[News] Haiti 2010: An Unwelcome Katrina Redux

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Mon Jan 18 18:59:54 EST 2010

 From Cynthia McKinney:  An Unwelcome Katrina Redux

President Obama's response to the tragedy in 
Haiti has been robust in military deployment and 
puny in what the Haitians need most:  food; first 
responders and their specialized equipment; 
doctors and medical facilities and equipment; and 
engineers, heavy equipment, and heavy 
movers.  Sadly, President Obama is dispatching 
Presidents Bush and Clinton, and thousands of 
Marines and U.S. soldiers.  By contrast, Cuba has 
over 400 doctors on the ground and is sending in 
more; Cubans, Argentinians, Icelanders, 
Nicaraguans, Venezuelans, and many others are 
already on the ground working--saving lives and 
treating the injured.  Senegal has offered land 
to Haitians willing to relocate to Africa.

The United States, on the day after the tragedy 
struck, confirmed that an entire Marine 
Expeditionary Force was being considered "to help 
restore order," when the "disorder" had been 
caused by an earthquake striking Haiti; not since 
1751, 1770, 1842, 1860, and 1887 had Haiti 
experienced an earthquake.  But, I remember the 
bogus reports of chaos and violence the led to 
the deployment of military assets, including 
Blackwater, in New Orleans in the aftermath of 
Hurricane Katrina.  One Katrina survivor noted 
that the people needed food and shelter and the 
U.S. government sent men with guns.  Much to my 
disquiet, it seems, here we go again.  From the 
very beginning, U.S. assistance to Haiti has 
looked to me more like an invasion than a humanitarian relief operation.

On Day Two of the tragedy, a C-130 plane with a 
military assessment team landed in Haiti, with 
the rest of the team expected to land soon 
thereafter.  The stated purpose of this team was 
to determine what military resources were needed.

An Air Force special operations team was also 
expected to land to provide air traffic 
control.  Now, the reports are that the U.S. is 
not allowing assistance in, shades of Hurricane Katrina, all over again.

On President Obama's orders military aircraft 
"flew over the island, mapping the 
destruction."  So, the first U.S. contribution to 
the humanitarian relief needed in Haiti were 
reconnaissance drones whose staffing are more 
accustomed to looking for hidden weapon sites and 
surface-to-air missile batteries than wrecked 
infrastructure.  The scope of the U.S. response 
soon became clear:  aircraft carrer, Marine 
transport ship, four C-140 airlifts, and 
evacuations to Guantanamo.  By the end of Day 
Two, according to the Washington Post report, the 
United States had evacuated to Guantanamo Bay 
about eight [8] severely injured patients, in 
addition to U.S. Embassy staffers, who had been 
"designated as priorities by the U.S. Ambassador and his staff."

On Day Three we learned that other U.S. ships, 
including destroyers, were moving toward 
Haiti.  Interestingly, the Washington Post 
reported that the standing task force that 
coordinates the U.S. response to mass migration 
events from Cuba or Haiti was monitoring events, 
but had not yet ramped up its operations.  That 
tidbit was interesting in and of itself, that 
those two countries are attended to by a standing 
task force, but the treatment of their nationals 
is vastly different, with Cubans being awarded 
immediate acceptance from the U.S. government, 
and by contrast, internment for Haitian nationals.

U.S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral James Watson IV 
reassured Americans, "Our focus right now is to 
prevent that, and we are going to work with the 
Defense Department, the State Department, FEMA 
and all the agencies of the federal government to 
minimize the risk of Haitians who want to flee 
their country," Watson said.  "We want to provide 
them those releif supplies so they can live in Haiti."

By the end of Day Four, the U.S. reportedly had 
evacuated over 800 U.S. nationals.

For those of us who have been following events in 
Haiti before the tragic earthquake, it is worth 
noting that several items have caused deep concern:

1.  the continued exile of Haiti's 
democratically-elected and well-loved, yet 
twice-removed former priest, President Jean-Bertrand Aristide;

2.  the unexplained continued occupation of the 
country by United Nations troops who have killed 
innocent Haitians and are hardly there for 
"security" (I've personally seen them on the 
roads that only lead to Haiti's 
sparsely-populated areas teeming with beautiful beaches);

3.  U.S. construction of its fifth-largest 
embassy in the world in Port-au-Prince, Haiti;

4.  mining and port licenses and contracts, 
including the privatization of Haiti's deep water 
ports, because certain off-shore oil and 
transshipment arrangements would not be possible 
inside the U.S. for environmental and other considerations; and

5.  Extensive foreign NGO presence in Haiti that 
could be rendered unnecessary if, instead, 
appropriate U.S. and other government policy 
allowed the Haitian people some modicum of 
political and economic self-determination.

Therefore, we note here the writings of Ms. 
Marguerite Laurent, whom I met in her capacity as 
attorney for ousted President of Haiti 
Jean-Bertrand Aristide.  Ms. Laurent reminds us 
of Haiti's offshore oil and other mineral riches 
and recent revivial of an old idea to use Haiti 
and an oil refinery to be built there as 
a  transshipment terminal for U.S. 
supertankers.  Ms. Laurent, also known as Ezili 
Danto of the Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network (HLLN), writes:

"There is evidence that the United States found 
oil in Haiti decades ago and due to the 
geopolitical circumstances and big business 
interests of that era made the decision to keep 
Haitian oil in reserve for when Middle Eastern 
oil had dried up. This is detailed by Dr. Georges 
Michel in an article dated March 27, 2004 
outlining the history of oil explorations and oil 
reserves in Haiti and in the research of Dr. Ginette and Daniel Mathurin.

