansion of the dollar denominated money supply by the Federal Reserve System , including the printing of billions of dollars of US dollar notes for the purposes of narco-transactions constitutes profit for the Federal Reserve and its constituent private banking institutions of which the most important is the New York Federal Reserve Bank. See (Jeffrey Steinberg, Dope, Inc. Is $600 Billion and Growing, Executive Intelligence Review, 14 Dec 2001, http://www.larouchepub.com/other/2001/2848dope_money.html )
In other words, the Wall Street financial establishment, which plays a behind the scenes role in the formulation of US foreign policy, has a vested interest in retaining the Haiti transshipment trade, while installing a reliable "narco-democracy" in Port-au-Prince, which will effectively protect the transshipment routes.
It should be noted that since the advent of the Euro as a global currency, a significant share of the narcotics trade is now conducted in Euro rather than US dollars. In other words, the Euro and the dollar are competing narco-currencies.
The Latin American cocaine trade --including the transshipment trade through Haiti-- is largely conducted in US dollars. This shift out of dollar denominated narco-transactions, which undermines the hegemony of the US dollar as a global currency, largely pertains to the Middle East, Central Asian and the Southern European drug routes.
In the weeks leading up to the Coup d'Etat, the media has largely focused its attention on the pro-Aristide "armed gangs" and "thugs", without providing an understanding of the role of the FLRN Rebels.
Deafening silence: not a word was mentioned in official statements and UN resolutions regarding the nature of the FLRN. This should come as no surprise: the US Ambassador to the UN (the man who sits on the UN Security Council) John Negroponte. played a key role in the CIA supported Honduran death squadrons in the 1980s when he was US ambassador to Honduras. (See San Francisco Examiner, 20 Oct 2001 http://www.flora.org/mai/forum/31397 )
The FLRN rebels are extremely well equipped and trained forces. The Haitian people know who they are. They are Tonton Macoute of the Duvalier era and former FRAPH assassins.
The Western media is mute on the issue, blaming the violence on President Aristide. When it acknowledges that the Liberation Army is composed of death squadrons, it fails to examine the broader implications of its statements and that these death squadrons are a creation of the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency.
The New York Times has acknowledged that the "non violent" civil society opposition is in fact collaborating with the death squadrons, "accused of killing thousands", but all this is described as "accidental". No historical understanding is provided. Who are these death squadron leaders? All we are told is that they have established an "alliance" with the "non-violent" good guys who belong to the "political opposition". And it is all for a good and worthy cause, which is to remove the elected president and "restore democracy":
"As Haiti's crisis lurches toward civil war, a tangled web of alliances, some of them accidental, has emerged. It has linked the interests of a political opposition movement that has embraced nonviolence to a group of insurgents that includes a former leader of death squads accused of killing thousands, a former police chief accused of plotting a coup and a ruthless gang once aligned with Mr. Aristide that has now turned against him. Given their varied origins, those arrayed against Mr. Aristide are hardly unified, though they all share an ardent wish to see him removed from power." (New York Times, 26 Feb 2004)
There is nothing spontaneous or "accidental" in the rebel attacks or in the "alliance" between the leader of the death squadrons Guy Philippe and Andy Apaid, owner of the largest industrial sweatshop in Haiti and leader of the G-184.
The armed rebellion was part of a carefully planned military-intelligence operation. The Armed Forces of the Dominican Republic had detected guerilla training camps inside the Dominican Republic on the Northeast Haitian-Dominican border. ( El ejército dominicano informó a Aristide sobre los entrenamientos rebeldes en la frontera, El Caribe, 27 Feb. 2004, http://www.elcaribe.com.do/articulo_multimedios.aspx?id=2645&guid=AB38144D39B24C6FBA4213AC40DD3A01&Seccion=64 )
Both the armed rebels and their civilian "non-violent" counterparts were involved in the plot to unseat the president. G-184 leader Andre Apaid was in touch with Colin Powell in the weeks leading up to the overthrow of Aristide; Guy Philippe and "Toto" Emmanuel Constant have links to the CIA; there are indications that Rebel Commander Guy Philippe and the political leader of the Revolutionary Artibonite Resistance Front Winter Etienne were in liaison with US officials. (See BBC, 27 Feb 2004, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/3496690.stm ).
While the US had repeatedly stated that it will uphold Constitutional government, the replacement of Aristide by a more compliant individual had always been part of the Bush Administration's agenda.
On Feb 20, US Ambassador James Foley called in a team of four military experts from the U.S. Southern Command, based in Miami. Officially their mandate was "to assess threats to the embassy and its personnel." (Seattle Times, 20 Feb 2004). US Special Forces are already in the country. Washington had announced that three US naval vessels "have been put on standby to go to Haiti as a precautionary measure". The Saipan is equipped with Vertical takeoff Harrier fighters and attack helicopters. The other two vessels are the Oak Hill and Trenton. Some 2,200 U.S. Marines from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, at Camp Lejeune, N.C. could be deployed to Haiti at short notice, according to Washington.
With the departure of President Aristide, Washington, however, has no intention of disarming its proxy rebel paramilitary army, which is now slated to play a role in the "transition". In other words, the Bush administration will not act to prevent the occurrence of killings and political assassinations of Lavalas and Aristide supporters in the wake of the president's kidnapping and deportation.
Needless to say, the Western media has not in the least analyzed the historical background of the Haitian crisis. The role played by the CIA has not been mentioned. The so-called "international community", which claims to be committed to governance and democracy, has turned a blind eye to the killings of civilians by a US sponsored paramilitary army. The "rebel leaders", who were commanders in the FRAPH death squadrons in the 1990s, are now being upheld by the US media as bona fide opposition spokesmen. Meanwhile, the legitimacy of the former elected president is questioned because he is said to be responsible for "a worsening economic and social situation."
The worsening economic and social situation is largely attributable to the devastating economic reforms imposed by the IMF since the 1980s. The restoration of Constitutional government in 1994 was conditional upon the acceptance of the IMF's deadly economic therapy, which in turn foreclosed the possibility of a meaningful democracy. High ranking government officials respectively within the Andre Preval and Jean Bertrand Aristide governments were indeed compliant with IMF diktats. Despite this compliance, Aristide had been "blacklisted" and demonized by Washington.
The Militarization of the Caribbean Basin
Washington seeks to reinstate Haiti as a full-fledged US colony, with all the appearances of a functioning democracy. The objective is to impose a puppet regime in Port-au-Prince and establish a permanent US military presence in Haiti.
The US Administration ultimately seeks to militarize the Caribbean basin.
The island of Hispaniola is a gateway to the Caribbean basin, strategically located between Cuba to the North West and Venezuela to the South. The militarization of the island, with the establishment of US military bases, is not only intended to put political pressure on Cuba and Venezuela, it is also geared towards the protection of the multibillion dollar narcotics transshipment trade through Haiti, from production sites in Colombia, Peru and Bolivia.
The militarisation of the Caribbean basin is, in some regards, similar to that imposed by Washington on the Andean Region of South America under "Plan Colombia', renamed "The Andean Initiative". The latter constitutes the basis for the militarisation of oil and gas wells, as well as pipeline routes and transportation corridors. It also protects the narcotics trade.*******