Ban Ki-Moon obviously has a very twisted sense of humour. As if the Katrina fiasco wasn’t sufficient evidence of the singular unsuitability of the U.S. to lead any sort of disaster effort, appointing a power-abusing sex-offending lying ex-President as Special Envoy beggared belief.
Even the most generous interpretation would have to conclude that the U.S. had already surpassed its Katrina incompetence – they took eight days, yes EIGHT days, to decide to air-drop food and water into Haiti, resulting in who knows how many thousand unnecessary deaths. [i] Defense Secretary Robert Gates said earlier airdrops were ruled out “because they might have done more harm than good.”’ [ii] (ie there would be more survivors who might challenge the blatant US military occupation, carried out under the guise of ‘security’ to protect the populace from the pseudo-rioting and looting invented by U.S. media hacks to justify it – but more of the un-generous interpretation later.)
When the U.S. finally got around to airdrops, ie when the “riots and looting” (read, people frantically trying to get food, water, and medical help for themselves and others) were happening anyway because so little assistance was forthcoming, and some ethical international commentators were having more success getting the truth out than Fox et al were in distorting it, we learnt the purported ‘why’ of the delay: “Parachuting bundles of food and water into Haiti became viable for the first time Monday in part because there are enough troops there to identify a safe place to drop them…” [iii]
Give us a break – before the earthquake even struck the U.N. already had over 10,000 troops, other personnel and international police on the ground in Haiti [iv] and there were some 10,000 NGOs registered [v] – are we seriously expected to believe these guys couldn’t get it together to receive air drops for over a week?
Worse still, the headquarters of US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) held pre-disaster simulations in Miami of a relief response to the impact of a hurricane in Haiti the DAY BEFORE the earthquake! [vi] Are their memories are THAT short??!!
It’s therefore pretty obvious that both the UN and the U.S. military, not to mention a sizeable bunch of NGOs, aren’t up to the job of looking after disaster victims’ interests. What is less obvious is why the UN does not head up the response effort by someone from a country with a proven track-record in this, such as Cuba, [vii] together with someone from UNICEF, given the age demographic of Haiti.
Maybe because the REAL reason it took eight days for the U.S. administration to start a genuine emergency response is that, with the complicity of Ban Ki-Moon and puppet-President Préval, they were too busy using the earthquake as a convenient excuse to secure U.S. interests in the region. They were too busy taking military control of Haiti’s airport and port facilities, prioritising the deployment of U.S. troops and evacuation of U.S. citizens, to trouble themselves with such trivial details as the provision and distribution of food and medical supplies to the devastated Haitians. [viii]
How many thousands more Haitians would have died but for the Cuban doctors, who had continuously, and without fanfare, been providing emergency health care from Day One, [ix] and Venezuela from Day Two – after they had managed to circumvent the U.S. military blockade of the airport, that is. [x]
More concerned about appearing to ‘lead the world’ and upstaging Cuba and Venezuela in the public relations stakes , the U.S. prevented not only CARICOM countries from landing with humanitarian assistance, but also aid flights from France, Brazil, and Italy, as well as several international aid agencies such as UNICEF, World Food Program (WFP), Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), and the Red Cross, who were either refused landing or diverted to other countries in the essential first days. [xii]
And it’s not only one-way – the U.S. is also running a naval blockade to keep adult Haitians from getting out. [xiii] Unfortunately, what happens to them inside the country even without a quake, is not exactly fun either. [xiv] Economic interests (but whose) are clearly not being ignored, and Canada also has its fingers in the pie. [xvi] While Venezuela promptly cancelled Haiti’s debt, [xvii] others have yet to even repay theirs, [xviii] and still others are just cashing in on the tragedy. [xix]
There are increasing suspicions that the U.S. may even have caused the earthquake. [xx]
The result of this bare-faced U.S. military invasion masquerading as aid was a veritable chorus of well-founded accusations from international diplomatic, media, academic, legal, human rights, NGO and political circles that the U.S., with the complicity of the United Nations [xxi], was using the Haitian earthquake to undertake a military occupation of Haiti to further U.S. strategic military and economic interests in the region, [xxii] shaming them into unconfirmed reports after a week of stalling that the U.S. would give precedence for landing to civilian over military planes at Port-au-Prince’s airport. [xxiii]
So aid finally started reaching people…but that was not the only thing to arrive. In scenes reminiscent of the 2004 tsunami when thousands of child survivors just ‘disappeared’ into the people-trafficking ether, human vultures had already swooped, stealing children from hospitals,[xxiv] and scooping up ‘orphans’ by the plane- and bus-load and transporting them out of Haiti. [xxv]
Unicef said the disaster was likely to have separated thousands of children from their parents or guardians, and the agency repeated warnings about the threat of child traffickers. In an attempt to prevent the illegal departure of many children UNICEF is deploying two specialized staff to control documentation at the airport.[xxvii]
So take a bus instead! Ten U.S. ‘missionaries’ are already under arrest for trying to smuggle 33 children out of the country, and that was not their first attempt.[xxvii] Of course they are most unlikely to actually face trial let alone be convicted of this blatant crime – Clinton has already negotiated a deal to get all but Laura Silsby freed[xxix] (she obviously should have worn her blue dress that day…), showing how much HE gives a toss about what UNICEF has to say.
