http://browncondor. com/events/ 2010/01/i- am-h-a-i- t-i/
I am H.A.I.T.I.
Unbowed and unconquered since the time when my son François-Dominique Toussaint L’ouverture defeated a French colonial power. I was Adwa before Adwa. I gave hope to millions of enslaved brothers and sisters from Africa. I am H.A.I.T.I., I have been punished ever since by the Western world. Exploited for my raw resources, corruption tolerated and in most instances perpetuated by outside influences so that I can always be destabilized.
I am H.A.I.T.I.
I have been deemed a third world country. Tourists come from the west to appreciate my natural beauty, while disregarding the abject poverty as they drive from the airport to their luxury hotels as quickly as possible. My neighbor and I (Dominican Republic) are popular destination for would be bachelors. They come and stay in my villas, and I being so poor I prostitute my daughters to quench the loins of these soon to be married men. My sons are their porters, carrying their bags and speaking broken English and tap dancing to their desires so that they can feed their seed.
I am H.A.I.T.I.
My natural resources are taken from me, forced to sell my sugar, concrete, timber,and flaxseed oil for a penny on the dollar. I am H.A.I.T.I., my net export last year was $498 million dollars, mega tons of my resources shipped off to the western world. Those raw resources translate into billions of dollars once they are turned into finished goods. I am H.A.I.T.I, see I am still colonized.
I am H.A.I.T.I.
No one pays attention to me. Everyday, the equivalent of Katrina happens on the streets of Port au Prince. My sons and daughters die by the thousands on a monthly basis, the byproduct of desperation, drugs, and violence turned against me by my sons and daughters. I am H.A.I.T.I., my children die from the scourge of malnutrition as I watch my kids drink from infested pools of dirty water.
I am H.A.I.T.I.
The only time the world cares about me is when I rise up and bury my own children, when I eviscerate my offspring. I am H.A.I.T.I., you pay attention to me when my children are entombed by the shoddy concrete that is left over for me to house my family while the grade concrete is shipped off to Western cities and suburbs. I am H.A.I.T.I., you now cry for me, when usually you don’t give a shit about me.
I am H.A.I.T.I.
I don’t want your f???? pity. Thank you for the $5.00 you send me through your cell phone. But really, how about you give me a fair price on my natural resources. I am H.A.I.T.I., I don’t want your charity, I just want the dignity to provide for my own sons and daughters. I am H.A.I.T.I., keep your IMF and World Bank money, money you give me with strings attached that keep me in bondage. I am H.A.I.T.I., I don’t need prayers from DEVILS like Pat Robertson. I am H.A.I.T.I., you see me crying black tears of oppression and dejection on your HD TV.
I am H.A.I.T.I.
All I ask is that you stop raping my natural resources. I am H.A.I.T.I, I don’t want the crumbs you provide, give me the ability to make my own pie. I am H.A.I.T.I., thanks for the rice you drop from the sky for me, but really, instead of $498 million you give me for my natural resources, how about you pay a fair price and instead offer me $5 billion for my exports. That way, I can build my own rice fields, I can have my own emergency services, I can build my own houses and schools with grade A concrete so when there is another earthquake, my children won’t perish in the process.
I am H.A.I.T.I.
I guess I should be grateful for the millions you just gave me in AID, while you profited from me by the billions last year alone. I am H.A.I.T.I., thank you for your charity, but really, how about you just give me my dignity so that I can care for my own sons and daughters.
“Bush Was Responsible for Destroying Haitian Democracy”–Randall Robinson on Obama Tapping Bush to Co-Chair US Relief Efforts
We speak with TransAfrica founder Randall Robinson, author of An Unbroken Agony: Haiti, from Revolution to the Kidnapping of a President. On President Obama tapping former President Bill Clinton and former President George W Bush to co-chair US relief efforts in Haiti, Robinson says, “Bush was responsible for destroying Haitian democracy…Clinton has largely sponsored a program of economic development that supports the idea of sweatshops… but that is not what we should focus on now. We should focus on saving lives.” [includes rush transcript]
Randall Robinson, visiting law professor at Pennsylvania State University. His most recent book is An Unbroken Agony: Haiti, from Revolution to the Kidnapping of a President. He is the founder and past president of TransAfrica.
AMY GOODMAN: We have now with us on the line Ali Lutz, who is the Haiti program coordinator for the group Partners in Health that has clinics throughout Haiti.
Ali, talk about the situation of aid.
ALI LUTZ: Good morning, Amy. Thank you.
The situation in Haiti is obviously extremely dire. And we are trying to get supplies and medical personnel into Port-au-Prince and to the clinics that Partners in Health helps run throughout the country to support the response, because obviously our colleagues in Haiti, our doctors, nurses, surgeons, they’re dealing with their own families during this tragedy and doing the best that they can also to help the victims.
JUAN GONZALEZ: And Ali, in your contacts to get aid in, who, as far as you can tell right now, is in charge in Haiti? I know the US military now is in charge of the airport. But who do go to to try to get permission to bring your materials in?
AMY GOODMAN: Ali, are you there?
JUAN GONZALEZ: I think we’ve lost her there.
AMY GOODMAN: The problems with Skype here. Well, we’ll go back to Ali Lutz after this conversation.
But just before the program, I spoke with Randall Robinson. He’s the founder and past president of TransAfrica. He’s currently a visiting law professor at Pennsylvania State University, though he goes home to Saint Kitts tomorrow, where he lives. His most recent book is An Unbroken Agony: Haiti, from Revolution to the Kidnapping of a President. I began by just asking for his thoughts about the crisis right now in Haiti.
