[News] Haiti Ten Years After the Earthquake
news at freedomarchives.org
Mon Jan 27 10:47:22 EST 2020
/As we commemorate the 10^th anniversary of the terrible earthquake
that hit Haiti on January 12, 2010, we extend our solidarity to the
people of Puerto Rico who have experienced the devastation caused by
Hurricane Maria in 2017 and the recent series of earthquakes. As in
Haiti, these natural disasters have been exacerbated by colonial
occupation, and the denial and misuse of aid. Recovery cannot proceed
without decolonization and true democracy. One struggle, one fight. /
*Haiti Ten Years after the Earthquake*
January 12th marked 10 years since the 2010 earthquake in Haiti that
killed more than 300,000 people, and left an estimated 1.3 million more
homeless. Much of the greater Port-au-Prince region lay in ruins,
including the presidential palace, 17 of 19 ministries, and many schools
and hospitals. Entire neighborhoods leveled. Power out. Roads blocked
with rubble, some still not removed.
Generous people worldwide, including half of all registered voters in
the United States, donated $3 billion to NGOs, as part of the total of
$16.3 billion spent or promised for earthquake relief, but most of this
money never reached Haitians on the ground. Also figures vary by source,
and we really don’t know a lot about where much of the money went. By
the end of 2018, $7.54 billion had been dispersed by donors, with little
to no accountability for how or where it was spent, much of it on
projects that did not directly benefit Haiti or Haitians. Many countries
never gave what they promised. Of the money pledged, $972M was for debt
relief – money Haiti never had in the first place. NGOs used much of
their $3 billion for overhead (spent in the countries where they are
based) or left money unspent. The American Red Cross received $486
million, took out25% for its own internal expenses, built 6 houses, and
used some of what was donated for Haiti in other countries.The Clinton
Bush Fund spent $2 million building a luxury hotel for business
travelers. The biggest investment went into the Caracol Industrial
Park, more than 130 miles from Port-au-Prince, which today provides only
a fraction of the sweatshop jobs promised.
The United States government militarized the emergency aid. They sent in
thousands of troops to provide “security,” when Haitians needed food,
water, and medical care. There had been no security crisis at all. Even
a U.S. general noted things were “relatively calm.” The airport was so
clogged unloading military personnel and supplies, that Doctors Without
Borders said that five of its cargo flights carrying 85 tons of medical
and relief supplies were turned away and had to be shipped into Haiti by
ground from the Dominican Republic. Flights from the World Food Program
were delayed up to two days.
In the meantime, Haitians were taking matters into their own hands,
organizing themselves into popular committees to clean up, to pull
bodies from the rubble, build refugee camps, and provide for security.
Grassroots women’s organizations that permeate Haitian communities
mobilized to contend with the collective loss of already vulnerable
housing, water, food, and livelihoods. Many of these resourceful
organizers belonged to the /Lavalas/ movement of President Jean-Bertrand
Aristide, twice elected by huge majorities, but overthrown by military
coups in 1991 and 2004, and this is what the United States government
and the Haitian elites feared the most. Instead of distributing
emergency supplies to those who could deliver them most effectively, the
thrust of militarized “relief” was to /prevent/ supplies from reaching
those who could help the most, out of a distrust of Haitians, the
dismissal of their ability to rebuild and direct their own
reconstruction, and the fear they might actually succeed. And in case
any mass demonstrations developed in the streets, U.S. and U.N.
occupation troops were there to put them down.
The United States pledged $940M by the end of September, 2010, but
almost half, $465 million, went through the Defense Department as
reimbursement for their expenses. Of $2.43 billion in donations that
came in by the end of 2010, at least 93% went back to the UN or NGOs to
pay for supplies and personnel, or never left the donor states at all.
$151 million was completely unaccounted for. Only 1% - $24 million, went
to the Haitian government.
The United States seized on the earthquake as a pretext to reinforce its
neoliberal economic agenda on Haiti. And the Haitian earthquake proved
to be highly lucrative to foreign businesses. In the private sector, of
nearly $1 billion spent in US government contracts for postquake Haiti
by April, 2011, only 23 of 1490 contracts went to Haitian firms for a
total of $4.8 million. Through 2018 the US Agency for International
Development (USAID) awarded $2.3 billion, but only 2.3% of it went
directly to Haitian organizations or companies. A Haitian official
commented, “We are the ones accused of corruption for the money we don’t
In spite of all efforts to marginalize them, the Haitian grassroots
movement has only grown stronger in the ten years since the quake. Their
advocacy led to the return of President Aristide from exile in South
Africa in 2011, but all they could do to stop the imposition of Michel
Martelly as president was to not vote. Aristide’s /Fanmi Lavalas/ Party
was still banned from participating in elections, because it was
understood they would win. Despite the record low turnout, the world
powers recognized Martelly, who began his administration of repression,
theft, corruption, and the selling off of Haitian land and resources.
Upon his return, Aristide and his wife and colleague, Mildred Trouillot
Aristide, reopened the University of the Aristide Foundation (UNIFA),
which has now graduated its second class. UNIFA has Schools of Medicine,
Nursing, Physical Therapy, Engineering, Dentistry, Law and Continuing
Education, and is raising funds to build a teaching hospital. Radio and
Tele Timoun operate from the Aristide Foundation and provide news to
counter the monopoly news corporations.
But the United States, the United Nations, and the Haitian elites still
fear the popular movement, and have turned to increasingly brutal
tactics to suppress it. In a completely corrupt election cycle in
2015/2016, /Fanmi Lavalas/ was allowed to run candidates, but they were
prevented from winning through massive voter suppression and fraud. The
electoral council named a completely unqualified Jovenel Moise
president, stopping a recount in mid-process. Haitians have been in the
streets ever since in protest.
Now it’s been discovered that $4.2 billion has disappeared from
Petrocaribe funds. Venezuela has been selling Haiti oil at discounted
prices through its Petrocaribe program, initiated by the government of
Hugo Chavez, with the understanding that Haiti will sell the oil at
market rate and use the profit to finance infrastructure and economic
development. Instead the Martelly and Moise regimes have stolen it, and
the protests have only grown stronger calling on the imposed president
Moise to resign.
Instead Moise has dug in and is refusing to leave. Police, under the
control of the United Nations, and death squads reminiscent of the
/tonton macoutes/ of the Duvalier dictatorships operate with impunity.
In November, 2018, they massacred at least 77 people and possibly many
more whose bodies were not found, in the historically militant
neighborhood of La Saline.
attack demonstrations, and on June 24, 2019 fired into a crowd of
protesters, killing as many as 30 people. Moise is now hiring foreign
mercenaries as well to control and terrorize the population.
Haiti needs massive solidarity to support the grassroots movement
calling for the overthrow of the Moise regime, and the creation of a
society based on democracy and economic equality. There is almost no
informed media coverage of Haiti now.Haiti Action Committee is working
to Make Haiti Visible and to support the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund
-*www.haitiemergencyrelief.org <http://www.haitiemergencyrelief.org> *-
which will get donations to the people on the ground doing the work to
fulfill the dream of the 1804 revolution that has been suppressed ever
since. Please join with us.
sent by Haiti Action Committee
Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415
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