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The West's Role in Haiti's Plight

World  (tags: Haiti, USA, coup, coup d'etat, imperialism, UnitedNations, unitednations, capitalism, oppression, exploitation, sweatshops, impoverishment, poverty, natural disaster, disaster, earthquake, emergency, rescue, Cuba, socialism, Refugees&Relief, Refugees&Relief )

- 3347 days ago -
If we are serious about helping Haiti, we must stop trying to control & exploit them. Ever since the US invaded & occupied Haiti in 1915, every serious attempt by Haiti's people to end exploitation & poverty has been violently blocked by the USA & allies


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Pamylle G (458)
Friday January 15, 2010, 4:46 am
Good article - gives a thumb-nail sketch of the nation which we too often think our governments have been "helping".

Simon Wood (207)
Friday January 15, 2010, 5:08 am
Thankyou for being interested, and also commenting, Pamylle : )

Gorgeous H (142)
Friday January 15, 2010, 10:59 am
Thanks Simon..Will you marry me? ;)

Gorgeous H (142)
Friday January 15, 2010, 11:00 am
Our role in Haiti's plightIf we are serious about assisting this devastated land we must stop trying to control and exploit it
Comments (287)
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Peter Hallward, Wednesday 13 January 2010 20.30 GMT Article historyAny large city in the world would have suffered extensive damage from an earthquake on the scale of the one that ravaged Haiti's capital city on Tuesday afternoon, but it's no accident that so much of Port-au-Prince now looks like a war zone. Much of the devastation wreaked by this latest and most calamitous disaster to befall Haiti is best understood as another thoroughly manmade outcome of a long and ugly historical sequence.

The country has faced more than its fair share of catastrophes. Hundreds died in Port-au-Prince in an earthquake back in June 1770, and the huge earthquake of 7 May 1842 may have killed 10,000 in the northern city of Cap ­Haitien alone. Hurricanes batter the island on a regular basis, mostly recently in 2004 and again in 2008; the storms of September 2008 flooded the town of Gonaïves and swept away much of its flimsy infrastructure, killing more than a thousand people and destroying many thousands of homes. The full scale of the destruction resulting from this earthquake may not become clear for several weeks. Even minimal repairs will take years to complete, and the long-term impact is incalculable.

What is already all too clear, ­however, is the fact that this impact will be the result of an even longer-term history of deliberate impoverishment and disempowerment. Haiti is routinely described as the "poorest country in the western hemisphere". This poverty is the direct legacy of perhaps the most brutal system of colonial exploitation in world history, compounded by decades of systematic postcolonial oppression.

The noble "international community" which is currently scrambling to send its "humanitarian aid" to Haiti is largely responsible for the extent of the suffering it now aims to reduce. Ever since the US invaded and occupied the country in 1915, every serious political attempt to allow Haiti's people to move (in former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide's phrase) "from absolute misery to a dignified poverty" has been violently and deliberately blocked by the US government and some of its allies.

Aristide's own government (elected by some 75% of the electorate) was the latest victim of such interference, when it was overthrown by an internationally sponsored coup in 2004 that killed several thousand people and left much of the population smouldering in resentment. The UN has subsequently maintained a large and enormously expensive stabilisation and pacification force in the country.

Haiti is now a country where, according to the best available study, around 75% of the population "lives on less than $2 per day, and 56% – four and a half million people – live on less than $1 per day". Decades of neoliberal "adjustment" and neo-imperial intervention have robbed its government of any significant capacity to invest in its people or to regulate its economy. Punitive international trade and financial arrangements ensure that such destitution and impotence will remain a structural fact of Haitian life for the foreseeable future.

It is this poverty and powerlessness that account for the full scale of the horror in Port-au-Prince today. Since the late 1970s, relentless neoliberal assault on Haiti's agrarian economy has forced tens of thousands of small farmers into overcrowded urban slums. Although there are no reliable statistics, hundreds of thousands of Port-au-Prince residents now live in desperately sub-standard informal housing, often perched precariously on the side of deforested ravines. The selection of the people living in such places and conditions is itself no more "natural" or accidental than the extent of the injuries they have suffered.