RANDALL ROBINSON: It’s important, in trying to find ways to help, to be generous and to give, and to give generously. I would like to commend President Obama for his strong and fast response of a commitment of $100 million. Operations are already underway. I think the world is being incredibly generous, as I understand the pace of things to be at this point, the pace of giving. But, of course, as many lives as can possibly be salvaged need to be salvaged as quickly as possible, and I have every reason to believe that the administration and others are doing the very best that they can. As a private citizen, it’s my responsibility, and our general responsibility, to support every effort that’s being made to save lives in Haiti.
AMY GOODMAN: Word is now President Préval has said they’ve just burned—buried 7,000 bodies in a mass grave, but the most important thing right now is the search equipment, to go in and to save people who are just hanging on, perhaps who have been crushed, who are hidden in the rubble. And yet, that has yet to come. Some word is there’s a lot of aid at the airport not able to get through, and then other aid just hasn’t come.
RANDALL ROBINSON: Well, that’s not surprising. It’s hard for things to function when virtually all of the infrastructure has been destroyed. The Haitian government is unable to function, I would imagine, because it’s under the same burden that all Haitians are under. The President’s home has been destroyed. It’s hard to get from point A to point B, because the roads are blocked, petrol is not available. Heavy equipment is not yet available.
But in the spirit of konbit, the Haitian Creole word for “collaboration and cooperation,” Haitians are doing everything they can. They are resilient, industrious, courageous people. They’re doing everything they can to save the lives of their fellows, and they’re doing it, thus far, with very little, because it’s taking a while for that kind of assistance to materialize.
AMY GOODMAN: President Obama has tapped President Clinton and former President George W. Bush to coordinate the aid relief to Haiti. I was wondering your thoughts on that.
RANDALL ROBINSON: Well, Amy, I’m, of course, troubled by that. I don’t think this is the time—neither the time nor the place to discuss those things that have troubled me for a long time in the history of American policy towards Haiti. Now the focus must be upon the rescue efforts that are underway to save lives.
But I hope that this experience, this disaster, causes American media to take a keener look at Haiti, at the Haitian people, at their wonderful creativity, at their art, at their culture, and what they’ve had to bear. It has been described to the American people as a problem of their own making. Well, that’s simply not the case. Haiti has been, of course, put upon by outside powers for its whole post-slavery history, from 1804 up until the present.
Of course, President Bush was responsible for destroying Haitian democracy in 2004, when he and American forces abducted President Aristide and his wife, taking them off to Africa, and they are now in South Africa. President Clinton has largely sponsored a program of economic development that supports the idea of sweatshops. Haitians in Haiti today make 38 cents an hour. They don’t make a high enough wage to pay for their lunch and transportation to and from work. But this is the kind of economic program that President Clinton has supported. I think that is sad, that these two should be joined in this kind of effort. It sends, I think, the wrong kind of signal. But that is not what we should focus on now. We should focus on saving lives.
But in the last analysis, I hope that American media will not just continue to—the refrain of Haiti being the poorest country in the western hemisphere, but will come to ask the question, why? What distinguishes Haiti from the rest of the Caribbean? Why are the other countries, like the country in which I live, Saint Kitts, middle-income and successful countries, and Haiti is mired in economic despair? What happened? And who’s had a hand in it? If Haiti has been under a series of serial dictatorship, who armed the dictators? There are other hands in Haiti’s problem. Of course Haiti is responsible for some of its own failures, but probably not principally responsible. We need to know that. We need to be told the whole story of these wonderful, resilient, courageous and industrious people. And we have not been told that. I would hope that this would be an opportunity for doing so.
AMY GOODMAN: In talking about President Bush, while most people may not know the role the US played in the ouster of President Aristide February 29th, 2004, probably what would come to mind when there’s any discussion of relief efforts is Katrina.
RANDALL ROBINSON: Yes. The problem of what happened in February 2004 continues. We had democracy in Haiti, and that democracy was blighted by the Bush administration. And now President Aristide’s party is prohibited from participating in the electoral process. His party is the largest party in Haiti. And why should we be so afraid to let his party participate? If Haitian people don’t want them, they won’t vote for them. That is the very essence of democracy, that people get a chance to stand for election, and the electorate gets a chance to make a decision. But we have obstructed that process in Haiti. We have done that under the Clinton administration, under the Bush administration, and that continues under the Obama administration. And that is indeed unfortunate. I am imploring American media to examine this in whole part, in ways that media have failed to do so up until now.
AMY GOODMAN: This history, the two crises, the natural catastrophe that is the earthquake, that the Red Cross is now saying they believe perhaps up to 50,000 people have died—and we’re not talking about, you know, just what has happened in the past, but what is currently happening. Who was just quoted? Lieutenant General Russel Honoré, the retired general who took charge of relief efforts in New Orleans, said that aid should have arrived, that said the US military should have arrived in earthquake-devastated Haiti twenty-four hours earlier. Of course, as we know, people trapped under rubble, every minute counts.
RANDALL ROBINSON: Well, I’m not in a position to comment on that. I simply can’t make an assessment of how fast or how slowly they arrived or how soon they should have arrived. And so, I will withhold comment on that.
