Haiti's Earthquake Updates - January 17 - 21, 2010
UPDATES: January 21, 2010
When the Media Is the Disaster: Covering Haiti by Rebecca Solnit
Soon after almost every disaster the crimes begin: ruthless, selfish, indifferent to human suffering, and generating far more suffering. The perpetrators go unpunished and live to commit further crimes against humanity. They care less for human life than for property. They act without regard for consequences. I'm talking, of course, about those members of the mass media whose misrepresentation of what goes on in disaster often abets and justifies a second wave of disaster. I'm talking about the treatment of sufferers as criminals, both on the ground and in the news, and the endorsement of a shift of resources from rescue to property patrol. They still have blood on their hands from Hurricane Katrina, and they are staining themselves anew in Haiti.
Haiti, Again? by Phyllis Bennis
This time, of course, the U.S. is not trying to prevent humanitarian assistance. President Obama made all the right commitments to the Haitian people, promising emergency assistance AND that we would stand with them into the future. He made clear that it is indeed the role and responsibility of government to respond to humanitarian crises, and that's a good thing (even if he also anointed his predecessors to lead a parallel privatized response). But the reality is, on the ground, some of the same problems that we've seen so many times before have already emerged, as U.S. military forces take charge, as the United Nations is pushed aside by overbearing U.S. power, as desperate humanitarian needs take a back seat to the Pentagon's priorities. Saturday morning's New York Times quoted Secretary of State Clinton saying, "we are working to back them [the Haitian government] up but not to supplant them." That was good. But then she said she expected the Haitian government to pass an emergency decree including things like the right to impose curfews. "The decree would give the government an enormous amount of authority, which in practice they would delegate to us," Clinton said. So much for "not supplanting them."
Haiti's tragedy: A crime of US imperialism by Bill Van Auken
The estimated 200,000 who have died, the quarter million or more injured and the three million whose homes have been destroyed are victims not merely of a natural catastrophe. The lack of infrastructure, the poor quality of construction in Port-au-Prince and the impotence of the Haitian government to organize any response are determining factors in this tragedy. These social conditions are the product of a protracted relationship between Haiti and the United States, which, ever since US Marines occupied the island nation for nearly 20 years beginning in 1915, has treated the country as a de-facto colonial protectorate.
Costly victory for Haiti—UWI historian by Michelle Loubon
With a sense of pride, historians note the island of Hispaniola (Haiti) was the first black republic in the Western Hemisphere. Liberator Jacques Dessalines declared Haiti a republic in 1804, thereby ridding it from the most oppressive manifestations of slavery. On the flip side, they noted the grave historical injustice—Haiti was the only country to pay its conquerors compensation. France demanded 90 million gold francs, more than US$20 billion for Haitians' freedom. In a telephone interview yesterday, eminent UWI historian Prof Bridget Brereton lent her voice to the chorus calling for reparations from France and the US. Brereton said, "I agree with the various voices, including Barbados' Sir Hilary Beckles saying France has a huge moral obligation to Haiti because of the terribly unjust requirements which France imposed on Haiti."
Haiti needs water, not occupation by Mark Weisbrot
The US has never wanted Haitian self-rule, and its focus on 'security concerns' has hampered the earthquake aid response
Haiti: The Spectacle by Robert C. Koehler
Haiti falls apart and America's journalists are on the ground, bringing us the spectacle of devastation. We care, we donate, we shake our heads in horror at the human toll of poverty. A bare foot sticks out of a pile of cinder blocks. "They've been digging for five hours," says Anderson Cooper. He sticks his mike in the rubble. Oh my God, she's alive. We can hear her screaming! "They only have this one shovel." OK, freeze frame. Something is so wrong with this picture...
The Disaster Within The Disaster: It's Time To Investigate the Aid Fiasco by Danny Schechter
Haiti remains a death trap, with an aid program that has sat by and watched thousands die without relief. The International Red Cross describes the situation there as a catastrophe while the American Red Cross reports raising more than $100 million dollars thanks to texting technologies and backing from the White House. Raising money is their specialty; delivering aid is not.
