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And while we’re on the topic of Haiti

You didn’t have to be a Marxist political analyst to see what the US was going to do after the disaster – see Jeff’s ‘the politics of misery’. Imperialist agendas include, but are not restricted to:

  • bringing in the military
  • denying planes with aid permission to land
  • coordinating efforts with Israel

And now we have media outlets scapegoating to militarise the disaster – criminalising victims, using the Katrina vernacular, alleging people are building roadblocks from the dead.

A few facts:

The current crisis in Haiti is the extension of an existing crisis, which dates back to the uprising of 1804, and has a lot to do with imperialism, and France, and the United States.

9 million people live in Haiti, with 80% living below the poverty line. Many Haitians labour in sweatshops only earning 38 cents an hour. Randall Robinson points out that this isn’t enough to travel to and from work, let alone eat lunch. Forget food for the rest of your family.

Haiti has been 98% deforested.

More than 2 million people live around Port-au-Prince in “desperately sub-standard informal housing, often perched precariously on the side of deforested ravines.”

Around 10 000 aid organisations were on the ground in Haiti before the earthquake – not doing anything really, except replacing government departments. Peter Hallward says, “The international community has been effectively ruling Haiti since the 2004 coup.”

The coup where Aristede – elected by 75% of the electorate – was ousted was an attempt to destroy the various “organisations sustaining resistance.”

America has had a hand in every foul thing that’s happened in Haiti in the past 100 years, including the coup, and seizing and running the country from 1915–1934. The US also backed and armed every brutal dictator the country has seen.

To top it off, Haiti has been kept economically broken by the World Bank and the IMF, desperately trying to prove that you can’t beat capitalism – even through revolution.

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.

But don’t just take my word for it.

Further reading

Historian, Alex von Tunzelmann on Haiti – history and present:

The reason [Haiti] has not become sustainable is that, for two centuries, rich countries and their banks have menaced almost all of its wealth out of it. For how much longer should the Haitians do penance?

Foreign Policy has the right idea – cancel all Haiti’s debt

The Nation – IMF to Haiti: Freeze Public Wages

Further watching

Bush was responsible for destroying Haitian democracy

Democracy Now! episode on Haiti’s earthquake

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Jacinda Woodhead is the editor of Overland. Her PhD research examined abortion politics in Australia and nonfiction as political intervention.

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