Imperialism with a human face
Haiti after the quake
by Ashley Smith
International Socialist Reveiw,
_The earthquake that shook Haiti's capital
Port-au-Prince on January 12 is one of the worst disasters in
human history. The quake flattened houses, hotels, and government
buildings, including the National Palace and UN headquarters.
By some estimates, 60 percent of Port-au-Prince's buildings collapsed.
Even more damage struck some of the smaller towns near the capital
like Leogane and Jacmel. At least 230,000 people were left dead,
300,000 in need of medical attention, 1.5 million homeless, and
over 2 million bereft of food and water.
The Obama administration reacted immediately.
"I have directed my administration to respond with a swift,
coordinated, and aggressive effort to save lives," Obama
told the nation in a speech he delivered the day after the quake.
"The people of Haiti will have the full support of the United
States in the urgent effort to rescue those trapped beneath the
rubble, and to deliver the humanitarian relief-the food, water,
and medicine-that Haitians will need in the coming days. In that
effort, our government, especially USAID and the Departments of
State and Defense are working closely together and with our partners
in Haiti, the region, and around the world."1
This seemed a far cry from the reaction
of the Bush administration to Hurricane Katrina, where tens of
thousands of the city's poor, mostly Black, residents were left
stranded and without help as Bush sent troops and Blackwater paramilitaries
to police the city. The lack of a prompt humanitarian response
prompted rap artist Kanye West to famously state, "George
Bush doesn't care about Black people."
Yet while Obama said all the right things,
the gap between his words and deeds has been immense. When all
is said and done, the Haitian relief effort looks eerily like
a replay of Katrina, only on a larger scale. A month into the
disaster, the U.S. and UN were managing to feed only 1 million
people, leaving more than a million people without relief aid.2
Instead of mobilizing to provide water, food, and housing for
the victims, the U.S. focused on occupying the country with 20,000
U.S. troops and surrounding it with a flotilla of U.S. Navy and
Coast Guard ships.
This military effort actually impeded
the delivery of urgent aid. In an op-ed piece in the Wall Street
Journal entitled "Haiti: Obama's Katrina," three doctors
who volunteered to provide emergency services wrote, "Four
years ago the initial medical response to Hurricane Katrina was
ill equipped, understaffed, poorly coordinated and delayed. Criticism
of the paltry federal efforts was immediate and fierce. Unfortunately,
the response to the latest international disaster in Haiti has
been no better, compounding the catastrophe." After they
describe the horrific conditions in Haiti's hospitals, the doctors
continue, "The U.S. response to the earthquake should be
considered an embarrassment. Our operation received virtually
no support from any branch of the U.S. government, including the
State Department. Later, as we were leaving Haiti, we were appalled
to see warehouse-size quantities of unused medicines, food and
other supplies at the airport, surrounded by hundreds of U.S.
and international soldiers standing around aimlessly."3
The U.S. government and media have covered
up these realities with puff pieces about the supposed success
of U.S. relief efforts. They have also wrongly portrayed this
catastrophe as simply a natural disaster, ignoring the historical
and social causes of Haiti's poverty-principally the imperialist
stranglehold over the nation-that exacerbated the impact of the
If the military flotilla is not there
to deliver aid, why is it there? The Obama administration has
used the cover of humanitarian aid to occupy the country in pursuit
of several goals. First and foremost, after disastrous wars that
have discredited U.S. interventionism, Obama hopes through the
operation in Haiti to win back domestic support for military intervention.
What better means to do that than to present a military invasion
and occupation as a humanitarian relief effort?
With a flotilla of ships surrounding the
country, the U.S. also aims to repatriate desperate Haitians and
prevent a wave of refugees reaching Florida. Through this assertion
of power, the U.S. aims also to reassert its dominance in the
Caribbean and Latin America over regional rivals like Venezuela
and international ones like China. Finally, the U.S. intends to
impose a traditional neoliberal economic program on Haiti itself
in the interest of U.S. multinational corporations and the Haitian
Not just a natural disaster
Most of the media reported the earthquake
as a natural disaster. While this is no doubt true, that is only
part of the story. Certainly, there was talk of Haiti being the
poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, with over 80 percent
of its population making about $2 a day. Media acknowledged that
the Haitian state was completely unprepared and unable to respond
to the crisis not only in Port-au-Prince, but throughout the country.
However, the reason for these conditions-the historical context-is
left out. The story of Haiti's poverty is merely an excuse to
further justify why Haiti needs help from the United States, even
though the "help" Haiti has received from the U.S. and
other world powers is precisely the reason for Haiti's extreme
Some conservative commentators blamed
Haitians for their situation. Pat Robertson on The 700 Club claimed
that the disaster was the result of a pact that Haitians made
with the devil during their revolution from 1791 to 1804. The
devil was merely taking his revenge on Haitians more than 200
years later.4 In a more polite, but no less racist manner, David
Brooks argued that the root cause of the social problems in Haiti
was their "progress-resistant" culture. He claimed,
There is the influence of the voodoo religion,
which spreads the message that life is capricious and planning
futile. There are high levels of social mistrust. Responsibility
is often not internalized. Child-rearing practices often involve
neglect in the early years and harsh retribution when kids hit
9 or 10. We're all supposed to politely respect each other's cultures.
But some cultures are more progress-resistant than others, and
a horrible tragedy was just exacerbated by one of them.5
These are extreme versions of a dominant
media story that essentially blames the victims of the earthquake.
None of this answers the real questions. Why are the majority
of Haitians so poor? Why according to the mayor of Port-au-Prince,
were 60 percent of the buildings unsafe in normal conditions?
Why is there no building regulation in a city that sits on a fault
line? Why was the Haitian state so weak and disorganized before
and after the earthquake? To answer these questions, we must delve
into Haiti's history.
European slavery, revolution, and U.S.
The answer lies in Haiti's history of
European conquest, slavery, resistance, and U.S. imperial domination.
At every step, instead of aiding the Haitian majority, the U.S.
has manipulated the country's politics and exploited its poverty
in pursuit of profit, and used it as a pawn in its competition
with regional and international rivals. In doing so the U.S. has
reduced Haiti to abject poverty and incapacitated its government
to manage the society and the current crisis. This history, a
second and unnatural fault line, interacted with the natural one
to make the earthquake so devastating.
Columbus set off the first tremors when
he landed on the island he called Hispaniola in 1492. He proceeded
to enslave the Taino natives, whose population was estimated to
be more than half a million. The combination of European disease,
massacre, and brutal exploitation led to the genocide of the native
population. Spain ceded the western section of the island in 1697
to France, which renamed it San Domingue. Spain remained in control
of the eastern section of the island, Santo Domingo, which would
become the Dominican Republic. French merchants and planters turned
their colony into a vast slave plantation and slaves from Africa
replaced Indians and white indentured servants. The colony was
a killing field where slaves were literally worked to death-half
the African slaves who arrived died within a few years. But it
was an enormously profitable one. San Domingue was the richest
colony in the new world; the slave plantations produced half of
the world's coffee, 40 percent of its sugar, as well as a host
of other commodities.6
In 1791, Toussaint L'Ouverture, a literate
freed slave, led the world's first successful slave revolution.
