Two years ago a massive earthquake ripped through Haiti shattering thousands of buildings, lives and hearts in just 30 seconds. The response from around the world was immediate and generous: over 3 billion dollars of aid was promised to Haiti from individuals, organizations and governments. But in a nation where a half million people still live in tents and rubble covers the streets, Haitians are asking: where did that money go?
The answer to that question unveils the all-pervasive role of militarization in US policy towards Latin America and the Caribbean. Fully 33 cents of each US dollar for Haiti was used to reimburse the US itself for sending 5,000 soldiers. This, and other shocking statistics, come from a recently published report by Bill Quigley and Amber Ramanauskas who followed the Haiti recovery money trail.
In addition to funding its own soldiers in Haiti under the guise of earthquake recovery, the US government has contributed 40% of the 1.5 billion spent by the UN to maintain another force of 12,000 soldiers and police, known as MINUSTAH. While the name MINUSTAH is a French acronym for stabilization force, most Haitians view them as an occupation force. The recent SOAW delegation to Haiti confirmed the omnipresence of armored tanks and gun-totting soldiers throughout the streets of Port-au-Prince.
Adding salt to the wound, a recent outbreak of cholera that added 6,000 more dead to Haiti’s tragic roster has been linked scientifically to the Nepalese contingent of MINUSTAH as the source of contamination. While contamination of the disease that infected 500,000 Haitians was not intentional, Haitians insist that the UN take responsibility for the consecuences of the epidemic they caused. Some 5,000 victims have brought a lawsuit against the UN, with the help of BAI/IJDH.
Unfortunately, impunity rules and no troops have been prosecuted for the widespread sexual abuse of Haitian women and children. Only days ago the UN Peacekeepers caught on tape raping a Haitian teenager last summer were freed. BAI lawyer Mario Joseph, a keynote speaker at the November SOA Watch vigil, expressed outrage, saying that the UN should demonstrate its commitment to its own principles of justice and human rights by conducting serious, prompt investigations, waiving its immunity where possible and allowing civil claims against it to be decided by an impartial tribunal.”
Last Thursday Theresa Cusimano took the SOA to trial and will be spending 6 months in prison for speaking truth about US militarization. The people of Haiti are standing up to the enormous power of the UN to demand respect for their rights. Only by taking efforts in our communities and linking our struggles, North and South, can we resist militarization and bring forth a new culture of peace.
Join us in April as we build the skills necessary to turn public attention the crimes of the SOA/WHINSEC, and network to build a diverse and vibrant movement. From direct action training, to strategy sessions, to lobbying and more, we hope that you will activate your communities to say “No Màs!” to the culture of militarization and oppression.