Following Haiti's catastrophic
January 12, 2010 earthquake, billions of dollars in relief aid were
raised. Suffering Haitians got virtually none of it.
Hundreds of thousands remain homeless. A cholera emergency still exists.
On June 19, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent
"There is a significant probability of a major cholera emergency in
Haiti in the coming months but resources have been severely diminished."
Increased numbers of cases were reported in the Artibonite, Nord-Ouest,
Nord-Est, Ouest, Gonave island, and homeless camps in Port-au-Prince
and surrounding areas.
The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) estimates another 170,000
new cases by end of 2012.
Haiti's problems are severe. Deep poverty, deprivation, and unemployment
torment millions. Earthquake devastation compounded them. Little relief
came. It was stolen for commercial development.
It's common practice to divert relief aid to private developers. In
2004, a second tsunami struck Sri Lanka. The first one took 250,000
lives and left 2.5 million homeless throughout the region.
Coastal areas were scrubbed clean. Everything was gone. Sri Lankans
living there lost everything. New rules prohibited rebuilding homes
where they once stood. Buffer zone restrictions insured it.
Beaches were off-limits to people who once lived there. Displaced Sri
Lankans were shoved into temporary grim inland camps. Soldiers prevented
them from coming home.
At issue was developing coastal areas for profit. Luxury destinations
were planned. Formerly occupied land was sold to commercial buyers.
Privatization was the new game.
Displaced residents were entirely left out. What they lost, they never
got back. Land grab money making became policy.
Tsunami victims in other ravaged countries suffered the same fate. The
pattern repeated everywhere. People were prohibited from rebuilding
where they once lived.
What nature wrought, corporate developers and corrupt politicians compounded
by stealing their land for profit.
New Orleans Katrina victims suffered the same way. Blank became beautiful.
Erased communities were replaced with upscale condos and other high-profit
projects on choice city real estate.
Residents who once lived there were forced out. Politicians conspired
with developers to assure they didn't come back.
History not only rhymes, as Mark Twain once said, a lot of times it
repeats. Haitians now suffer like Sri Lankans, other East Asian tsunami
victims, and Katrina displaced New Orleans residents.
Haitians are no strangers to adversity and anguish. For over 500 years,
they suffered severe oppression, slavery, despotism, colonization, reparations,
embargoes, sanctions, deep poverty, starvation, unrepayable debt, and
They included destructive hurricanes and numerous magnitude 7.0 or greater
The last major one came in 1946. A magnitude 8.1 quake struck adjacent
Dominican Republic. Haiti was also affected. Earlier catastrophic ones
were in 1751 and 1770. Both devastated Port-au-Prince. In 1842 Cap-Haitien
In 2004, Washington militarized Haiti after ousting Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
After January 2010, in came the marines.
After its worst catastrophe in nearly 170 years, Haitians need food,
housing, medical care, clean water, and other vital services, not military
forces confronting them repressively. They still do.
US marines are gone. MINUSTAH shock troops remain. For years, they've
committed murders, kidnappings, extrajudicial detentions, rapes, non-sexual
assaults, physical threats, and other type abuses. They're enforcers
for political and corporate crime bosses.
Haiti always was open for profit and exploitation. Earthquake devastation
created new opportunities. The country was declared open for business.
Washington and other Western predators took full advantage.
So did hundreds of for-profit NGOs. They skim most relief aid donations
for themselves. So do corporate developers and other profiteers. They
steal private donations and pledged amounts freely. Haiti's pseudo-government
then and now acquiesces.
No one helped Haitians like Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Two coups ousted
him. Exile followed each time. He's back but out of politics. Electoral
manipulation installed Washington's man.
Stealth Duvalierist Michel (Sweet Micky) Martelly became president.
Most Haitians despise him. It hardly mattered. They had no say in preventing
his illegitimate elevation to the nation's highest office. Haitian suffering
In January, Bill Quigley and Amber Ramanauskas headlined "Where the
Relief Money Did and Did Not Go - Haiti after the Quake," saying:
Despite billions in pledged and donated aid, "Haiti looks like the earthquake
happened two months ago, not two years."
Rarely does this news get covered. Over half a million people then remained
homeless. They still do. Most debris lay where it fell. Cholera was
killing thousands. It's still out of control because too little is done
to stop, control, and treat it.
Instead of relief going to help Haitians, it's given to profiteering
companies and NGOs. Haitians then and now ask where did the money go?
It hasn't helped them.
Washington diverted the largest amount. Instead of helping, it sent
in the marines, let contracts for corporate predators, and funded well-connected
profiteering NGOs. Haitians got hardly anything. They're still waiting
for desperately needed aid.
Their government got 1% of the money. Little went to Haitian companies
or local NGOs. Private companies specializing in disasters got funding.
Much of what was pledged never came. It happens every time.
Other funds received weren't spent. Quigley and Ramanauskas are human
rights lawyers. They said:
"Respect, transparency and accountability are the building blocks for
"Haitians deserve to know where the money has gone, what the plans are
for the money still left, and to be partners in the decision-making
for what is to come."
Once relief aid stops, they'll be responsible entirely for solving problems
so far not even addressed.
On July 5, The New York Times headlined "Earthquake Relief Where Haiti
It provided a rare mainstream glimpse at how Haitians have been harmed
"On the first anniversary of the Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake, in a sleepy
corner of northeast Haiti far from the disaster zone, the Haitian government
began the process of evicting 366 farmers from a large, fertile tract
of land to clear the way for a new industrial park."