Toussaint defeated the three great empires of the age-France,
Spain, and England-which all attempted to defeat the great slave
army. During the struggle, the French managed to kidnap Toussaint
and jail him in France, where he died. His second-in-command,
Jean-Jacques Dessalines, led the final victory and established
the new nation of Haiti in 1804.
Haiti's very existence was a threat to
all the empires and their colonies. They all lived off profits
from plantation slavery. So the great powers quarantined the country,
attempting to prevent the spread of slave revolution. France finally
recognized Haiti in 1824, but on the condition that it pay reparations
to France for the loss of its property-its slaves. In today's
terms this sum amounted to $21 billion. Thus France shackled Haiti
with debt at its birth that it did not finish repaying until 1947,
fundamentally distorting the nation's development.7
Under the eagle
The U.S. was one of the last powers to
recognize Haiti, finally doing so in 1862. It became interested
in Haiti not to help it, but instead to plunder it. In the late
nineteenth century the U.S. became an imperialist power, extending
its talons to snatch control of the Caribbean, Latin America,
and the Pacific from potential rivals like Spain, Britain, and
Germany. The U.S. launched its imperial conquest under the guise
of liberating Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines from Spain.
Puerto Rico and the Philippines became U.S. colonies-U.S. marines
killed hundreds of thousands of Filipinos to conquer the island-while
Cuba became a colony in all but name. The U.S. then policed the
Caribbean as if it were an American lake. The number of occupations
and invasions over the following decades is too many to list.
A leader of this conquest was Major General
Smedley Butler, who became one of the most decorated marines in
history. After he turned against U.S. imperialism later in life,
he summed up his experience:
I spent thirty-three years and four months
in active military service as a member of this country's most
agile military force, the Marine Corps. And during that period,
I spent most of my time being a high-class muscle-man for Big
Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was
a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico,
especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I
helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City
Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half
a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street.
The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua
for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912.
I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests
in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went
its way unmolested. During those years, I had, as the boys in
the back room would say, a swell racket. Looking back on it, I
feel that I could have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he
could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated
on three continents.8
The U.S. saw Haiti as one of the key sites
to establish client governments to protect U.S. interests in the
Caribbean.9 In 1915 the U.S. used the pretext of political turmoil
in Haiti to invade the country and occupy it until 1934. The U.S.
plundered the island, forced it to repay its debts to the U.S.,
and established involuntary corvee gang labor to build roads.
United States corporations, hoping to take advantage of Haiti's
cheap labor, gained control of 266,000 acres of Haitian land,
displacing thousands of Haitian peasants. Haitians rose up against
this exploitation in a mass liberation movement, the Cacos Rebellion,
led by Charlemagne Peralte. The U.S. slaughtered thousands of
resistance fighters, crucifying Peralte in Port-au-Prince.
The U.S. also established one of the most
reactionary institutions in Haitian society, the Haitian National
Army. The U.S. designed that army not to fight foreign wars but
to repress the country's peasant masses.
The neoliberal "plan of death"
While the U.S. ended its occupation of
Haiti-prompted in part by a renewed wave of protests and strikes
by workers and students-it continued to intervene in the country's
politics and economics with devastating consequences. From 1957
to 1986, the U.S. supported the father-son dictatorship of Francois
"Papa Doc" Duvalier and Jean-Claude "Baby Doc"
Duvalier. The Duvaliers' dictatorship maintained power through
the army and a vast network of death squads called the Tonton
Macoutes. The U.S. backed them as a counterweight to Fidel Castro
who had aligned Cuba with Russia in the Cold War struggle for
Latin America and the Caribbean. Most observers believe that Papa
Doc Duvalier's Macoutes killed tens of thousands.10 The Duvaliers'
economic vision for Haiti-one that has continued to motivate U.S.
plans for Haiti-was to establish Haiti as low-tax, low-wage, non-union
offshore assembly site for U.S. corporations.
Though half of Haitians lived in dire
poverty, Haiti until the mid-1980s was self-sufficient in the
production of rice, its most important staple. All this changed
with the imposition of neoliberal policies, pushed by the United
States, that required Haiti to slash tariffs, privatize state-owned
industries, and cut the state's agricultural budget. Haitian activists
would come to call it a "plan of death."
President Reagan pushed this plan as part
of his Caribbean Basin Initiative that aimed to open up the area
to U.S. corporations and U.S. agricultural products. Baby Doc
opened up the Haitian market to a wave of U.S. agribusiness exports
like rice and wheat, which are heavily subsidized. The Haitian
peasants were simply unable to compete with these cheap, subsidized
imports, and Haiti's rural economy gradually collapsed. Hundreds
of thousands of peasants abandoned the countryside for the cities
to seek some kind of employment. Deprived of their livelihood,
peasants turned to cutting down trees to make charcoal for cooking
fuel, leading to the massive deforestation of the country, and
the further destruction of Haiti's already depleted soil.11 As
a result, Port-au-Prince, which had been a small town of 50,000
in the 1950s, exploded in size to nearly 800,000 in the 1980s
and well over 2 million today.12
Reagan and Baby Doc claimed that they
would absorb these dislocated peasants into an enlarged sweatshop
industry. But the various factories in the export processing zones
only created about 60,000 jobs. As a result, the masses in Port-au-Prince
gathered in slums, left to survive on remittances from relatives
who had fled abroad and income scraped together in a highly unstable
Finally, the U.S. tried to subject Haiti
to the same tourist industry that swept the rest of the Caribbean.
Baby Doc cut deals with Club Med and various hotel chains to offer
the country's beaches for tourism. Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton
first came to Haiti on their honeymoon as part of the jet set
that Baby Doc welcomed into the swank resorts on the island. It
would not be the last time the Clintons played around in Haiti.
Baby Doc took out $1.9 billion in loans
from the U.S., other powers, and international financial institutions
to bankroll this neoliberal "reform" of the country.13
Meanwhile, Haitians suffered a calamitous drop in their standard
of living; during the 1980s, absolute poverty increased by 60
percent-from 50 to 80 percent of the population.14 The dictator
and his family joined the American and Haitian ruling class to
party and profit at the expense of Haitian peasants, workers,
and the urban poor.
Killing social reform
Peasants, workers, and the urban poor
rose up against Baby Doc in opposition to this social catastrophe
in a tremendous social movement called Lavalas (the Creole word
for a cleansing flood). A young Catholic priest and advocate of
liberation theology, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, became the spokesperson
of the struggle. In 1986, Lavalas succeeded in driving Baby Doc
from power. The U.S. whisked him away into exile in France along
with $505 million stolen from the country.15 Duvalier left behind
a shattered country, shackled again with the odious debt accrued
by a dictator to finance the neoliberal disaster.
Under pressure from the movement-but also
to stem the tide of impoverished Haitian refugees pouring out
of the country-the U.S. and Haitian governments finally agreed
to hold elections in 1990. The U.S. spent $36 million to try to
get their candidate, a former World Bank employee, elected. He
received only 14 percent of the vote. Aristide defeated fourteen
rivals, winning two-thirds of the vote, on a platform of extensive
popular social reforms. The U.S. and the Haitian ruling class
literally saw red. They thought that, in the words of a U.S. embassy
official in Port-au-Prince, a "Marxist maniac" had been
elected to the Haitian government.16 President George Bush Sr.
backed a military coup against Aristide in 1991 and tacitly backed
the brutal regime that ruled Haiti from 1991 to 1994.
