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Haitian Earthquake: Made in the USA

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  • Fri, Jan 15, 2010 - 02:05am

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    Damnthematrix

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    Haitian Earthquake: Made in the USA

<http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/01/14-13>

Published on Thursday, January 14, 2010 by CommonDreams.org
Haitian Earthquake: Made in the USA
Why the Blood Is on Our Hands
by Ted Rall

As grim accounts of the earthquake in Haiti came in, the accounts in U.S.-controlled state media all carried the same descriptive sentence: “Haiti is the poorest country in the Western hemisphere…”

Gee, I wonder how that happened?

You’d think Haiti would be loaded. After all, it made a lot of people rich.

How did Haiti get so poor? Despite a century of American colonialism, occupation, and propping up corrupt dictators? Even though the CIA staged coups d’état against every democratically elected president they ever had?

It’s an important question. An earthquake isn’t just an earthquake. The same 7.0 tremor hitting San Francisco wouldn’t kill nearly as many people as in Port-au-Prince. “Looking at the pictures, essentially it looks as if (the buildings are of) breezeblock or cinderblock construction, and what you need in an earthquake zone is metal bars that connect the blocks so that they stay together when they get shaken,” notes Sandy Steacey, director of the Environmental Science Research Institute at the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland. “In a wealthy country with good seismic building codes that are enforced, you would have some damage, but not very much.”

When a pile of cinderblocks falls on you, your odds of survival are long. Even if you miraculously survive, a poor country like Haiti doesn’t have the equipment, communications infrastructure or emergency service personnel to pull you out of the rubble in time. And if your neighbors get you out, there’s no ambulance to take you to the hospital–or doctor to treat you once you get there.

Earthquakes are random events. How many people they kill is predetermined. In Haiti this week, don’t blame tectonic plates. Ninety-nine percent of the death toll is attributable to poverty.

So the question is relevant. How’d Haiti become so poor?

The story begins in 1910, when a U.S. State Department-National City Bank of New York (now called Citibank) consortium bought the Banque National d’Haïti–Haiti’s only commercial bank and its national treasury–in effect transferring Haiti’s debts to the Americans. Five years later, President Woodrow Wilson ordered troops to occupy the country in order to keep tabs on “our” investment.

From 1915 to 1934, the U.S. Marines imposed harsh military occupation, murdered Haitians patriots and diverted 40 percent of Haiti’s gross domestic product to U.S. bankers. Haitians were banned from government jobs. Ambitious Haitians were hunted into the puppet military, setting the stage for a half-century of U.S.-backed military dictatorship.

The U.S. kept control of Haiti’s finances until 1947.

Still–why should Haitians complain? Sure, we stole 40 percent of Haiti’s national wealth for 32 years. But we let them keep 60 percent.

Whiners.

Despite having been bled dry by American bankers and generals, civil disorder prevailed until 1957, when the CIA installed President-for-Life François “Papa Doc” Duvalier. Duvalier’s brutal Tonton Macoutes paramilitary goon squads murdered at least 30,000 Haitians and drove educated people to flee into exile. But think of the cup as half-full: fewer people in the population means fewer people competing for the same jobs!

Upon Papa Doc’s death in 1971, the torch passed to his even more dissolute 19-year-old son, Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier. The U.S., cool to Papa Doc in his later years, quickly warmed back up to his kleptomaniacal playboy heir. As the U.S. poured in arms and trained his army as a supposed anti-communist bulwark against Castro’s Cuba, Baby Doc stole an estimated $300 to $800 million from the national treasury, according to Transparency International. The money was placed in personal accounts in Switzerland and elsewhere.

Under U.S. influence, Baby Doc virtually eliminated import tariffs for U.S. goods. Soon Haiti was awash with predatory agricultural imports dumped by American firms. Domestic rice farmers went bankrupt. A nation that had been agriculturally self-sustaining collapsed. Farms were abandoned. Hundreds of thousands of farmers migrated to the teeming slums of Port-au-Prince.

The Duvalier era, 29 years in all, came to an end in 1986 when President Ronald Reagan ordered U.S. forces to whisk Baby Doc to exile in France, saving him from a popular uprising.

Once again, Haitians should thank Americans. Duvalierism was “tough love.” Forcing Haitians to make do without their national treasury was our nice way or encouraging them to work harder, to lift themselves up by their bootstraps. Or, in this case, flipflops. Anyway.

The U.S. has been all about tough love ever since. We twice deposed the populist and popular democratically-elected president Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The second time, in 2004, we even gave him a free flight to the Central African Republic! (He says the CIA kidnapped him, but whatever.) Hey, he needed a rest. And it was kind of us to support a new government formed by former Tonton Macoutes.

