The Kidnapping of Haiti

By John Pilger
January 27, 2010

HaitiThe theft of Haiti has been swift and crude. On 22 January, the United States secured “formal approval” from the United Nations to take over all air and sea ports in Haiti, and to “secure” roads. No Haitian signed the agreement, which has no basis in law. Power rules in an American naval blockade and the arrival of 13,000 marines, special forces, spooks and mercenaries, none with humanitarian relief training.

The airport in the capital, Port-au-Prince, is now an American military base and relief flights have been re-routed to the Dominican Republic. All flights stopped for three hours for the arrival of Hillary Clinton. Critically injured Haitians waited unaided as 800 American residents in Haiti were fed, watered and evacuated. Six days passed before the US Air Force dropped bottled water to people suffering thirst and dehydration.

The first TV reports played a critical role, giving the impression of widespread criminal mayhem. Matt Frei, the BBC reporter dispatched from Washington, seemed on the point of hyperventilation as he brayed about the “violence” and need for “security”. In spite of the demonstrable dignity of the earthquake victims, and evidence of citizens’ groups toiling unaided to rescue people, and even an American general’s assessment that the violence in Haiti was considerably less than before the earthquake, Frei claimed that “looting is the only industry” and “the dignity of Haiti’s past is long forgotten.” Thus, a history of unerring US violence and exploitation in Haiti was consigned to the victims. “There’s no doubt,” reported Frei in the aftermath of America’s bloody invasion of Iraq in 2003, “that the desire to bring good, to bring American values to the rest of the world, and especially now to the Middle East … is now increasingly tied up with military power.”

In a sense, he was right. Never before in so-called peacetime have human relations been as militarised by rapacious power. Never before has an American president subordinated his government to the military establishment of his discredited predecessor, as Barack Obama has done. In pursuing George W. Bush’s policy of war and domination, Obama has sought from Congress an unprecedented military budget in excess of $700 billion. He has become, in effect, the spokesman for a military coup

For the people of Haiti the implications are clear, if grotesque. With US troops in control of their country, Obama has appointed George W. Bush to the “relief effort”: a parody surely lifted from Graham Greene’s The Comedians, set in Papa Doc’s Haiti. As president, Bush’s relief effort following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 amounted to an ethnic cleansing of many of New Orleans’ black population. In 2004, he ordered the kidnapping of the democratically-elected prime minister of Haiti, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and exiled him in Africa. The popular Aristide had had the temerity to legislate modest reforms, such as a minimum wage for those who toil in Haiti’s sweatshops.

When I was last in Haiti, I watched very young girls stooped in front of whirring, hissing, binding machines at the Port-au-Prince Superior Baseball Plant. Many had swollen eyes and lacerated arms. I produced a camera and was thrown out. Haiti is where America makes the equipment for its hallowed national game, for next to nothing. Haiti is where Walt Disney contractors make Mickey Mouse pjamas, for next to nothing. The US controls Haiti’s sugar, bauxite and sisal. Rice-growing was replaced by imported American rice, driving people into the cities and towns and jerry-built housing. Years after year, Haiti was invaded by US marines, infamous for atrocities that have been their specialty from the Philippines to Afghanistan.

Bill Clinton is another comedian, having got himself appointed the UN’s man in Haiti. Once fawned upon by the BBC as “Mr. Nice Guy … bringing democracy back to a sad and troubled land”, Clinton is Haiti’s most notorious privateer, demanding de-regulation of the economy for the benefit of the sweatshop barons. Lately, he has been promoting a $55m deal to turn the north of Haiti into an American-annexed “tourist playground”.

Not for tourists is the US building its fifth biggest embassy in Port-au-Prince. Oil was found in Haiti’s waters decades ago and the US has kept it in reserve until the Middle East begins to run dry. More urgently, an occupied Haiti has a strategic importance in Washington’s “rollback” plans for Latin America. The goal is the overthrow of the popular democracies in Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador, control of Venezuela’s abundant oil reserves and sabotage of the growing regional cooperation that has given millions their first taste of an economic and social justice long denied by US-sponsored regimes.

The first rollback success came last year with the coup against President Jose Manuel Zelaya in Honduras who also dared advocate a minimum wage and that the rich pay tax. Obama’s secret support for the illegal regime carries a clear warning to vulnerable governments in central America. Last October, the regime in Colombia, long bankrolled by Washington and supported by death squads, handed the US seven military bases to, according to US air force documents, “combat anti-US governments in the region”.

Media propaganda has laid the ground for what may well be Obama’s next war. On 14 December, researchers at the University of West England published first findings of a ten-year study of the BBC’s reporting of Venezuela. Of 304 BBC reports, only three mentioned any of the historic reforms of the Chavez government, while the majority denigrated Chavez’s extraordinary democratic record, at one point comparing him to Hitler.

Such distortion and its attendant servitude to western power are rife across the Anglo-American corporate media. People who struggle for a better life, or for life itself, from Venezuela to Honduras to Haiti, deserve our support.

