Yesterday, as I looked over articles on the aid efforts in Haiti, I wondered why it was so necessary for US Troops to be fully equipped with semiautomatics. This is a relief effort, not a war, right? I mean, it's no secret that I think our current system errs on the side of "shady", so of course I'm going to question the real motives in this situation. I'm coming to find that what's worse than the questioning is the disappointment in knowing that the questioning is merited.
Today, I came across "Profiting from Haiti’s Crisis: Disaster Capitalism in Washington’s Backyard" by Benjamin Dangl on Commondreams.org. If you're interested in this situation in Haiti and our part in it, I STRONGLY recommend reading this article. The first line (as many first lines so often do) paints a pretty clear picture...
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.
Oh, Uncle "Money Bags" Sam, you never miss an opportunity, do you?
What we also have to keep in mind is that Haiti was in a dire state BEFORE this happened and when you do the math, it's pretty clear who held the cards in all that. The article continues...
Brian Concannon, the director of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti told Hallward of the root causes for the overpopulation of neighborhoods in the city of Port-au-Prince that were hit so hard by the earthquake. "Those people got there because they or their parents were intentionally pushed out of the countryside by aid and trade policies specifically designed to create a large captive and therefore exploitable labor force in the cities; by definition they are people who would not be able to afford to build earthquake resistant houses." Unnatural crises such as this made the earthquake much more devastating.
Dangl quotes the author Naomi Kline:
...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.
Get THIS! Check out what Kline recently pointed out on Democracy Now! about the Heritage Foundation:
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."
They eventually took that statement down, but it was there, as clear as day (as were their motives).
One of Dangl's final points hits the nail on the head:
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.
That doesn't sound outrageous does it? Sounds like a completely logical statement, right? Wouldn't it be nice if that was the approach that won in the end? I'm afraid it looks as though Uncle Money Bags is setting up camp and drawing up his own rules, yet again...