Sunday, January 17, 2010

Jane Smiley: Capitalist Pigs

No matter what, the Haitian quake would have been a major disaster, but it did not have to be quite as bad as it was.

GOPgo The horror that is the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake has many of us, of course, looking around for explanations of why Haiti is so poor. Since I have no ideas to offer for the resurrection of Haiti, I've spent my time looking for people to blame, and there are many. Some of them are French, since the government of Charles X committed an act of armed extortion in 1825 when it demanded of its former slaves 150 million francs in reparations (you know those French, the pact with the devil that was enslavement wasn't enough for them--they had to make a second pact with the devil that insured Haiti's impoverishment for generations). The US has been fiddling with Haiti off and on since the French went away, but the sin that really struck me in my researches took place during the Reagan Administration (as did so many in all areas). American hog farmers became nervous about the appearance of African Swine Fever in Haiti, in the 400,000 strong population of indigenous black swine, animals that the peasantry depended upon for survival (article here). American authorities and Haitian authorities then set about exterminating ALL of these hogs. Don't you love that? Then they sent the peasants a few experimental white hogs from Iowa that were used to luxury conditions, just to see if they might be able to live there. The Haitian hogs were classic hogs who did classic hog business--scavenging, getting fat, making use of what they could find. The new American hogs needed to live in American hog idleness in a world without the facilities they were used to.

Guess what happened to the Haitian peasantry and to their land? The land is denuded, the peasantry has moved to Port-au-Prince, and over-populated Port-au-Prince is now one of the great disaster areas in modern history... [emphasis added]

Inserted from <Huffington Post>

As horrific as this story is, there’s even more.  In 2004, Bush and the GOP aided in the overthrow of Haiti’s government.  They also blocked several international loans to help build up Haiti’s infrastructure, which could have facilitated relief.  In addition, Bush and the GOP facilitated dumping US rice on the Haitian market to stabilize the rice here.  This destroyed Haiti’s farm economy and hundreds of thousands more peasants left their land to overpopulate Port-au-Prince even more.  Reagan, Bush and the GOP did not cause the earthquake.  That was ordained in the geological subduction zones that formed the island over a major fault line.  But they did reach out a hand of GOP greed to make it worse.

22 comments:

rjs said...

The Right Testicle of Hell: History of a Haitian Holocaust by Greg Palast
1.
Bless the President for having rescue teams in the air almost immediately. That was President Olafur Grimsson of Iceland. On Wednesday, the AP reported that the President of the United States promised, "The initial contingent of 2,000 Marines could be deployed to the quake-ravaged country within the next few days." "In a few days," Mr. Obama?

2.
There's no such thing as a 'natural' disaster. 200,000 Haitians have been slaughtered by slum housing and IMF "austerity" plans.

3.
A friend of mine called. Do I know a journalist who could get medicine to her father? And she added, trying to hold her voice together, "My sister, she's under the rubble. Is anyone going who can help, anyone?" Should I tell her, "Obama will have Marines there in 'a few days'"?

4.
China deployed rescuers with sniffer dogs within 48 hours. China, Mr. President. China: 8,000 miles distant. Miami: 700 miles close. US bases in Puerto Rico: right there.

5.
Obama's Defense Secretary Robert Gates said, "I don't know how this government could have responded faster or more comprehensively than it has." We know Gates doesn't know.

6.
From my own work in the field, I know that FEMA has access to ready-to-go potable water, generators, mobile medical equipment and more for hurricane relief on the Gulf Coast. It's all still there. Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré, who served as the task force commander for emergency response after Hurricane Katrina, told the Christian Science Monitor, “I thought we had learned that from Katrina, take food and water and start evacuating people." Maybe we learned but, apparently, Gates and the Defense Department missed school that day.

7.
Send in the Marines. That's America's response. That's what we're good at. The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson finally showed up after three days. With what? It was dramatically deployed — without any emergency relief supplies. It has sidewinder missiles and 19 helicopters.

8.
But don't worry, the International Search and Rescue Team, fully equipped and self-sufficient for up to seven days in the field, deployed immediately with ten metric tons of tools and equipment, three tons of water, tents, advanced communication equipment and water purifying capability. They're from Iceland.

9.
Gates wouldn't send in food and water because, he said, there was no "structure ... to provide security." For Gates, appointed by Bush and allowed to hang around by Obama, it's security first. That was his lesson from Hurricane Katrina. Blackwater before drinking water.

10.
Previous US presidents have acted far more swiftly in getting troops on the ground on that island. Haiti is the right half of the island of Hispaniola. It's treated like the right testicle of Hell. The Dominican Republic the left. In 1965, when Dominicans demanded the return of Juan Bosch, their elected President, deposed by a junta, Lyndon Johnson reacted to this crisis rapidly, landing 45,000 US Marines on the beaches to prevent the return of the elected president.

continue reading The Right Testicle of Hell...

Lisa G. said...

I agree rjs - why couldn't we send aid faster?

This is disgusting.