5 thoughts on “The Kidnapping of Haiti”

  1. Security Kills: U. S. Fear of Democracy in Haiti by Mark Weisbrot
    Six days after the earthquake in Haiti, the U.S. Southern Command finally began to drop bottled water and food (MREs) from an Air Force C-17. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates had previously rejected such a method because of “security concerns.” The Guardian reports that people are dying of thirst. And if they do not get clean water, there can be epidemics of water-borne diseases that could greatly increase the death toll. But the United States is now sending 10,000 troops and seems to be prioritizing “security” over much more urgent, life-and-death needs. This is in addition to the increase of 3,500 UN troops scheduled to arrive.

    Cancel Haiti’s Debt by Sarah van Gelder
    Haiti has a painful history with debt. When it won its independence in 1804 — just the second country in the hemisphere to do so — it was required to pay restitution to France. Haiti went millions of dollars (billions in today’s dollars) into debt to compensate the French for their loss of property — including the lost profits from slave trading. Only by paying this restitution could Haiti end a crippling embargo by the French, British, and Americans. Money that the new government might have invested in building a new nation poured into loan payments that continued until the loan was paid off in 1947.

    IMF chief in U-turn as Venezuela cancels Haiti debt
    International Monetary Fund head Dominique Strauss-Kahn has made a U-turn on the US-dominated financial institution’s attempt to burden earthquake-devastated Haiti with another $100 million (£61.7m) of debt. Mr Strauss-Kahn declared that he now supported efforts to “delete all the Haitian debt, including our new loan,” following criticism from leaders such as Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who announced his own country’s immediate cancellation of a $295m (£182m) debt on Monday.

    Comprehensive ALBA Project to Help Haiti
    A comprehensive project for emergency aid, restoration and reconstruction of Haiti was approved on Monday in Caracas by the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA).

    ALBA countries allocate $120 million in aid to Haiti
    The Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) politico-economic bloc, at a special meeting in the Venezuelan capital on Monday, adopted a plan aimed at giving aid to Haiti in the elimination of the aftermath of the devastating earthquake and in the restoration of that Caribbean country.

    Chavez Writes Off Haiti’s Oil Debt to Venezuela
    President Hugo Chavez announced Monday that he would write off the undisclosed sum Haiti owes Venezuela for oil as part of the ALBA bloc’s plans to help the impoverished Caribbean nation after the devastating Jan. 12 earthquake. “Haiti has no debt with Venezuela, just the opposite: Venezuela has a historical debt with that nation, with that people for whom we feel not pity but rather admiration, and we share their faith, their hope,” Chavez said after the extraordinary meeting of foreign ministers of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas, or ALBA. He also announced that ALBA has decided on a comprehensive plan that includes an immediate donation of $20 million to Haiti’s health sector, and a fund that, Chavez said, will be at least $100 million “for starters.”

  2. I have asked this question on every paper I comment on: What are the Americans hiding in Haiti? We know from disaffected Haitians who migrated, fed up, and from those who wrote from inside Haiti that the American CIA/FBI had an office Inside The Presidential Palace, that predated Jean Bertrand Aristide’s presidency, and was thus in a position to arrest and deport him!

    Was this a listening post against Cuba? Was this to monitor the entire Caribbean over the Shiprider Agreements? Well they have a military post in Antigua, near St. John’s from which weapons were shipped to Africa and the Middle East; and they have a full naval base at Guantanamo, as well as they own the island of Puerto Rico outright, along with the islands that were used as bombing rnges, so why specifically Haiti? What do they need to hide, and cover up that in the midst of a disaster, they will take over all land and sea operations, except roads across the mountains from the DR, and begin patrols to prevent Haitians from escaping, even if they were trying to reach Jamaica, which has indicated an interest in taking Haitians in?
    When the US has something to hide that big, watch out. Was it a “rendering” compound for Guantanamo prisoners, outside of the scope of US law? Was it a germ/chemical warfare installation that was being tested on expendable people? Was it a secret training camp where African looking people could be trained for invasions into Africa-the continent? Or, was this, as some have suggested, some horrible test of some new weapon of mass destruction, the effects of which needs to be clearly monitored and documented, and other aid agencies would get in the way? This last could explain the refusal of landing rights first to the French Government, and secondly to the Medicins sans Frontiers planes. These people could speak French, and talk to the Haitians, without Americns understanding all that is said.

    Has any agency other than the US,tested the waters around where the quake’s epicenter was, for unusual chemicals, not released by an underground earthquake,or is that region outside the scope of any but the Americans?

    There are two “Americans” at work here. The generosity of the people in the face of disaster, can be matched only by a Hugo Chavez cancelling all of Haiti’s debt to Venezuela. The other American is the cynical manipulator of people, events and media for the benefit of motives that could only occur in sane people’s nightmares.

    Which America will triumph?

