Haiti Is Open for Business
by Stephen Lendman
February 15, 2010
In December 1984, Canada's conservative
prime minister, Brian Mulroney, told the New York Economic Club
that "Canada is open for business," meaning US companies
were welcome, the two countries would work for greater economic
integration, America's sovereignty took precedence of his own,
and corporate interests from both countries could operate freely
at the expense of most Canadians.
That's always been Haiti's curse, now
more than ever. Under American militarized control, Haiti is occupied
for profit, its pseudo government largely invisible, and predators
aim to cash in to the fullest. On January 21, in his article titled,
"Securing disaster in Haiti," Peter Hallward explained,
"....the US-led relief operation
has conformed to the three fundamental tendencies that have shaped
the more general course of the island's recent history. It has
adopted military priorities and strategies. It has sidelined Haiti's
own leaders and government, and ignored the needs of the majority
of its people. And it has proceeded in ways that reinforce the
already harrowing gap between rich and poor. All three tendencies
aren't just connected, they are mutually reinforcing. (They'll
also) govern the imminent reconstruction effort as well, unless
determined political action is taken to counteract them."
Post-quake, conditions on the ground are
horrific. Three million or more Haitians are affected. Most are
displaced and struggling. Essential aid is obstructed and limited.
Hundreds of thousands are being removed from the capital, not
to help them, to "cleanse" the area for development.
The official estimated death toll tops 230,000, over 300,000 are
injured, and AP reported (on February 9) that the "Health
crisis in Haiti enter(ed) a deadly new phase," the result
of "a half-million (or more) people jammed into germ-breeding
makeshift camps" where a health emergency is already apparent
in the form of malnutrition, diarrheal illnesses, acute respiratory
(and other) infections, at least one reported typhoid case, and
fears of possible outbreaks of tetanus, measles, TB, malaria,
dengue fever, diphtheria, acute flaccid paralysis, meningococcal
meningitis, rabies, and other infectious diseases, including water-borne
ones, particularly threatening children.
Independent reports cite outbreaks of
tetanus, TB, diarrhea, scabies, ringworm and growing depravation,
misery and anger, mostly unreported in the mainstream that instead
focuses on disease containment and improving conditions. Daily,
conditions are worse, not better, threatening a far greater disaster
Given the widespread depravation, the
obstruction of food, clean water, and temporary shelter, and lack
of proper sanitation, infectious disease outbreaks may cause biblical
levels of more deaths ahead, perhaps raising the toll to from
500,000 - one million Haitians, a scale definable as genocide.
The Genocide Convention defines it as
"any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy,
in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious
group (including) causing serious bodily or mental harm (and)
deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated
to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part...."
US forces control everything - Haiti's
airport, port facilities, the Presidential Palace, and other strategic
locations. They patrol Port-au-Prince streets menacingly with
heavy weapons. In late January, police beat people, and UN Blue
Helmets fired rubber bullets, tear gas and pepper spray at hungry
Haitians wanting food, a likely precursor to graver confrontations
ahead as desperate people seek it to survive. One Haitian told
a reporter: "They treat us like animals, they beat us, but
we are hungry people."
On February 7, the 19th anniversary of
Jean-Bertrand Aristide first inauguration, his supporters commemorated
the event as they do every year, calling for his return, denouncing
the occupation, condemning the lack of food and other aid, and
the corruption exacerbating the problem along with America's obstruction
to let desperate people suffer and expire.
A month after the quake, inadequate amounts
of everything are being distributed. Residents in poor areas like
Cite Soleil have gotten virtually nothing and were in desperate
straits pre-disaster. On February 8, thousands marched through
Petionville, a Port-au-Prince suburb, denouncing what's occurring
throughout stricken areas - mayors and other officials hoarding
food and selling it at inflated black market prices, not distributing
it to starving Haitians.
One protestor said: "I am hungry,
I am dying of hunger. (Mayor) Lydie Parent keeps the rice and
doesn't give us anything."
Haitian-truth.org said Haitian customs
agents are charging people arriving with aid fees to deliver it.
Otherwise, their supplies will be held indefinitely.
AlJazeera and other sources reported fake
coupons being used for free food, to be sold on the black market
at inflated prices.
On February 10, AP reported that public
and private hospitals are charging patients, UN officials warning
free medications won't be sent to ones that do. Christophe Rerat
of the UN's Pan American Health Organization said they got about
$1 million worth of free drugs, supplied by donations, and all
medical care is to be provided without charge. Donated funds are
also paying staff.