As Brian Concannon, the director of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, points out: "Those people got there because they or their parents were intentionally pushed out of the countryside by aid and trade policies specifically designed to create a large captive and therefore exploitable labour force in the cities; by definition they are people who would not be able to afford to build earthquake resistant houses." Meanwhile the city's basic infrastructure – running water, electricity, roads, etc – remains woefully inadequate, often non-existent. The government's ability to mobilise any sort of disaster relief is next to nil.

The international community has been effectively ruling Haiti since the 2004 coup. The same countries scrambling to send emergency help to Haiti now, however, have during the last five years consistently voted against any extension of the UN mission's mandate beyond its immediate military purpose. Proposals to divert some of this "investment" towards poverty reduction or agrarian development have been blocked, in keeping with the long-term patterns that continue to shape the ­distribution of international "aid".

The same storms that killed so many in 2008 hit Cuba just as hard but killed only four people. Cuba has escaped the worst effects of neoliberal "reform", and its government retains a capacity to defend its people from disaster. If we are serious about helping Haiti through this latest crisis then we should take this comparative point on board. Along with sending emergency relief, we should ask what we can do to facilitate the self-empowerment of Haiti's people and public institutions. If we are serious about helping we need to stop ­trying to control Haiti's government, to pacify its citizens, and to exploit its economy. And then we need to start paying for at least some of the damage we've already done

Jessie Cross (295)
Friday January 15, 2010, 1:57 pm
Thanks SImon - I posted the original article on Facebook, too.

Irina Brenner (355)
Friday January 15, 2010, 5:28 pm
Haiti`s earth quake Petition

Please sign


Elaine B (21)
Friday January 15, 2010, 8:22 pm
Thankyou Simon....EXCELLENT as usual. I may be the more skeptical one, but several weeks ago I heard that the "sweatshops" corps, were going to open up business in Haiti because they could get by with paying $1 per week instead of $5 per day/week as they currently pay elsewhere. Well, how "convenient" a earthquake hits. Probably by using HAARP Technology like they did on China when China threatened to dump one trillion US Dollars into the world market. For people who do not believe this is possible, I feel sorry for you. TAKE NOTE of the buzzwords they are using on the main stream media, "natural disaster", and "the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere". Watch to see what will become of this. I will bet you right now that the results of this "quake" will be the bulldozing of a HUGE amount of land which the corporations can now come in and "build factories" and offer jobs!! to help this "poorest country". Today is Friday and they are just NOW getting huge aircraft carriers in!!!! You think they could move any SLOWER???? PLEASE PEOPLE!!!! Look at their actions. They are using our emotions so they can get away with bloody murder. Of course fatalities go up after 72hrs. That's just what they want!! And HOW MANY troops are they sending in now??? Watch. It will become a fascist state as will the USA as they keep waging their false flag operations. And they deny flying their aircraft over Venezualan airspace?! Well of course. They want to provoke so they can blame Mr Chavez for trying to "start" something...and what a "coincidence" that their was ANOTHER earthquake today whose location was "corrected" to be under Caracas!!!!! Go to the website. I KNOW there are a lot of earth changes going on. But I ALSO know that the CIA and other Black Ops of the US gov have technology that would rival the best sci-fi movie around. Follow the money. Just follow the money. (a good video to watch for free is you can is on google video with the late "suicided" Phil Schneider US Geologist/and black ops agent who went whistle-blowing and exposed the Deep Underground Military Bases (DUMBs)-no joke either! Just watch, and listen to what he had to say in the mid 1990's. For those who want to laugh at me I say go right ahead. But also watch how they are putting together their "New World Order". They want the world's population down to 550million from the current 7billion! They want a slave population that will not question their One World Government. That's where we come together and expose their propaganda. It is evident, it has a track you can follow, and it is something we can throw a monkey wrench into by raising our consciousness to a high humanitarian level. It seems that good vs. evil REALLY IS the order of the day.

Marty H (119)
Saturday January 16, 2010, 3:05 am
Thanks Simon! Very sad situation indeed!