AMY GOODMAN: Does it make you nervous to hear about US soldiers on Haitian soil? If you can share a little more of the history of the United States and Haiti—or do you think this isn’t the time to talk, for example, about 1915 to 1934, the first US Marine occupation, and then—
RANDALL ROBINSON: Well, I should think it would—I should think, Amy, it would make Haitians nervous under these circumstances. Of course, I’m sure that they are, understandably, quite happy to see assistance from any quarter.
But it was in 1915 that Woodrow Wilson, of course, with a force of American Marines, invaded and occupied Haiti until 1934. They seized land, redistributed it to American corporations, took control of the country, ran the country, collected customs duties for that period of time, and ran the country as if it were an American possession.
But this has marked the relationship since Toussaint L’Ouverture and an army of ex-slaves overthrew French rule in 1804. The French exacted, of course, reparations from the new free black republic of Haiti, bankrupting the country. The Vatican didn’t recognize Haiti until the 1860s. The Western nations of the world, responding to a call for isolation and embargo from Thomas Jefferson, imposed sanctions on Haiti that lasted until the Emancipation Proclamation in the United States, of course followed in the twentieth century by President Wilson’s occupation and then by the dictatorial blight of Duvaliers, Papa and son, and all of the other military generals that, of course, were armed by the United States.
And so, Haiti’s plight up until this point has been, in some significant way, attributable to bad and painful American, French and Western policy that some believe is caused or described, motivated by Toussaint L’Ouverture’s victory over Napoleon. The French have never forgiven the Haitian people for this.
AMY GOODMAN: Former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide said he’s ready to return to help rebuild his country in the wake of the devastating earthquake. Why can’t he just return?
RANDALL ROBINSON: Well, the—I’m not sure what the stated American policy is, but of course the Bush administration policy was to forbid his return. But any obstruction of his return by any power would constitute a violation of international law, a violation of the UN Charter, a violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a violation of any number of major UN human rights conventions. You cannot restrict people either from leaving their country—citizens, either from leaving their country or returning to their country. He has every right to return home, should he want to. And one would hope that no administration, the American administration nor any other, would stand in the way of his passage home.
AMY GOODMAN: A few nights ago, Naomi Klein was in New York, author of The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, and she quoted a Heritage Foundation press release that came out very soon after the earthquake, talking about this being an opportunity. That is the question, whether it is an opportunity, she said, of the corporate vultures hovering over Haiti, waiting to descend and restructure Haiti, or an opportunity for progressive Haitians to rebuild their own country, to rebuild Haiti. What are your thoughts about this?
RANDALL ROBINSON: Well, it’s an opportunity, I think, for the American people to, at long last, learn the full truth about Haiti and about our relationship with Haiti. They’ve known—they’ve been caused to know very little about it. And I think progress—a new beginning starts with the truth. That is a truth that has been suppressed for all of these many years. The American people know almost nothing about what happened in 2004, about the abduction of President Aristide, about the destruction of Haiti’s democracy as a result of the efforts of both the United States and the French government. We need to know that.
And in the last analysis, Haitians have at their disposal a vigorous, creative, industrious and successful community in the United States, in France, in Canada. The Haitian diaspora is very much engaged with Haiti. They need to be given an opportunity to help Haiti rebuild itself.
We need to go away from what we’ve been doing in support, a sort of an unconditional support, for wealthy Haitians that are running sweatshops in the country, that pay people appallingly low wages. That is not the way to any bright future for Haiti. And that is the—of course, the idea that former President Clinton has been advancing for Haiti. I think it is sad. It can’t work. It won’t work. It will brew a further resentment of the United States.
And I think that the only way we can move ahead constructively with Haiti is to begin by telling the full story of our relationship with Haiti since 1804, what happened in the nineteenth century and what has happened in the twentieth century, so that Americans will understand at long last that Haiti’s misery is largely not of its own making. They will learn of a Haitian people who are quite different from those who have been described to them. And I think it is at that point we can make the beginning that we need to make and that is rooted in a policy that is constructive and sensitive and caring and productive for the United States, as well as for the Haitian people.
AMY GOODMAN: Randall Robinson, founder and past president of TransAfrica. He fasted almost until death years ago under the Clinton administration to try to get President Clinton to close Guantanamo. In that case, it was to close Guantanamo so that Haitian refugees who were trying to escape the coup in Haiti were able to come into the United States. Randall Robinson’s latest book is called An Unbroken Agony: Haiti, from Revolution to the Kidnapping of a President.
Haiti Disaster Capitalism Alert: Stop Them Before They Shock Again
By Naomi Klein
January 13th, 2010
Readers of the The Shock Doctrine know that the Heritage Foundation has been one of the leading advocates of exploiting disasters to push through their unpopular pro-corporate policies. From this document, they're at it again, not even waiting one day to use the devastating earthquake in Haiti to push for their so-called reforms. The following quote was hastily yanked by the Heritage Foundation and replaced with a more diplomatic quote, but their first instinct is revealing:
"In addition to providing immediate humanitarian assistance, the U.S. response to the tragic earthquake in Haiti earthquake offers opportunities to re-shape Haiti’s long-dysfunctional government and economy as well as to improve the public image of the United States in the region."
AMY GOODMAN: Our guest here in studio is Bill Quigley. He’s the legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, has spent years also working in Haiti. Juan?
JUAN GONZALEZ: Bill, you also were deeply involved in the situation in New Orleans, and you were—in the break, you were talking about the similarities, in terms of the ability of the local authorities to respond. Could you talk about that?
