Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Profiting from Haiti's crisis


‘Wars, conflict- it’s all business', says Monsieur Verdoux, Charlie Chaplin’s anti-hero in the classic 1947 film.

He might have added ‘disaster relief’ too.

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.
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.


You can read the whole of Benjamin Dangl's excellent piece 'Profiting from Haiti's crisis', over at Global Research.

On the same website, do try and read this great article by Michel Chossudovsky, on the militarisation of US aid to Haiti.

And here is Michel’s brilliant 2004 article on the Washington/IMF/World Bank destabilisation of Haiti- and the similarities with the Washington-led destabilisation of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia a few years earlier.

10 comments:

Czarny Kot said...

Interesting articles.

RE Haiti's history: I strongly recommend a novel by Cuban writer Alejandro Carpentier called 'The Kingdom of this World' which is set before, during and after the revolution.

It is also a sad footnote of history that Napoleon sent several thousand Poles, who had volunteered for the French hoping to regain thier own independence, to put down the slave's revolt.

Needless to say, the Polish troops who had signed up for 'Liberty, Equality and Fraternity' were somewhat disillusioned and most of them perished from tropical diseases.

Mr. Piccolo said...

I know I might be off topic, but I must say I often find it odd that neoliberals go about bashing the public sector and telling developing nations that they need to adopt "small government," and then turn around and complain when some of these same countries become "failed states" and havens for all sorts of nasty types. Furthermore, when some of these countries fail to develop, the neoliberals are quick to declare the native culture "intrinsically corrupt" while ignoring, for instance, that when a public sector is so weak and underpaid, it is very likely that public officials will seek other ways to supplement their income, through bribery for example.

But what is perhaps more hypocritical is that very few of today's wealthy nations used liberal economic policies when they developed. Almost all modern rich nations followed (to one degree or another) a state-led form of development. Cambridge economist Ha-Joon Chang talks about these very issues in his excellent book "Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism," I recommend it for anyone with an interest in economic history or development economics.

Douglas said...

Where is the government of Haiti in all this? I have not seen or heard one government official in a week.

Douglas said...

You seem to emphasize the role that nations and international aid organizations have played in Haiti's difficulties, and deemphasized the role the Haitian people played in their own difficulties.

Their leaders (the Duvaliers are the only ones I know) enriched themselves at the expense of the people, and ruled with a violent, iron fist. They did a perfectly good job of wrecking their own country.

olching said...

Douglas,

Read some Haitian history before commenting. I hate it when people comment whilst admitting they haven't got a clue what they are talking about.

Papa Duvalier courted the US for support due to his 'anti-communist' credentials. Yes of course the Duveliers were corrupt bastards, that is why they lasted so long. In the Cold War thinking of the US it is better to have a bastard whom one can control than a genuine politician who might be critical.

That was Aristide's problem; he attempted some genuine people's policies and was brushed aside (twice!) by the US.

Haiti has been suppressed by the 'international community' since its independence (not to mention the slavery before that). It had the audacity to liberate itself from colonialism and abolish slavery. From the outset it was riddled with debt 'owed' to France to compensate for loss of slavery.

By 1900, 80% of its GDP went on 'compensation'. Coupled with that the volatile political situation, the US intervention in 1983 where more or less all livestock was destroyed by the US for 'health' reasons, and you can kind of see why no infrastructure has ever been able to develop.

What is happening now is the use of humanitarian motives to sell the 'international community's' foreign policy image to the world. In reality it's a brutal muscle-flexing exercise over who is allowed to publicly help.

This is why airports, ports, streets, are being cut off by the US military in order to control the humanitarian 'relief' effort.

If you want to donate or help Haitians, vet and research the charity in question. Anything with tenuous links to governmental organisations are usually useless due to the above.

Gregor said...

@Neil

OT, but what’s the odds that the Ukrainians will be demonised by the neo-liberal media for electing the ‘wrong’ candidate. Admittedly, Yushenko has done surprisingly well so far: he has 5% of the vote, which is almost double his approval ratings.

But Yanukovitch is well in advance, followed by Tymoshenko (who was cosying up to Putin recently). Another round coming up, but even in the marginal chance that Tymoshenko is elected, I reckon our media won't like it.

Wonder what Garton-Ash will say about his boy limping off with 5%?

Jahn B. Nesle said...

Brilliant, Neil Clark – thanks for making us aware Benjamin Dangl's comments at Global Research. I’m going to translate this into Norwegian, and put a link to your excellent blog on my own blog.

Krakow's New Dragons said...

This is Karl Naylor. The blog Eastern Europe Watch has been suspended for one year, though the archives remain.

The reason is my activism in conservation work in Krakow requires me to ( deep breath ) try to win over PO and PiS politicians.

So if Neil could kindly replace "Eastern Europe Watch" with "Krakow' New Dragons : A watch over the Wisla I would be happy.

The Conservation movement represents what Neil has always called for in action: conservatives, lefts, greens etc working together.

The blog defends localism and the unique character of Krakow esp Old working class quarters like Podgorze from "Yuppification".

It also defends traditional elegany Austro-Hungarian building from being torn down or reduced to Facades.

hollywod locksmith said...

I'm glad that the media is covering all the diasters of the world to make people aware of the needs of many people of Haiti and the need of support any way. I'm glad that people are stepping up and giving a hand to another human being. It is sad that it took a natural diaster to get people pour their hearts and money to country of Haiti. Where were these people 6 months ago or even a year ago to help the people of Haiti and i hope it will continue after the media goes away from this natural diaster.

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