On February 11, rain and growing frustration
sparked spontaneous street protests denouncing President Rene
Preval's inaction, calling for Aristide's return, and demanding
food, clean water and tents for shelter. Club wielding police
met marchers. Scuffles followed. Minor injuries were reported.
A sign read: "The rain has soaked us. The MINUSTAH must go.
We need help. We need aid."
Shelter from the elements is needed as
the rainy season approaches, and with it the greater threat of
disease. Reportedly 10,000 tents have arrived, not the 200,000
the government requested and hundreds of thousands more needed.
OCHA reports that 90% of affected Haitians
need emergency shelter, over 1.2 million are in "spontaneous
settlements," and nearly half a million "have left Port-au-Prince
for outlying" areas. Most of them, in fact, have been forced
into permanent displacement, the same fate planned for hundreds
of thousands more.
Sanitation is a major concern. At most,
5% of needed latrines are available, and the lack of dumping sites
for waste is also a huge problem. With the arrival of thousands
of people along the Dominican Republic border, "the food
security situation, which was already precarious prior to the
earthquake, is getting worse...."
The Nutrition Cluster expects the Global
Acute Malnutrition (GAM) rate to soar given conditions on the
ground throughout the country. In addition, months of rain "will
increase morbidity rates for childhood diseases while hunger is
expected to be especially severe....Delays in incoming stock pipelines
must be addressed to ensure a steady influx of needed items."
The problem is relief supplies are warehoused
at Haiti's airport, ports and other facilities, not adequately
distributed, so willful obstruction is exacerbating the crisis.
People are starving. Diseases are becoming epidemics. Everything
is in short supply, and OCHA reports only 10% of trauma injuries
have been treated.
Yet the web site reliefweb.int shows $569.8
million in relief already donated (as of February 14), or 99%
of the appeal's goal and certain to way exceed it. Where has the
money gone? Who's getting it, and why hasn't an amount this great
delivered significant aid? Disturbing questions demand answers.
Why aren't they forthcoming? It's because Haiti is being prepared
for plunder, and NGOs, including charities, will get their fair
The web site ngo.org defines them as follows:
"A non-governmental organization
(NGO) is any non-profit, voluntary citizens' group which is organized
on a local, national or international level. Task-oriented and
driven by people with a common interest, NGOs perform a variety
of service and humanitarian policies and encourage political participation
through provision of information. Some are organized around specific
issues, such as human rights, environment or health. They provide
analysis and expertise, serve as early warning mechanisms and
help monitor and implement international agreements. Their relationship
with offices and agencies of the United Nations system differs
depending on their goals, their venue and the mandate of a particular
A paper prepared by the Harvard Kennedy
School of Government's L. David Brown and Mark H. Moore titled,
"Accountability, Strategy, and International Non-Governmental
Organizations" quotes Anna Vakil's five NGO "functional
categories: welfare, develop (in the sense of capacity-building),
advocacy, development education, and networking or research."
Various other definitions include the
-- local, national or international in
-- staffed by unpaid volunteers;
-- non-political; and
-- advancing social, humanitarian objectives.
Some NGOs do. Most don't as James Petras
explained on The Lendman News Hour saying most skim 90% of donations
for themselves. Some genuinely enhance welfare, support human
and civil rights, and mitigate the ravages of disease and repression.
The large majority, however, are ideologically biased think tanks
or lobby groups, serving a political agenda for profit. They're
predators, not humanitarians.
In his December 1997 Monthly Review article
titled, "Imperialism and NGOs in Latin America," Petras
discussed their early 1970s history under military dictatorships
when they actively supported their victims and denounced human
rights abuses. Even then, however, their limitations were evident
as "they rarely denounced the US and European patrons who
financed" them. Nor did they "link the neoliberal economic
policies and human rights violations to the new turn in the imperialist
system. Obviously" their funding limits their ability to
Yet as neoliberal regimes "devastat(ed)
communities (through) cheap imports, extracting external debt
payments, abolishing labor legislation, and creating a" reserve
army of cheap labor, NGOs were well funded "to be their 'community
face'....intimately related to those at the top and complementing
their destructive work with local projects." In other words,
NGOs are profiteers with a friendly face acting as predatory capitalism's
agents. When they take over, social movements decline, and that's
the whole idea for their presence.
Nearly all have entrenched bureaucracies,
highly paid officials, secret operational rules, and undisclosed
financing sources and amounts, mostly from domestic or foreign
nations whose interests they serve, including for PR, intelligence,
or population control, not providing humanitarian services.
They all claim non-profit status, yet
operate unethically, collude with governments or business interests,
profit handsomely, own unrelated businesses, and exploit people
they claim to serve. In many countries, they're the preferred
choice for Western aid and emergency relief, providing cover for
an imperial agenda and cashing in handsomely, especially after
disasters like wars and their aftermath, floods, famines and earthquakes.