We should hardly be surprised – even a human-rights-law-quoting suitably-outraged usually on-the-button US commentator neglected to mention that the U.S. is one of only two countries in the world NOT to have ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child.[xxx] Why should they suddenly start caring about Haitian children when they don’t even pretend to protect their own? And in Clinton’s case, have sex with at least one woman in his employ young enough to be his daughter? Isn’t that precisely one of the major problems already facing ‘restaveks’?
Given U.S. conduct since the Haiti quake, and Bill Clinton’s before and since, I think we can safely say that in condoning the US military occupation of Haiti and in appointing Bill Clinton as the UN Special Envoy, Ban Ki-Moon demonstrated a gross lack of respect and concern not only for Haitians but for every member country of his organisation, and several of its own agencies to boot. Clinton’s illness provides him with an opportunity to make at least some amends.
As Chossudovsky and numerous others have pointed out, since the devastation of 12 January, the Haitian people have exhibited a high degree of solidarity, courage and social commitment which the militarization of relief operations can only undermine, weakening the organizational capabilities of Haitians to rebuild and reinstate their institutions of civilian government, as well as their lives.
Community-based integrated disaster response and recovery models have been promoted by various UN bodies and at-risk countries for at least a decade.[xxxi]
It’s time Ban Ki-Moon walked the talk. He should be supporting UN agencies in their difficult task of using best practice to assist Haitians to rebuild their shattered lives, not undermining them by condoning a military occupation and genocide.[xxxii]
He should now appoint the most appropriate person as Special Envoy for the response and recovery effort – a person with demonstrated capacity in the area, without exploitative economic motives but with the trust and confidence of Haitians. This is clearly NOT Bill Clinton, whose current health crisis suggests it is time to give him a break, and appoint a new person to this important role.
Ban Ki-Moon now has a unique opportunity to stand with the south and look left, where he will find several candidates with impeccable credentials – not only world leaders in disaster preparedness, management and recovery, but also a lengthy history of solidarity in the region and beyond – plus a demonstrated commitment to refrain from military intervention in other nation states.
Kia kaha, Ban Ki-Moon – get the cavalry out of there, and someone in who actually gives a damn about Haitians.
