Ibero-American News Digest
Haiti: The Horrors Have Begun
March 20 (EIRNS)President Obama will be as hated a figure internationally now, as in the United States, given the unfolding events in Haiti, where the expected heavy rains are now bringing unspeakable misery to hundreds of thousands in Port-au-Prince, whom Obama refused to help by re-locating them to safe ground before the rainy season. A March 19 Associated Press photo taken in one of the homeless camps in Port-au-Prince (AP/Ramon Espinosa) has become the signature image the world over, showing a barefoot girl, wading through a flooded alley, in a camp of makeshift blue tents.
A delegation of African-American journalists who visited Haiti in February (see below), reported the same day that they were informed that cholera is beginning to break out in Port-au-Prince. Herb Boyd, a writer for the New York Amsterdam News and a reporter for Free Speech TV, who was a member of the delegation, told an event on Capitol Hill that sanitation conditions in the tent cities in Port-au-Prince "are absolutely deplorable," and that they had been told by an official with Refugees International that cholera is beginning to break out.
EIR's March 12, 2010 feature, "How Many Haitians Must Die Before We Impeach Obama?", elaborating Lyndon LaRouche's Feb. 22 call for evacuating people out of the high-risk zones, and for launching infrastructure-building, is now circulating widely in the Haitian government and diaspora, in the countdown to the March 31 New York City ministerial-level International Donors' Conference Towards a New Future for Haiti, co-hosted by the UN and the United States.
As of this moment, no effective action to avoid a second wave of mass death from current conditions has been taken. Consider the situation on the ground for over 1.3 million Haitians (260,300 families) living in camps, as reported March 19 by the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA):
* Only around 12% have received mosquito nets; 15% will have them presumably shortly, when those "in progress" are added in; but even when the nets depicted as "in pipeline" are added to that, the total covered reaches only 20%, with the rainy season and its mosquito-vectored dengue/malaria at hand.
* Nearly 60% of those 1.3 million-plus have received a bucket or Jerry can (for water). Soon, almost 80% are to have a bucketpresuming "in progress" proceeds. Just under 70% have received a hygiene kit (soap, etc.), rising to 75% with "in progress" added in. But will they have clean water to put in that bucket?
* The number of latrines installed remains at 4,209 out of the initial target of 11,000, and that latter was based on a preliminary standard of one latrine for every 100 people. In over half the sites, the OCHA reports that these primitive latrines are only being partially used, because of "inappropriate set-up," that is, they have no privacy, no gender separation, no sitting facilities, etc. One-third of the 460 identified encampments still have no latrines.
* Only 10% have received mats on which to sleep, and combining those "in progress" and "in pipeline" only reaches 15% of those 1.3 million people left to sleep in mud. Kitchen sets have been handed out to 18% or so, with under 40% projected to be covered once in progress and in pipeline are distributed. Just over 40% have received blankets; adding in the category described as "in progress," the figure rises to a grand 60%, and "in pipeline" only takes coverage up to under 75%.
* 25% have been given rope with which to "secure" their tarps or plastic sheeting, called shelter; 5% have received "tool kits," and less than 10% will be covered when current plans (in progress and pipeline) are added in.
Doing Nothing in Haiti Means Genocide
March 19 (EIRNS)The role of the Obama Administration and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) took a hit at a meeting today on Capitol Hill, featuring a report from a delegation of African-American journalists on their February trip to Haiti, organized by the Haiti Support Project. The meeting was also addressed by Reps. John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.), and Haitian Ambassador to Washington Raymond Joseph.
Conyers reported that, after the earthquake struck, he had asked President Obama, through Obama's chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, "What is our plan? What is our strategy? How do we deal with the worst natural disaster in the history of Haiti?" Conyers said, "I've never received an answer. It's obvious that they don't have one." He noted that he's had many meetings and phone discussions with Administration officials, and "yet they still don't have a plan."
Clarke followed up Conyers by pointing out that most of the aid going to Haiti is being channelled through NGOs, even though, "at the end of the day, the government is responsible for the needs of the people." Instead, "the way things are being done makes the government impotent." She pointed out that there is no real oversight or monitoring of the activities of the NGOs, and called on the United States to give aid directly to the government "so that it can do the work it needs to do."
Amb. Joseph reinforced Clarke's point about the NGOs, saying of the $2 billion or so that has been raised for Haiti, that the government has seen a mere $10 million. In fact, there are so many NGOs there, that Haiti is known as "The Republic of NGOs." He said there are 450 NGOs registered with the government, of which only 100 have submitted reports on their activities, but he estimates of the total number of NGOs in the country to run as high as 8,000. He reported that the Haitian government is asking the U.S. government for budget support, since it has no revenue, and therefore no means to actually do anything. The earthquake, he said, "affected 80% of economic life in Haiti."