Haiti is called "the Republic of
NGOs," with over 10,000 operating (according to World Bank
estimates) for its nine million people, the highest per capita
presence worldwide in all sectors of activity and society, many
with sizable budgets. Yet their numbers beg the question. With
that abundant firepower, why is Haiti the poorest country in the
hemisphere, one of the poorest in the world, and one of the most
oppressed? Why were so many Haitians starving pre-quake? Why now
are conditions catastrophic and worsening?
NGO proliferation mirrored the atrophy
of Haiti's government, providing cover for imperial interests
with UN paramilitary and now US combat troop occupiers for enforcement,
Haitians, of course, suffering as they have for over 500 years.
Profiteering from Misery
In his book titled, "Travesty in
Haiti: A true account of Christian missions, orphanages, fraud,
food aid and drug trafficking," Timothy Schwartz recounts
an "anthropologist's personal story of working with foreign
aid agencies (the NGO network) and discovering that fraud, greed,
corruption, apathy, and political agendas permeate the industry,"
part of the reason behind Haiti's institutionalized oppression,
poverty and misery.
According to Haitian lawyer/activist Marguerite
"It's laughably idealistic to wish
for accountability, honesty, grace and dignity from the folks
at USAID, World Bank, the Christian missions and those 'doing
good' in Haiti for more than a-half century now," when, in
fact, most come to exploit, seeking profits, not a desire to provide
"Schwartz's book unveils paradoxes
and lots of critical data on foreign aid, mission schools, orphanages,
and the world's major multinational charities working in Haiti."
He reveals a nation "you'll not read about in current mainstream
books and papers on Haiti." Nor through the major media that
ignore over 500 years of enslavement, colonization, serfdom, severe
exploitation and oppression, and brutalizing misery, the last
two centuries under US domination.
The book is an "inside story,"
said Schwartz, about "fraud, greed, corruption, and apathy,
and political agendas (as well as a) story of failed agriculture,
health and credit projects; violent struggles for control over
aid money; corrupt orphanage owners, pastors, and missionaries;
the nepotistic manipulation of research funds; economically counterproductive
food relief programs that undermine the Haitian agricultural economy;
and the disastrous effects of economic engineering by foreign
governments and international aid organizations (like USAID, World
Bank and others), and the multinational corporate charities....in
their service (like CARE International, Catholic Relief Services,
World Vision, and many others) that have programs spread across
the globe, moving in response not only to disasters and need,
but political agendas and economic opportunity."
He saw it for over 10 years, researching
and living in Haiti. He stresses not wanting to damage charity
providers, just those in it for personal gain, not people they
profess to help.
"At the level of individuals and
NGOS, the lack of fiscal accountability is manifest in the enrichment
of the custodians of the money - pastors and directors of NGOs,
schools and orphanages - and the redirection of charity toward
middle and upper class Haitians," the very ones who don't
need it. At governmental levels, "Charity is manipulated
to serve political ends."
Without accountability, corruption gets
embedded, aid is distorted, and ends up doing more harm than good,
precisely according to plan. For example, Haiti's School for Jesus
Christ of America "was a nest of elites (disdaining) and
spurn(ing) the impoverished peasants, fishermen, and slum dwellers,
(calling) them ignorant and uncivilized, as subhuman, who called
them dan wouj (red teeth) and pye pete (cracked fee)...."
"The impoverished children in the
Hamlet could not get medical care," and what they got was
poor quality for exorbitant fees. At the same time, elite children
were treated free and their education paid for, using funds meant
for the poor. Visiting missionaries called the school administrators
"dedicated spreaders of biblical truth, somehow holier than
ordinary Christians, closer to God, better than the rest of us."
In fact, they're predators, profiteering from Haiti's poor and
living lavishly at their expense. Their mission, in fact, is bogus.
"Helping the poor? The hell they were!"
CARE is no different, "a perversion
of American charitable ideals with its false claims to be aiding
the 'poorest of the poor' when what it was really doing was throwing
exquisite banquets at plush hotels while carrying out US political
policy in the interest of international venture capitalists and
Child Trafficking in Haiti
This section deals with abducted children
for profit, not Haiti's century-long Restavek system covered in
an earlier article titled, "Child Slavery in Haiti."
Under it, impoverished families send one or more of their children
to live with wealthier or less poor ones in return for food, shelter,
education, and a better life in return for performing tasks as
servants. They, in fact, become de facto slaves subjected to verbal
and physical abuse.