They didn't "understand why authorities wanted to replace productive
agricultural land with factories in a rural country that had trouble
Many other troubling incidents followed. Haitians are virtually helpless
to stop it.
Bill Clinton co-chairs the so-called Haiti recovery commission. He celebrated
the Caracol Industrial Park project by "cementing an agreement with
the anchor tenant - Sae-A-Trading." Wife Hillary helped seal the deal.
Sae-A is a South Korean clothing manufacturer. It's a major supplier
for Walmart and other large retailers.
They, like other local manufacturers, want to exploit Haitians lucky
to have work no matter how poorly they're paid and treated. They get
below poverty wages. They're treated little better than slaves.
Two and a half years after the quake, "Haiti remains mired in a humanitarian
crisis." Hundreds of thousands are homeless. They're largely on their
own to survive.
This and other commercial developments benefit profiteers, not Haitians.
"Caracol Industrial Park is hardly reconstruction in the strictest sense."
Its developers downplay labor and environmental concerns. They came
to make money, not help Haitians. Sae-A has an odious reputation. It
closed its Guatemala factory over troubled labor relations.
The AFL/CIO urged Haiti's government not to accept them. A detailed
memo described "egregious antiunion repression." It includes "acts of
violence and intimidation." Guatemalan monitor Homero Fuentes called
Sae-A "one of the major labor violators."
Worker Rights Consortium executive director Scott Nova calls the company
"a big player in a dirty industry with a track record that suggests
a degree of ruthlessness even worse than the norm."
Other critics expressed concerns about its Guatemalan labor and criminal
law violations. Company executives used every dirty tactic imaginable
to squeeze out profits. Manufacturing is conducted amidst intimidation,
death and other threats on workers.
Nonetheless, Bill and Hillary Clinton welcomed Sae-A with open arms.
Caracol Bay contains Haiti's most extensive mangrove reserve and valued
coral reef. Better suited sites were bypassed. Haiti's Audubon Society
head Arnoud Dupuy called doing so "heresy."
Environmental considerations were ignored. Despite objections, development
went ahead as planned. It includes a heavy fuel oil power plant, a dense
housing project, and port on a soon to be lost pristine bay.
Instead of promised "building back better," profits superseded environmental
and people concerns. Local backers and US officials downplayed the enormous
Haitians won't be helped. They'll be ruthlessly exploited for profit.
Caracol's mayor, Landry Colas, wasn't consulted. He'd have picked a
different site, he said.
This one is vast. It comprises nearly a square mile. It's in Haiti's
north, south of Cap-Haitien. It's bisected by the Hole of the North
River and fed by the Massacre Aquifer.
Land was cleared last year. Small farmers were evicted. The tract resembles
"a gravelly lunar landscape. Its perimeter is fenced, and outside the
gate, a banner drapes a church, proclaiming ‘Sae-A Loves You.’ "
It reminds some of Orwell's "War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance
Sae-A executives see Caracol Bay as a blank slate to develop and exploit
as they wish. Haitians have a much different view. Land chosen has a
history of foreign exploitation and agrarian struggle. Peasants alternated
between occupation and eviction.
In 1986, residents reclaimed the land after Baby Doc Duvalier fell from
power and fled to France. They divided it into hundreds of small farms.
Many paid yearly rent to squat. The land's replete with "collective
Bill and Hillary Clinton added more. Aggrieved Haitians won't forget
or forgive. The William J. Clinton Foundation and Inter-American Development
Bank lured hundreds of potential investors to Haiti.
Big profits were promised. The industrial park was bait. Away from Haiti's
devastated south, it was ideal.
Ravaged areas remain troubled by slow rubble removal, problems securing
land, and institutional ones.
Export processing zones aren't new in Haiti. Choosing the best sites
are prioritized. Professor Laurent Dubois calls developing industrial
parks a "tired" idea, saying:
"The way I see it, in a deep, long, historical way, Haiti was founded
by ex-slaves who overthrew a plantation system and people keep trying
to get them to return to some form of plantation."
"There have been cycles of (these) type project(s), where the idea is
that foreign investment will modernize the country. But things have
gotten progressively worse for Haitians."
A local bank manager called developing a garment maquiladora zone a
last resort idea. Free land, slave wages, extensive infrastructure development,
and other investment incentives lured Sai-A. In return, it's spending
a modest amount.
Environmentalists were shocked that the company would anchor a giant
industrial park. Before Haiti's quake, they designated Caracol Bay to
become the country's first marine protected site.
Development imperils conservation. Haiti's government chose the site.
Washington's heavy hand made the difference. It has valued soil and
water resources. It's ideal for farming.
Environmental impact studies weren't done. After the fact, concerns
were raised. It was too late. Caracol's mayor Colas worries that his
city will become another Cite Soleil slum.
He added that he feels like he's being used. Signing ceremony attendees
stop by City Hall, he said. They greet him, but there's no relationship
or involvement in planning or deals signed. Foreigners know more about
what's going on than he does, he complained.
Millions of Haitians have known nothing but brutal exploitation and
numbing poverty for hundreds of years.
Caracol Bay and other commercial development projects change nothing.
Haitian suffering continues.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book is titled "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized
Banking, Government Collusion and Class War"
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge
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