BILL QUIGLEY: Yeah. The trauma that this causes affects the elected officials, the police, the fire, everybody through. And ultimately, you know, until order is restored—and “order” meaning a just order is restored—people break into small groups, family groups, neighborhood groups and that to try to care for each other. The police are just as bewildered and traumatized as everybody else.
And I want to say, one of the big worries that we have about Haiti is this, you know, sending in the military, that there is this real sense that you can’t actually start to feed people, you can’t actually share water with people, until you have people there with machine guns to prevent, you know, these—the worries of folks. And there’s an actual fear of the victims by people who are coming. They’re afraid of the people, when in fact the people are the most resilient, cooperative, generous folks who have already survived on their own. And this sort of militarization and scaredness—you know, scariness of the people there is something that’s common to all disasters. And we can talk some more about that in a bit, but it’s a very eerie sense of what’s happening there.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, I’ve been struck, too, by the disparate responses of governments, not just the United States, but other governments around the world. President Obama, listening to him talking about that we’re doing military flyovers to assess the damage and prepare our aid. But while the United States is assessing the situation, there have all been reports that a China airplane, from halfway around the world in China, landed yesterday with supplies and equipment to help the people of Haiti. The Cuban foreign minister announced that Cuba has 400 people already in Haiti that have been working on a—medical people working on a mission. They’ve already set up two field hospitals and, just yesterday alone, treated 800 people. And Venezuela, President Chavez, sent a plane that landed last night with firefighters and medical personnel and other equipment. So these other countries are moving faster than we are here in the United States, even though we have these enormous resources.
BILL QUIGLEY: Cuba has always been a real partner of Haiti. And I was always struck there, because the United States was keeping people from Haiti out of the United States; Cuba was pulling people into Cuba to train them as doctors. They were—a scholarship in every church and every village and everything there to do as doctors. So they have been friends for some time.
The United States’ relationship with Haiti has been troubled for hundreds of years and is really one of the causes of—not of the earthquake itself, which would have devastated any place, but what one of the exacerbating things that—why Haiti is so impoverished to begin with, why people are building these houses on the sides of ravines, why there are so many people in Port-au-Prince and why they’re not in the countryside anymore. You know, and I don’t know if you want to talk about that now, but the history really lays the foundation for why the impact of this natural disaster is going to be so severe.
AMY GOODMAN: Let’s talk about that history. Actually, Juan, I first met you not here in the United States, but in Haiti.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Right, in Haiti, yes.
AMY GOODMAN: And it was during that first coup against President Aristide from 1991 to 1994. It turned out the CIA was involved in that coup. And for three years, he was kept out. We’re talking to Bill Quigley here in our studio, as we’re also joined by Skype by Brian Concannon, who is a director of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. And I want to continue that discussion of the history, which is so critical, Brian.
BRIAN CONCANNON: Thanks, Amy. It’s good to be with you.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the history and how, as Bill was just saying, this—how the history exacerbates the crisis of the earthquake that has afflicted so many millions of people in Haiti right now?
BRIAN CONCANNON: Sure. The history really defines the response and the vulnerability of Haiti to the earthquake. One of the most obvious ways it does that is, as Bill was mentioning, the reason why the people got to the hillsides where they were most vulnerable to the earthquakes—and I’m pretty sure when we start getting more detailed reports on how many people have died that most of the people who have died will have done so in shantytowns perched on the hillsides.
And they got there because they or their parents or grandparents were pushed out of Haiti’s countryside, where most Haitians used to live. And they were pushed out of there by policies thirty years ago, when it was decided by the international experts that Haiti’s economic salvation lay in assembly manufacture plants. And in order to advance that, it was decided that Haiti needed to have a captive labor force in the cities. So a whole bunch of aid policies, trade policies and political policies were implemented, designed to move people from the countryside to places like Martissant and the hills—hillsides that we’ve seen in those photos.
AMY GOODMAN: And would you like to add to this, Bill, this history from, well, 1804?
BILL QUIGLEY: Well, as you—not everybody does know, but, you know, in 1804, the imported African slaves that were brought to work the island revolted against their French rulers and colonial folks there and established a free state, a free black state, first time in the world. And the United States responded very badly, because we clearly—you know, we still had enslaved millions and millions of Africans in the United States. And it wasn’t ’til after the Civil War that we even had any sort of relationship with them. And Haiti is much closer to the United States than even some parts of the United States.
France put a military blockade around Haiti to force them to pay reparations for their own freedom, to recompense people for the slaves that were freed. And in the last century, the United States supported dictator after dictator, and the elected officials, we supported the coups that knocked them out. We have kept the country dependent. We have kept the country militarized. And we kept the country impoverished. We have dumped our excess rice, our excess farm produce and that stuff on the country, thereby undercutting the small farmers who would make up the backbone of the place.
So, there are two really good articles for the people in the audience, today’s New York Times, Tracy Kidder, and also in The Guardian by Peter Hallward, saying the crisis that we helped create. We didn’t create the earthquake, but we created some of the circumstances that made the earthquake so devastating.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Of course. And it took Haiti all of the nineteenth century to pay the reparations to the French, so they were in debt throughout the nineteenth century. But I’d also like to raise this issue of the relationship between Haiti and Latin America that most people are not aware of, because, Amy, as you recall, the times that we were in the Presidential Palace in Haiti, the palace that has now collapsed, there was a statue on the second floor of the Presidential Palace in Haiti to Simón Bolívar, the great liberator, because in the early nineteenth century, when Simón Bolívar attempted his first revolt against Spanish rule, he was defeated, and he fled in exile to Haiti. The Haitian government at the time, the new republic, agreed to outfit a new force for Bolívar to return to liberate Latin America. But it had one condition, that he had to agree to abolish slavery in Latin America if he was successful. And as a result, there’s always been this close tie between Venezuela, long before Hugo Chavez.
