Op Ed News
July 12, 2012
Following Haiti’s catastrophic January 12, 2010 earthquake, billions of dollars in relief aid were raised. Suffering Haitians got virtually none of it.
Hundreds of thousands remain homeless. A cholera emergency still exists. On June 19, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent said:
“There is a significant probability of a major cholera emergency in Haiti in the coming months but resources have been severely diminished.”
Increased numbers of cases were reported in the Artibonite, Nord-Ouest, Nord-Est, Ouest, Gonave island, and homeless camps in Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas.
The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) estimates another 170,000 new cases by end of 2012.
Haiti’s problems are severe. Deep poverty, deprivation, and unemployment torment millions. Earthquake devastation compounded them. Little relief came. It was stolen for commercial development.
It’s common practice to divert relief aid to private developers. In 2004, a second tsunami struck Sri Lanka. The first one took 250,000 lives and left 2.5 million homeless throughout the region.
Coastal areas were scrubbed clean. Everything was gone. Sri Lankans living there lost everything. New rules prohibited rebuilding homes where they once stood. Buffer zone restrictions insured it.
Beaches were off-limits to people who once lived there. Displaced Sri Lankans were shoved into temporary grim inland camps. Soldiers prevented them from coming home.
At issue was developing coastal areas for profit. Luxury destinations were planned. Formerly occupied land was sold to commercial buyers. Privatization was the new game.
Displaced residents were entirely left out. What they lost, they never got back. Land grab money making became policy.
Tsunami victims in other ravaged countries suffered the same fate. The pattern repeated everywhere. People were prohibited from rebuilding where they once lived.
What nature wrought, corporate developers and corrupt politicians compounded by stealing their land for profit.
New Orleans Katrina victims suffered the same way. Blank became beautiful. Erased communities were replaced with upscale condos and other high-profit projects on choice city real estate.
Residents who once lived there were forced out. Politicians conspired with developers to assure they didn’t come back.
History not only rhymes, as Mark Twain once said, a lot of times it repeats. Haitians now suffer like Sri Lankans, other East Asian tsunami victims, and Katrina displaced New Orleans residents.
Haitians are no strangers to adversity and anguish. For over 500 years, they suffered severe oppression, slavery, despotism, colonization, reparations, embargoes, sanctions, deep poverty, starvation, unrepayable debt, and natural calamities.
They included destructive hurricanes and numerous magnitude 7.0 or greater regional earthquakes.
The last major one came in 1946. A magnitude 8.1 quake struck adjacent Dominican Republic. Haiti was also affected. Earlier catastrophic ones were in 1751 and 1770. Both devastated Port-au-Prince. In 1842 Cap-Haitien was destroyed.
In 2004, Washington militarized Haiti after ousting Jean-Bertrand Aristide. After January 2010, in came the marines.
After its worst catastrophe in nearly 170 years, Haitians need food, housing, medical care, clean water, and other vital services, not military forces confronting them repressively. They still do.
US marines are gone. MINUSTAH shock troops remain. For years, they’ve committed murders, kidnappings, extrajudicial detentions, rapes, non-sexual assaults, physical threats, and other type abuses. They’re enforcers for political and corporate crime bosses.
Haiti always was open for profit and exploitation. Earthquake devastation created new opportunities. The country was declared open for business. Washington and other Western predators took full advantage.
So did hundreds of for-profit NGOs. They skim most relief aid donations for themselves. So do corporate developers and other profiteers. They steal private donations and pledged amounts freely. Haiti’s pseudo-government then and now acquiesces.
No one helped Haitians like Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Two coups ousted him. Exile followed each time. He’s back but out of politics. Electoral manipulation installed Washington’s man.
Stealth Duvalierist Michel (Sweet Micky) Martelly became president. Most Haitians despise him. It hardly mattered. They had no say in preventing his illegitimate elevation to the nation’s highest office. Haitian suffering continues.
In January, Bill Quigley and Amber Ramanauskas headlined “Where the Relief Money Did and Did Not Go – Haiti after the Quake,” saying:
Despite billions in pledged and donated aid, “Haiti looks like the earthquake happened two months ago, not two years.”
Rarely does this news get covered. Over half a million people then remained homeless. They still do. Most debris lay where it fell. Cholera was killing thousands. It’s still out of control because too little is done to stop, control, and treat it.
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