Simon Wood (207)
Saturday January 16, 2010, 3:24 am
Hi AniTa : ) Oh... you are very sweet to say that, but I already have a girlfriend, sorry ; )

Simon Wood (207)
Saturday January 16, 2010, 3:53 am
P.S. Anita, good on you for posting this article here in this comments section, so it is easy for us to read : )

Simon Wood (207)
Saturday January 16, 2010, 3:53 am
You're welcome, Jessie : ) Good on you for posting this article in Facebook! : )

Bill C (94)
Saturday January 16, 2010, 4:30 am
Thanks for posting.

Simon Wood (207)
Saturday January 16, 2010, 4:34 am
Hi Irina. We can do more than simply pray for the oppressed, exploited, impoverished and suffering people of Haiti.

We can stop supporting capitalist political parties, such as the "Republicans" and "Democrats", which make regime changes in Haiti and other countries, to create oppressive governments (such as the one in Haiti right now), and enable multinational corporations to exploit and impoverish the people of Haiti, and other Third World countries.

We can support political parties (such as Greens parties and socialist parties) which are about GENUINE solidarity with the people of Haiti, in the countries where we live (e.g. the USA).

And we can join Third World solidarity organisations, such as those political parties.

Simon Wood (207)
Saturday January 16, 2010, 4:44 am
Hi Elaine, thankyou for your interesting comment. : )

Maybe I am one of the people who you feel sorry for, Elaine, because I don't believe that anyone caused that earthquake.... But I do believe something similar to alot of what you have written, sort of....

I mean we don't need to look far to see that some people own and control huge corporations and are obscenely wealthy, while most people in the world, who do most of the work, creating most of the world's wealth, are living in poverty. That alone shows how inhumane the system already is. Compassionate people don't need to try to predict the future, in order to want to do activism for equality and human rights for everyone (including the right to food, clean water and health care).

Simon Wood (207)
Saturday January 16, 2010, 4:45 am
You're welcome Bill C : )

Good on you everyone for posting comments here : )

AJ Redford (245)
Saturday January 16, 2010, 11:51 am
Thanks, Simon. This is important information that gets lost in the general buzz.

Simon Wood (207)
Saturday January 16, 2010, 8:31 pm
You're very welcome, AJ : ) And thankYOU for your kind words of acknowledgement : )

Gorgeous H (142)
Sunday January 17, 2010, 7:05 am
Simon...Just kidding..Me too but i think you are amazing!!!!

Mark G (36)
Sunday January 17, 2010, 7:13 am
Nothing but pure drivel. There was nothing to exploit in Haiti before the earthquake, there sure is nothing to exploit there now. Haiti’s perpetually corrupt government is the root cause of its non-disaster issues. Unfortunately many of Haiti’s core problems are self-inflicted. The only real “exploitation” in this article is the use of this tragedy to promote the perpetually failed system of socialism.
The US does over 10 times more trade with the Dominican Republic next door than with Haiti and the per capita GDP in the DR is 5 times that of pre-earthquake Haiti. If we are “exploiting” them, we are doing a damn poor job of it.
The US will pour more aid into Haiti during this crisis than we will ever do in trade, and we will expect nothing in return. The American people are personally donating millions of dollars, and many here couldn’t find Haiti on a map. That’s what we do.
Haiti has been devastated by this natural disaster. Without the help of the US can you imagine how much worse this would be? We are the only country who is willing and able to provide effective help in a situation like this one. We are willing because that’s the kind of people we are. We are able because of our capitalist economic system. Thank God for the USA.

Simon Wood (207)
Sunday January 17, 2010, 7:31 am
You are very kind, AniTa : )

Simon Wood (207)
Sunday January 17, 2010, 8:04 am
Mark G, Haiti has land and other natural resources, and most of all, has workers (as was written in the article, and in the summary of the article, and in my many comments about Haiti under many news articles in Care2). therefore, when you say that "was nothing to exploit in Haiti before the earthquake, there sure is nothing to exploit there now", it is YOU who is writing drivel, not us.

...and you only repeat a lie that hides capitalist exploitation, and therefore serves the agenda of private corporations.

Mark G wrote: "Haiti’s perpetually corrupt government is the root cause of its non-disaster issues."