The military massacred thousands of Lavalas
activists and drove 38,000 more out of the country. Bush Sr. and
his successor President Bill Clinton repatriated most of these
refugees and jailed others in Krome Detention Center in Florida
and Guantánamo in Cuba. After an international outcry,
the U.S. opted for a face-saving intervention to restore Aristide
to power in 1994, but on the condition that he agree to the neoliberal
plan of death. Aristide signed on to the deal but resisted its
full implementation during his remaining two years in office.
He did abolish the Haitian military in 1995-a great victory for
the movement-and implemented some reforms, but it was far from
what he had promised during the struggle against Duvalier. "The
author of a text entitled 'Capitalism is a Mortal Sin,'"
wrote Paul Farmer at the time,
now meets regularly with representatives
of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and AID
[U.S. Agency for International Development]. He was once the priest
of the poor; now he's president of a beleaguered nation, run into
the ground by a vicious military and business elite and by their
friends abroad. Aristide finds himself most indebted to the very
people and institutions he once denounced from the pulpit.17
Aristide's Lavalas ally and successor,
René Préval, implemented much of the U.S. neoliberal
agenda during his term from 1996 to 2000.18
Aristide would again run for and win the
presidency in 2000, to the great irritation of Clinton and then-President
George W. Bush. In his second term, Aristide implemented reforms
such as raising the minimum wage and building schools. He also
began to demand that France refund the $21 billion that it forced
Haiti to pay from 1824 to 1947.19 At the same time, however, Aristide
backed new sweatshop developments in Ounaminthe and agreed to
other neoliberal measures.20 But the U.S. was not appeased and
France was outraged.
Another coup and U.S. occupation
The U.S., France, and Canada used the
pretext of charges that Aristide manipulated the parliamentary
elections, something they usually tolerate with their own allies,
to justify a destabilization campaign against Aristide and yet
another coup. Bush, of course, had no ground to stand on as he
himself had stolen the 2000 U.S. presidential election. Nevertheless,
the U.S., Canada, and France imposed economic sanctions, mounted
a vast propaganda campaign against Aristide, backed the ruling-class
political opposition in the Group of 184, and aided the right-wing
death squads. Finally, in 2004, as the death squads swept through
the country, the U.S. kidnapped Aristide, whisked him out of the
country to temporary exile in the Central African Republic and
to final exile in South Africa. Thus, on the two hundredth anniversary
of its declaration of independence, Haiti was occupied by the
U.S., yet again.
Soon the U.S. delegated the occupation
to the UN and its 9,000 mostly Brazilian troops, who continue
to patrol the country to this day. This UN force, MINUSTAH, protected
the U.S.-installed puppet regime headed up Gérard Latortue
who they brought out of retirement from Boca Raton, Florida. The
coup regime was utterly corrupt and brutal. With its death squad
allies, the regime conducted a terror against the remnants of
the social movements and Aristide's party, Fanmi Lavalas. The
combination of death squad and UN repression killed an estimated
3,000 people.21 The UN troops either joined the slaughter or stood
aside while repression swept the island.22
While the U.S. and UN allowed elections
in 2006, they banned Aristide's party, the most popular party
in the country. Aristide's former ally, René Préval,
again won the presidency, but by this time he had become a servant
for the U.S. political and economic agenda in Haiti. For example,
Préval banned Fanmi Lavalas from running in elections and
refused to sign a bill passed in the parliament to raise the minimum
wage.23 In fact, the real power was no longer in the hands of
the Haitian government. The U.S.- backed UN occupation rules the
country in colonial style, dictating policy to the Haitian government.
The occupation has completely failed to
develop the country. It has done nothing to improve living conditions
for Haitians, to rebuild the country's ravaged infrastructure,
or to reforest the countryside. Before the earthquake, two rounds
of natural disasters swept Haiti and exposed the U.S. and UN's
callous neglect of the country. Hurricanes hit in 2004 and 2008,
killing thousands.24 The pattern of impoverishment, deforestation,
and degradation of the country's infrastructure, which has accelerated
in recent years, has rendered natural disasters in Haiti far more
devastating than anywhere else. In what is perhaps the worst exposure
of the result of U.S. and UN refusal to improve conditions in
Haiti, the food crisis in Haiti spiraled out of control on their
watch. Even before the food crisis in 2008, the urban poor were
reduced to eating mud cakes flavored with salt as a regular meal.
When capitalists speculated on the international food market,
they drove up the prices of Haiti's imported staples, especially
rice. In response Haitians rioted, only to be repressed by the
Imposing a new plan of death on Haiti
During the UN occupation, the U.S. imposed
the same neoliberal economic plan on Haiti in the interests of
multinational capital and the Haitian ruling class. UN Secretary-General
Ban Ki-moon appointed Bill Clinton as special envoy to Haiti in
2009 and tasked him with revitalizing the country's economy. Clinton
developed a new version of the plan of death along with Oxford
economics professor and former research director for the World
Bank, Paul Collier. Collier outlined their program in his paper,
"Haiti: From natural catastrophe to economic security."26
It advocated investment in the tourist industry, redevelopment
of the sweatshop industry in cities, export-oriented mango plantations
in the countryside, and construction of infrastructure to service
As Polly Pattullo documents in Last Resorts:
The Cost of Tourism in the Caribbean, the tourist industry is
largely controlled by U.S. multinational corporations. She quotes
one critic of the tourist industry who argues, "When a third
world economy uses tourism as a development strategy, it becomes
enmeshed in a global system over which it has little control.
The international tourism industry is a product of metropolitan
capitalist enterprise. The superior entrepreneurial skills, resources
and commercial power of metropolitan companies enable them to
dominate many third world tourist destinations."27
Clinton has orchestrated a plan for turning
the north of Haiti into a tourist playground, as far away as possible
from the teeming slums of Port-au-Prince. He lured Royal Caribbean
Cruise Lines into investing $55 million to build a pier along
the coastline of Labadee, which it has leased until 2050. From
there, Haiti's tourist industry hopes to lead expeditions to the
mountaintop fortress Citadelle and the Palace of Sans-Souci, both
built by Henri Christophe, one of the leaders of Haiti's slave
For the cities, Collier promotes sweatshop
development. Without a hint of shame, he notes, "Due to its
poverty and relatively unregulated labor market, Haiti has labor
costs that are fully competitive with China, which is the global
benchmark. Haitian labor is not only cheap it is of good quality.
Indeed, because the garments industry used to be much larger than
it is currently, there is a substantial pool of experienced labor."29
Given the abolition of tariffs on many Haitian exports to the
U.S., Haiti is primed, according to Collier, for a new sweatshop
But this is no sustainable development
plan in the interests of Haitian workers. At best, Collier promises
150,000 or so jobs. As anthropologist Mark Shuller argues, "subcontracted,
low-wage factory work does not contribute much to the economy
besides jobs. Being exempt from taxes, it does not contribute
to the financing of Haiti's social services."30 Moreover
these jobs themselves do not even pay enough to support life-they
pay for transport and lunch at about $1.60 a day. The U.S. will
want to keep these wages low, since that is the profitable basis
for the investment.
For the peasant majority in the country,
Clinton and Collier advocate the construction of vast new mango
plantations. According to them, such new plantations will both
create an export crop and aid the reforestation of the country.