BILL QUIGLEY: Right.
JUAN GONZALEZ: In fact, when Aristide was first overthrown, it was not Chavez who was president, but it was Venezuela who granted him asylum and offered him to come to their country, because there has been the long tie of appreciation from Venezuela, Colombia and the peoples of the America for the assistance that Haiti gave them in their liberation.
BILL QUIGLEY: And one other thing, I think, that’s important, when people are saying, “Well, where are the police? Where’s the rescue squad? Where’s the fire departments? Where’s that?” Haiti has the most non-governmental organizations of any country in the world. The entire country has, in a sense, been privatized. And anybody who’s ever visited Haiti is struck by the fact that—of these big SUVs that are flying through town with the UN forces in them. Every NGO and charity that you’ve ever heard of in your life is working in Haiti. But their first reaction when something like this happens is to withdraw to try to find their own people, to try to make sure that their place is up. So the flipside of the good that they are doing is that they have substituted for the public sector, and so the public sector is not vibrant, is not there. It is not connected. It is not resourced, and the like. And the role of the NGOs has this really—has this negative part to it, as well.
AMY GOODMAN: It’s interesting you raise that. I wanted to turn to Naomi Klein for a minute. We were together last night at the Ethical Culture Society, where she addressed the crisis in Haiti.
NAOMI KLEIN: But as I write about in The Shock Doctrine, crises are often used now as the pretext for pushing through policies that you cannot push through under times of stability. Countries in periods of extreme crisis are desperate for any kind of aid—
AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to go back to that in a minute. We’re just going to improve the sound of that tape. But let me go a different direction then. I wanted to bring you the quote of someone else who was talking about history, and that was the evangelist Pat Robertson. I wanted to get your response to Pat Robertson. He made this comment yesterday. It was on the Christian Broadcasting Network program. He claimed that Robertson—well, Robertson claimed that Haiti was cursed after it made a pact with the devil.
PAT ROBERTSON: And, you know, Kristi, something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and the people might not want to talk about it. They were under the heel of the French. You know, Napoleon III and whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, “We will serve you if you will get us free from the French.” True story. And so, the devil said, “OK, it’s a deal.” And they kicked the French out. You know, the Haitians revolted and got themselves free. But ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after the other. Desperately poor.
That island of Hispaniola is one island. It’s cut down the middle. On the one side is Haiti; on the other side is the Dominican Republic. Dominican Republic is prosperous, healthy, full of resorts, etc. Haiti is in desperate poverty. Same island. They need to have, and we need to pray for them, a great turning to God. And out of this tragedy, I’m optimistic something good may come.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Pat Robertson. Bill Quigley, your response?
BILL QUIGLEY: Well, this is very sick, twisted man, you know, to have that approach. I think Pat is same person who said Katrina was the revenge for sodomy in the South and that 9/11 was something. I have been in many, many churches in Haiti. I have been to the National Cathedral. I was a friend of the Archbishop who died. These folks have nothing. They are so generous. They are so inspiring, because when they—even though they have nothing, to meet a stranger, as you would know from going there, they’ll give you half of their nothing. And people spend Sundays and Tuesdays and Thursdays and Fridays in church praying, asking for health, asking for cures for the illness for their children, asking for the chance to go to school. They’re deeply, deeply religious people.
And this idea that they made a pact with the devil, I think, is not something that’s peculiar, unfortunately, just to Pat, because this idea that Haitians and voodoo, that there’s some sort of very, very special thing, not talking about the Irish—the myths that we have as Irish or the different kinds of traditions that we have as Germans or Italians or other people like that, is a very deep racism in that. There’s also a very, very deep—just a twisted understanding of what the role of the Church is and what it can be for people. The first thing—I would guarantee that the very first thing that people did once they found their relatives alive or dead is that they prayed. And a lot of the screaming and crying that people are hearing in the streets, those are screams and cries to God asking for help, asking for forgiveness, asking for assistance.
AMY GOODMAN: Let’s go back to Naomi Klein. We’re going to try that tape again, her commenting on what is going on in Haiti right now and who is profiting already.
NAOMI KLEIN: But as I write about in The Shock Doctrine, crises are often used now as the pretext for pushing through policies that you cannot push through under times of stability. Countries in periods of extreme crisis are desperate for any kind of aid, any kind of money, and are not in a position to negotiate fairly the terms of that exchange.
And I just want to pause for a second and read you something, which is pretty extraordinary. I just put this up on my website. The headline is “Haiti: Stop Them Before They Shock Again.” This went up a few hours ago, three hours ago, I believe, on the Heritage Foundation website.
“Amidst the Suffering, Crisis in Haiti Offers Opportunities to the U.S. In addition to providing immediate humanitarian assistance, the U.S. response to the tragic earthquake in Haiti earthquake offers opportunities to re-shape Haiti’s long-dysfunctional government and economy as well as to improve the image of the United States in the region.” And then goes on.