"There is also good evidence that these very same 
big US oil companies and their inter-related 
monopolies of engineering and defense contractors 
made plans, decades ago, to use Haiti's deep 
water ports either for oil refineries or to 
develop oil tank farm sites or depots where crude 
oil could be stored and later transferred to 
small tankers to serve U.S. and Caribbean ports. 
This is detailed in a paper about the Dunn Plantation at Fort Liberte in Haiti.

"Ezili's HLLN underlines these two papers on 
Haiti's oil resources and the works of Dr. 
Ginette and Daniel Mathurin in order to provide a 
view one will not find in the mainstream media 
nor anywhere else as to the economic and 
strategic reasons the US has constructed its 
fifth largest embassy in the world - fifth only 
besides the US embassy in China, Iraq, Iran and 
Germany - in tiny Haiti, post the 2004 Haiti Bush regime change."

Unfortunately, before the tragedy struck, and 
despite pleading to the Administration by Haiti 
activists inside the United States, President 
Obama failed to stop the deportation of Haitians 
inside the United States and failed to grant TPS, 
temporary protected status, to Haitians inside 
the U.S. in peril of being deported due to visa 
expirations.  That was corrected on Day Three of 
Haiti's earthquake tragedy with the January 15, 
2010 announcement that Haiti would join Honduras, 
Nicaragua, Somalia, El Salvador, and Sudan as a 
country granted TPS by the Secretary of Homeland Security.

President Obama's appointment of President Bush 
to the Haiti relief effort is a swift left jab to 
the face, in my opinion.  After President Bush's 
performance in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina 
and the fact that still today, Hurricane Katrina 
survivors who want to return still have not been 
provided a way back home, the appointment might 
augur well for fundraising activities, but I 
doubt that it bodes well for the Haitian 
people.  Afterall, the coup against and the 
kidnapping of President Aristide occurred under the watch of a Bush Presidency.

Finally, those with an appreciation of French 
literature know that among France's most beloved 
authors are Alexandre Dumas, son of a Haitian 
slave, and Victor Hugo who wrote:  "Haiti est une 
lumiere."  [Haiti is a light.]  Indeed, Haiti for 
millions is a light:  light into the methodology 
and evil of slavery; light into a successful 
slave rebellion, light into nationhood and 
notions of liberty, the rights of man, and of 
human dignity.  Haiti is a light.  And an example 
that makes the enemies of black liberation 
tremble.  It is precisely because of Haiti's 
light into the evil genius of some individuals 
who wield power over others and man's ability, 
through unity and purpose, to overcome that evil, 
that some segments of the world have been at war 
with Haiti ever since 1804, the year of Haiti's creation as a Republic.

I'm not surprised at "Reverend" Pat Robertson's 
racist vitriol.  Robertson's comments mirror, 
exactly, statements made by Napoleon's Cabinet 
when the Haitians defeated them.  But in 2010, 
Robertson's statements reveal much 
more:  Haitians are not the only ones who know 
their importance to the struggle against hatred, 
imperialism, and European domination.

This pesky, persistent, stubbornly non-Western, 
proudly African people of this piece of land that 
we call Haiti know their history and they know 
that they militarily defeated the ruling world 
empire of the day, Napoleon's France, and the 
global elite at that time who supported 
him.  They know that they defeated the armies of England and Spain.

Haitians know that they used their status as a 
free state to help liberate Latin Americans from 
Spain, by funding and fighting alongside Simon 
Bolivar; their example inspired their 
still-enslaved African brothers and sisters on 
the American mainland; and before Haitians were 
even free, they fought against the British inside 
the U.S. during its war of independence and won a 
decisive battle in Savannah, Georgia, where I 
have visited the statue commemorating that victory.

Haitians know that France imposed reparations on 
them for being free, and Haiti paid them in full, 
but that President Aristide called for France to 
give that money back ($21 billion in 2003 dollars).

Haitians know that their "brother," 
then-Secretary of State Colin Powell lied to the 
world upon the kidnapping and second ouster of 
their President.  (Sadly, it wouldn't be the last 
time that Secretary of State Colin Powell would 
lie to the world.)  Haitians know, all-too-well, 
that high-ranking blacks in the United States are 
capable of helping them and of betraying them.

Haitians know, too, that the United States has 
installed its political proxies and even its own 
soldiers onto Haitian soil when the U.S. felt it 
was necessary.  All in an effort to control the 
indomitable Haitian spirit that directs 
much-needed light to the rest of the oppressed world.

While the tears of the people of Haiti swell in 
my own eyes, and I remember their tremendous 
capacity for love, my broken heart and wet eyes 
don't dampen my ability to understand the grave 
danger that now faces my friends in Haiti.

I shudder to think that the "rollback" policies 
believed in by some foreign policy advisors to 
President Obama could use a prolonged U.S. 
military presence in Haiti as a springboard for 
rollback of areas in Latin America that have 
liberated themselves from U.S. neo-colonial 
domination.  I would hate to think that this 
would even be attempted under the Presidency of 
Barack Obama.  All of us must have our eyes wide 
open on Haiti and other parts of the world now 
dripping in blood as a result of the relentless 
onward march of the U.S. military machine.

So, on this remembrance of the birth of Dr. 
Martin Luther King, Jr., I note that it was the 
U.S. government's own illegal Operation Lantern 
Spike that snuffed out the promise and light of 
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Every plane of 
humanitarian assistance that is turned away by 
the U.S. military (so far from CARICOM, the 
Caribbean Community, Médecins Sans Frontieres, 
Brazil, France, Italy, and even the U.S. Red 
Cross)--as was done in the wake of Hurricane 
Katrina--and the expected arrival on this very 
day of up to 10,000 U.S. troops, are lasting 
reminders of the existential threat that now 
looms over the valiant, proud people and the Republic of Haiti.

From: HQ <hq2600 at gmail.com>

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