While it may create jobs for poor peasants, such plantations will
not rebuild the agricultural infrastructure of the country so
that it can return to the self-sufficient food system it had before
the 1980s. As TransAfrica founder Randall Robinson told Democracy
Now!, "That isn't the kind of investment that Haiti needs.
It needs capital investment. It needs investment so that it can
be self-sufficient. It needs investment so that it can feed itself."31
Such self-sufficiency runs against the grain of U.S. policy to
control the international food market with its subsidized crops.
Collier finally argues for investment
in infrastructure-airports, seaports, and roads-not so much to
meet people's needs as to service these new investments in tourism,
sweatshops, and plantations. As a result, Collier's plan will
actually increase infrastructural inequities; businesses will
get what they need to export their products, while the Haitian
masses' infrastructural needs, like navigable roads, will be left
unaddressed. Even worse, Collier advocates increased privatization
of Haiti's infrastructure, especially the port and the electrical
It is not incidental that Collier is also
the author of The Bottom Billion,32 a book that calls for outside
intervention by wealthy nations such as the United States into
what he calls "post-conflict" poor nations, combining
targeted aid and economic restructuring under long-term military
occupation. In a modern recasting of the old colonialist "civilizing
mission," this is meant to lift these nations out of a vicious
cycle of violence and poverty.
On his whirlwind tour of the country in
2009, Bill Clinton promised investors that Haiti was open for
business with Aristide and Lavalas out of the way and the U.S.
and UN in effective control of the country. "Your political
risk in Haiti" he declared at a press conference "is
lower than it has ever been in my lifetime."33
Failing to deliver relief to victims
In the aftermath of the earthquake, the
press has cooperated with the Obama administration in giving the
impression that the U.S. military has been busy delivering aid
to desperate Haitians. The facts don't bear this out. To begin
with, Obama's promise of $100 million in aid to the country is
a pittance-less than the winnings of a Kentucky couple in a recent
Powerball lottery.34 It is a paltry amount compared to the hundreds
of billions that the U.S. shelled out to American banks and the
$3 trillion the U.S. will have expended on the Iraq War alone.
There were early warning signs that this
humanitarian mission was not all it was cracked up to be. Obama's
decision to appoint former presidents George W. Bush and Bill
Clinton to oversee the collection of donations through the Clinton
Bush Haiti Fund displays incredible callousness toward the Haitian
masses. Clinton imposed the plan of death on Lavalas. Bush let
New Orleans get washed out to sea and backed the 2004 coup that
overthrew Aristide. Appointing Bush is like putting Nero in charge
of the fire department.
Aid was slow to arrive, and what did turn
up was inadequate. Amid a crisis where the first forty-eight hours
are decisive in saving people's lives, the U.S. and UN failed
to come anywhere near addressing the needs of the 3 million people
impacted by the earthquake. Every minute that aid was delayed
meant more people died from starvation, dehydration, injury, and
disease. It also meant that the hospitals and doctors desperately
trying to help the victims were left stranded without the basics
to heal the injured.
As Dr. Evan Lyon of Partners in Health,
speaking from Port-au-Prince's main hospital just as heavily-armed
U.S. troops were arriving, told Democracy Now!,
In terms of supplies, in terms of surgeons,
in terms of aid relief, the response has been incredibly slow.
There are teams of surgeons that have been sent to places that
were, quote, "more secure," that have ten or twenty
doctors and ten patients. We have a thousand people on this campus
that are triaged and ready for surgery, but we only have four
working ORs without anesthesia and without pain medications. And
we're still struggling to get ourselves up to twenty-four-hour
In the week after the quake, Partners
in Health estimated as many as 20,000 Haitians were dying daily
from lack of surgery.36
The U.S. and UN used all sorts of technical
alibis to justify the delay in meeting people's needs. They complained
that the damage done to Haiti's airport, seaport, and roads impeded
delivery of doctors, nurses, food, water, and rescue teams. Such
claims are unconvincing. Clearly the means exist to deliver aid
quickly to a country only 700 miles away from Miami, Florida,
and only 156 miles from a fully functional international airport
in the Dominican Republic. Other countries had no difficulty sending
planes of aid and volunteers. China, from half way around the
world, got a plane of aid to Haiti earlier than the United States.
Iceland sent a rescue team within forty-eight hours of the quake.
Cuba sent dozens of doctors to join the several hundred doctors
already working the country.
This failure of the U.S. to respond produced
a chorus of denunciations from relief experts. One official from
the Italian government, Guido Bertolaso, who was acclaimed for
his successful handling of the April 2009 earthquake in Italy,
denounced the U.S. effort as a "pathetic failure." He
declared, "The Americans are extraordinary but when you are
facing a situation in chaos they tend to confuse military intervention
with emergency aid, which cannot be entrusted to armed forces.
It's truly a powerful show of force but it's completely out of
touch with reality."37
Guns over aid
As with Katrina, Obama prioritized the
deployment of the U.S. military over provision of aid. He sent
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Haiti right away to get
President Préval to secure emergency powers. "The
decree would give the government an enormous amount of authority,
which in practice they would delegate to us," she stated.38
The U.S. has taken effective control of Haiti. It has secured
control of the airport and seaport and deployed 20,000 U.S. troops
to bolster the enlarged UN force of 12,500 already in the country.
Thus, for the fourth time since 1915, Haiti is under a U.S. occupation.
How did the U.S. justify the fact that
six days into the relief effort only a trickle of aid had gotten
through to those who needed it? The U.S. government claimed that
aid could not be delivered properly until security was first established.
When asked why the U.S. hadn't used its C-130 transport planes
to drop supplies in Port-au-Prince, Secretary of Defense Robert
Gates said, "Air drops will simply lead to riots."39
However, precisely the opposite is the case; people will riot
because they lack food and water.
In lockstep, the corporate media's coverage
shifted from its initial sympathy with victims of the disaster
to churning out scare stories. "Marauding looters emptied
wrecked shops and tens of thousands of survivors waited desperately
for food and medical care," Reuters claimed. "Hundreds
of scavengers and looters swarmed over wrecked stores in downtown
Port-au-Prince, seizing goods and fighting among themselves."40
These scare stories in turn became an
excuse for not delivering aid. Writer Nelson Valdes reported,
The United Nations and the U.S. authorities
on the ground are telling those who directly want to deliver help
not to do so because they might be attacked by "hungry mobs."
Two cargo planes from Doctors Without Borders have been forced
to land in the Dominican Republic because the shipments have to
be accompanied within Port-au-Prince by U.S. military escorts,
according to the U.S. command.41
The scare stories led relief workers and
military personnel to treat Haitians in a dehumanizing fashion.
