January 20 2010 Update
Haiti needs water, not occupation
The US has never wanted Haitian self-rule, and its focus on ‘security concerns’ has hampered the earthquake aid response
By Mark Weisbrot
January 20 2010
On Monday, six days after the earthquake in Haiti, the US Southern Command finally began to drop bottled water and food from an air force C-17. US defence secretary Robert Gates had previously rejected such a method because of “security concerns”.
If people do not get clean water, there could be epidemics of water-borne diseases that could greatly increase the death toll. But the US is now sending 10,000 troops and seems to be prioritising “security” over much more urgent, life-and-death needs. This in addition to the increase of 3,500 UN troops scheduled to arrive.
On Sunday morning the world-renowned humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders complained that a plane carrying its portable hospital unit was re-routed by the US military through the Dominican Republic. This would cost a crucial 48 hours and an unknown number of lives.
On Sunday, Jarry Emmanuel, air logistics officer for the UN’s World Food Programme, said: “There are 200 flights going in and out every day, which is an incredible amount for a country like Haiti … But most flights are for the US military.”
Yet Lieutenant General PK Keen, deputy commander of the US Southern Command, reports that there is less violence in Haiti now than there was before the earthquake hit. Dr Evan Lyon, of Partners in Health, a medical aid group famous for its heroic efforts in Haiti, referred to “misinformation and rumours … and racism” concerning security issues.
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 US military presence. There’s no Haitian police presence. And there’s also no violence. There is no insecurity.
To understand the US government’s obsession with “security concerns,” we must look at the recent history of Washington’s involvement there.
Long before the earthquake, Haiti’s plight has been comparable to that of many homeless people on city streets in the US: too poor and too black to have the same effective constitutional and legal rights as other citizens. In 2002, when a US-backed military coup temporarily toppled the elected government of Venezuela, most governments in the hemisphere responded quickly and helped force the return of democratic rule. But two years later, when Haiti’s democratically elected president Jean-Bertrand Aristide was kidnapped by the US and flown to exile in Africa, the response was muted.
Unlike the two centuries of looting and pillage of Haiti since its founding by a slave revolt in 1804, the brutal occupation by US marines from 1915 to 1934, the countless atrocities under dictatorships aided and abetted by Washington, the 2004 coup cannot be dismissed as “ancient history.” It was just six years ago, and it is directly relevant to what is happening there now.
The US, together with Canada and France, conspired openly for four years to topple Haiti’s elected government, cutting off almost all international aid in order to destroy the economy and make the country ungovernable. They succeeded. For those who wonder why there are no Haitian government institutions to help with the earthquake relief efforts, this is a big reason. Or why there are 3 million people crowded into the area where the earthquake hit. US policy over the years also helped destroy Haitian agriculture, for example, by forcing the import of subsidised US rice and wiping out thousands of Haitian rice farmers.
Aristide, the country’s first democratically elected president, was overthrown after just seven months in 1991, by military officers and death squads later discovered to be in the pay of the CIA. Now Aristide wants to return to his country, something that the majority of Haitians have demanded since his overthrow. But the US does not want him there. And the René Préval government, which is completely beholden to Washington, has decided that Aristide’s party – the largest in Haiti – will not be allowed to compete in the next elections (originally scheduled for next month).
Washington’s fear of democracy in Haiti may explain why the US is now sending 15,000 troops and prioritizing “security” over other needs.
This military occupation by US troops will raise other concerns in the hemisphere, depending on how long they stay – just as the recent expansion of the US military presence in Colombia has been met with considerable discontent and distrust in the region. And non-governmental organisations have raised other issues about the proposed reconstruction: understandably they want Haiti’s remaining debt cancelled, and grants rather than loans (the IMF has proposed a $100m dollar loan). Reconstruction needs will be in the billions of dollars: will Washington encourage the establishment of a functioning government? Or will it prevent that, channelling aid through NGOs and taking over various functions itself, because it of its long-standing opposition to Haitian self-rule?
But most urgently, there is a need for rapid delivery of water. The US air force has the capability to deliver enough water for everyone who needs it in Haiti, until ground supply chains can be established. The more water is available, the less likely there is to be fighting or rioting over this scarce resource. Food and medical supplies could also be supplied through air drops. These operations should be ramped up, immediately. There is no time to lose.
Aid workers frustrated with relief effort. The people are frustrated.
Aid is still not getting to the people 9 days and many are still not getting help.
They need food, they need water, they need shelter, they need medical help.
The aid workers need transportation, they need equipment to work with.
They don’t need 15,000 military personnel.
Again MFS Doctors without Borders who are professionals in disasters have had six Planes Carrying Vital Medical Supplies Are Re-routed
January 20 2010
Six Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) cargo planes loaded with vital medical material like antibiotics have been redirected to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. This will delay MSF staff’s ability to treat patients who urgently need it.
Medical aid should be a priority
International aid may at be last trickling, painfully slowly, into the rubble-strewn centre of Port-au-Prince. But in this filthy shanty town half an hour’s drive away, where families sleep five or six to small shacks, next to none has arrived. And the poorest of the poor complain that their plight is being forgotten.
“We don’t have doctors, we don’t have food, we don’t have water,” said Louis Jean Jaris, a 29-year-old resident. “The aid comes to Haiti, but it goes elsewhere. In Cité Soleil we are all victims, just like everyone else, but compared to the rest of the country, we are a low priority. To the people in power, we are not considered to be victims.”
If they are wondering why people are getting angry it’s no wonder. It has been 9 DAYS.
