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January 14, 2010
A look at Haiti’s history and the challenges that lie ahead

For Haiti’s history of hardship, Peter Eisner, a long-time correspondent who specializes in Latin America and the Caribbean, joins Daljit Dhaliwal to examine the country’s entrenched problems and long-term challenges. They discuss the U.S.’s responsibilities and what kind of more permanent role the U.S. should play in Haiti’s recovery effort.

For more Worldfocus coverage of Haiti, visit our extended coverage page: Haiti’s Poor.

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10 comments

#10

Blog#8 was written by an idiot who need a lesson in history,those type of rethoric must be ignored by reasonable and intelligent people who follow the history of the first black republic in the free world

#9

There needs to be a focus on the role the US has played throughout history in causing Haitian poverty. From opposing their independence (due to being scared of a US slave uprising), the forcing of reparations payment to France (the only time in History the winner had to pay the loser), to the role of the brutal US occupation under Wilson, the brutal US support of Papa Doc, the two CIA supported coups against Aristide, the use of subsidized US grain forcing a collapse of Haitian agriculture, the creole pig scam, to the role of multi-national corporations like Disney (and others) and their grossly exploitative practices………..and then we will understand how our corporate foreign policy really works………and how that effects people around the world and causes tragedies like we see today. It is not only Haiti who suffers from this system…..many poor countries do. We are also suffering from this system as unemployment, trade imbalances, outsourcing and greed of our corporate government hit home. The supreme court just made this worse by supporting corporations as citizens(who should then be charged with crimes against humanity and the environment). Understanding history is the key to a just and prosperous future for all. There is a better way.

The following is an excerpt from a speech he (General Smedeley Butler) gave in 1933:

“War is just a racket. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small inside group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses.

I believe in adequate defense at the coastline and nothing else. If a nation comes over here to fight, then we’ll fight. The trouble with America is that when the dollar only earns 6 percent over here, then it gets restless and goes overseas to get 100 percent. Then the flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag.

I wouldn’t go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket.

There isn’t a trick in the racketeering bag that the military gang is blind to. It has its “finger men” to point out enemies, its “muscle men” to destroy enemies, its “brain men” to plan war preparations, and a “Big Boss” Super-Nationalistic-Capitalism.

It may seem odd for me, a military man to adopt such a comparison. Truthfulness compels me to. I spent thirty- three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country’s most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle- man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.

I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all the members of the military profession, I never had a thought of my own until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service.

I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.

During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. Looking back on it, I feel that I could have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.”
-General Smedely Butler
US Marines

This is no different today…..There has to be a better way.
peace
adam

#8

An earthquake disaster is not the fault of Haitians, of course, but their history of poverty certainly is. They share an Island with the Dominican Republic, yet the Dominicans seem self sustaining and industrious while Haitians always have their hands out for charity. Many in the elite U.S. media provide numerous excuses for more constant handouts.
We certainly should provide reasonable humane relief for Haitians immediate needs in this emergency but the U.S. certainly should not be a nation builder or become a welfare agency for Haiti. The elite media and other bleeding hearts can band together and send private donations as they see fit and leave the rest of us beleaguered taxpayers alone. Meanwhile, remember Aesop’s fable of The Ant & the Grasshopper.

#7

I’d like clairfication as to what leading role the US should play in rebuilding Haiti. Shouldn’t the goal have been to clear the airport and bring in search and rescue not the military for security? Five days late was past the 72 hours critical to search and rescue and is outrageously poor planning and implementation of Emergency Response Planning. Search and Rescue should have been in Haiti within the first 24 hours. In a country with 70% Unemployment will this disaster create work for Haitians or for foreigners? Will the US provide demolition equipment, building materials, technical and engineering assistance and jobs with gainful employment and training opportunies to Haiti? I also think the govt. of Haiti has been negligent in not acting on legislation governing family size as China has done possibly as related to the huge American Missionary effort. Intense Birth Control measures need to be addressed and implemented in the initial rebuilding effort as well as other quality of life issues the poverty stricken majority of Haitians should be allowed to democratically determine. Sweat shops should not be allowed to develop for the worlds capitalist to capture profits from.

#6

It’s deploring for us all to learn that without the infra-structure-damage to the roads-it’s making it hard to distribute food or water. Secretary Gates is understandably cautious about distributing any food/supplies without the military on the ground.
However, why could we not put water/juices into the tiny cartons such as already available in stores, and fly small airplanes or helicopters all over the strickened area, throwing down tiny cartons of water/juice to the ground below in SMALL amounts over a WIDE area. In that way the people will not be motivated to be running to just one area to fight over the contents. There would be many containers spread over a wide area. (I do appreciate that these tiny cartons must be targeted for areas where people would not be in danger of being hit, ie> where there’s rubble, abandoned vehicles, houses, etc.)

#5

Disaster relief is one thing,building a society is another.Incompetent governments coruption,etc. etc. etc… Also better to use private charity when possible as India found out.
Money will vanish in that society.

#4

First, let me say that our prayers and support to make it through this horific event are with those in Haiti.
Yet, is Haiti one the 57 US states that Obama said exist? If so, we should let Congress allocate more China loans to rebuild it. if not, this is a local and global issue, not solely an American issue.

#3

The people of the United States and other Western nations will give generously to the relief effort in Haiti, as we always do around the world. Even as we are villainized around the world as the cause and the root of every economic and social problem in the world.

#2

“Good morning America how are you? Don’t uou know me I’m your native son,…I’m the train they call the City of New Orleans,…I’ll be gone five hundred miles when the day is done”. How often do we hear the song of Arlo Guthrie harmonically echoing through our mind’s eye as we juxtapose the tragedy of “Hurricane Katrina” still an open wound,… a lingering travesty of impundent neglect, fomented by the racial divide? We are all the “Children of Abraham” as Arlo (Arlo Guthrie) so aptly sings wiping his brow with his war-torn “Presidential Rag”(my personal favorite by Arlo) bringing metaphorically the servitude of “Alice’s Restaurant” (Arlo Guthrie America’s Social Conscience) to the shores of “Haiti” the thanksgiving of heart felt love,and substance for our “Worldly Brother’s” now in their darkest hour. Please,..if anyone is listening,…this is the second decade of the 21st century, and children are still eating “Dirt Cookies” grown by the filthy dirt farmers of the east? Yes Arlo where are you,…my favorite son,…to ease my mind with your songs of surrealism awash in opulent solace.

#1

great job Peter yourself! Es realmente el colmo.. And some say God does exist….

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