Yet, despite everything we’ve done for Haiti, they’re still a fourth-world failed state on a fault line.

And still, we haven’t given up. American companies like Disney generously pay wages to their sweatshop workers of 28 cents an hour.

What more do these ingrates want?

Ted Rall is the author of the new book “Silk Road to Ruin: Is Central Asia the New Middle East?,” an in-depth prose and graphic novel analysis of America’s next big foreign policy challenge.

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http://www.commondreams.org

  • Fri, Jan 15, 2010 - 03:45am

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    Peak Prosperity Admin

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    Re: Haitian Earthquake: Made in the USA

Hello Mike, thanks for posting this important piece.  Haiti has never been on my radar screen and it was good to get some background.

While I agree that it looks like Haiti has been ransacked financially, I think the article is wrong in identifying “America” as the culprit.  Like the rest of the West, we are a client state to the international banking cartel.

John Perkin‘s book “Economic Hitman” offers an insiders view of how the IMF shakes down third world countries.  Of course, the IMF and BIS owners, also own the central banks in your country and mine.  The important distinction is that America is more victim than culpable.

Larry

  • Fri, Jan 15, 2010 - 04:39am

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    Re: Haitian Earthquake: Made in the USA

I was part (a very small part) of the UN mission to Haiti (UNMIH) in 1995, following the removal of the military coup that had displaced Aristide, and the reinstatement of Aristide. I was a general surgeon in the US Army at the time, and an extremely poor soldier, so I don’t possess any particularly useful inside information regarding the politics in play then, before, or since. Our contingent, a US Army hospital, spent most of our time confined to a secure compound within Port-Au-Prince. The perception at the time was that Aristide was likely no better than his predecessors, and that corruption through all ranks of the government was rampant. The citizens were very pleasant, in our experience, but our interactions with the populace were fairly minimal. We did get a little time outside of our compound, during which the poverty of the country was quite evident. I visited a couple of communities outside of Port-Au-Prince, where conditions were somewhat better, but still decidedly “third-world”.

I spent 10 days on a mission trip to Bolivia a couple of years ago. Bolivia is often ranked the second-poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, behind Haiti. Based upon my brief experiences in both places, I would place Bolivia a distant second to Haiti. The infrastructure in Haiti, the perpetual lack of an effective government, makes this earthquake all the more devastating.

  • Fri, Jan 15, 2010 - 05:31am

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    Re: Haitian Earthquake: Made in the USA

Certainly poverty played a huge role in the devastation Haiti has been faced with and will continue to face for years to come.  6.5 earthquake in Cali and a few people get bumps, cuts and bruises.  http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2010/01/damage-from-65-california-earthquake-now-at-219-million.html

I’m sick and tired of the corruption taking place in our nation, but at the same time I caught myself today being extremely thankful to still be living in the US.

  • Fri, Jan 15, 2010 - 05:32am

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    Re: Haitian Earthquake: Made in the USA

Certainly poverty played a huge role in the devastation Haiti has been faced with and will continue to face for years to come.  6.5 earthquake in Cali and a few people get bumps, cuts and bruises.  http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2010/01/damage-from-65-california-earthquake-now-at-219-million.html

I’m sick and tired of the corruption taking place in our nation, but at the same time I caught myself today being extremely thankful to still be living in the US.  By third world standards, a majority of us live like kings and queens.

  • Fri, Jan 15, 2010 - 06:15am

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    Re: Haitian Earthquake: Made in the USA

   We  have heard from the orphanage we help  support/build and are sending medical supplies and nurse right now .  Sending many prayers also . The men will go in Feb . to help with buildings .    

  • Fri, Jan 15, 2010 - 01:33pm

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    Re: Haitian Earthquake: Made in the USA

Why am I not surprised you’d come up with this gem, Mike.  Read some history, which I’ve copied and pasted off Wikipedia below for your convenience, and you might learn that Haiti’s 200+ yr history of chaos overlaps any US involvement.

Haitian Revolution

Main article: Haitian Revolution

Jean Jacques Dessalines, leader of the Haitian Revolution and the first ruler of an independent Haiti.