Trafficking children for profit is another
matter, another scam. Operatives representing orphanages or adoption
agencies approach poor families, offer money, promise their children
will be well cared for and educated, then disappear them. None
are ever heard from again.
According to Schwartz:
"Not one of the families ever received
a single letter from the agency or from any of the adoptive parents.
An SOS (Enfants Without Frontiers) employee obtained the address
of (one) parent organization in Paris but, when they called, the
person who answered the phone said that the agency had moved and
left no forwarding address."
Schwartz visited "every single orphanage
in the Province as well as Gonaives. They all look like scams
to (him. He didn't want to) write a report saying the orphanages
are all scams," but, in fact, they are, preying on impoverished
The problem, however, is far greater.
World Vision and Compassion International sponsor 58,500 Haitian
children. Christian Aid Missions (CAM) 10,000, the Haiti Baptist
Mission 57,800, and many other NGOs run similar operations, trafficking
children for profit or diverting funds for the poor to elite ones
or their pockets. "....think about all the money that must
be collected and never even gets there....So many people at these
orphanages are outright lying. Most of the children are not orphans."
Schwartz's "dismay with charity and
development was growing. (His) job wasn't over." He investigated
further and found other alarming surprises, "shatter(ing)
any remaining faith (he) had in foreign aid to Haiti." Under
militarized control, perhaps much worse is underway, with hundreds
of millions of donor aid likely stolen and thousands of predatory
NGOs and other profiteers grabbing it.
The recent report about 10 Americans detained
(likely to be released pending further investigation and perhaps
absolved altogether) for illegally trying to spirit 33 children
from Haiti is just the tip of a global problem, one very much
affecting Haiti. This longstanding practice is now way accelerated
with thousands of children separated from parents, enabling abductors
to pass them off as orphans and sell them for profit.
Overall, UNICEF calls human trafficking
"one of the most lucrative and fastest growing transnational
crimes, generat(ing) approximately up to $10 billion per year,"
affecting many millions of victims, mostly women and children.
In 2005, the International Labour Organization estimated from
980,000 - 1.25 million children trafficked annually, mostly for:
"domestic labour, commercial sexual
exploitation, agricultural work, drug couriering, organized begging,
child soldiering and exploitative or slavery-like practices in
the informal economy."
The UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and
Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (called
the Palermo Protocol or Trafficking Protocol) defines the practice
as follows in Article 3:
"Trafficking in persons shall mean
the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt
of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms
of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse
of power or of a position of vulnerability, or of the giving or
receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a
person having control over another person, for the purpose of
exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation
of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation,
forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery,
servitude or the removal of organs...."
Under this definition, abductions for
sale or transfer to prospective parents are criminal acts - "illicit
adoptions" according to UNICEF stating:
"An increase in demand for adoption
has helped to propel the unlawful trafficking of babies and young
children. Sometimes (parents) from developing countries sell their
baby or young child, at other times" infants are stolen.
UNICEF conservatively estimates at least
2,000 Haitian children are trafficked annually to the Dominican
Republic alone, and, post-quake, confirmed that 15 or more disappeared
from area hospitals, likely victims of abductors. In addition,
adoption applications soared, from 10 a month earlier to dozens
daily, one agency saying it's gotten over 1,000 requests to adopt
With many thousands alone and vulnerable,
they're easy pickings for traffickers - for non-Haitian prospective
parents, forced labor, commercial sex, or other illicit purposes.
On January 27, Time.com writers Tim Padgett
and Bobby Ghosh highlighted the problem in their article titled,
"Human Predators Stalk Haiit's Vulnerable Kids."
They cited one instance of a "Toyota
pickup truck cruising the debris-cluttered streets of Leogane,"
offering children food, getting them in the pickup and disappearing,
all of them abduction victims. According to UNICEF, "Traffickers
fish in pools of vulnerability, and we've rarely if ever seen
one like this."
Haiti is now occupied. Under Fourth Geneva,
its children, including orphans, are protected persons and can't
be moved for any reason. According to international law expert
Francis Boyle, doing so "is a serious war crime," yet
America may be aiding and abetting the guilty, even though it's
(nominally) committed to combatting the practice, and the US
2000 Trafficking Victims Protection Act calls "trafficking
in persons....a transnational crime with national implications."
The law enhanced earlier penalties, added
new protections, and provided victims various benefits and services.
It also established a cabinet-level federal interagency task force
and federal program to provide them. Under US and international
law, Washington recognizes the grievousness of this crime. In
practice perhaps it's another matter given America's global lawlessness,
including illegally occupying Haiti and stealing its sovereignty.
