Thanks to Tim Anderson for this ...
US Aid: Hilary Clinton calls the Haiti earthquake "biblical", while
tele-evangelist Pat Robertson says the little country is "cursed" by a
"pact to the devil". US southern command troops on their way - but will
they do better than in Hurricane Katrina? Meantime the 344 resident
Cuban health workers are treating the wounded.
'Cubans amongst the first to assist Haiti
'A terrible scene, tens of thousands of victims ... 60 members of
Cuba's Henry Reeve Brigade (medical emergency group) arrived to
reinforce the 300+ Cuban health workers already in Haiti. Many victims
have been brought to the capital, many require surgery. Cuban doctors
are working without rest to attend ... See Moreperson after person,
many wounded and mutilated. The queue is unending, just like the
constant arrival of people looking for medical attention. At the time
of writing, Cuban doctors have treated over a thousand people in a
little over 24 hours. Dozens have required surgery ...'
from Radio Cubana, 14 January 2010
'To increase help for Haiti, Obama should let U.S-Cuba cooperation take flight
Sara Stephens in the Huffington Post, 15 Jan
"[Obama's aid] efforts [in Haiti] will move faster because of an agreement with Cuba's government made public today that the United States can operate relief flights destined for Haiti over Cuban airspace.
No one should be surprised by Cuba's decision; they have a decades' long commitment to international cooperation in the face of national disasters, and our government has previously received cooperation from Havana on over-flights for weather detection and fighting hurricanes, on matters relating to security, and during disasters in Venezuela and Pakistan.
But the President should think about this: If Cuba is willing to cooperate with the United States in the air, shouldn't we cooperate with Cuba on the ground on initiatives that reflect our countries' shared interests in helping the people of Haiti? Doing so would quickly multiply the force of our efforts.
Let's not forget, Cuba is already there ...
Good will in the US towards Haiti - but can their *system* turn this into genuine assistance?
Rightwingers fail to dent US donations
By Edward Luce in Washington
Financial Times, January 15 2010 19:59
Private US aid groups on Friday said that donations for disaster relief
in Haiti could break all records in spite – or perhaps partly because –
of a series of discouraging comments by rightwing figures.
But remember the terrible legacy of US intervention
'Imperialist intervention and capitalism lie behind Haiti's nightmare
"Although freed from slavery, Haiti was forced by military threats to pay compensation to France of 150 million francs (the equivalent of $25 billion today) – which it did not finally finish paying until 1947.
In 1915, the US invaded Haiti to police debt repayments and to protect US firms. The troops stayed until 1934, running Haiti as a virtual colony.
The US then backed the brutal Duvalier dictatorships from 1957 on the basis that they represented a barrier against Communism.
In 1986, a massive uprising overthrew “Baby Doc” Duvalier, who fled the country. But Western interference continued.
Haitians elected Jean-Bertrand Aristide to be president after he promised land reform, better housing and improved wages but the US then backed a coup that removed him from office.
US president Bill Clinton eventually restored Aristide – but only on the condition that he implement the US neoliberal plan – which Haitians called the "plan of death."
When Aristide was slow to do his master’s will, the US conspired with Haiti’s rich to drive out Aristide again.
US and then UN troops have occupied the country ever since."
The 1991 coup and its aftermath
"In 1990, the United Nations sponsored and monitored free elections. A liberation theologian priest by the name of Aristide swept the election. The vast majority was fed up with the authoritarian right and went with the populist left. It was a grassroots movement with seventy percent of the voters backing him, claiming to be from the people, by the people. Father Aristide’s emergence as president could be characterized as a political revolution, in the sense that it attempted to change the entire system and reverse the status quo. The military had been, for once, sidelined in politics. The priest turned politician spoke of redistribution of wealth, social equity, workers rights, eradication of poverty and against foreign domination, issues that had long plagued the Caribbean island for decades. In return, the left wing leader was condemned by the Vatican, revoked of the priesthood, and labeled a Marxist priest by Washington.
Nine months into his term the democratically elected president was
overthrown in a coup d’etat carried out by the military but sponsored
by the Haitian elite and the US government. Communities of Haitians
throughout the world rejected the idea of military rule, and organized
a massive campaign demanding the return of President Aristide. Human
right activists, liberals in the American Congress, the international
community, and others who were just genuinely concerned, echoed their
pleas. That the US covertly operated behind the scenes to topple a
government had become apparent and obvious to many. It had become
simply unacceptable and the US was cornered into deploying troops to
reinstate Aristide back in power in 1994. This was the first time in
history such an act had occurred.
The 2004 coup - the Bush gang at work
"Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide told Democracy Now! that Aristide says he was “kidnapped” and taken by force to the Central African Republic. Congressmember Maxine Waters said she received a call from Aristide at 9am EST. “He’s surrounded by military. It’s like he is in jail, he said. He says he was kidnapped,” said Waters. She said he had been threatened by what he called US diplomats. According to Waters, the diplomats reportedly told the Haitian president that if he did not leave Haiti, paramilitary leader Guy Philippe would storm the palace and Aristide would be killed. According to Waters, Aristide was told by the US that they were withdrawing Aristide’s US security."
"What happened in Haiti [in 2004] was a coup d'état, and it's almost
funny to hear Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell and Scott McClellan call
that claim "absurd" and "nonsense." The coup didn't come in one fell
strike, which fact camouflaged it for a time; we're used to a coup
being a coup--which means a cut or blow in French--something sudden.
But the coup against Aristide, and by extension against the Haitian
people, was prolonged, a chronic coup.
Further reading on Haiti's recent history