The US needs to get it’s bloody priorities straight. This is not a military invasion this is a rescue mission. Isn’t it? Or is it a military invasion just using the earthquake as an excuse.
Amid growing concerns of Latin American leaders over the presence of the US military in Haiti, Washington plans to send 4,000 troops to the quake-hit country.
A statement from the US Second Fleet Wednesday stated that the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen, has made the decision to dispatch the troops.
The 2,000 sailors and 2,000 marines are from the Nassau Amphibious Ready Group and the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, according to the statement. Their deployment will increase the number of US troops in Haiti to above 15,000.
Three amphibious ships, the USS Nassau, the USS Mesa Verde and the USS Ashland, will support the latest mission, bringing the total number of US Navy and Military Sealift Command vessels to 20.
A 7.0-magnitude quake struck Haiti last week, killing at least 75,000 people and perhaps as many as 200,000. Almost 250,000 people were injured and around 1.5 million people are without shelter.
Meanwhile, the presence of the US military, which has taken command of distribution of humanitarian aid, has raised the ire of some South American leaders, with the presidents of Bolivia, Nicaragua and Venezuela condemning the US role.
Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega said Haiti seeks “humanitarian aid, not troops.”
Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez accused the US of seeking to occupy the quake-stricken nation. “The United States government is using a humanitarian tragedy to militarily occupy Haiti. I read somewhere that they even occupied the [presidential] palace.”
Bolivian leader Evo Morales said that he would seek UN condemnation of the “US military occupation.”
In Europe, France spoke out against the US role, demanding the United Nations to investigate and clarify the US military presence in Haiti.
Three days after the quake, US paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division took control of the main airport in the capital Port-au-Prince.
The US says its primary mission is to speed distribution of aid, in part by providing security at distribution points and escorting aid convoys.
In the past, Washington has been accused of interfering in Haitian internal affairs on many occasions. The US military played a role in the departure of the former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide before his second term was over in early 2004. Source
Seems this is preparing for war not aid. This should be questioned by everyone the world over.
People are wondering all over the world. What is really going on?
Aid workers are having a difficult time, getting to where they are needed.
If the US is going to take control of everything they had better get it together and soon.
This is Hurricane Katrina all over again. Now I know for sure.
The time factor is a real indication. When people get angry they accuse them of being violent blah blah blah and so the story of BS goes.
They nor the UN or NATO have been good to Haitians in the past.
Military personnel wold make them feel fearful if anything.
How stupid do the US, UN and NATO think we all are?
Soldiers in Haiti told to stop handing out food
January 20, 2010
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Food handouts were shut off Tuesday to thousands of people at a tent city here when the main U.S. aid agency said the Army should not be distributing the packages.
It was not known whether the action reflected a high-level policy decision at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) or confusion in a city where dozens of entities are involved in aid efforts.
“We are not supposed to get rations unless approved by AID,” Maj. Larry Jordan said.
Jordan said that approval was revoked; water was not included in the USAID decision, so the troops continued to hand out bottles of water. The State Department and USAID did not respond to requests for comment.
Jordan has been at the airport supervising distribution of individual food packages and bottled water since his arrival last week. Each package provides enough calories to sustain a person for a day.
The food is flown by helicopter to points throughout the capital and distributed by paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne Division. At the tent city, set up at a golf course, more than 10,000 people displaced by the Haitian earthquake lay under makeshift tents. Each day, hundreds of people, many young children, line up for a meal.
Tuesday morning, the helicopters came only with water. Soldiers carried boxes of water in the hot sun and supervised Haitian volunteers who handed the supplies out. Source
And to make it even more interesting.
This is a rescue mission, a humanitarian mission, not a military invasion which it seems it has become.
I read a story earlier that was fluffing up Israel, but back at home this is what they are doing. Aid workers are ‘being pushed out’ of Palestinian areas. Well isn’t that just fluffy. Considering they just flooded Gaza on January 18. They for the most part were not really helpful when it came to Haiti either. They for the most part were just as involved in past problems, as they assisted the US.
All of the above mentioned owe Haiti. I am sure some of the past deeds equal war crimes and crimes against humanity. They had better not fluff to much it makes them look like hypocrites.
Considering everything they have done, to those in Haiti in the past that is. It’s a long dreadful history.
Considering the size of Haiti, there must be something extremely important about it or the US and company would have allowed the people to be free. What is it that makes Haiti so special?
Could it be oil? Could it be it’s proximity to Cuba?
Help Haiti rebuild then leave them to be free. Stop stealing their resources. When they elect a new leader, don’t kidnap him.
Some how it reminds me all to often of Gaza and the West Bank.
Haiti: Small Victory for Shock Resistance
Today, the IMF put out an announcement clarifying the terms of its new loan to Haiti–it’s “an interest-free loan of $100 million in emergency funds.” A spokesman for the IMF told me that “the US$100 million loan does not carry any conditionality. It is an emergency loan aimed at getting the Haitian economy back to function again…” The IMF’s managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn said in a statement that the IMF would immediately work to cancel the entirety of Haiti’s debt ($265 million) to the fund: Source
February 22 2008
So what if anything has changed. Seems the earthquake is giving the US a reason to move in even more troops. How convenient. Haiti has something they want obviously if not oil, what?
Journalist Kim Ives on How Western Domination Has Undermined Haiti’s Ability to Recover from Natural Devastation Democracy Now! Video and Transcript
Haiti Has Larger Oil Reserves Than Venezuela Says Scientists (An Olympic Pool Compared to a Glass of Water)
And this well, Just because I can. Wake Up.