[News] Haiti Aid and Strategic Priorities

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Tue Jan 19 11:23:34 EST 2010

Haiti Aid and Strategic Priorities

January 19, 2010 By Manuel Rozental

[this note was written in Spanish on January 17/10 and translated by 
Dan Whitesell]

The more I analyze and observe the situation, the more aware I become 
of the need to get people whose skills are needed into Haiti soon, 
but under certain minimal conditions so that one does not become a 
hindrance but rather of service, and to avoid contributing to the 
mistreatment of the Haitian people, despite the best of intentions. I 
have contacted Partners in Health (PIH) run by Paul Farmer, whose 
political and technical orientation has been clear and one which is 
guiding efforts on the ground. I am also in touch with journalists 
and members of different organizations on the ground in order to 
understand the situation and establish contacts. To get to where 
resources human and material are needed while weaving contacts with 
organizations outside who are working on mobilizing and transferring 
such resources is crucial now. Cuban physicians and health workers 
have been on the ground in Haiti for a long time. Supporting and 
joining these efforts, which are experienced, disciplined and well 
coordinated could achieve greater impact. The Via Campesina has 
launched a solidarity assistance campaign, based on their experience 
in Asia with the tsunami. The fact is - with respect to emergency 
help - that human resources are of little use without equipment, 
supplies and necessary logistical support, just as these are not 
effective if qualified personnel are not available and information is 
difficult to obtain.

I offer the following analysis and proposal for consideration:

1. The United States has launched, in alliance with Canada and 
possibly other countries, a massive military, media and political 
operation, using the crisis as a pretext. In every aspect, it has the 
characteristics of "disaster capitalism", in which the shock caused 
by the earthquake, is used by transnational and imperial interests to 
achieve strategic goals. Naomi Klein warned us about this on January 
14 in an interview with Amy Goodman. The sending of 10,000 troops, 
the occupation of the airport, the control of aid delivery 
(preventing it from arriving), the emphasis on preventing disorder 
and controlling the population and the coordination between 
Clinton-Bush and Obama for a project "similar to the one for the 
Asian Tsunami", provides support for this argument.

2. The result of these steps is obvious: Haiti has been occupied. The 
earthquake has allowed the United States and Canada to station large 
numbers of troops closer to Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela. U.S. bases 
have been recently established in Colombia, are being established in 
Panama and have already been established in the rest of the Caribbean 
and South America.

3. Everything indicates that, far from providing humanitarian aid, 
the intention is to use this aid as an instrument of propaganda, as 
well as to foment what has already begun to happen: a social 
explosion due to the desperation of people without housing, without 
water, without food, without services and who come from conditions of 
absolute poverty. The social explosion would then justify the 
presence of more troops, the complete subjugation of Haiti, the 
destruction of any resistance in the country and the advance of 
hemispheric occupation towards the goal of "Free Trade" and to 
overcome the serious economic crisis. All this while the U.S. 
government presents itself as generous, to gain public support, when 
in reality, President Obama has promised only 100 hundred million 
dollars (a miserable amount), while at the same the military 
operation costs much more than this.

4. Calculated Reaction: The action of the United States is a 
provocation, with a strategically calculated reaction. Nicaragua, 
through President Ortega, has already denounced the U.S. military 
presence and its intentions and has demanded the withdrawal of 
troops. Venezuela and Cuba may not stand idly by and they have 
started to provide aid directly to the Haitian population with health 
personnel, logistics and equipment. With the airport of Port au 
Prince occupied by U.S. troops it will not only be difficult to get 
aid to the people, but also the restricting and monopolizing of aid 
will complicate matters because Haiti has become a beach head of the 
United States militarily and we can expect Washington to denounce the 
presence of Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua and other progressive 
countries as political actions intended to take advantage of Haitian 
suffering. What these countries do in Haiti becomes a pretext for the 
U.S. to attack them. What will happen in this situation is 
unpredictable, but a possible scenario is that the joint humanitarian 
and political actions of the progressive countries will generate a 
crisis, which could also lead to an armed confrontation. In other 
words, all of this could lead to a war for the oil and mineral 
resources of Venezuela and the region, with the support of and from 
Colombia. Brazil is a key factor whose reaction and response are 
still undetermined. This is an act of aggression by the U.S. in their 
fight for control of Haiti, exploiting in an unprecedented act of 
cowardice the misery and suffering of the people to achieve 
geo-strategic, military and ultimately economic objectives.