    Caricom countries, Haiti’s immediate neighbours, are apparently helpless.America is their big trading partner, and they have no armies to speak of. It may be left to various Latin American Free Trade groups to keep the feet of the world to the fire, with questions about what is really going on.

    Meanwhile, I salute that 17 year old Haitian girl who was pulled out alive, 15 days after the “quake”, which, strangely, was not predicted by any seismologists whose reports I have seen. All the monitoring stations in the Caribbean Basin, “saw’ nothing until after the explosion. Strange.When things do not add up, we must dig deeper.

  3. I am on paper in saying that no society can ever develop fully and sustainably on less it also address the needs of women , who remains it’s backbone , and children ,the obvious future.,0,355433,full.story

    Thanks unfortunately to this recent tragedy, Haiti -an obvious failed state , if ever there was one -is getting some long overdue media attention. Most importantly for me however is the emergence of three extremely important fallouts that have occurred , as the well intentioned , global community in various ways tries to render immediate short term assistance to this desperate population , in their moments of needs.
    The first that comes to mind is the plight of Haiti’s children that have experienced severe bouts of exploitation, and or neglect that can rival the worst that mankind can imagine in the most backward states across the global village. Many leaders have dirty hands , and let us not only point fingers at Haitians.
    The second significant issue that was highlighted is the role of ambitious , and sometimes misguided civil societies as reflected by NGOs ,that are trying to fill the void left by ineffective, uncaring government , and greedy corporate conglomerates only prepared to do so much so as to ease their consciences , and ensure their economic fiefdoms are maintained unabated.
    As millions of aid comes into Haiti ,a Joseph Heller’s Catch -22 scenario prevails as we try to answer the question as to who should be responsible for immediate dispersement of it , and long term reconstruction as well as strengthening of non existent infrastructures, when a culture of caring ,and service to the masses at the lower echelons , never existed, and might not occur for the next 50 years in that country.

    Finally, the situations in Haiti forces the astute amongst us to look into the mirror at the state of the poor, abandoned , neglected,psychologically traumatized, and powerless from within our own societies.
    It is especially in our treatment of children and woman that mankind has displayed the most callous elements of behaviors . So whether we are referring to African and Latin American child soldiers and subjugated women,or Asian child labor , as well as sexual abuse and slavery of children ,or usage of kids as terroristic suicidal pawns in backward Islamic Middle East, to finally , poverty and neglect of poor often first and second generation immigrant kids in yes, developed America and majority of Europe, the situations remains the same,despair , and an ever present cycle .
    As we human beings examine our roles towards ‘the other that transcends our own families,’ perhaps it is high time that fundamental question be asked ,who really cares beyond rhetoric ?

  4. It is about time officials start examining the theft of the minds of Haitians by American ‘christians’ under the guise of falsely offering charity to these people. Charity takes nothing for the giver. Stealing a person’s mind in exchange for food or shelter is crude barter.

  5. Talk about much ado over nothing. Only the blind would have dared to offer a different guess as to this eventual result of powerful unscrupulous Civil Society, ably protected by an enviable global hegemonic power , and sole remaining global policeman.,0,7499949.story
    Unfortunately, Haiti is not the first, nor is it going to be the last that would fall prey at the hands of politically orchestrated , Corporate conglomerate do gooders, whose sole interest at time is to push a narrow culturally bias ,allegedly superior agenda, where personal aggrandizement / profiteering , or political destabilization ,are the end game.
    Since 1492 the Vatican Catholic Church has knowingly flooded the globe , outside of Europe, with pedophiliac priests to spread their version of love , joy ,peace and prosperity, that was destined to make countries and communities into mini version of Sodom and Gomorrahs.
    How many suicide bombing 10 year olds have to die trying to garner the services of virgins in heaven , before we end political correctness , and call billionaire Arab Islamist to task for financing madrases , and other centers of vile, and venom?
    A few years ago , Uganda led the charge for condoms distribution in Africa , and so was a fine example of countries that tried to halt the spread of AIDS in Africa. Surprise , surprise , as then new aged Christian Right President G.W. Bush ,demanded that Africans are better served to stay on the morally pure highway ,if they collectively abstain from sex just like his then two drunken, uncontrollable teen aged daughters that lived in the White House.
    As such he demanded that no financial aid would be given through US aid agencies ,unless Ugandans adhere to such a draconian policy , the result of such naivety was of course , an erosion of the early successes gained, and thus ,re-escalation of AIDS figures for the country- where girls through sex education, are taught the art of pleasuring their future husbands from the age of five.
    Hopefully the day would soon come when serious efforts would be made to ensure that accountability is the norm within the corridors of power of civil society ,so that further exploitations of the poor and weak would be a thing of the past, as for too long ,sometimes caring , but most often self serving creatures , are allowed to have their way unabated.
    I stand corrected , we human beings tend to follow the golden rules ,and therefore in most instances are ‘our brothers keepers.’

Comments are closed.