Democracy Now!'s Amy Goodman reported an incident where an aid
helicopter refused to distribute food on the ground and instead
dropped it on people. An angry Haitian compared the incident to
"throwing bones to dogs."42
Many non-governmental organizations (NGOs),
because of their close relation with the U.S., have adopted a
paranoid obsession with security to the detriment of providing
relief. Ecologist and human rights activist Sasha Kramer reported
One friend showed me the map used by all
of the larger NGOs where Port-au-Prince is divided into security
zones, yellow, orange, red. Red zones are restricted, in the orange
zones all of the car windows must be rolled up and they cannot
be visited past certain times of the day. Even in the yellow zone
aid workers are often not permitted to walk through the streets
and spend much of their time riding through the city from one
office to another in organizational vehicles. The creation of
these security zones has been like the building of a wall, a wall
reinforced by language barriers and fear rather than iron rods,
a wall that, unlike many of the buildings in Port-au-Prince, did
not crumble during the earthquake. Fear, much like violence, is
self-perpetuating. When aid workers enter communities radiating
fear it is offensive, the perceived disinterest in communicating
with the poor majority is offensive, driving through impoverished
communities with windows rolled up and armed security guards is
offensive. Despite the good intentions of the many aid workers
swarming around the UN base, much of the aid coming through the
larger organizations is still blocked in storage, waiting for
the required UN and U.S. military escorts that are seen as essential
for distribution, meanwhile people in the camps are suffering
and their tolerance is waning.43
Yet this disastrous "beware of the
Haitian people" line is simply not borne out by reports coming
from Haiti. "There are no security issues," argues Dr.
I've been with my Haitian colleagues.
I'm staying at a friend's house in Port-au-Prince. We're working
for the Ministry of Public Health for the direction of this hospital
as volunteers. But I'm living and moving with friends. We've been
circulating throughout the city until 2:00 and 3:00 in the morning
every night, evacuating patients, moving materials. There's no
UN guards. There's no U.S. military presence. There's no Haitian
police presence. And there's also no violence. There is no insecurity.44
As the real nature of the U.S. operation
became clear, an array of forces criticized the U.S. for imposing
an occupation, not supplying relief. Venezuelan president Hugo
Chávez rightly declared on his weekly television show,
"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. They are
occupying Haiti undercover."45
The U.S. occupation actually prevented
relief efforts. Once the U.S. was in charge of the airport it
prioritized military flights over relief flights. Jarry Emmanuel,
the air logistics officer for the World Food Program, complained,
"There are 200 flights going in and out every day, which
is an incredible amount for a country like Haiti. But most of
those flights are for the United States military. Their priorities
are to secure the country."46
Hillary Clinton herself brought relief
missions to a halt when she flew into Port-au-Prince to seize
emergency powers from Préval. The U.S. military shut the
airport down for three hours, preventing the desperately needed
delivery of aid. Outraged, Alain Joyandet, the French Cooperation
Minister, called on the UN to investigate America's dominant role
in the relief effort and protested: "This is about helping
Haiti, not occupying it."47
The chorus of complaints further escalated
not only from governments but also from aid organizations. Richard
Seymour reports that,
Since the arrival of the troops, however,
several aid missions have been prevented from arriving at the
airport in Port-au-Prince that the U.S. has commandeered. France
and the Caribbean Community have both made their complaints public,
as has Médecins Sans Frontières [MSF] on five separate
occasions. UN World Food Program flights were also turned away
on two consecutive days. Benoit Leduc, MSF's operations manager
in Port-au-Prince, complained that U.S. military flights were
being prioritized over aid flights.48
The U.S. military has even turned back
masses of health care workers who wanted to volunteer to provide
needed medical care in Haiti. The National Nurses Union organized
an emergency conference call to mobilize thousands of nurses to
go to Haiti. More than 1,800 nurses called in and they proceeded
to recruit 11,000 others to the project. Initially the U.S. military
said that it would accept them, but then, inexplicably, they reversed
themselves and told them that the U.S. had plenty of military
personnel to address the health care disaster in Haiti. Nothing
could be further from the truth.49
The U.S. military, Florida's state government,
and the Obama administration also colluded in one of the worst
examples of the callous treatment of Haitian victims. They refused
to allow landing of planes loaded with injured people in desperate
need of medical treatment. The Obama administration and Florida's
governor were locked in a battle over who would pay for the cost
of the medical care. So for five days, the U.S. let injured people
suffer in Haiti because budget battles mattered more than people's
Al Jazeera captured the nature of the
U.S. and UN military occupation in a January 17 report:
Most Haitians here have seen little humanitarian
aid so far. What they have seen is guns, and lots of them. Armored
personnel carriers cruise the streets. UN soldiers aren't here
to help pull people out of the rubble. They're here, they say,
to enforce the law. This is what much of the UN presence actually
looks like on the streets of Port-au-Prince: men in uniform, racing
around in vehicles, carrying guns. At the entrance to the city's
airport where most of the aid is coming in, there is anger and
frustration. Much-needed supplies of water and food are inside,
and Haitians are locked out. "These weapons they bring,"
[an unidentified Haitian says], "they are instruments of
death. We don't want them; we don't need them. We are a traumatized
people. What we want from the international community is technical
help. Action, not words."51
Problems with the NGOs
Haiti has approximately 10,000 NGOs operating
within its borders, one of the highest numbers per capita in the
world. The international NGOs are unaccountable to either the
Haitian state or Haitian population. So the aid funneled through
them further weakens what little hold Haitians have on their own
society. These NGOs have taken deep hold in Haiti at the very
same time that the conditions in the country have gone from bad
Amid this crisis, some of the NGOs and
their employees have tried valiantly to fill the vacuum left by
the U.S. and UN. But most of them did not have real forces inside
the country to respond to the disaster. The Red Cross, for example,
only had 15 employees on the ground, but has received the bulk
of donated money-more than $200 million-from people around the
world. Add to this the reluctance of the big NGOs to act without
"security," as mentioned above.
Moreover, as the British medical journal
The Lancet argues, many of the international NGOs are engaged
in a fierce battle for funds and have allowed that competition
to distort their provision of food, water, medical aid, and services
amidst the crisis. After calling aid an "industry in its
own right," the Lancet noted that NGOs are
jostling for position, each claiming that
they are doing the most for earthquake survivors. Some agencies
even claim that they are "spearheading" the relief effort.
In fact, as we only too clearly see, the situation in Haiti is
chaotic, devastating, and anything but coordinated. Polluted by
the internal power politics and the unsavory characteristics seen
in many big corporations, large aid agencies can be obsessed with
raising money through their own appeal efforts. Media coverage
as an end in itself is too often an aim of their activities. Marketing
and branding have too high a profile. Perhaps worst of all, relief
efforts in the field are sometimes competitive with little collaboration
between agencies, including smaller, grass-roots charities that
may have better networks in affected countries and so are well
placed to immediately implement emergency relief.52
Repatriating and jailing refugees
As Haitians' needs continued unmet, the
U.S. occupation devolved into policing the disaster, including
preventing the flight of refugees from Haiti. It is true that
activists finally compelled Obama to grant Haitians Temporary
Protected Status (TPS). Obama's decision delayed the deportation
of 30,000 Haitians and will make TPS available to 100,000 to 200,000
more. These provisions, however, have strict limitations. _First
of all, the U.S. plans to exclude victims of the earthquake, offering
TPS only to those who arrived in the U.S. without legal documents
before January 12. Those who quality must prove they are indigent
and at the very same time pay $470 in application fees.53 Those
Haitians who are granted TPS will only be allowed to stay in the
U.S. for eighteen months before they must return to Haiti. If
they do qualify for the program they will become known to the
authorities and thus make themselves more vulnerable to repatriation.
Moreover, given the scale of destruction in Port-au-Prince, there
is no way that the city or country will be in better condition
in a year and a half. So if the U.S. enforces this eighteen-month
limitation, it will return Haitians to an ongoing disaster area.