As the article says, and as I wrote in my comments, the government of Haiti is a puppet government of the USA, which is the result of a U.S. coup against the most popular politician (Aristide) and his political party (the most popular political party in Haiti), and a foreign military occupation which is oppressing the people of Haiti and enforcing the rule of the Preval government, which has disallowed the hugely popular Aristide and his political party from entering the elections.

As I already said, Aristide and his government were making egalitarian reforms, to reduce corporate exploitation, raise wages, and develop Haiti in a way that was ensuring that the poor working class majority of Haiti would benefit.

Mark G wrote: "The only real “exploitation” in this article is the use of this tragedy to promote the perpetually failed system of socialism."

Socialism has not failed. The stalinist USSR and its stalinist Eastern European satellite nations became capitalist, and Mao's China became capitalist. But they were not socialist. Socialism means, according to Marx, and even according to capitalist dictionaries: "society owning and controlling the means of production, distribution and exchange". That profoundly democratic system, socialism, never existed in those countries.

Socialism has only partially been tried in Cuba, and even less in Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua. But to the extent that those countries are socialist, their people are much better off in terms of democracy and human rights, including the right to a decent standard of living.

Mark G wrote: "The US will pour more aid into Haiti during this crisis than we will ever do in trade, and we will expect nothing in return."

You have absolutely no proof of that. But I have proof for this: U.S. "aid" is usually mostly beneficial to U.S. capitalist class, and harmful to the working class of Thrid World countries. It is loans that take more than they give, money for U.S.-produced goods in order to boost U.S. corporate profits but devastate local insudtries by undercutting their prices, handouts for U.S. corporations to do paternalistic work in Third World countries which is aimed at propping up U.S. puppet regimes, and military equipment for those oppressive puppet regimes that enforce U.S. corporate exploitation.

And the first world (mainly the USA), plunders U.S.$500 billion net wealth from the people of the Third World each year. That shows how "generous" the USA and other first world nations truly are.

Mark G wrote: "Without the help of the US can you imagine how much worse this would be? We are the only country who is willing and able to provide effective help in a situation like this one. We are willing because that’s the kind of people we are. We are able because of our capitalist economic system. Thank God for the USA."

The U.S. government and corporate "help" to the people of Haiti has oppressed, exploited and impoverished the people of Haiti for over 100 years. Even today, the U.S. government and the corporations that they represent are taking more than they are giving, and are using this opportunity to increase their domination of Haiti and their exploitation of the workers of Haiti.

Haiti would be better off if the USA stopped its interference there completely. The people of Haiti would gain more than they would lose, if the USA left Haiti completely.

As for the propaganda about the USA being the only country that can effectively help the people of Haiti... well, tiny CUBA sends more aid workers to Third World countries than the huge USA does. And Cuba and Venezuela are helping Haiti much more than the USA is. PLus other countries are sending plenty of help to Haiti- it's not only the USA that is sending help.

Plus tiny Venezuela has sent almost as many aid workers to Haiti as the USA has sent there - and Venezuela doesn't exploit the people of Haiti like the USA does.

Leia P. (7)
Sunday January 17, 2010, 12:03 pm
lets hope our leaders start to listen

Adrian Davis (49)
Sunday January 17, 2010, 1:46 pm
thank you simon

Terry B (649)
Sunday January 17, 2010, 1:47 pm
Note also that the rich arab countries is conspicuous by its absence from the relief, yet little Israel is there as are the poorest countries in South America, Bolivia and Paraguay.

Elaine Dixon (71)
Sunday January 17, 2010, 6:13 pm
good story

Phyllis P (232)
Sunday January 17, 2010, 7:08 pm
This is only the tip of the iceberg of how the US exploits foreign countries...most of it for capital gain. Thanks

elena m (26)
Monday January 18, 2010, 2:26 am
great article.
and this is true for many other countries.
often US uses a subtle way for dominating countries and we must open our eyes on this.


Simon Wood (207)
Monday January 18, 2010, 4:49 am
Good on you everyone here who noted and/or read the article, and everyone who wrote comments hereto show their love and solidarity with the people of Haiti! : )
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