The myth of Haiti's lawless streets by Inigo Gilmore To withhold aid because of the 'security situation' is a miserable excuse for agencies' failure to deliver desperately needed help
As a member of the media covering the tragedy in Haiti, it's with a sense of alarm and astonishment that I've witnessed how some senior aid officials have argued for withholding aid of the utmost urgency because of sensational claims about violence and insecurity, which appear to be based more on fantasy than reality.
Haiti Earthquake: Recovery efforts continue by ntv kenya
In Haiti, rescue efforts are entering the second week following the earthquake that hit Port au Prince. Survivors are also camping at a golf course as humanitarian aid continues to flow into the country.
Exploitation, racism keep Haiti in despair by Tony Fraser
A particular strain of the comments seeks to make Haiti and its people incurably backward, genetically subhuman and so preoccupied with evil and voodoo that even the God of the universe has turned His back on the land and its people. Any attempt to understand and analyse the reasons for Haiti's backwardness as a society and the human condition of large numbers of its people should start from the appreciation that that country has been a victim of the worse forms of economic exploitation, racist sub-human degradation and imperial imposition known to man.
Misinformation and Racism Hamper Recovery Efforts in Haiti
"There are no security issues," says Dr. Evan Lyon of Partners in Health, reporting from the General Hospital in Port-Au-Prince in Haiti, where 1,000 people are in need of operations. Lyon said the reports of violence in the city have been overblown by the media and have affected the delivery of aid and medical services.
Legacy of US-Haitian Relations Dating Back to 1804
by Danny Glover and Amy Goodman
So we see troops and this–and militarization. And I think we have to be very concerned about that. On one hand, we're given this one face, a face that we see right now, the face of generosity of the American public. And that's all good. But also, we see the other side of this. Who gets in? Nobody talks about the Cubans, Venezuelans and the others who provided aid, who were right on the spot after the earthquake.
Haiti: Guns or food? by Real News
As aid starts to trickle in, and the extent of the horror becomes known, decisions are already being made that will affect the Haiti that emerges from this. Ansel Herz reports live from Port-Au-Prince on the role that the deployed US troops are playing, while author Peter Hallward weighs in on the role that the US has played in Haiti's recent history and shares his concerns that post-earthquake Haiti will further cement the domination of the Haitian people by foreigners.
Profiting From Haiti's Misery - by Benjamin Dangl
US corporations, private mercenaries, Washington and the International Monetary Fund are using the crisis in Haiti to make a profit, promote unpopular neoliberal policies, and extend military and economic control over the Haitian people. In the aftermath of the earthquake, with much of the infrastructure and government services destroyed, Haitians have relied on each other for the relief efforts, working together to pull their neighbors, friends and loved ones from the rubble. One report from IPS News in Haiti explained, "In the day following the quake, there was no widespread violence. Guns, knives and theft weren't seen on the streets, lined only with family after family carrying their belongings. They voiced their anger and frustration with sad songs that echoed throughout the night, not their fists."
No, Mister, You Can't Share My Pain - by John Maxwell
(jamaicaobserver.com) 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.
U.S. troops in Haiti to prevent Aristide's return by Wayne Madsen
Apparently, the so-called media-savvy Obama failed to realize the revolting nature of asking Bush to do anything related to Haiti when people remembered his lack of action over Katrina. Bodies of African-Americans floating in the streets of New Orleans became juxtaposed with the bodies of Afro-Haitians piling up in the streets of Port-au-Prince. But, of course, Obama is the "Max Headroom" of America's political leadership – a talking head – whose rhetorical flourishes speak louder than principles or concrete action.