5. Strategic reaction and goals of Solidarity and Resistance: 
Coordinating a massive relief effort, in an efficient, effective way 
and in defense of the Haitian people, despite the U.S. military 
presence, so that the people receive the aid and the world knows it, 
not only accomplishes humanitarian goals and undermines the pretext 
for stationing troops - by meeting the needs of people desperate to 
survive at any cost - but it also exposes imperial interests and 
ultimately, becomes a way to defend Haiti from occupation by 
encouraging a viable resistance of solidarity in the face of tragedy. 
It also prevents a hemispheric war and the advance of military 
occupation for economic ends. To put it another way, we should oppose 
the strategic project of concentrated capital by developing a 
coordinated strategic project of resistance to the reigning economic 
model and for the dignity of Haiti. Following the coup in Honduras, 
this is another step toward hemispheric occupation for transnational 
corporations and global financial interests. As we move forward in 
providing humanitarian assistance, a vital and pressing component of 
solidarity, it's essential and urgent that we consolidate and 
coordinate comprehensive strategic goals.

6. Key tactical goals that come to mind immediately are:

a. To mobilize material and human resources: Health (particularly 
surgical support), in coordination with people on the ground and from 
organizations with experience and credibility in this area, that are 
not serving the interests of Washington. Via Campesina, PIH in Haiti, 
Cuba, ALBA (the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas), HSA (the 
Hemispheric Social Alliance) and others. What's important is to know 
what's needed and where, send it there and create the conditions, 
along with the people to make it work. We already know there's 
humanitarian solidarity; what's missing is organization and direction 
and it should be better coordinated and aligned to achieving strategic goals.

b. To develop logistics (this is what is most needed at this time and 
what the United States controls), such that we can identify what's 
needed, mobilize and deliver it. People are needed on the ground in 
Haiti and in coordination outside of Haiti. Via Campesina has 
considerable experience in this area (tsunami).

c. Political-communications-solidarity work. Analysis and news that 
serve as a counterweight to what the system is generating in terms of 
propaganda and actions. The magnitude of what they are attempting to 
do in Haiti is just as bad as what they did in Iraq under the pretext 
of concern for weapons of mass destruction. The world turned out to 
protest massively against that war. People must be informed of what's 
really going on if they are to take action. This requires committed 
people with political clarity to be in Haiti to help communicate for 
the resistance and to build resistance. Without this work, the two 
previous goals cannot succeed.

7.  What's needed immediately is humanitarian aid, within this 
contextual framework. President Evo Morales, revealing his human 
decency and his political ability, will go directly to Haiti on 
Monday (January 18th) in a Bolivian plane to deliver aid. His 
presence in Haiti is an extraordinary act of solidarity, but it's 
also a way to encourage others to provide help, to put logistics in 
motion and to serve as a counterweight through his immediate presence 
on the ground. It will be his word and his actions that communicate 
much more than any speech. With this gesture, he is providing 
resistance to the provocation, setting the example, working to 
prevent war and going directly to the people. His visit deserves 
great attention and strategic support, but it also shows us the way. 
We must respond by reaching people inside and outside of Haiti to 
provide aid first of all and also to expose the aggressor at the same 
time. At the same time, governments of countries such as Nicaragua, 
Venezuela and Cuba have quietly and immediately mobilized resources 
and aid and are working on the ground.

Under these circumstances, those of us who feel a commitment to go to 
Haiti, with specific and most needed skills (health care, 
electricians, reconstruction, logistic support, disaster planning, 
etc.) but also as communicators and strategic activists, would do 
best to be involved as part of a coordinated and strategic effort, so 
as not to become a hindrance while there and to avoid serving the 
interests of the occupation and transnational capital. Also, if one 
is not familiar with Haiti, one would be lost there.

As many of us continue to look for contacts and counterparts, and 
many have already gone to Haiti as part of solidarity and assistance 
teams, I share this analysis and interpretation of the context, while 
I feel, as many others do, the anxiety to contribute and be of 
service to an exemplary people who have been abused and humiliated in 
the most un-exemplary way and whose suffering causes in us a wrath 
and pain that become desperation if we fail to act. In solidarity, we 
need to act in accordance with our inner sense of commitment, serving 
as part of a conscious and coordinated effort. I'm not saying that 
these conditions have to be met before anything is done, but rather 
that there should be at least coordination and strategic 
understanding of the context and goals of the assistance for the 
people of Haiti, to continue to work toward effective and decent 
assistance and solidarity, if the analysis proposed here based on my 
observations is essentially correct. I hope our exchanges and the 
course we set for ourselves can become our common task. With this in 
mind, I write to you.

In solidarity,

Manuel Rozental
January 17th, 2010.
General Surgeon with sub-specialization in colorectal surgery
I've been a physician for 29 years and practice in Colombia and Canada
Activist in the Americas and Communicator
Member of the Secretariat of the Hemispheric Social Alliance
Tejido de Comunicaciones ACIN (The Northern Cauca Indigenous 
Communications Network)

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