US Corporations, Private Mercenaries and the IMF Rush in to Profit from Haiti's Crisis
Stay up to date with the latest headlines via email.
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.
In the aftermath of the earthquake, with much of the infrastructure and government services destroyed, Haitians have relied on each other for the relief efforts, working together to pull their neighbors, friends and loved ones from the rubble. One report from IPS News in Haiti explained, "In the day following the quake, there was no widespread violence. Guns, knives and theft weren't seen on the streets, lined only with family after family carrying their belongings. They voiced their anger and frustration with sad songs that echoed throughout the night, not their fists."
Bob Moliere, an organizer within the popular political party Fanmi Lavalas was killed in the earthquake. His wife, Marianne Moliere, told IPS News after burying her husband, "There is no life for me because Bob was everything to me. I lost everything. Everything is destroyed," she said. "I'm sleeping in the street now because I'm homeless. But when I get some water, I share with others. Or if someone gives some spaghetti, I share with my family and others."
It is not this type of solidarity that has emerged in the wake of the crisis - and the delayed and muddled response from the international community - that most corporate media in the US have focused on. Instead, echoing the coverage and calls for militarization of New Orleans in the wake of Katrina, major media outlets talk about the looting, and need for security to protect private property.
One request from Erwin Berthold, the owner of Big Star Market in Petionville, Haiti, reflects this concern for profit over people. Berthold told the Washington Post about his supermarket, "We have everything cleaned up inside. We are ready to open. We just need some security. So send in the Marines, okay?"
That militarization is already underway. This week the US is sending thousands of troops and soldiers to the country. The Haitian government has signed over control of its capital airport to the US. Brazil and France have already lodged complaints that US military planes are now being given priority over other flights at the international airport.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez responded to the US troop deployment. "I read that 3,000 soldiers are arriving, Marines armed as if they were going to war. There is not a shortage of guns there, my God. Doctors, medicine, fuel, field hospitals, that's what the United States should send," Chavez said. "They are occupying Haiti undercover." The Venezuelan President pledged to send any necessary amount of gasoline needed to the country to aid with electricity and transport.
A Heroic History in Washington's Backyard
There is also little mention in the major news outlets' coverage of how the US government and corporations helped impoverish Haiti in the first place, creating the economic poverty that makes disasters like this so extensive. Nor is there mention of the country's heroic struggle against imperialism and slavery. Fidel Castro pointed out in a recent column, "Haiti was the first country in which 400,000 Africans, enslaved and trafficked by Europeans, rose up against 30,000 white slave masters on the sugar and coffee plantations, thus undertaking the first great social revolution in our hemisphere. ... Napoleon's most eminent general was defeated there. Haiti is the net product of colonialism and imperialism, of more than one century of the employment of its human resources in the toughest forms of work, of military interventions and the extraction of its natural resources."