Now, I don’t know whether things are improving or not, because it took the Heritage Foundation thirteen days before they issued thirty-two free market solutions for Hurricane Katrina. We put that document up on our website, as well. It was close down the housing projects, turn the Gulf Coast into a tax-free free enterprise zone, get rid of the labor laws that forces contractors to pay a living wage. Yeah, so it took them thirteen days before they did that in the case of Katrina. In the case of Haiti, they didn’t even wait twenty-four hours.
Now, why I say I don’t know whether it’s improving or not is that two hours ago they took this down. So somebody told them that it wasn’t couth. And then they put up something that was much more delicate. Fortunately, the investigative reporters at Democracy Now! managed to find that earlier document in a Google cache. But what you’ll find now is a much gentler “Things to Remember While Helping Haiti.” And buried down there, it says, “Long-term reforms for Haitian democracy and its economy are also badly overdue.”
But the point is, we need to make sure that the aid that goes to Haiti is, one, grants, not loans. This is absolutely crucial. This is an already heavily indebted country. This is a disaster that, as Amy said, on the one hand is nature, is, you know, an earthquake; on the other hand is the creation, is worsened by the poverty that our governments have been so complicit in deepening. Crises—natural disasters are so much worse in countries like Haiti, because you have soil erosion because the poverty means people are building in very, very precarious ways, so houses just slide down because they are built in places where they shouldn’t be built. All of this is interconnected. But we have to be absolutely clear that this tragedy, which is part natural, part unnatural, must, under no circumstances, be used to, one, further indebt Haiti, and, two, to push through unpopular corporatist policies in the interests of our corporations. And this is not a conspiracy theory. They have done it again and again.
AMY GOODMAN: Naomi Klein speaking last night at the Ethical Culture Society. She’s the author of The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.
The Haitian People Need Emergency Assistance – NOT Suppression and Further Domination!
From the Editors of Revolution,
January 14, 2010:
The world’s eyes are riveted on scenes of horror in Haiti . The world’s hearts are straining. People everywhere are trying to support the Haitian people in any way they can. Meanwhile, the clock ticks very urgently, as people literally die beneath the rubble and perish on the streets as well for lack of medical care, water, food, and shelter.
The means exist to rescue and aid the Haitian people! These must be made immediately available by the governments of the world and, first and foremost, the United States . While some governments have sent doctors and other forms of aid, as of Thursday morning the United States has focused on sending paratroopers and militarily securing the area. While Obama has now promised 100 million dollars, the U.S. government is above all concerned with ensuring the continuation of the repressive government order and controlling and/or suppressing the initiative and efforts of masses to deal with this horrible situation. (100 million dollars is less than one-tenth of one percent of U.S. yearly military expenses in Iraq and Afghanistan .) The U.S. government must immediately focus its resources on getting aid directly to the Haitian people, putting supplies on the ground and marshaling the many doctors, engineers, construction workers, etc. who work for the government, as well as the many many people who would volunteer to help any way that they could. THIS IS A HUMANITARIAN EMERGENCY, AND MUST BE DEALT WITH AS SUCH.
The Haitian people themselves must be assisted, and not suppressed. The media – just as it did in Katrina – is already portraying the Haitian people as animals and criminals. In fact, the masses in Haiti – as they did in New Orleans during Katrina – are in the main mobilizing to collectively deal with their situation. These efforts must be supported in all aid programs, and there must be no suppression by the U.S. troops of those who are trying with all their might to save themselves and their people. Volunteers coming from other countries must be assisted by the governments now sending aid to Haiti , and not suppressed.
History shows that there will be, and must be, a struggle against this system to demand that the needs of the masses actually be met and that there NOT be suppression of the masses. As part of this:
There must be no harassment, prosecution or deportation of Haitian immigrants within the U.S. attempting to locate, or aid, their loved ones and friends. Instead, government assistance must be made available to those trying to communicate to the island with a guarantee of at least temporary amnesty for any attempting to go through U.S.government agencies to do so.
There must be no attacks on Haitian people attempting to flee their situation through boats. Instead, the Coast Guard must help people attempting to flee to safety and if they are trying to get to the U.S. , must help them do so.
The disaster in Haiti is neither the result of the so-called “will of God” nor the fault of the Haitian people. It is the result of centuries of imperialist domination, occupation and isolation. The news reports talk about Haiti ’s poverty, but they don’t tell you why Haiti so poor. Very few people know that Haiti was the scene of the only successful slave revolution in history – when the heroic descendants of African slaves drove out the strongest army in the world at that time, the French. Very few people know that the world’s powers – especially the U.S. , which at that time feared the influence of Haiti on the slaves in this country, and France – embarked on a policy of isolating and impoverishing Haiti . Very few people know that for nearly 20 years in the early 1900's the U.S. marines occupied Haiti , suppressing a liberation struggle and implanting puppets. Very few people know that the U.S. backed the infamously cruel tyrant “Papa Doc” Duvalier, and then his son “Baby Doc,” in the middle of the century. And all too few know that it then conspired to overthrow the popular president Jean-Bertrand Aristide in the 1990's and then again just a few years ago in 2004. All these criminal actions – this long criminal history of oppression – flowed from the economic and political needs of the U.S. ruling classes during the time when the United States was run, first, by a coalition of capitalist and slave-holding classes, and then more recently (and up to today) by the ruling capitalist-imperialist class. Throughout the last two centuries the U.S. has backed up reactionary ruling classes within Haiti as part of this.
