It would be ironic, if you like your irony flavoured with blood and disinfectant, to discover that moored off Port au Prince at this moment is the US hospital ship, the USS Comfort, one of two employed in 1994 as floating slave barracoons in Kingston Harbour. Today the Comfort is providing medical care for people injured in the great earthquake of January 12.
In 1994, the Comfort and its consort functioned as temporary 'processing facilities' for Haitian refugees fleeing from a US supported coup and attendant tyranny. The refugees had been picked up either on the high seas or in Jamaican waters, running for their lives from a US-backed hoodlum-state, whose favourite law and order procedures were murder by dismemberment and disemboweling with bodies left in the streets; and women and children, beaten, publicly raped and disfigured and otherwise terrorised to encourage the others. Of those kidnapped either in Jamaican waters or on the high seas, 78.5% were sent back to their murderers while the rest were sent to Guantánamo Bay.
This barbarous triage was a joint venture operated by President William Jefferson Clinton of the United States and Jamaican Prime Minister Percival James Patterson. It was ended by Clinton's deciding he couldn't afford the death of a prominent black American leader on his record, if not on his conscience. Randall Robinson, President of TransAfrica, in one last desperate initiative, began a fast to the death in protest against his President's callous behaviour.
Clinton had inherited "the Haitian problem" from his predecessor who could tolerate any number of fair-skinned Cubans dropping in on Miami Beach, but was revolted by the idea of Haitians doing the same thing. It didn't matter that the Cubans, like Jamaicans and Mexicans were economic refugees while the Haitians were literally in fear of their lives.
This point was made explicit in 2002, by a former US Ambassador to Haiti, Timothy Carney, at the launching of the Haiti Democracy Project, the most important US NGO operating in Haiti. The launching was at the Brookings Institution, one of the most eminent right ring 'think-tanks' in Washington.
"Ambassador Roger Noriega mentioned that one of our interests is to defend human rights, but he didn't mention the fundamental interest, which is to defend Miami Beach. We don't want Haitians on Miami Beach … That is a fundamental interest of the United States … Now that you have realized that interest, you hopefully will have policies by which Haitians can realize their prosperity and their future at home.
" How do you do that? Well, we haven't figured that out yet, have we?"
That was a job for the Haiti Democracy Project and other US backed subversive NGOs whose function was simply to make sure that the President of Haiti, legally elected, would be unable to govern. These NGOs, dozens of them, using tactics honed in the 'peaceful overthrow' of former Communist states, didn't work well in Haiti; violence and provocation were introduced. The most effective weapons against Aristide were the press releases of the NGOs, swallowed whole by a criminally compliant US press. Even now, six years after Aristide was kidnapped by the then US Ambassador, US news agencies are printing garbage about "Aristide, deposed amid a violent uprising.'
These days, the USS Comfort, Bill Clinton and P.J Patterson are back in the organised hypocrisy game, along with new players like Ban Ki Moon who is proving as clueless about Haiti as his predecessor, Kofi Annan. Obama has brought back G. W. Bush, Condoleezza Rice's mouthpiece. No doubt there is room for old Haiti hands like Roger Noriega and Otto Reich. Pity they can't reanimate Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms, both eminent authorities on black people. But there's always Luigi Einaudi: "The only thing wrong with Haiti is that it is being run by Haitians"
There is good news for those people, and there are many, who worried that valuable American cash was being squandered on hapless Haitians who specialise in provoking Acts of God.
The Associated Press reports:
Only 1 cent of each dollar the U.S. is spending on earthquake relief in Haiti is going in the form of cash to the Haitian government, according to an Associated Press review of relief efforts.
Less than two weeks after President Obama announced an initial $100 million for Haiti earthquake relief, U.S. government spending on the disaster has tripled to $317 million at latest count. That's just over $1 each from everyone in the United States.
Relief experts say it would be a mistake to send too much direct cash to the Haitian government, which is in disarray and has a history of failure and corruption.
"I really believe Americans are the most generous people who ever lived, but they want accountability," said Timothy R. Knight, a former US AID assistant director who spent 25 years distributing disaster aid. "In this situation they're being very deliberate not to just throw money at the situation but to analyze based on a clear assessment and make sure that money goes to the best place possible."
The AP review of federal budget spreadsheets, procurement reports and contract databases shows the vast majority of U.S. funds going to established and tested providers, who are getting everything from 40-cent pounds of pinto beans to a $3.4 million barge into the disaster zone."
