[News] Politics of the Earthquake - Respect the People of Haiti

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Sun Jan 17 20:01:59 EST 2010


From: haiti action <action.haiti at gmail.com>

POLITICS OF THE EARTHQUAKE
RESPECT THE PEOPLE OF HAITI

By Robert Roth
Haiti Action Committee

In June of 2004, I went to Haiti with two other 
members of the Haiti Action Committee.  We were 
there to investigate the effects of the political 
earthquake in which the democratically elected 
government of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide 
had been overthrown by a coup orchestrated by the 
United States, France and Canada.

What we saw still resonates.  Hundreds of 
families who had had to flee their homes in the 
face of repression, thousands of grass roots 
activists in prison because of their association 
with Aristide’s Lavalas movement, literacy 
projects and schools destroyed, community-based 
activists forced into exile, Haiti returned to 
elite control in the name of “stability” and “security.”

We also saw the beginnings of the United Nations 
occupation, labeled “peacekeeping” by UN 
(Minustah) authorities, but clearly seen by the 
popular movement as the beginning of an international take-over of Haiti.

The coup devastated Haiti.  It shattered the 
promises of a truly democratic period in Haitian 
history.  It interrupted a process of building 
schools (more schools were built under Lavalas 
governments than had been built in all of Haitian 
history), establishing health clinics and parks 
in the poorest communities, support for literacy 
efforts among women, , respect for the indigenous 
religion of Vodou, and a commitment to the 
development of Haitian agriculture in the face of 
the flooding of Haitian markets by U.S. goods.

Six years later, here we are.  Fanmi Lavalas, the 
most popular political party in Haiti, has been 
banned from participating in elections, with the 
full support of the United States.  The Preval 
government has tailored its policies to what the 
United States demands, rather than to what the 
people need. There is a deep fissure between the 
people and the official government, a deep gap 
between the occupied and the occupiers.

Yes, the earthquake was a violent natural 
disaster, presenting overwhelming challenges to 
any government or any aid responders.  Yet, it is 
clear that this natural disaster—just like that 
of Hurricane Katrina -- is compounded by a 
political failure, the continuation of 
generations  of assaults against Haiti, and – in 
particular – a brutal UN/US occupation that has 
brought to a grinding halt the promise of the Aristide years.

Now we watch the U.S. gear up for a massive 
military operation in Haiti, while people die due 
to lack of medicine, or starve while food 
supplies sit on the airport tarmac.  We see the 
pictures of families digging their relatives out 
of the rubble, with no aid in sight despite the 
presence of 9000 UN troops.  We read the usual 
racist slurs against Haitians, called 
“scavengers” or “looters” when, after days of no 
assistance, they look for food and water in 
abandoned homes. We read that the problems of 
Haiti are rooted in “their culture and religious 
beliefs,” rather than in the harsh realities of 
colonialism and occupation.  We hear CNN reports 
of a field hospital being ordered out of a 
community for “security reasons” by the United 
Nations, even in the face of wounded and dying 
people. And we read that Doctors Without Borders 
cargo planes were denied landing space in 
Port-au-Prince by U.S. military authorities.

This is a time to respect the resiliency and 
courage of the Haitian people.  It is a time for 
aid, not charity, for solidarity not a U.S. 
military take-over.  And it is a time to return 
President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to his homeland.

Please support community-based organizers in 
Haiti who are working day and night to get aid to the people.  Please
contribute to Haiti Emergency Relief Fund at 
<http://www.haitiaction.net/>www.haitiaction.net



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