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Haiti Is No Natural Disaster

by Carlos Wesley

Feb. 27, 2010 (EIRNS)—In October 1989, the U.S. city of San Francisco and its surroundings were slammed by an earthquake measuring a magnitude of 7 on the Richter scale. The quake left 63 dead, more than 3,000 wounded, and as many as 12,000 homeless.

Compare this with what happened in Haiti last January 12, when an earthquake of similar magnitude hit that Caribbean island-nation: a quarter of a million dead, the destruction of virtually every building in the capital city of Port-au-Prince, and in a large part of the country, and some 2 million people left without shelter or food.

Clearly, what caused the destruction of Haiti was not the earthquake, but the lack of infrastructure and a solid foundation.

A Real Reconstruction Program

There are two alternatives facing Haiti. One is that proposed by economist Lyndon LaRouche, who on Jan. 30 told a webcast that the U.S. government should sign a treaty with Haiti which, while fully respecting its sovereignty, would rebuild its economy in a manner which would allow it to go forward as a viable nation. "This is a small nation of people which has been subjected to a terrible history, which has been promised and betrayed, promised and betrayed. Never delivered."

Rebuilding Haiti would take a quarter century, at least, said LaRouche. "Many things have to be changed, but the most important thing is the prevailing attitude called fix-it, or patch-it." The U.S. should tell the Haitians, "Okay, you're a small country. We can absorb the burden. We are going to work with you to make sure that you come out of this successfully, as a country that can maintain itself, and survive," he said.

Days earlier, LaRouche had said that the U.S. "has a moral responsibility to respond to this crisis." Further, such assistance would give the United States the added benefit of developing "an improved capacity to address other crises, both abroad" as well as at home in cases like that of Hurricane Katrina. Such an aid program would also give useful jobs to many U.S. youth, who "could function as a complementary labor force to be trained" for emergency situations, and could be the basis for a new Civil Conservation Corps."

A Historical Account

What led Haiti to a state of misery, even before the earthquake hit, was the imposition of increasingly more lethal policies, culminating with globalization, which made Haiti the poorest country in America. Haiti has been the victim of these policies virtually from the moment it won its independence on January 1, 1804—the first country in America to do so, after the United States-and proclaimed itself the first modern republic ruled by blacks. This was achieved after the only successful rebellion of slaves in all of history was carried out under the leadership of Toussaint L'Ouverture, and the three great powers in the region—Spain, England and Napoleon's France—were dealt military defeats.

Haiti was never forgiven for this, nor were Haitians forgiven for their decisive support for the American Revolution, nor for their alliance with the best forefathers of the United States, especially Alexander Hamilton, nor for the fact that their own war of independence made it possible for the United States to obtain Louisiana, doubling its territory in one blow. Nor for the fact that it was thanks to material support provided by Haitians that Simon Bolivar was able to return to the battle for independence of the countries of what was then known as Greater Colombia, after suffering two previous defeats.

Haiti was punished with blockades and quarantines, not only by the imperial powers, but by the ungrateful Bolivarian countries and by the United States itself.

This changed when Abraham Lincoln took over the U.S. presidency in the 1860s, when the U.S. finally extended diplomatic recognition to Haiti; in 1889 U.S. African American leader Frederick Douglass was named plenipotentiary to that country.

At the end of the 19th Century, Haiti was a country which, if not prospering, at least was self-sufficient, and which enjoyed the respect of the concert of nations.

Unfortunately, the negative side of U.S.-Haitian relations resurfaced under racist President Woodrow Wilson, who invaded the country on behalf of Wall Street and City of London interests in 1915, seizing control of customs and launching an occupation, at times brutal, which lasted until 1934, during which hordes of anthropologists arrived to brainwash Haitians into believing that voodoo was their true religion.

But that was not the only problem the Haitians faced. In the Dominican Republic, which shared the island of Hispanola with Haiti, another dictator ruled—Rafael Trujillo. Trujillo, installed through a U.S. occupation, carried out "ethnic cleansing" in 1937 along the border between the two countries, massacring tens of thousands of Haitians.

The U.S. occupation ended when Franklin Delano Roosevelt took over the U.S. presidency. Roosevelt, who was the first U.S. president to ever visit Haiti, launched a "Good Neighbor" era which helped Haiti retake the path toward prosperity.

But upon his death, things worsened once again. With the support of certain factions inside the U.S., François Duvalier, a doctor recruited by those same anthropologists and ethnologists and sent to the United States for training, imposed a fierce dictatorship, and ruled as the High Priest of Voodoo. At his death, his son Jean-Claude Duvalier succeeded him.

Despite this, Haiti continued to be self-sufficient, at least as far as the production of rice, the main staple of the population. But with the fall of Duvalier, the IMF arrived and, in exchange for a small loan of $24.6 million that the country desperately needed to survive the depredations of Duvalier, forced Haiti to lower its protectionist tariffs on rice and other foodstuff. The result was that Haiti was inundated with rice from the U.S., which bankrupted local producers, according to lawyer and scholar Bill Quigly.

In 1991, the former priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide took over the Haitian presidency, but was overthrown by the military because of his own lunacy. This served as the pretext for George Bush, Sr. to impose another international embargo against the Haitian people, who were forced to eat even the seeds and bushes of certain exotic plants slated for export, just to avoid starving to death.

The embargo ended when the U.S. once again invaded Haiti in 1994, this time without firing a shot, under Bill Clinton. The bayonets of the U.S. and its allies not only brought Aristide back, but also the demand to privatize everything: electricity, water, the airport, the ports, and even education. And of course, economic sanctions were once again imposed which pauperized the already impoverished Haitian population.

Aristide opposed this, leading—among other things—to a decision by the U.S. government, this time under Bush, Jr. to overthrow him a second time, in 2004. Added to this, the U.S. Coast Guard has maintained a blockade for years to prevent Haitians from fleeing to U.S. refuge.

The Genocidal Alternative

The alternative to Larouche's plan is the genocidal proposal of British "economist" Paul Collier, who has the support of financier and drug legalization advocate George Soros. Collier explicitly opposes the development of infrastructure in Haiti, and proposes instead "arranging" for Haiti to be turned into a free-trade manufacturing emporium for the controlled export of the multinationals, using Haitian labor even cheaper than that available in the U.S. In other words, reimposing slavery!

In fact, except for a visit from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during the latest crisis in Haiti, the Haitian government has been virtually bypassed by international donors. And, shamelessly, Collier is now in charge of elaborating the United Nation's so-called recovery plans for Haiti.