Julie Webb-Pullman is a New Zealand based freelance writer who has reported about – and on occasion from – Central America for Scoop since 2003. Send Feedback to[email protected]
i. “Haiti: Obama’s Katrina, Many post-quake deaths could have been prevented.” Drs Soumitra R. Eachempati, Dean Lorich, and David Helfet 25/01/10 http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703808904575025091656446622.html; see also American Paratroopers Land In Haiti: And on the Eighth Day…by William Bowles 20/01/10 http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=17084; see also The Economist: 18/01/10 “[T]he majority of victims did not perish during the 35-second tremor… some 200,000 people were probably injured or trapped but not killed by the quake… an additional 25,000 of them have died on each day that has passed since the tremor, as a result of treatable ailments such as bleeding, dehydration, suffocation and infection.” http://www.economist.com/world/americas/PrinterFriendly.cfm?story_id=15320716; see also History of a Haitian Holocaust: Blackwater before drinking water by Greg Palast 17/01/10 gregpalast.com
ii. US may play security role in Haiti in earthquake’s aftermath 15/01/10 http://www.nypost.com/p/news/international/us_may_play_security_role_in_haiti_eS762qlxqs19Z63V5oEoCL
iii. U.N. approves extra troops, police for Haiti 19/01/10
v. U.N. approves extra troops, police for Haiti Staff and Wire reports 19/01/10 http://content.usatoday.net/dist/custom/gci/InsidePage.aspx?cId=courierpostonline&sParam=37304484.story,
vi. Haiti’s New PM and the Power of NGOs 30/09/08 by Nikolas Barry-Shaw http://www.haitiaction.net/News/HIP/9_30_8/9_30_8.html
vii. Defense launches online system to coordinate Haiti relief efforts by Bob Brewin 15/01/10 http://www.govexec.com/dailyfed/0110/011510bb1.htm
viii. “Cuba’s success in saving lives gives us a model of effective government-driven disaster preparedness. …the secret of this success is that it is also a matter of enacting and enforcing laws, building and maintaining institutions that are accountable, and producing an environment of mutual respect and trust between government and the population.” From The Role of National Governments and the “International Community” Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Corporate Document Repository http://www.fao.org/docrep/006/ad710e/ad710e0k.htm ; see also CUBA, Weathering the storm: lessons in risk reduction from Cuba An Oxfam America Report By Martha Thompson with Izaskun Gaviria 2004 http://www.preventionweb.net/files/4585_Us01MH281-Ft.pdf; see also Disaster Relief Management in Cuba: Why Cuba’s disaster relief model is worth careful study Jonathan Keyser and Wayne Smith May 2009 http://www.ciponline.org/cuba/photos/Final%20Cuba%20IPR%200509.pdf; see also When disaster strikes: the response to the South Asian earthquake PAKISTAN: Cuban solidarity – bringing healthcare to the people IRIN project of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs http://www.irinnews.org/InDepthMain.aspx?InDepthId=6&ReportId=34374
ix. As U.S. Prepares Long-term Occupation, Haiti’s Quake Victims Still Without Aid By Bill Van Auken 23/01/10 http://www.wsws.org/articles/2010/jan2010/hait-j23.shtml;see also Haiti: An Unwelcome Katrina Redux by Cynthia McKinney 19/01/10 http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=17063
x. Cuba sends more doctors to Haiti Dominican Today 14/01/10 http://www.dominicantoday.com/dr/world/2010/1/14/34483/Cuba-sends-more-doctors-to-Haiti; see also Reflections by Comrade Fidel: We send Doctors, not Soldiers Fidel Castro Ruz 23/01/10 http://www.cuba.cu/gobierno/reflexiones/2010/ing/f230110i.html;
xi. Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicholas Maduro is reported to have said that aid shipments to Haiti were being diverted via the neighbouring Dominican Republic to avoid restrictions imposed by the US at the Port-au-Prince airport. http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/news/5086
xii. Heritage Foundation response on 13/01/10, the day after the quake, quickly taken up by Obama: “The government under President Réne Préval is weak and literally now in shambles. Cuba and Venezuela, already intent on minimizing U.S. influence in the region, are likely to seize this opportunity to raise their profile and influence… The earthquake has both humanitarian and U.S. national security implications… President Obama should initiate a rapid response that is not only bold but decisive, mobilizing U.S. military… Congress should immediately expand U.S. trade preferences for Haiti.” Unfortunately, he also adopted their priorities: “U.S. military and civilian forces; heavy equipment to clear the debris and rubble; and emergency food supplies and medicines.” http://www.heritage.org/research/latinamerica/wm2754.cfm
