The taking of Haiti

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The theft of Haiti has been swift and crude.

On 22 January the US 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 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 US residents in Haiti were fed, watered and evacuated. Six days passed before the US air force dropped bottled water to people ravaged by 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 warned about the 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 brayed that "looting is the only industry" and "the dignity of Haiti's past is long forgotten".

It was yet another master class in consigning a history of unerring US violence and exploitation in Haiti to the victims. "There's no doubt", reported Frei in the aftermath of the bloody US 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 is right. Never before in so-called peacetime have human relations been as militarised by rapacious power. Never before has a US president subordinated his government to the military establishment, including the secretary of defence, of his discredited predecessor, as Barack Obama has done. In pursuing George W Bush's policy of war and domination, Obama seeks from congress an unprecedented military budget in excess of $700 billion. He has become, in effect, the spokesman for a military coup.


John Pilger in the New Statesman


Haiti coverage in this month's Socialist Review:

Haiti - the making of a catastrophe, by Mike Gonzalez

The taking of Haiti, by John Pilger

Haiti - Repression and Resistance, by Mike Gonzalez

Haiti - hell on earth, by Andrew Taylor

Haiti's burden of debt

Haiti - Toussaint L'Ouverture: The Gilded African

Haiti - who are the real looters?, by Patrick Acureuil and Pepijn Brandon

Haiti - aid of recovery