Inspired by the French Revolution and principles of the rights of men, free people of color and slaves in Saint-Domingue and the French and West Indies pressed for freedom and more civil rights. Most important was the revolution of the slaves in Saint-Domingue, starting in the heavily African-majority northern plains in 1791. In 1792 the French government sent three commissioners with troops to try to reestablish control. They began to build an alliance with the free people of color who wanted more civil rights. In 1793, France and Great Britain went to war, and British troops invaded Saint-Domingue. The execution of Louis XVI heightened tensions in the colony. To build an alliance with the gens de couleur and slaves, the French commissioners Sonthonax and Polverel abolished slavery in the colony. Six months later, the National Convention led by the Jacobins endorsed abolition and extended it to all of the French colonies.[11]

Toussaint L’Ouverture, a former slave and leader in the slave revolt who rose in importance as a military commander because of his many skills, achieved peace in Saint-Domingue after years of war against both external invaders and internal dissension. He had established a disciplined, flexible army and drove out both the Spaniards and the British invaders who threatened the colony. He restored stability and prosperity by daring measures, including inviting the return of planters and insisting that freed men work on plantations to renew revenues for the island. He also renewed trading ties with Great Britain and the United States. In the uncertain years of revolution, the United States played both sides, with traders supplying both the French and the rebels.[12]

Independence

When the French government changed, new members of the national legislature, lobbied by planters, began to rethink its decisions on colonial slavery. After Toussaint L’Ouverture created a separatist constitution, Napoleon Bonaparte sent an expedition of 20,000 men under the command of his brother-in-law, General Charles Leclerc, to retake the island. Leclerc’s mission was to oust L’Ouverture and restore slavery. The French achieved some victories, but within a few months, yellow fever had killed most of the French soldiers.[13] Leclerc invited Toussaint L’Ouverture to a parley, kidnapped him and sent him to France, where he was imprisoned at Fort de Joux. He died there in 1803 of exposure and tuberculosis[10] or malnutrition and pneumonia. In its attempt to retake the colony, France had lost more than 50,000 soldiers, including 18 generals.[14]

Battle between Polish troops in French service and the Haitian rebels. Some Polish soldiers became sympathetic to the natives’ cause and joined the Haitian rebels.[15]

The native leader Jean-Jacques Dessalines, long an ally of Toussaint L’Ouverture, defeated the French troops led by Donatien-Marie-Joseph de Vimeur, vicomte de Rochambeau at the Battle of Vertières. At the end of the double battle for emancipation and independence, former slaves proclaimed the independence of Saint-Domingue on 1 January 1804, declaring the new nation as Haiti, honoring one of the indigenous Taíno names for the island. It is the only nation born of a slave revolt.[10] It is estimated that the slave rebellion resulted in the death of 100,000 blacks and 24,000 of the 40,000 white colonists.[16]

Dessalines was proclaimed Emperor for life by his troops.[17] He exiled or killed the remaining whites and ruled as a despot.[18] He was assassinated on 17 October 1806. The country was divided then between a kingdom in the north directed by Henri I, and a republic in the south directed by a gens de couleur Alexandre Pétion. Henri I is best known for constructing the Citadelle Laferriere, the largest fortress in the Western Hemisphere, to defend the island against the French. President Jean Pierre Boyer, also a gens de couleur, managed to reunify the two halves and extend control again over the western part of the island.[19] Dominican historians have portrayed the period of the Haitian occupation (1822–42) as cruel and barbarous, but Boyer also freed the slaves.[20]

In July 1825, the king of France Charles X sent a fleet of fourteen vessels and troops to reconquer the island. To maintain independence, President Boyer agreed to a treaty by which France recognized the independence of the country in exchange for a payment of 150 million francs (the sum was reduced in 1838 to 90 million francs) – an indemnity for profits lost from the slave trade. The French abolitionist Victor Schoelcher wrote “Imposing an indemnity on the victorious slaves was equivalent to making them pay with money that which they had already paid with their blood.”

A long succession of coups followed the departure of Jean-Pierre Boyer. In its 200-year history, Haiti has seen 32 coups.[21] National authority was disputed by factions of the army, the elite class and the growing commercial class, now made up of numerous immigrants: Germans, Americans, French and English.

On more than one occasion U.S., French, German and British forces claimed large sums of money from the vaults of the National Bank of Haiti.[22]

Expatriates bankrolled and armed opposing groups. In 1888 U.S. Marines supported a military revolt against the government. In 1892 the German government supported suppression of the movement of Anténor Firmin. In 1912 Syrians residing in Haiti participated in a plot in which the presidential palace was destroyed. In January 1914, British, German and United States forces entered Haiti ostensibly to protect their citizens.[22]

Since 1915

The United States occupied the island from 1915 to 1934. The Haitian administration dismantled the constitutional system, built roads, and established the National Guards that ran the country after the Marines left.