xiii. Doctors Without Borders Cargo Plane With Full Hospital and Staff Blocked From Landing in Port-au-Prince Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) 17/01/10; see also “UNICEF tried to send a plane full of medical kits, blankets and tents, but was denied permission to land and was forced to return to Panama…On Saturday, January 16, the World Food Program (WFP) was finally able to land airplanes with food, medicine and water—after being diverted on Thursday and Friday so that the U.S. could land troops and equipment, and lift Americans and other foreigners to safety.” From Why So Many People Died in the Earthquake… And Why the U.S. Can Do No Good in Haiti by Li Onesto 19/01/10 http://www.rwor.org/a/189online/Haiti-en.html; see also US Military Operations Block Relief Efforts in Haiti by Alex Lantier 21/01/10 http://www.wsws.org/articles/2010/jan2010/hait-j21.shtml
xiv. Haiti Earthquake: US Ships Blockade Coast to Thwart Exodus to America by Bruno Waterfield 19/01/10 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/centralamericaandthecaribbean/haiti/7030237/Haiti-earthquake-US-ships-blockade-coast-to-thwart-exodus-to-America.html ; Washington Shuts Door on Haitian Refugees by Tom Eley 20/01/10 http://www.wsws.org/articles/2010/jan2010/hait-j20.shtml ; Will the U.S. Send Haitian Refugees to Guantanamo? by Unsilent Generation 19/01/10 http://unsilentgeneration.com/2010/01/19/will-the-u-s-send-haitian-refugees-to-guantanamo/
xv. “…the UN has been warehousing young Haitian men and moving them, through criminalization and indefinite detention in prison for years, out of the area in Site Soley where access to oil deposit are noted [on this map]” From Did mining and oil drilling behind UN/US guns trigger the Haiti earthquake? by Haitian lawyer Ezili Dantò http://open.salon.com/blog/ezili_danto/2010/01/22/did_mining_and_oil_drilling_trigger_the_haiti_earthquake;
xvi. John Pilger said “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 $55 million deal to turn the north of Haiti into an American-annexed “tourist playground”. From The Kidnapping of Haiti by John Pilger 28/01/10 http://www.newstatesman.com/international-politics/2010/02/haiti-pilger-obama-venezuela ; See also Profiting From Haiti’s Crisis by Benjamin Dangl 18/01/10 http://towardfreedom.com/home/content/view/1827/1/ ; see also Bush, Clinton and the Crimes of US Imperialism in Haiti by Patrick Martin 18/01/10 http://www.wsws.org/articles/2010/jan2010/pers-j18.shtml; see also Li Onesto “…this is what Bill Clinton had to say after the earthquake: ‘Once we deal with the immediate crisis, the development plans the world was already pursuing have to be implemented more quickly and on a broader scale. I’m interested in just pressing ahead with it… ‘ In other words, Clinton now sees the massive destruction in Haiti as an opportunity to press forward with his plans for setting up profitable sweatshops and tourist areas.” From Why So Many People Died in the Earthquake… by Li Onesto 19/01/10 http://www.rwor.org/a/189online/Haiti-en.html; see also “A map showing the mining resources in Haiti shows five oil/gas sites in Haiti.” from Did mining and oil drilling behind UN/US guns trigger the Haiti earthquake? http://open.salon.com/blog/ezili_danto/2010/01/22/did_mining_and_oil_drilling_trigger_the_haiti_earthquake;
xvii. Canada and Haiti: Relief Efforts in the Shadow of Past “Help” by Dan Freeman-Maloy 17/01/10 http://www.socialistproject.ca/bullet/297.php; see also Peacekeeping or War-making? by Murray Dobbin Murray Dobbin’s Blog 21/01/10
xviii. Venezuela Cancels Haiti’s Debt By Venezuelan Embassy in the U.S.A. 25/01/10 http://www.transcend.org/tms/article_detail.php?article_id=2548
xix. Haiti: The Hate and the Quake: A Long History of Stolen Wealth by Sir Hilary Beckles 17/01/10 http://www.nationnews.com/story/guest-column-hilary-beckles-copy-for-web
xx. Haiti: Humanitarian Aid to Repay an Odious Debt? by Eric Toussaint and Sophie Perchellet 18/01/10 http://www.cadtm.org/Haiti-Grants-to-repay-an-odious ; see also US Security Company Offers to Perform “High Threat Terminations” and to Confront “Worker Unrest” in Haiti by Jeremy Scahill 18/01/10 http://rebelreports.com/post/341673601/us-security-company-offers-to-perform-high-threat
