Haitian Suffering Under Imperial Occupation – by Stephen Lendman
Except briefly after their successful 1804 revolution and under Aristide, Haitians suffered over 500 years of persecution and human misery.
It’s ongoing today under America’s imperial boot, UN paramilitary occupation, and stealth Duvalierist Michel (“Sweet Micky”) Martelly’s illegitimate April 2011 election.
With longstanding ties to Haitian elites, militarists, reactionary Duvalierists, and his thuggish Tonton Macoute assassins, Haitians are stuck with him for five years.
He serves Washington and predatory neoliberal interests, not them. As a result, expect hard times getting harder ahead.
On October 17, Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA) Research Associate Courtney Franz headlined, “Leta Restavek: The Suppression of Democracy in Haiti,” saying:
UN Blue Helmet MINUSTAH occupiers “suppressed both electoral democracy and free speech in Haiti by organizing fraudulent elections and shutting down peaceful protests, which helped to exclude Haiti’s poor majority from participating in the electoral process.”
Moreover, Washington’s iron fist got Aristide’s Fanmi Lavalas and 14 other parties banned to install its favorites. The entire electoral process was unfair, unconstitutional, undemocratic and laughable under standards stretched to look legitimate.
Even despots hold more respectable elections to rubber-stamp their unchallenged rule. Haiti’s didn’t pass the smell test.
“Recently released WikiLeaks cables reveal the official US view that MINUSTAH has turned out to be an ‘indispensible….financial and regionaly security bargain for the USG (US government)’ and the ‘Aristide (m)ovement (m)ust (b)e (s)topped.”
“This systematic suppression of democracy has contributed to Haiti’s status as a ‘leta restavek,’ or child servant state,’ serving foreign interests.”
Deserving much better, imperial Washington defiantly denies them. As a result, their suffering continues under deplorable conditions. More on that below.
On October 14, the Security Council renewed MINUSTAH’s mandate for another year. Haitians never wanted them and don’t now. They’re imperial occupiers, enforcers, not peacekeepers. They don’t promote democracy. They suppress it.
A blind eye ignores mass rapes, sex trafficking, targeted and indiscriminate killings, and other atrocities committed with impunity.
Last November, Nepalese troops introduced cholera in Haiti’s rice growing area. A French epidemiologist’s study confirmed it. More on that below.
Human rights are non-starters. Peaceful protests against deep seated grievances are suppressed. Haitians were well served under Aristide and won’t quit trying to restore his achievements. Long denied social justice drives their commitment now.
Last summer, a year and a half after Haiti’s devastating January 2010 earthquake, Bill Quigley explained challenges so far unmet.
Haitians lucky enough to have housing live in heavily damaged structures “designated for demolition.” Hundreds of thousands make do with “flimsy tents or tarps.” Security is poor, water and electricity scarce, and cholera and other diseases rage.
Thousands living in tents face evictions with nowhere to go, some forced out at “gunpoint.” Last summer, 320,000 cholera cases were reported. Now it’s much higher. Before Haiti’s quake, no one died of cholera. Its raging epidemic now claimed thousands. More on that below.
Visiting Haiti last summer, an unnamed UN internal displacement expert said:
“Haiti is living through a profound humanitarian crisis that affects the human rights of those displaced by the disaster.”
He stopped short of saying Washington doesn’t give a damn, and Western indifference turns a blind eye to extreme suffering. Plundering Haiti’s resources and exploiting its cheap labor define their agenda, nothing else.
In early October, Quigley returned to Haiti and discussed what he saw, saying:
“Broken and collapsed buildings remain in every neighborhood. Men pull oxcarts by hand through the streets. Women carry 5 gallon plastic jugs of water on their heads, dipped from manhole covers in the street.”
Hundreds of thousands are still homeless, surviving best they can in tents and tarp-covered shelters. Unemployment is rampant. So is extreme poverty and human depravation.
Nothing’s being done to help. “No public works projects. No housing developments. No public food or public water distribution centers.” So visible sign that authorities or Western governments care. Haitians ask:
“Where is the money the world promised” to send? What’s allocated goes for commercial development, not humanitarian needs. Like always, Haitians are on their own out of luck. As a result, many lives are endangered.
“The world has moved on,” said Quigley. Oxfam came and left. Red Cross volunteers do little. Washington and Western nations always treated Haitians contemptuously. Badly needing help, they’re left to suffer out of sight and mind.