To enforce the bar on Haitians coming
to the U.S., a flotilla of military vessels has surrounded the
country. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano tried to
spin this in humanitarian terms. "At this moment of tragedy
in Haiti," she lectured, "it is tempting for people
suffering in the aftermath of the earthquake to seek refuge elsewhere,
but attempting to leave Haiti now will only bring more hardship
to the Haitian people and nation."54 In a far more blunt
statement of the actual policy, Coast Guard Lieutenant Commander
Chris O'Neil, in charge of Operation Vigilant Sentry declared,
"The goal is to interdict them at sea and repatriate them."55
The U.S. made sure to broadcast this threat
to Haitians. A U.S. Air Force transport plane spends hours in
the air above Haiti every day, not ferrying food and water, but
broadcasting a radio statement in Creole from Haiti's ambassador
to the U.S., Raymond Joseph. "I'll be honest with you,"
Joseph says, according to a transcript on the State Department's
Web site. "If you think you will reach the U.S. and all the
doors will be wide open to you, that's not at all the case. And
they will intercept you right on the water, and send you back
home where you came from."56
To prepare for the eventuality that some
Haitians may get through the military cordon around Haiti, Obama,
like Bush and Clinton before him, has prepared jail space to incarcerate
refugees at Krome Detention Center in Florida and at the U.S.
military base in Guantánamo, Cuba.57
Asserting who's boss in Latin America
Days after the quake, the conservative
think tank Heritage Foundation posted an article detailing what
it considered should be Washington's aims in occupying Haiti.
The U.S. military presence, they argued, in addition to preventing
"any large scale movements by Haitians to take to the seato
try to enter the U.S. illegally," also "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." At the same time, it argues, the U.S. military
presence could "interrupt the nightly flights of cocaine
to Haiti and the Dominican Republic from the Venezuelan coast
and counter the ongoing efforts of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez
to destabilize the island of Hispaniola." There is no evidence
of Venezuelan cocaine flights or efforts to "destabilize"
Haiti, but the point is clear: The U.S. sees Haiti as part of
an effort to assert more control over the region and contain "unfriendly"
The military response to Haiti's crisis
cannot be separated from Washington's regional interests. As Greg
Gandin writes in the Nation,
In recent years, Washington has experienced
a fast erosion of its influence in South America, driven by the
rise of Brazil, the region's left turn, the growing influence
of China and Venezuela's use of oil revenue to promote a multipolar
diplomacy. Broad social movements have challenged efforts by US-
and Canadian-based companies to expand extractive industries like
mining, biofuels, petroleum and logging.59
Faced with such regional and international
competition, the U.S. under Bush and now Obama is angling to launch
a counteroffensive. The U.S. tried to topple Chávez in
2002, it succeeded in overthrowing Aristide in 2004, and last
year backed the coup against President Zelaya in Honduras. As
Grandin reports, the U.S. is actively promoting the right-wing
opposition to the various reform socialist governments in the
region. It is backing up this political initiative with an expansion
of its military bases in the region, particularly in Colombia.
"In late October," Grandin writes, "the United
States and Colombia signed an agreement granting the Pentagon
use of seven military bases, along with an unlimited number of
as yet unspecified 'facilities and locations.' They add to Washington's
already considerable military presence in Colombia, as well as
Central America and the Caribbean."60 Haiti is thus a stepping-stone
for further U.S. interventions in the region.
"Shock doctrine" for Haiti
For Haiti itself, the U.S. is preparing
to impose its old neoliberal plan at gunpoint. In The Shock Doctrine,
Naomi Klein documents how the U.S. and other imperial powers take
advantage of natural and economic disasters to impose free-market
plans for the benefit of the American and native capitalists.
The U.S., other powers, the IMF, and World Bank had their shock
doctrine for Haiti immediately on hand. Hillary Clinton declared,
"We have a plan. It was a legitimate plan, it was done in
conjunction with other international donors, with the United Nations."61
This is the Collier Plan, the same old plan of sweatshops, plantations,
The U.S., a few other imperial powers,
a few lesser countries, and the UN convened a meeting on January
26 in Montreal to profess their concern and promises to aid Haiti.
The fourteen so-called "Friends of Haiti" made sure
to include the Haitian prime minister, Jean-Max Bellerive, to
at least give the illusion of respect for the country's sovereignty.
But outside a protest organized by Haiti Action Montreal opposed
the meeting with signs demanding "medical relief not guns,"
"grants not loans," and "reconstruction for people
In the Guardian, Gary Younge criticized
the summit for failing to produce any solutions to the crisis
in Haiti. "Even as corpses remained under the earthquake's
rubble," he wrote, "and the government operated out
of a police station, the assembled 'friends' would not commit
to canceling Haiti's $1 billion debt. Instead they agreed to a
10-year plan with no details, and a commitment to meet again-when
the bodies have been buried along with coverage of the country-sometime
in the future."62
By contrast, Venezuela's Hugo Chávez
and his Latin American and Caribbean allies assembled in the Bolivarian
Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) announced their opposition
to America's shock doctrine. They denounced Washington's neoliberal
plans, called for relief not troops and for the cancellation of
Haiti's debt. Venezuela itself immediately cancelled Haiti's debt
and began sending shiploads of relief offering over $100 million
in humanitarian aid with no strings attached.63
No such humanitarian motives animate the
U.S., its capitalist corporations, and the international financial
institutions. These vultures began circling above Haiti almost
immediately. The Street, an investment Web site, published an
article misleadingly entitled, "An opportunity to heal Haiti,"
that lays out how U.S. corporations can cash in on the catastrophe.
"Here are some companies," they write, "that could
potentially benefit: General Electric (GE), Caterpillar (CAT),
Deere (DE), Fluor (FLR), Jacobs Engineering (JEC)."64 The
Rand Corporation's James Dobbins wrote in the New York Times,
"This disaster is an opportunity to accelerate oft-delayed
Over the last few years, the U.S. has
been trying to give a facelift to the international financial
institution that it uses to impose its plans in Haiti. As Jim
Last June, 1.2 billion dollars in Haiti's
external debt, including that owed to the Washington-based International
Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, and Inter-American Development
Bank (IDB), was cancelled after the Préval government completed
a three-year Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) program. Over
half of that debt had been incurred by Haiti's dictatorships,
notably the Duvalier dynasty that ruled the country from 1957
to 1986. But the cancellation covered debt incurred by Haiti only
through 2004. In the last five years, the country has received
new loans-some of them to help it recover from the floods and
other hurricane damage-totaling another 1.05 billion dollars.66
In other words, the U.S. and the financial
institutions exchanged the old debts for new so-called "legitimate
loans," trapping Haiti yet again in debt. Eric Toussaint
and Sophie Perchellet call this "a typical odious debt-laundering
In the wake of the crisis, the bankers
were at Haiti's door yet again, ready, incredibly, to loan Haiti
money with the usual conditions. The IMF offered Haiti a new loan
of $100 million with the usual strings attached. As the Nation's
Richard Kim writes,
The new loan was made through the IMF's
extended credit facility, to which Haiti already has $165 million
in debt. Debt relief activists tell me that these loans came with
conditions, including raising prices for electricity, refusing
pay increases to all public employees except those making minimum
wage, and keeping inflation low. They say that the new loans would
impose these same conditions. In other words, in the face of this
latest tragedy, the IMF is still using crisis and debt as leverage
to compel neoliberal reforms.68
Debt cancellation activists like Jubilee
pushed back against the IMF and scored a victory over it. "On
Jan. 21," Lobe reports,
the World Bank announced a waiver of Haiti's
pending debt payment for five years and said it would explore
ways that the remaining debt could be cancelled. The IDB [Inter-American
Development Bank] has said it is engaged in a similar effort and
will present alternatives for reducing or canceling the debt to
its board of governors. On Jan. 27, the IMF, which lacks the authority
to provide outright grants, announced that it would give Haiti
a 102 million-dollar loan at zero-percent interest and that would
not be subject to any of the Fund's usual performance conditions.69
The pressure even forced the U.S. to call
for all new monies extended to Haiti to be in the form of grants,
and U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner called for debt relief
in the run up to the G-7 conference in February.70
While activists can claim these concessions
by the U.S. and the international financial institutions as victories
that open up the possibility for even more progress in demanding
full cancellation of Haiti's debt and all third world debt, no
one should look at this situation through rose-colored glasses.