In 1937 Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo,[23] in an event known as the Parsley Massacre, ordered his Army to kill Haitians living on the Dominican side of the border.[24] He developed a uniquely Dominican policy of racial discrimination, Antihaitianismo (“anti-Haitianism”), targeting the mostly-black inhabitants of his neighboring country.

Within the country, François “Papa Doc” Duvalier used both political murder and expulsion to suppress his opponents; estimates of those killed are as high as 30,000.[25]

1957–1986

From 1957 to 1986, the Duvalier family reigned as dictators, turning the country into a hermit kingdom with a personality cult and corruption. They created the private army and terrorist death squads known as Tonton Macoutes. Many Haitians fled to exile in the United States and Canada, especially French-speaking Quebec. In the 1970s the United States funded major efforts to establish assembly plants for U.S. manufacturers. In the mid 1980s the US continued military and economic aid to the regime.[26]

In 1986 protests against “Baby Doc” led the U.S. to arrange for Duvalier and his family to be exiled to France. Army leader General Henri Namphy headed a new National Governing Council.[26]

In March 1987 a new Constitution was overwhelmingly approved by the population. General elections in November were aborted hours after dozens were shot by soldiers and the Tonton Macoute in the capital and scores more around the country.

1990s

In December 1990, the former priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide won the election by more than two thirds of the vote. His mandate began on 7 February 1991. In August 1991, Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s government faced a non-confidence vote within the Haitian Chamber of Deputies and Senate. Eighty three voted against him, while only 11 members voted in support of Aristide’s government. Following a coup d’etat in September 1991, President Aristide was flown into exile. In accordance with Article 149 of Haiti’s Constitution of 1987, Supreme Court Justice Joseph Nerette was named Provisional President and elections were called for December 1991. These were blocked by the international community and the resulting chaos extended into 1994.

In 1994, Haitian General Raoul Cédras asked former U.S. President Jimmy Carter to help avoid a U.S. military invasion of Haiti.[27] President Carter relayed this information to President Clinton, who asked Carter, in his role as founder of The Carter Center, to undertake a mission to Haiti with Senator Sam Nunn, DGA, and former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Colin Powell.[27] The team successfully negotiated the departure of Haiti’s military leaders and the peaceful entry of U.S. forces under Operation Uphold Democracy, paving the way for the restoration of Jean-Bertrand Aristide as president.[27] Aristide left the presidency in 1995.

2000s

Aristide was re-elected in 2000. His second term was marked by accusations of corruption. In 2004 a paramilitary coup ousted Aristide a second time. (See 2004 Haitian rebellion) Aristide was removed by U.S. Marines from his home in what he described as a “kidnapping”, and briefly held by the government of the Central African Republic to which the U.S. had decided to fly him. Aristide obtained his release and returned to the hemisphere shortly afterwards, although he has not returned to Haiti.

Boniface Alexandre assumed interim authority. In February 2006, following elections marked by uncertainties and popular demonstrations, René Préval (close to the still-popular Aristide and former president of the Republic of Haiti between 1995 and 2000) was elected president.

The United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (also known as MINUSTAH) has been in the country since the 2004 Haiti Rebellion.

  • Fri, Jan 15, 2010 - 09:01pm

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    Re: Haitian Earthquake: Made in the USA

Farmer Brown, Nowhere in the Wikipedia entry do I see CIA highlighted, so I just skipped it. Leaving the invisible hand of the CIA out of the recent history of Haiti, is like describing  myth without acknowledging the trickster.

  • Sat, Jan 16, 2010 - 12:19am

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    Nutrience For Farming – A Divolvement of Effluent …

Damnthematrix,

thankyou for putting up this article. Spot on!

Something for your residing thread incumbent :-

Face to Face with Jack Etkin

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8570486602320982353&ei=mvpQS9CbFdTQ-QbvoY3-Cw&q=haiti+cia&view=3

… and if I have to put this interview up another time, I’m sure it won’t be the last :-

John Perkins

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R6WstddMJZQ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DKPa8m07txg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3cJ5IsCt5Q

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mPRJjP7h4Q4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wNF3NSHDzYM

Best,

Paul

  • Sat, Jan 16, 2010 - 02:26pm

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    Re: Haitian Earthquake: Made in the USA

Damnthematrix,

Currently am in Europe, and the MSM here is filled with the ‘Haiti story’ and how the US government has exploded in humanitarian benevolence to send aid. I’d like to say thanks to you, for providing a historical overview to another side of their story, of which I was unaware.

Further, Globalresearch.ca has just posted a good article:

The Militarization of Emergency Aid to Haiti: Is it a Humanitarian Operation or an Invasion?

http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=17000

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