Sue said...

wow TC, it just keeps getting worse and worse. Would you mind if I copied a portion of the last paragraph in blue to put on my sidebar, along with the GOP logo of course!

Distributorcap said...

Haiti and the whole caribbean has always been America's "playground" -- Johnson did it in the DR, Bush 1 in Panama and Reagan in Grenada - of course there was Guatemala in 1954, El Salvador, our complete destruction of the Cuban economy, support of corrupt regimes in Jamaica

i could go on, but my head hurts from the right grumbling that we are even helping these people

Sue said...

I forgot to say, also a link to you!

Lisa G. said...

Sanjay Gupta, CNN's medical correspondent and a doctor, did a good thing when the Belgian team was forced by UN Security to leave a hospital (they didn't want to) and took all their supplies with them. He stayed, turned everyone into a 'crack medical team' and stayed overnight with the people in the hospital.

Lt. Col. Honroe, the guy that finally came in and saved those poor people in Katrina, also weighed in.

http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/americas/01/16/haiti.abandoned.patients/index.html?hpt=T1

RealityZone said...

You seem to have forgotten about Bill Clinton and his involvement, or non involvement with Haiti. How about the IMF, World Bank?

TomCat said...

RJ and Lisa, I agree that Gates' concern with security was excessive. He is part of the Bush/GOP legacy that needs to go.

Sure Sue. The operative commandment is thou shalt steal. Linkage appreciated, especially since the blue is my own writing.

DC, I think that Brazil is the only nation in Latin America that the US has not overthrown.

Thanks Lisa.

RZ, I did not forget. Clinton's non involvement was bad enough. The IMF and World Bank refused loans to Haiti, because Bush and the GOP blocked them.

RealityZone said...

http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/CHO402D.html

The managed destruction, and manipulation of Haiti is not a Dem. or Repub thing. It is an American and a global thing. Just as with other third world countries [TPTB] have a way of holding them down and keeping them down. The IMF has now said they will loan Haiti $100 Million dollars. Knowing full well they will never ever be able to pay it back. Bechtel, G. E. and others can not wait to get in there NOW.

rjs said...

while gates may be to blame for the current debacle, it has been longstanding foreign policy of both parties to keep haiti poor and their government inoperative, because our shipping lanes between the east cost and the west coast & asia go between haiti & cuba...so its always been considered to be in our national interest to keep haiti dysfunctional...

RealityZone said...

RJSO; RE" shipping lanes" = = = chokepoints. The Grand Game is not just on land. It is also played on the open seas. [think Taiwan].

Kvatch said...

But they did reach out a hand of GOP greed to make it worse.

As with almost all relationships between the United States and its neighbors to the south.

rjs said...

check out this haiti video from al jazeera...

rjs said...

heres another video (CNN); doctors told to evacuate

RealityZone said...

EFF DR. Gupta, he should be doctoring 24/7, not celebrity reporting.

HILLBLOGGER said...

Tom,

As horrific as this story is, there’s even more. In 2004, Bush and the GOP aided in the overthrow of Haiti’s government...

I knew about this but I didn't know that they blocked several international loans to help build up Haiti’s infrastructure, which could have facilitated relief.

I am just so gobsmacked. Yet, Bush proudly stands by Obama's side! Shame on that criminal. He should be in the dock facing a criminal inquiry.

RealityZone said...

Then why are you not ashamed of Obama standing by W'S side?

They all belong to the same club. Why would Obama even pose with the guy? Much less visit Papa Bush in Texas.

TomCat said...

RZ, I don't find your source credible. Experience and embarrassment has taught me that GR is the left-wing equivalent of Faux Noise. Utilizing former Presidents, regardless of personal feelings, to attract aid in international disasters is a long standing tradition. That does not show that they belong to the same club. I criticize Obama sharply when I think the situation calls for it and have upset Obamaphiles for doing so, but you appear to be looking for any excuse to oppose him.

RJ, I agree to an extent, but the Democrats in recent decades are guilty of neglect, surely bad enough, but not so bad as the overt damage undertaken by the GOP.

Froggy, I bet you could write a book about that.

Anna, I find Obama calling on Bush to be as distasteful as you do, but given the tradition I referenced earlier, not doing so would be judged as partisanship. I consider his reluctance to show partisanship as his biggest weakness.

rjs said...

the beat goes on...an article in the guardian (UK): Cruise ships still find a Haitian berth - Luxury liners are still docking at private beaches near Haiti's devastated earthquake zone for holidaymakers to enjoy the water...

TomCat said...

I saw this too, RJ, and found it ironic indeed. However, what the story did not cover is that these resorts are supplied by ship and by air. These locales could not be used to provide aid to Port-au-Prince. Since they have no value for relief, staying open to generate revenue is their best use.

RealityZone said...

TC; Seems to me that the Dems could use a little more far, far, left leaning thinking. This political correctness, and kumbay ya is not going to get it. As long as Obama continues the endless wars without borders I will hold him accountable.

TomCat said...

RZ, to an extent, I agree with you, but I don't interpret Obama's relief policy to Haiti as a war. To my way of thinking that's over the edge.