The U.S. is using this promise-and it is just a promise at this
point-to cover up its determination to implement the Collier Plan
for tourism, sweatshops, and mango plantations to exploit Haiti's
desperately poor workers and peasants. In fact, the U.S. does
not need to use the leverage of debt to force Haiti to agree to
the plan; it has secured colonial rule over the country and can
impose its plans directly at gunpoint.
Resistance and solidarity
The left has a responsibility to cut through
the propaganda of the Obama administration and the mainstream
media. The U.S. is not engaged in humanitarian relief, but old-fashioned
imperialism in Haiti. Humanitarianism has long been one of the
means the U.S. uses to provide a cover story for its military
actions abroad. But whether it was saving the Cuban people from
Spanish brutality, sending the marines into Mogadishu in 1993
to feed starving Somalis, or overthrowing the Taliban to "liberate
women," the real aims and practical results of these interventions
diverged radically from their alleged noble intentions.
Humanitarian military intervention was
heavily promoted in the 1990s during the latter part of the first
Bush administration and the Clinton administration-in particular
during the wars in the former Yugoslavia. Its purpose was to reestablish
the legitimacy of U.S. military intervention in the wake of the
U.S. defeat in Vietnam, as part of a policy intended to erase
what was known as the "Vietnam syndrome." It is being
revived again in the wake of the unpopularity of the occupations
of Iraq and Afghanistan and weariness toward the "war on
terror," for similar reasons. The U.S. hopes that it can
re-legitimize its military as a force for good so that it can
lay the groundwork for more U.S. interventions in the region and
around the world.
Even if the U.S. gets away with its new
plans for Haiti, it will inevitably breed resistance in the population
and throughout the region where through bitter experience workers
and peasants have learned to oppose U.S. designs on their countries.
In Haiti, workers and peasants will find their way to organize
in the countryside on the plantations, in the sweatshops, and
in the shantytowns.
Already Haitian organizations have come
out against the U.S. agenda. A statement issued on January 27
from the Coordinating Committee of Progressive Organizations announced:
We mustdeclare our anger and indignation
at the exploitation of the situation in Haiti to justify a new
invasion by 20,000 U.S. Marines. We condemn what threatens to
become a new military occupation by U.S. troops, the third in
our history. It is clearly part of a strategy to remilitarize
the Caribbean Basin in the context of the imperialist response
to the growing rebellion of the peoples of our continent against
neo-liberal globalization. And it exists also within a framework
of pre-emptive warfare designed to confront the eventual social
explosion of a people crushed by poverty and facing despair. We
condemn the model imposed by the U.S. government and the military
response to a tragic humanitarian crisis. The occupation of the
Toussaint L'Ouverture international airport and other elements
of the national infrastructure have deprived the Haitian people
of part of the contribution made by Caricom, by Venezuela, and
by some European countries. We condemn this conduct, and refuse
absolutely to allow our country to become another military base.71
The Haitian left has thus already started
building opposition to the U.S. occupation and the Collier Plan.
Every year since the U.S. coup in 2004, activists have marched
on February 28 in Port-au-Prince against the UN occupation and
to demand the end of Aristide's exile. Workers' organizations
just last year protested in the thousands for an increase in the
minimum wage that Préval opposed. Lavalas activists had
protested before the earthquake against their exclusion from the
scheduled parliamentary elections. Now amid crisis and occupation,
Préval, who has proved to be a puppet for the U.S. agenda,
thus losing what little political support he had, has cancelled
those elections. No doubt Préval's behavior will provoke
political opposition from below against his government's collaboration
with the United States.
Outside Haiti, the left must build solidarity
with that struggle and make several demands on the Obama administration.
First, Obama must immediately end the military occupation of Haiti,
and instead flood the country with doctors, nurses, food, water,
and construction machinery. Second, the U.S. must also stop its
enforcement of Jean-Bertrand Aristide's exile and the ban on his
party, Fanmi Lavalas, from participating in elections. Haitians,
not the U.S., should have the right to determine their government.
Third, the left must demand that the U.S.,
other countries, and international financial institutions cancel
Haiti's debt, so that the aid money headed to Haiti will go to
food and reconstruction, not debt repayment. More than that-France,
the U.S., and Canada, the three countries that have most interfered
with Haiti's sovereignty-should pay reparations for the damage
they have done. France can start by repaying the $21 billion dollars
that it extracted from Haiti from 1824 to 1947. Fourth, leftists
must agitate for Obama to indefinitely extend Temporary Protected
Status to Haitians in the U.S.-and open the borders to any Haitians
who flee the country. Finally, the left must direct all its funds
to Haitian grass-roots organizations to provide relief and help
rebuild resistance to the U.S. plan for Haiti.
Only through agitating for these demands
can we stop the U.S. from imposing at gunpoint its shock doctrine
for Haiti. In this struggle, the left must educate wider and wider
layers of people, already suspicious of U.S. motives after Hurricane
Katrina, and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, that the U.S. state
never engages in military actions for humanitarian motives. As
the great American revolutionary journalist John Reed declared,
"Uncle Sam never gives anybody something for nothing. He
comes along with a sack stuffed with hay in one hand and a whip
in the other. Anyone who accepts Uncle Sam's promises at their
face value will find that they must be paid for in sweat and blood."72
shley Smith is a member of the ISR editorial
board, and the author of "Aristide's Rise and Fall"
in ISR 35 and "The Black Jacobins" in ISR 63.
1 "President Obama on U.S. rescue
efforts in Haiti, www.America.gov.
2 Bill Quigley, "Haiti: still starving
23 days later," Huffington Post, posted February 4, 2010.
3 Soumitra Eachempati, Dean Lorich, and
David Helfet, "Haiti: Obama's Katrina," Wall Street
Journal, January 26, 2010.
4 Rich Schapiro, "Rev. Pat Robertson
says ancient Haitians' 'pact with the devil' caused earthquake,"
New York Daily News, January 13, 2010.
5 David Brooks, "The underlying tragedy,"
New York Times, January 14, 2010.
6 For an overview of the French colony
and the slave revolution see Ashley Smith, "The Black Jacobins,"
International Socialist Review (ISR) 63, January-February 2009.