In other words, the fact that the Haitian people live in terrible conditions and now must face this disaster with little resources other than their own hands and minds, and up against an extremely repressive set of social relations, is the result of a worldwide system. As the message “The Revolution We Need...The Leadership We Have,” from the RCP,USA puts it:
Throughout the world, as a result of this system, a billion people or more go hungry every day...with many facing the threat of starvation. Hundreds of millions of children are forced to work like slaves and to live in putrid slums, in the midst of garbage and human waste. Waves of immigrants, unable to live in their own homelands, travel the earth in search of work-- and if they find it, they are worked until they can hardly stand and are forced into the shadows, with the constant fear that they will be deported and their families broken apart. Growing numbers of people cannot find work at all now, with many losing their homes as well as their jobs, while others are worked even more mercilessly.Everyone is lured and driven to consume more and more, at the cost of ever mounting debt and the loss of any sense of larger purpose or meaning to life or any deeper connection with other human beings. Many are being pushed to the edge...growing numbers are going over the edge, often lashing out in crazed desperation.
Now this system makes a terrible disaster even worse. Imperialism, of course, did not cause the earthquake. But the system of imperialism dictates how that earthquake is responded to and dealt with.
In sum: this is NOT the best of all possible worlds.
We do NOT have to live this way. To again quote the message:
And it is through revolution to get rid of this system that we ourselves can bring a much
better system into being. The ultimate goal of this revolution is communism: A world where people work and struggle together for the common good...Where everyone contributes whatever they can to society and gets back what they need to live a life worthy of human beings....Where there are no more divisions among people in which some rule over and oppress others, robbing them not only of the means to a decent life but also of knowledge and a means for really understanding, and acting to change, the world.
As we work and struggle side by side to fight for the urgent demands of the Haitian people, we call on people to also engage with us in discussion on why things ARE the way they are, and wrangling over how to get to a whole different, and much better, world and to get into the work that our leader, Bob Avakian, has been doing on the kind of revolution we need and the ways that such a revolution could be made.
http://www.miamiher ald.com/news/ breaking- news/story/ 1423067.html
U.S. halts deportations of undocumented Haitians due to earthquake
By Toluse Olorunnipa/Alfonso Chardy
The Obama administration is temporarily suspending deportations of undocumented Haitian nationals who are in the United States, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist said Wednesday at a news conference in Miami. But there are no immediate indications from the Obama administration that it would grant Haitian nationals Temporary Protected Status in the aftermath of Tuesday's earthquake.
Better known by its acronym TPS, the immigration benefit is given to certain immigrants in the United States who cannot safely return to their countries because of armed conflicts, natural disasters or other emergencies. Those eligible for TPS are allowed to remain in the United States. The approval of TPS has been long sought by Haitian activists and South Florida lawmakers.
On Wednesday, South Florida's three Cuban-American Republican members of Congress -- Reps. Lincoln and his brother Mario Diaz-Balart, and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, sent a letter Wednesday to President Obama requesting immediate humanitarian aid for Haiti and TPS for Haitian nationals in the United States. ``How much does Haiti have to suffer before Haitians in the United States are granted TPS,'' Lincoln Diaz-Balart told El Nuevo Herald in a telephone interview Wednesday. ``The reason TPS exists... as an option for the President is precisley for moments such as this in Haiti.''
Earlier in the day, Crist, speaking at the Miami-Dade County Emergency Operations Center in Doral, told reporter that Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano had informed him by telephone that her department was halting removals of undocumented Haitian immigrants to the earthquake-devastat ed country. ``In my conversations with Secretary Napolitano, she indicated that that was already in effect,'' said Crist, who spoke with Napolitano on Wednesday morning. ``According to the secretary, no one will be sent back.''
Department of Homeland Security Department officials officially announced the move in a statement issued Wednesday afternoon:
``Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Assistant Secretary John Morton today halted all removals to Haiti for the time being in response to the devastation caused by yesterday's earthquake.' '
The move marks the first time federal officials have moved in a significant way to stop all deportations to Haiti. In the past, U.S. immigration officials have temporarily halted removals at a time of natural disasters, like floods or hurricanes. But they usually resume deportation as soon as the emergencies end. Some Haitian community activists have said in recent weeks that deportations of noncriminals have essentially been halted for months. U.S. officials said Wednesday that ICE had temporarily suspended deportation flights to Haiti in September 2008 because of hurricane damage. But ICE removal flights resumed in March 2009, the officials said.
Crist spoke during an appearance with Haitian-born state Rep. Yolly Roberson and other public officials, including U.S. Sen. George LeMieux. The comment about deportations came in response to a reporter's question about the long-running lobbying effort to get the White House to grant TPS to Haitians. TPS allows foreign nationals in the category to get work permits and stay in the country temporarily, typically 12 to 18 months. Then the benefit is usually renewed, often indefinitely.Haitian community leaders and South F
In response to a reporter's question on TPS, Roberson replied:``If there is ever a time for the federal government to consider granting Temporary Protected Status to Haitians, this is now. This is not the time to send Haitians back to Haiti.''
http://www.nytimes. com/2010/ 01/14/nyregion/ 14nychaiti. html?th&emc= th
Haitians in New York Eager to Help, but Struggle With How
By James Barron
January 14, 2010
They know how to make the calls. They know what to collect and send. In a city of insular immigrant communities, none has had more experience helping with disasters back home and knowing how to make crucial life-or-death connections than the Haitian communities in Brooklyn and in Cambria Heights, Queens.
