Saturday, January 16, 2010

A couple more things about Haiti


In an article on Common Dreams, David Lindorf tells us that FOX "News," that continually self-exploding piñata filled with whatever its denizens can dream up to support their fantasy world, has done it again. According to Lindorf, FOX had reported that nearby Cuba is doing nothing to help the Haitians in the aftermath of the earthquake. And of course, as with most things FOX-related, it was not true.
There were 300-400 Cuban doctors and other health workers in Haiti, doing the job the US is mostly AWOL from of providing ongoing health care to Haitian people. Another article, this time on Granma Digital, puts the count at 344 while yet another at Granma lets us know that there were only two injured, none seriously.

From what I can garner by checking out Foxs News online, they are now reporting more accurately and even mentioning the Cuban medical teams that were already working in Haiti. But now I have to go take a shower... 

Meanwhile, in "Haitian Earthquake: Made in the USA," Ted Rall makes the important point that while the earthquake itself was a natural disaster, the devastation, injury, and death it caused in Haiti were not. Instead:
Earthquakes are random events. How many people they kill is predetermined. In Haiti this week, don't blame tectonic plates. Ninety-nine percent of the death toll is attributable to poverty.
Poverty caused, as Rall points out and as any scholar of Caribbean history can verify, by decades, even centuries, of abusive treatment on the part of imperial powers, in particular France and the US. France began it in 1825 by extorting what today would be 21.7 billion dollars ransom from Haiti in return for normalized relations, a sum the Haitians needed nearly a century to pay off.  The US picked up the torch and carried it farther than any nation based on humanitarian, moral values could have:
The story begins in 1910, when a U.S. State Department-National City Bank of New York (now called Citibank) consortium bought the Banque National d'Haïti--Haiti's only commercial bank and its national treasury--in effect transferring Haiti's debts to the Americans. Five years later, President Woodrow Wilson ordered troops to occupy the country in order to keep tabs on "our" investment.

From 1915 to 1934, the U.S. Marines imposed harsh military occupation, murdered Haitians patriots and diverted 40 percent of Haiti's gross domestic product to U.S. bankers. Haitians were banned from government jobs. Ambitious Haitians were shunted into the puppet military, setting the stage for a half-century of U.S.-backed military dictatorship.

The U.S. kept control of Haiti's finances until 1947.
Of course, it didn't end there. The US has continued to treat Haiti as, essentially, a stockyard for cheap labor for factories where people work, for less than a dollar an hour, assembling baseballs, brassieres, and so on (how earthquake-proof can you build your house when you're making less than a dollar an hour?).  And, to ensure the docility of the workforce, a parade of dictators pledged to keep their people in line and out of unions is supported by the CIA. When Haitians finally elect a leader who tries to stand up to Big Brother, the CIA has him removed. He is returned under international pressure, but then removed again, this time literally taken from his home in the middle of the night by US Marines and flown out of the country.

The Most Important Lesson: Haiti is not a natural disaster. It is, and has been, exactly what the US corporate elite have wanted all along, ever since 1910.  And it's what Cuba would have been, if the US had had its way.

3 comments:

  1. I think that you meant to say "Haiti" in the first paragraph instead of Cuba, as in "There were 300-400 Cuban doctors...in HAITI..."

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  2. Exactly! Thank you, whoever you are...

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  3. I've been at least vaguely aware of the problems Haiti has had for a long time. I first learned(a little) about Haiti when I read some more or less anthropologically based accounts of Vodoun, which was, I learned, nothing like what most people in the US and elsewhere seem to think it is, but rather a rational, if you want to put it that way, response to the vary irrational situations Haitians often find themselves in. I also gradually learned a little of thie history of that unhappy country, how corrupt ande unreliable their "governments" have often been, the depradations of Duvalier, father and son, and the interference by the US. It is not a pretty picture, and as a consequence, Haiti has never, ever, had much of an opportunity to develop anything like a government infrastructure which would have at least ameliorated much of the disaster that is now occurring there. They might not have been able to build earthquake-proof housing for the masses, but they could, at least, have had a government that was more or lessthere and reasonably "uncorrupt". At least in Indonesia, when the tsunami happened, there was something of a functioning infrastructure there to kick in, although Indonesia is not a rich country, and it needed help. There is and was no such thing in Haiti, as far as I know, and its problems have been more or less "under the radar" to most USanians for as long as I can remember.
    Anne G

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