xxi. The U.S. Created the Earthquake in Haiti? PRAVDA 24/01/10 http://english.pravda.ru/science/tech/24-01-2010/111809-russia_says_US_created_earthqua-0; see also Are they that sick? Did US Weather Weapon destroy Haiti? By Junius Ricardo Stanton 29/01/10 http://www.sfbayview.com/2010/are-they-that-sick-did-u-s-weather-weapon-destroy-haiti/ Did mining and oil drilling behind UN/US guns trigger the Haiti earthquake? Ezili Dantò 22/01/10 http://open.salon.com/blog/ezili_danto/2010/01/22/did_mining_and_oil_drilling_trigger_the_haiti_earthquake; see also 1997 US Defense Dept transcript acknowledging the existence of such technology http://www.defense.gov/transcripts/transcript.aspx?transcriptid=674,
xxii. No ‘Hope for Haiti’ Without Justice by Mark LeVine 19/01/10 http://english.aljazeera.net/focus/2010/01/20101196265844450.html
xxiii. The Militarization of Emergency Aid to Haiti: Is it a Humanitarian Operation or an Invasion? by Michel Chossudovsky 15/01/10 http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=17000 ; see also Chavez Says U.S. Occupying Haiti in Name of Aid Reuters17/01/10 http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE60G2DW20100117; US accused of “Occupying” Haiti as Thousands of Troops Flood in. by Aislinn Laing and Tom Leonard 18/01/10 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/centralamericaandthecaribbean/haiti/7020908/US-accused-of-occupying-Haiti-as-troops-flood-in.html; see also Latin American Leaders say U.S. occupying Haiti Press TV 22/01/10 http://www.infowars.com/latin-american-leaders-say-us-occupying-haiti/; see also Haiti Needs Emergency Relief, not Military Intervention! Canada Haiti Action Network 23/01/10 http://www.socialistvoice.ca/?p=973 23/01/10; see also The Kidnapping of Haiti by John Pilger 28/01/10 http://www.newstatesman.com/international-politics/2010/02/haiti-pilger-obama-venezuela
xxiv. US Military to Enforce State of Emergency in Haiti by Tom Eley 19/01/10 http://www.wsws.org/articles/2010/jan2010/hait-j19.shtml
xxv. Missing children: Abduction and human trafficking? UNICEF 22/01/10 http://newstrendstoday.com/missing-children-abduction-human-trafficking/03755
xxvi. Adopted orphans arrive in France as UNICEF raises trafficking fears by France 24 22/01/10 http://www.france24.com/en/20100122-haiti-earthquake-missing-children-hospitals-trafficking-adoptions-unicef-spain
xxvii. Haiti revival after quake could take generations says UN chief Rory Carroll and Tom Phillips 29/01/10 http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jan/29/haiti-quake-generations-un-decades
xxviii. Tamar Hahn in Haiti: orphaned and separated children 20/01/10 http://blogs.unicef.org.uk/archive/2010/01/20/tamar-hahn-in-haiti-orphaned-and-separated-children.aspx
xxix. Officer: U.S. missionaries had tried to take other Haitian kids Karl Penhall 09/02/10 http://edition.cnn.com/2010/CRIME/02/09/haiti.border.arrests/?hpt=T2
xxx. Clinton brokers deal over Haiti orphan abductions Tony Allen-Mills 07/02/10 http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/article7017950.ece
xxxi. Child Slavery in Haiti by Stephen Lendman 03/02/10 http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/02/child-slavery-in-haiti.html and Washington’s Militarized Takeover of Haiti by Stephen Lendman 25/01/10 http://www.rense.com/general89/wash.htm
xxxii. For example, UNICEF http://www.unicef.org/emerg/files/women_disaster_relief.pdf; UNDP http://www.preventionweb.net/english/professional/publications/v.php?id=598 ; FAO http://www.fao.org/docrep/005/AC798E/ac798e0e.htm; as well as country-level for example, Cuba http://www.preventionweb.net/english/professional/trainings-events/edu-materials/v.php?id=4585, Venezuela http://www.proventionconsortium.org/themes/default/pdfs/CRA/Venezuela.pdf, India http://www.preventionweb.net/files/598_8373.pdf, Taiwan http://www.springerlink.com/content/7m748656p42jv543/, Australia http://www.fahcsia.gov.au/sa/communities/progserv/Pages/disaster_assistance.aspx,
Lendman quotes Professor Francis Boyle “The forcible transfer of children of one group (Black Hatians) to another group (White Americans) is genocide under the 1948 Genocide Convention (besides violating Fourth Geneva).” From Washington’s Militarized Takeover of Haiti by Stephen Lendman 25/01/10 http://www.rense.com/general89/wash.htm