7 Peter Hallward, Damming the Flood: Haiti,
Aristide, and the Politicsw of Containment (New York: Verso Books,
8 Quoted in Sidney Lens, The Forging of
the American Empire (Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2003), 270.
9 For an overview of the history of U.S.
imperialism in Haiti see Helen Scott, "Haiti under siege,"
ISR 35, May-June 2004.
10 Paul Farmer, The Uses of Haiti (Monroe,
Maine: Common Courage Press, 1994), 108.
11 Alex Dupuy, Haiti in the New World
Order (New York: Westview Press, 1996), 37.
12 For an analysis of Baby Doc's neoliberal
plans see chapter 2 of Alex Dupuy, The Prophet and the Power (New
York: Rowman and Littlefield, 2007).
13 Eric Toussaint and Sophie Perchellet,
"Debt is Haiti's real curse," Socialist Worker, January
14 Regan Boychuck, "The vultures
circle Haiti at every opportunity, natural or man-made,"
Znet, February 3, 2010.
15 Dupuy, Haiti in the New World Order,
16 Quoted in Amy Wilentz, The Rainy Season
(New York: Simon and Schuster, 1989), 137.
17 Quoted in Ashley Smith, "The new
occupation of Haiti: Aristide's rise and fall," ISR 35, May-June,
18 For an analysis of Lavalas after Aristide's
restoration see chapter 5 of Robert Fatton, Haiti's Predatory
Republic (Boulder: Lynne Reiner Publishers, 2002).
19 For a perhaps overly generous portrait
of Aristide in his second term see chapters 6 and 7 of Peter Hallward,
Damming the Flood.
20 Clara James, "Haiti free trade
zone," Dollars and Sense, November/December 2002.
21 Hallward, Damming the Flood, 155.
22 See Bill Quigley, "Haiti human
rights report," www.ijdh.org/pdf/QuigleyReport.pdf.
23 Mo Woong, "Haiti's minimum wage
battle," Caribbean News Net, August 25, 2009.
24 See Ashley Smith "Natural and
unnatural disasters," Socialist Worker, September 23, 2008.
25 Mark Shuller, "Haiti's food riots,"
ISR 59, May-June 2008.
26 Paul Collier, "Haiti: From natural
catastrophe to economic security," FOCALPoint, Volume 8,
Issue 2, March 2009.
27 Quoted in Polly Pattullo, Last Resorts:
The Cost of Tourism in the Caribbean (New York: Monthly Review
Press, 2005), 20.
28 Jacqueline Charles, "Royal Caribbean
boosts Haiti tourism push," Miami Herald, September 26, 2009.
29 Collier, "Haiti from natural catastrophe
to economic security."
30 Mark Shuller, "Haiti needs new
development approaches, not more of the same," Haiti Analysis,
June 18, 2009.
31 Quoted in Ashley Smith "Catastrophe
in Haiti," Socialist Worker, January 14, 2010.
32 Jacqueline Charles, "Bill Clinton
on trade mission on Haiti," Miami Herald, October 1, 2009.
33 Paul Collier, The Bottom Billion: Why
the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can Be Done About It
(New York: Oxford University Press, 2008).
34 Bill Quigley, "Too little too
late for Haiti? Six sobering points," Huffington Post, January
35 "With foreign aid still at a trickle,"
Democracy Now!, January 20, 2010.
36 Marc Lacey "The nightmare in Haiti:
untreated illness and injury," New York Times, January 21,
37 Quoted in Nick Allen "West urged
to write off Haiti's $1 billion debt," Telegraph.co.uk, January
38 Mark Lander, "In show of support,
Clinton goes to Haiti," New York Times, January 17, 2010.
39 "U.S. military begins aid drops
in Haiti," CBS News, January 18, 2010.
40 Andrew Cawthorne and Catherine Bremer,
"U.S., U.N. boost Haiti aid security as looters swarm,"
Reuters, January 19, 2010.
41 Nelson P. Valdés, "Class
and race fear: The rescue operation's priorities in Haiti,"
Counterpunch, January 18, 2010.
42 Quoted in Lenora Daniels, "We
are Haitians. We are like people like anybody else," Common
Dreams, January 31, 2010.
43 Sasha Kramer, "Fear slows aid
efforts in Haiti: Letter from Port-au-Prince," Counterpunch,
January 27, 2010.
44 "Doctor: Misinformation and racism
have slowed the recovery effort," Democracy Now!, January
45 "Chávez says U.S. occupying
Haiti in name of aid," Reuters, January 17, 2010.
46 Rory Carroll, "U.S. accused of
annexing airport," Guardian (UK), January 17, 2010.
47 Quoted in Giles Whittell, Martin Fletcher,
and Jacqui Goddard, "Haiti has a leader in charge, but not
in control," The Times (UK), January 19, 2010.
48 Richard Seymour, "The humanitarian
myth," Socialist Worker, January 25, 2010.
49 "Union nurses respond to Haiti,"
Socialist Worker, January 27, 2010.
50 Shaila Dewan, "U.S. suspends Haitian
airlift in cost dispute," New York Times, January 30, 2010.
51 The Al Jazeera report is available
52 "The growth of aid and the decline
of humanitarianism," Lancet, Volume 375, Issue 9711, January
23, 2010; 253.
53 James C. McKinley Jr., "Vows to
move fast for Haitian immigrants in the U.S.," New York Times,
January 21, 2010.
54 Richard Fausset, "U.S. to change
illegal immigrants status," Los Angeles Times, January 16,
55 "U.S. to repatriate most Haitian
refugees, Washington Times, January 19, 2010.
56 Curt Anderson, "U.S. prepares
for Haitian refugees," Washington Examiner, January 19, 2010.
57 Tom Eley, "Washington shuts door
to Haitian refugees" Global Research, February 8, 2010.
58 Jim Roberts, "Things to remember
while helping Haiti," The Foundry; http://blog.heritage.org/2010/01/13/things-to-_remember-while-helping-haiti/.
59 Greg Grandin, "Muscling Latin
America," Nation, January 21, 2010._60 Ibid._61 Nicholas
Kralev, "Clinton says plan exists for Haiti," Washington
Times, January 26, 2010.
62 Gary Younge, "The West owes Haiti
a big bailout," Guardian (UK), January 31, 2010.
63 Magbana, "Venezuela cancels Haiti's
debt," January 26, 2010.
64 Quoted in Isabel McDonald, "New
Haiti: Same old corporate interests," Nation, January 29,
65 James Dobbins, "Skip the graft,"
New York Times, January 17, 2010._66 Jim Lobe, "Haiti: U.S.
lawmakers call for debt cancellation," IPS, February 4, 2010.
67 Eric Toussaint and Sophie Perchellet,
"Debt is Haiti's real curse."
68 Richard Kim, "IMF to Haiti: freeze
public wages," Nation, January 15, 2010.
69 Lobe, "Haiti: U.S. lawmakers call
for debt cancellation."
71 Haiti After the Catastrophe, "What
Are the Perspectives? Statement by the Coordinating Committee
of the Progressive Organizations," http://www.normangirvan.info/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/haiti-statement-prog-orgs.pdf.
72 Quoted in John Riddell ed., To See
the Dawn (New York: Pathfinder, 1993), 136.
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