Aristide, from an exile in South Africa imposed by the United States, France, and Canada, vowed to return to Haiti to be with his people in their time of stress and despair. Aristide, a former Roman Catholic priest, served the people of the Haitian slum of La Saline and he understands best the plight of his people. On the other hand, Rene Preval, the U.S. stooge who was placed in power twice by the CIA and the U.S. Southern Command to replace Aristide, once in a fraudulent election (Preval won in 1995 with 88 percent of the vote in a 25 percent voter turnout) and the other in a coup, could only complain to CNN's Sanjay Gupta about not having any place to sleep for the night, "I cannot live in the palace. I cannot live in my own house, because the two collapsed."
Haiti earthquake survivors scavenge for food
For many earthquake victims, even six days after the disaster, the story is still one of frustration as aid is only slowly getting through. While at the airport the debate rages over the prioritising of military flights over civilian aid flights, in makeshift relief camps some earthquake victims are going hungry while others are fighting for food. Al Jazeera's Mike Kirsch reports on the situation from Port-au-Prince. (Jan 19, 09)
Exporting Misery to Haiti by James Ridgeway How Rice, Pigs, and US Policy Undermined the Haitian Economy Lè ou malere, tout bagay samble ou, says one of the Creole proverbs that are a staple of Haitian popular culture. When you are poor, everything can be blamed on you. It's a truth we can see played out in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake. While many Americans are reacting to the disaster with genuine compassion and generosity, there's another kind of response afoot as well - one that extends well beyond the sickening remarks made by Pat Robertson or Rush Limbaugh.
Please Don't Superdome Haiti by Michelle Chen
For those who know how race and media intersect in times of crisis, the earthquake in Haiti has probably sent a bump through your pop-cultural seismograph. Now it's becoming a flashpoint. Following an initial wave of sympathy, the corporate media has turned an alarmed eye to the increasingly desperate masses. We see unruly mobs, bodies piled in the streets (we hear of corpses being used as human "barricades"). The insinuations and direct reporting of violence flirt with the popular imagination and evoke memories of America's most spectacular prime-time tragedy-Katrina.
Disaster Capitalism Headed to Haiti by Stephen Lendman
Since the 19th century, America dominated Haiti. Before the quake, a proxy paramilitary Blue Helmet force occupied the country, dispatched not for peacekeeping but iron-grip control. Worse still, it was the first time ever that UN forces supported a coup d'etat government, the one Washington installed after US Marines kidnapped President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, forcibly exiled him to Africa, and ended the political, economic and social reforms he instituted - in areas of health, education, justice and human rights. Ever since, conditions for Haitians have been nightmarish, and now the quake and further misery ahead from the Pentagon's iron fist and greater than ever exploitation.
The Rescue Operation's Priorities in Haiti by Nelson P. Valdés
The assistance teams seem reluctant to distribute until they feel secure. Thus, the US government sent troops to bring aid and the Haitian government dispatched police to provide "security," and respond to the exaggerated rumors of "looting."
More Than Aid, Haiti Needs Allies by Tolu Olorunda
There are almost always political incentives tied to foreign aid. It's not enough merely to cut checks or text a few numbers; it's critical to know into whose hands–and toward what ends–one's cash is going. Haiti has suffered enough–from the bellicosity of its affluent neighbors–and as if to punish Haitians further, mainstream media has made a circus of the crisis.
» Chavez says U.S. occupying Haiti in name of aid
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."
» Cuba's Rescue Effort in Haiti
While the focus of the enormous rescue and assistance effort in Haiti has been on the part played by the United States, dozens of other countries and non-government agencies have made major contributions to a massive humanitarian gesture to relieve the suffering of the island's population. Brazil, Mexico and Venezuela are participating in the relief effort. Brazil reportedly lost at least 14 officers attached to the UN Mission. Cuba has sent ten tons of medications. Since 1998, Cuba's health cooperation with Haiti has made it possible for 6,000 doctors, paramedics and health technicians to work there. Besides, 450 young Haitians have graduated as doctors from Cuban colleges, free of charge, in the past 12 years.
» Clash over Haiti aid flights
Alain Joyandet, French co-operation minister, told reporters at the airport he had protested to Washington via the US ambassador about the US military's management of the airport where he said a French medical aid flight had been turned away.