Private Military Contractors (PMCs) See
a Bonanza in Haiti
They're mercenaries, paramilitaries, hired
guns, unprincipled, in it for the money, and go anywhere to find
it. They're unregulated, unchecked, free from criminal or civil
accountability, and are licensed to kill and get away with it.
Wherever they're deployed, they're feared for good reason, and
they're heading to Haiti. Xe Services (formerly Blackwater USA)
is already there. Jeremy Scahil, author of "Blackwater: The
Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army calls them a:
"shadowy mercenary company (employing)
some of the most feared professional killers in the world (accustomed)
to operating with worry or legal consequences (with) remarkable
power and protection within the US war apparatus...."
Many PMCs belong to the International
Peace Operations Association (IPOA). Immediately after the quake,
its web site (ipoaworld.org) announced:
"In the wake of the tragic events
in Haiti, a number of IPOA's member companies are available and
prepared to provide a wide variety of critical relief services
to the earthquake's victims. If you would like more information
about IPOA and its member companies, you can read more here."
A list of services and member companies
followed. Unexplained was their dark side.
In his January 19 Nation magazine article
titled, "US Mercenaries Set Sights on Haiti," Scahill
said to expect "a lot of (disaster profiteering) in Haiti
over the coming days, weeks and months. (It's) kicking into full
gear in Haiti," and arrivals signal the kinds of terrorizing
common wherever these professional killers are deployed.
Exploiting Haiti's Resources
In October 2009, Marguerite Laurent, exposed
the key reason for exploiting Haiti, easier under occupation and
hundreds of thousands of Haitians removed from where huge oil
deposits likely exist and other development is planned. In 2008,
an estimated 20 billion barrels were found in deep water off Cuba.
Haitian resources are believed to be far greater, and they've
been known about for decades.
In a 2004 article titled, "Oil in
Haiti," George Michel explained that:
"Since time immemorial, it has been
no secret that deep in the earthy bowels of the two states that
share the island of (Hispaniola - Haiti and the Dominican Republic)
and the surrounding waters that there are significant, still untapped
deposits of oil. No one knows why they are still untapped."
Why is with abundant Middle East and other resources, they weren't
needed. Ahead they will be, so maybe now's the time to exploit
"Since the early twentieth century,
the physical and political map of the island of Haiti, erected
in 1908 by Messrs. Alexander Poujol and Henry Thomasset, reported
a major oil reservoir....near the source of the Rio Todo El Mondo,
Tributary Right Artibonite River, better known today as the River
Oil also exists "in the Dominican
plain of Azua, a short distance north of the Dominican Republic
in the town of Azua." The field was operating earlier in
the last century, producing up to 60,000 barrels daily. In 1982,
more significantly, "a huge oil field offshore at the coast
of (the Dominican Republic's) Barahona" province was discovered,
but left untapped.
In Haiti and offshore, geological evidence
shows oil reserves at "the Bay of Cayes, Les Cayes and between
Ile a Vache." The Dunn Plantation papers as well as George
Michel confirm that Haiti is oil rich.
"big US oil companies and their inter-related
monopolies of engineering and defense contractors made plans,
decades ago, to (exploit Haiti's resources and use its) deep water
ports either for oil refineries or to develop oil tank farm sites
or depots where crude oil could be stored and later transferred
to small tankers to serve US and Caribbean ports."
No wonder Washington has its fifth largest
embassy in Port-au-Prince after Iraq (the largest anywhere on
104 acres, costing at least $592 million to build), China, Afghanistan
Haiti is a strategic resource for its
cheap labor, but mostly its exploitable resources, including,
oil and gas, gold, copper, diamonds, iridium, and zirconium as
well as deep water ports at Fort Liberte and elsewhere.
In February 2004, removing Jean-Bertrand
Aristide and exiling him was step one, followed by a coup d'etat
government, UN paramilitary "peacekeepers," and an elected
one, subservient to Washington, opening Haiti to greater plunder,
including privatizing state-owned companies, exploiting its cheap
labor even more, letting unwanted portions perish, and developing
Now the occupation and, according to Laurent,
US-France-Canada balkanization for resource exploitation, Washington
wanting the South, including Port-au-Prince, La Gonaive island,
offshore to the West, Les Cayes, the southern peninsula and offshore
waters. Around 20,000 US Marines and paratroupers arrived for
the duration, to ensure Haiti is open for business for the usual
corporate interests, and to ensure none of its wealth is shared
with the poor - how Haitians have always been treated for over
500 years, except for the brief interregnum under Artistide and
short period after becoming the first free and independent Black
Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate
of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago
and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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