[A-List] The Kidnapping of Haiti, John Pilger
james.irldaly at ntlworld.com
Sat Jan 30 11:09:59 MST 2010
The Kidnapping of Haiti,
Posted to CN by: "Norman Girvan"
norman.girvan at gmail.com normangirvan
Fri Jan 29, 2010 8:57 am (PST)
The kidnapping of Haiti
John Pilger <http://www.newstatesman.com/writers/john_pilger>
Published 28 January 2010 New Statesman
With US troops in control of their country, the outlook for the people of
Haiti is bleak
The 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 a US 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 a US military base and
relief flights have been rerouted 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 dehydration. A very American coup
The first TV reports played a critical role, giving the impression of
widespread criminal mayhem. Matt Frei, the BBC reporter despatched from
Washington, seemed on the point of hyperventilating 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 a US 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 $700bn. 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 Bush to the "relief
effort": a parody lifted from Graham Greene's The Comedians, set in Papa
Doc's Haiti. *Bush's relief effort following Hurricane Katrina in 2005
amounted to an ethnic cleansing of many of New Orleans's black population.
In 2004, he ordered the kidnapping of the democratically elected president
of Haiti, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and exiled him to 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 Superior baseball plant in
Port-au-Prince. 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 pyjamas, 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 town and jerry-built housing. Year
after year, Haiti was invaded by US marines, infamous for atrocities that
have been their speciality 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 deregulation that benefits 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. 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 petroleum reserves, and sabotage of
the growing regional co-operation long denied by US-sponsored regimes.
Obama's next war?
The first rollback success came last year with the coup against the Honduran
president José Manuel Zelaya, who also dared advocate a minimum wage and
that the rich pay tax. Obama's secret support for the illegal regime in
Honduras 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 Americans seven military bases to
"combat anti-US governments in the region".
Media propaganda has laid the ground for what may well be Obama's next war.
In December, researchers at the University of the West of England published
first findings of a ten-year study of BBC reporting on Venezuela. Of 304 BBC
reports, only three mentioned any of the historic reforms of Hugo Chávez's
government, while the majority denigrated his extraordinary democratic
record, at one point comparing him to Hitler.
Such distortion and servitude to western power are rife across the
Anglo-American media. People who struggle for a better life, or for life
itself, from Venezuela to Honduras to Haiti, deserve our support.
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