» Ortega warns of US deployment in Haiti
Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega says that the United States has taken advantage of the massive quake in Haiti and deployed troops in the country.
"What is happening in Haiti seriously concerns me as US troops have already taken control of the airport," Ortega said on Saturday.
Why the US Owes Haiti Billions: The Briefest History by Bill Quigley
Why does the US owe Haiti Billions? Colin Powell, former US Secretary of State, stated his foreign policy view as the "Pottery Barn rule." That is - "if you break it, you own it." The US has worked to break Haiti for over 200 years. We owe Haiti. Not charity. We owe Haiti as a matter of justice. Reparations. And not the $100 million promised by President Obama either - that is Powerball money. The US owes Haiti Billions - with a big B.
Reparations, not handouts, for Haiti by Raffique Shah
SO we cry for Haiti again. Yet another natural disaster, this time an earthquake of horrendous magnitude, has all but flattened what was left of that 'cussed' country. In the Caribbean, so full of heart are we, even those who survive barely above the poverty line give, be it cash or clothes or food. But will our generosity, will the US$1 billion or so in help that will flow over the next year make a difference to 4.5 million of seven million people who live on less than US$1 day?
Shock Therapy? Haiti, Where America Never Learns by Tom Reeves
In April 2004, my CounterPunch article, "Haiti: An American Learning Zone," chronicled all the failures of U.S. policy in Haiti at that time, which those of us who regularly visited Haiti believed doomed Haitians to remain the world's poorest people, subject to devastation at the whim of weather or geology. Among these failures was the U.S. emphasis on aid for urban jobs, rather than for sustainable agriculture. This meant continued support for the sweat shops of garment industries that had long been virtual slave factories, with a minimum wage of less than $2 a day.
Crushing Haiti, Now as Always by Patrick Cockburn When Haitian Ministers Take a 50 Percent Cut of Aide Money It's Called "Corruption," When NGOs Skim 50 Percent It's Called "Overhead"
The US-run aid effort for Haiti is beginning to look chillingly similar to the criminally slow and disorganized US government support for New Orleans after it was devastated by hurricane Katrina in 2005. Four years ago President Bush was famously mute and detached when the levies broke in Louisiana. By way of contrast President Obama was promising Haitians that everything would be done for survivors within hours of the calamity.
"The International Community Must Let President Jean-Bertrand Aristide Return to Haiti" by Ansel Herz
Millions of dollars in aid are pouring into Haiti. Another head of state visits each day. The misery in Port-Au-Prince dominates the news nearly a week after the 7.0 earthquake struck the heart of this island country. What has changed on the streets of Haiti's capitol city since the tremors? The Haitian people have mobilized, while foreign aid efforts continue to stall.
The Right Testicle of Hell: History of a Haitian Holocaust by Greg Palast
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?
Haiti - the price of freedom by Carolyn Cooper
It is still not widely known that Haiti was forced to pay 90 million gold francs in reparations to France for freedom. This vast sum is equivalent to more than US$21 billion today. Haiti had to borrow the money from French banks. Repayment of the reparations debt stretched out over decades and had a devastating impact on the Haitian economy. By the end of the 19th century, 80 per cent of Haiti's national budget was being spent on debt repayment and interest. Sounds like an IMF agreement, a truly devilish pact.
The Morning After: Haiti Earthquake Victims Can Only Rely on Each Other - Ansel Herz Dispatch 2
When Are Haitians Looters and When Are They Just Hungry? The news media could be repeating the mistakes of Katrina.
Nearly five years ago, when you could see photo captions of white Hurricane Katrina survivors side-by-side with black survivors, the racial double standard in the news media covering a catastrophic tragedy were obvious. Hungry, desperate white survivors were "finding food" while hungry, desperate black survivors were "looting" for food.
Dueling Photo Captions:
"A young [black] man walks through chest deep floodwater after looting a grocery store in New Orleans..."
"Two [white] residents wade through chest-deep water after finding bread and soda from a local grocery store after Hurricane Katrina came through the area in New Orleans..."