So, the worry warts can rest.
For one thing the Canadians and Europeans have donated more per capita to Haitian relief than the US and deserve a larger part in the immediate relief works.
Organisations like the Haiti Democracy Project and John McCain's International Republican Institute will make certain that American money is spent on Strengthening American democracy and defeating the populist interests which have made governance in Haiti a problem ever since the peasant rebellion 90 years ago which required the machine gunning of entire villages to restore law and order.
Meanwhile the United States, Canada, France and the rest of the (rapidly diminishing) civilised world met in Montreal a few days ago to devise a plan for developing a Haiti for the Age of Globalisation.
The participants were more or less the same countries who plotted to depose Aristide. "Shortly after Aristide's overwhelming victory in Haiti's first democratic presidential election in 1990, the relicts of the Jim Crow Marine occupation managed to convince the Americans, first John McCain's International Republican Institute and then elements of Bill Clinton's government and various Canadian politico and officials that Haiti under Aristide was a threat to civilisation as they knew it.…"
Denis Paradis, a Canadian Minister, convened a coven of like-minded fascists, "who decided that Aristide must go, and the Canadians and Americans through the Canadian aid agency (CIDA), the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and John McCain's International Republican Institute financed a whole panoply of Haitian francs tireurs, pimps and wannabe-presidents and face-card NGOs to support the programme of the elites which was simply to grab back from the Haitian people, the Universal Human Rights promulgated 200 years earlier for the first time on Earth by Jean Jacques Dessalines and the other illustrious fathers and mothers of the Haitian Revolution." (Common Sense-Canada's Bloody Hands' April 19,2009)
This is the juncture where things get really tricky.
It would appear to me that a people who fought for their freedom incessantly, for 300 years and finally won it 200 years ago deserve to be accorded considerable respect. Moreso, because they fought as slaves, entrapped and circumscribed by the system itself and despite this, defeated three of the world's most powerful armies, one of them twice. They are the only people in history to have broken their shackles themselves. Spartacus who tried valiantly but failed, is revered as a European hero. Bouckman, Toussaint and Dessalines are ignored by the same historians. It is not so odd; TIME recognised Margaret Thatcher but not Fidel Castro as a revolutionary.
Those Haitians whose savagery, indiscipline and general lawlessness the western "press" celebrated in slavering anticipation failed to show. The Haitians who survived behaved as those who know them expected: patient, disciplined, and displaying an exemplary solidarity, sharing their crusts while starving.
It was these same people who declared universal emancipation and universal human rights two centuries ago and who have told anyone who wants to listen that they know what they want and who they want to lead them and speak for them
They know how to develop their nation, if only, for the first time at last, they are allowed to do what they want.
They need help, but help on their own terms.
They want work, real work, not plastic 'jobs' in freezone sweatshops..
They want to go back to feeding themselves. They want to be complete Haitians again; the people who helped Bolivar liberate South America.
The world needs to get out of the way. France, the United States and Canada owe the Haitians billions in damages. It is not for them to tell the Haitians what to spend it on. France used Haitian money to conquer Algeria. Haitians want that money to conquer child hunger and maternal mortality.
If the General Assembly wants to prove its worth it should move quickly to take the Haitian initiative away from the clueless and overtaxed Security Council. The Assembly can – guided by the Haitians and with the expert help of Cuba, Venezuela, South Africa, Kerala (India), Brazil, China and other parts of the developing world – map out an agenda and organise help from wherever it is available without strings. The object is not to defend Miami Beach but to protect the vital interests of the Haitians, and, by extension, the vital interests of humanity.
And, if anyone wants to know what to do right now: Land 10 thousand wheelbarrows on the streets handing them over to neighbourhood groups. Let the groups decide how they are going to move the rubble and what they are going to do with it. Give the groups money and supplies to set up 10 thousand street kitchens say about $200 a group. Let the groups pay the wheelbarrow men if necessary. In three weeks the casual journalist would be hard put to find any of the 'usual' stories. Total cost $2 million plus $1 million for wheelbarrows.
Meanwhile the UN can be assembling a real security force to protect the Haitians and particularly their president and under his direction, design and instal the apparatus allowing Haitians to run their own country and to make their own mistakes, for the first time at last.
COPYRIGHT©2010 JOHN MAXWELL – email@example.com