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Haiti’s Earthquake and its Unnatural Disaster

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Photo by Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

Much how the Philippines was rocked by typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng last year and had countless deaths due to the ineptitude of the U.S. backed (and heavily armed) Philippine government so too are the people of Haiti being hit by a disaster that could have been easily contained if the U.S. and U.N. backed (and heavily armed) Haitian government had actually decided to develop some sort of infrastructure for its people.

U.S. backed neoliberal policies in the country has forced people from the countryside into the slums, has divested government support from many industries and has left the poor and working class to fend for themselves and has completely lead to the control of the government by the Haitian (and international and U.S. backed) elite which haven’t lifted a finger in actually making sure that there was ever adequate urban planning.

The country was on its way (to some extent) to actually building up an infrastructure and was creating pro-people policies in order to lift the country out of poverty and from the grips of colonial governments (such as the U.S.) under the administration of Aristide.  However, due to these policies he was essentially ousted in a U.S. backed coup and literally forced to flee from the country.

Peter Hallward (who wrote a terrific book on Badiou and has a book out on Haitiblogs:

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

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

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

The Haiti Action Network had demanded Aristead’s return and for the international community to truly help out the country by actually letting the people decide their own fate and to remove colonial and capitalist interests from their country:

Haitian President Preval can no longer afford to continue his policies of exclusion and political patronage that have sought to dismember the Fanmi Lavalas party and keep Aristide away from Haiti. All Haitians are needed in this time of great need and there could be no greater symbol of hope and unity in Haiti right now than allowing Mr. Aristide to return from exile in South Africa to participate fully in relief and recovery efforts.

If you want to donate then please consider the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund:

Since its inception in March 2004, the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund has given concrete aid to Haiti’s grassroots democratic movement as they attempted to survive the brutal coup and to rebuild shattered development projects. We urge you to contribute generously, not only for this immediate crisis, but in order to support the long-run development of human rights, sustainable agriculture and economic justice in Haiti.

  1. Thursday, January 14, 2010 12:12 pm

    It’s the same old story, always, isn’t it, no matter who is the president of the US?

    Thanks for this much-needed perspective.

  2. Thursday, January 14, 2010 3:27 pm

    Thanks for the comment Bhaswati.

  3. Wednesday, February 3, 2010 7:41 pm

    I recently decided to donate for Haiti’s disaster. I hope that more people give to those scarred by this earthquake too.

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