But no one was ready for an earthquake of such enormous intensity, the first in Haiti in more than 250 years. On top of fears about relatives who could not be reached by telephone, the disaster created challenges not even Haitians had faced before.
Some filed into churches that led special noontime prayers, kneeling, waving photographs of loved ones, sobbing. “I’m praying for everybody in Haiti — my heart is there,” said Marie St. Aime, 57, a nurse whose brother, with his eight children, lives close to the presidential palace. There had been no word from him.
Some, frustrated that there were no answers when they dialed familiar numbers, tried others. “They call us hoping we can send messages to Haiti for them,” said Ricot Dupuy, an announcer at Radio Soleil d’Haiti in Brooklyn. So many called that the station told listeners to stop.
Some went to Dr. Jean Claude Compas’s office on Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, where he was organizing a medical mission. The only sounds were of keys tapping on BlackBerrys as people dialed numbers in Haiti, hoping that this time, finally, the call would go through.
Suddenly someone announced, “Desmond is safe.”
People nodded and went back to dialing and sending messages. Dr. Compas, a Haitian-American physician, had turned the office into a collection center for donations of clothes and food. But with roads to the airport in the capital of Port-au-Prince impassable, the challenge would be to get the donations, and the people who could help distribute them, where they were needed.
It was an element of uncertainty new to Haitians in New York, the city with the largest population of Haitian descent outside Port-au-Prince. They had organized relief efforts before, but now there were questions. What to collect? How to get it there?
“It’s very much different from anything we’ve ever lived through,” Elsie St. Louis-Accilien, the director of the New York-based Haitian-Americans United for Progress, said on Wednesday morning. “We had floods, we had this here, that there. But this is the largest, all different areas hit.”
To watch this response system gear up was to watch people who have learned to deal with heartbreak, with devastating loss, with Haiti’s long history of hardship. And still they mobilized.
By Wednesday, it was clear that huge sections of Port-au-Prince were in ruins. By then, President René Préval was quoted as calling the situation “a catastrophe.” Photographs — some on television, some sent by e-mail from cellphone cameras — revealed sprawling devastation that only made the uncertainty about loved ones more painful.
Joseph Dormeus, the executive director of the Bedford Haitian Community Center, watched cable news channels and estimated that 90 percent of the people in Port-au-Prince were homeless.
“What makes it worse is Port-au-Prince is the center of the country,” he said. “Port-au-Prince was there to help. But when Port-au-Prince is affected, the whole country will be paralyzed. So the challenge is not only to provide help to the population but the government, because the government is very, very affected.”
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Gov. David A. Paterson went to Holy Cross Roman Catholic Church, in the heart of the Haitian community in Flatbush, Brooklyn, and promised help.
“What we’re here to do is to say to New York’s grieving Haitian community that the prayers of every New Yorker in every part of our city are with you today, and we are with you,” Mr. Bloomberg said. “Nous à vous, which means ‘we are with you,’ and bon courage, ‘have courage.’ Those are just words. In the end, with every news account, it appears to be an even greater tragedy.”
The cable channels played, over and over, video of the presidential palace, now a crumbled ruin. Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly’s memory of the building was fresh: he had been there just last week for a meeting with Mr. Préval. “The fact that this building collapsed goes to show the magnitude of this earthquake,” he said.
A worried Marie Pierre, who has relatives in Haiti, said, “People are trying to help us, but we would be much happier if we could get in touch with our family.”
She said she had spent a sleepless night on Tuesday, repeatedly dialing phone numbers in Haiti and getting no answer. By midday Wednesday, she was at the De Jean Binette Hair Palace and Barber Shop in Cambria Heights, where a television was tuned to a cable news channel. She was thinking, she said, about the money she sends her family in Haiti.
“Now it will be worse,” she said. “We’ll have to send more.”
Ms. St. Louis-Accilien said she needed details to know how to help. “The worst thing is the lack of communication and not really having an assessment, not really knowing what’s going on,” she said. “You can’t really know what to begin to do.”
Jocelyn McCalla, a policy consultant and the senior adviser to Haiti’s adviser to the United Nations, said the earthquake had redefined the way the Haitian diaspora in New York should think about relief efforts, in part because the quake had done so much damage in so many places.
“The past responses have been, ‘Yeah, let’s go around and collect canned goods and clothing from friends and relatives and hand them over to a group or take them to Haiti ourselves,’ ” he said. “You can’t do that right now. It’s not enough to do it. It’s a drop in the bucket.”
He had two bits of advice for those who wanted to help: Think beyond the short term, and expect to take trips to Haiti to provide on-the-ground help. “Haitians should be rolling up their sleeves and committing some part of their jobs,” he said. “Haiti will be facing storms like clockwork. They should be volunteering to provide support and expertise.”
Dr. Stephen Carryl, a surgeon at the Brooklyn Hospital Center who has gone on medical missions regularly in the last 10 years, was making arrangements to go to Haiti in the next few days. “There is nothing in my experience that will prepare me for what we will face,” he said. “We have to go in with expectations beyond what we have ever dealt with.”
With communication largely cut off, Dr. Carryl said, he wanted to send a two- or three-person team as soon as possible. “Getting there is the priority,” he said. “A larger group can come next week, but we must have some boots on the ground sooner to know what to do.”
Reporting was contributed by Cara Buckley, Flora Fair, Colin Moynihan, Kirk Semple, Stacey Solie and Karen Zraick.