Haiti’s Raging Cholera Epidemic
Last October, cholera struck Haiti. At least eight of its 10 provinces were affected. It got scant major media attention then and none now. Nepalese Blue Helmets introduced it in Haiti’s Artibonite main rice-growing area. Positive confirmation identified them as the source.
In July, 386,429 cases were reported, including 5,885 deaths. The Dominican Republic was also affected. On October 21, AP said the World Health Organization predicted over 500,000 cases by end of 2011.
The UN health agency reports 470,000 cases and 6,600 deaths so far. WHO’s Claire-Lise Chaignat lied, saying its source is Caribbean, knowing, in fact, it’s Nepalese.
Official sources like WHO and other UN agencies notoriously underreport or falsify epidemic reports. Many more Haitians have died than reported, and those affected may double official estimates.
Cholera is easily preventable and treatable if addressed properly. Essentials include safe chlorinated water, latrines, effective waste removal and management, mass soap distribution, adequate oral rehydration points in affected areas, enough treatment centers, and quickly locating, removing and burying dead bodies.
Cholera’s also a disease of poverty. Stopping its spread may not work until underlying conditions change, including contaminated water, densely populated neighborhoods, and hundreds of thousands living on streets in makeshift shelters.
Symptoms include diarrhea and vomiting, producing dehydration and early death if not treated. Under good conditions, it’s entirely preventable and treatable if properly done on time. For decades, Haiti was spared. Epidemic conditions now rage.
Haitians aren’t strangers to adversity and anguish. For over 500 years, they’ve suffered oppression, slavery, despotism, colonialism, reparations, embargoes, sanctions, deep poverty, starvation, disease, unrepayable debt, and calamities like destructive hurricanes, the January 2010 earthquake, and now cholera for the past year.
America immiserated Haitians for nearly two centuries. It pledged over $1.1 billion in post-quake aid. Most was earmarked for development, not essentials to cope with crisis conditions, including critically needed new housing.
Instead, Haiti was open for business. Plans include sweeping privatizations, tourism ventures, port development, free trade zones, deregulatory freedom, and exploiting Haiti’s riches, principally its oil, believed to be abundant.
Only imperial interests matter, not Haiti’s homeless, malnourished, hungry, impoverished, or disease-stricken cholera victims.
On October 20, Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said:
“One year since the onset of the cholera epidemic in Haiti, people all over the country are still threatened by the deadly disease, and healthcare services and measures to prevent its spread remain inadequate….”
As a result, “thousands of Haitians are still getting sick from cholera every week, and some are still dying.”
MSF predicts cholera will persist for years because causal conditions aren’t changing. MSF’s Haiti head of mission Romain Gitenet called it “unacceptable.”
On October 21, Partners in Health (PIH) said cholera bacteria “continues to contaminate lakes, rivers and canals that millions of people use each day for drinking, cooking and bathing….” As long as this persists, it’s “not going away.”
PIH co-founder Dr. Paul Farmer believes “at some point the disease will become endemic in Haiti.” Addressing a potential catastrophe demands developing a comprehensive response so far not forthcoming.
Washington and Western nations able to help instead wage imperial wars to colonize, occupy and exploit other countries like Haiti. Humanitarian concerns aren’t ever addressed.
Haitians are on their own to survive through whatever help organizations like PIH, MSF, and others provide. Most NGOs notoriously exploit Haiti. With over 10,000 there, it’s called “the Republic of NGOs” for good reason.
They reinforce oppression and exclusion. Organizations like Save the Children, Catholic Relief Services, CARE International, World Vision and many others profit from wars, floods, famines, and other disasters like earthquakes.
If there’s a way to make a buck from human misery, they’ll find ways to do it. For them, only profits and self-enrichment matter, not sworn mandates to serve equitably, fairly and responsibly.
Since Haiti’s January 2010 quake, they’ve scrambled to cash in. For some, cholera conditions mean greater profits. Hundreds of thousands of victims need clean water, effective sanitation, rehydration, and proper treatment, not vaccines known to cause more harm than good.
Foreigners have been “saving” Haitians for over 200 years, NGOs since 1839, and UN agencies post-WW II. Except for the few dedicated to help, oppressed, impoverished, suffering, sick and dying Haitians would be best served if they left.
Otherwise, they’ll keep “saving” them to death. Haitians endured hell for over 500 years. Under Washington’s imperial boot, Martelly, and UN occupation, conditions now are as bad as ever.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at email@example.com.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.