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US Corporations, Private Mercenaries and the IMF Rush in to Profit from Haiti's Crisis
(Benjamin Dangl, Alternet,January 19, 2010)
US corporations, private mercenaries, Washington and the International Monetary Fund are using the crisis in Haiti to make a profit, promote unpopular neoliberal policies, and extend military and economic control over the Haitian people. . . . In the aftermath of the earthquake, with much of the infrastructure and government services destroyed, Haitians have relied on each other for the relief efforts, working together to pull their neighbors, friends and loved ones from the rubble. One report from IPS News in Haiti explained, "In the day following the quake, there was no widespread violence. Guns, knives and theft weren't seen on the streets, lined only with family after family carrying their belongings. They voiced their anger and frustration with sad songs that echoed throughout the night, not their fists." . . . It is not this type of solidarity that has emerged in the wake of the crisis - and the delayed and muddled response from the international community - that most corporate media in the US have focused on. Instead, echoing the coverage and calls for militarization of New Orleans in the wake of Katrina, major media outlets talk about the looting, and need for security to protect private property. . . . Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez responded to the US troop deployment. "I read that 3,000 soldiers are arriving, Marines armed as if they were going to war. There is not a shortage of guns there, my God. Doctors, medicine, fuel, field hospitals, that's what the United States should send," Chavez said. "They are occupying Haiti undercover." The Venezuelan President pledged to send any necessary amount of gasoline needed to the country to aid with electricity and transport. . . . There is also little mention in the major news outlets' coverage of how the US government and corporations helped impoverish Haiti in the first place, creating the economic poverty that makes disasters like this so extensive. Nor is there mention of the country's heroic struggle against imperialism and slavery. . . . Disaster Capitalism Comes to Haiti . . . As Noami Klein thoroughly proved in her book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, throughout history, "while people were reeling from natural disasters, wars and economic upheavals, savvy politicians and industry leaders nefariously implemented policies that would never have passed during less muddled times." This push to apply unpopular neoliberal policies began almost immediately after the earthquake in Haiti. . . . In a talk recorded by Democracy Now!, Klein explained that the disaster in Haiti is created on the one hand by nature, and on the other hand "is worsened by the poverty that our governments have been so complicit in deepening. Crises-natural disasters are so much worse in countries like Haiti, because you have soil erosion because the poverty means people are building in very, very precarious ways, so houses just slide down because they are built in places where they shouldn't be built. All of this is interconnected. But we have to be absolutely clear that this tragedy, which is part natural, part unnatural, must, under no circumstances, be used to, one, further indebt Haiti, and, two, to push through unpopular corporatist policies in the interests of our corporations." . . . Following the disaster in Haiti, Klein pointed out that the Heritage Foundation, "one of the leading advocates of exploiting disasters to push through their unpopular pro-corporate policies," issued a statement on its website after the earthquake hit: "In addition to providing immediate humanitarian assistance, the U.S. response to the tragic earthquake in Haiti earthquake offers opportunities to re-shape Haiti's long-dysfunctional government and economy as well as to improve the public image of the United States in the region." . . . The mercenary trade group International Peace Operations Association (IPOA) immediately offered their services to provide "security" in Haiti to its member companies, according to Jeremy Scahill. . . . On January 14, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced a $100 million loan to Haiti to help with relief efforts. However, Richard Kim at The Nation wrote that this loan was added onto $165 million in debt made up of loans with conditions "including raising prices for electricity, refusing pay increases to all public employees except those making minimum wage and keeping inflation low." This new $100 million loan has the same conditions. Kim writes, "in the face of this latest tragedy, the IMF is still using crisis and debt as leverage to compel neoliberal reforms." . . . The last thing Haiti needs at this point is more debt; what it needs is grants. . . . While international leaders and institutions are speaking about how many soldiers and dollars they are committing to Haiti, it is important to note that what Haiti needs is doctors not soldiers, grants not loans, a stronger public sector rather than a wholesale privatization, and critical solidarity with grassroots organizations and people to support the self-determination of the country. . . . "We don't need soldiers," Patrick Elie, the former Defense Minister under the Aristide government told Al Jazeera. "There is no war here." In addition to critiquing the presence of the soldiers, he commented on the US-control of the main airport. "The choice of what lands and what doesn't land, the priorities of the flight[s], should be determined by the Haitians. Otherwise, it's a takeover and what might happen is that the needs of Haitians are not taken into account, but only either the way a foreign country defines the need of Haiti, or try to push its own agenda."



posted by Lorenzo 8:22 PM


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