Sunday, January 24, 2010

Why won't the US give meaningful aid to Haiti?

The news media has barraged people throughout the world with scenes of the horror of the past few weeks in the nation of Haiti. Celebrities who have millions of dollars at their disposal have not missed a photo opportunity to appeal for contributions for aid to Haiti. The press has reported that hundreds of millions of dollars have been contributed and more is on the way. The question is, If there is so much concern for the welfare of the Haitian people, why is Haiti one of the poorest nations in the world? To expose the depths of this contradiction we need to look at several historical facts.

First, the Haitian Revolution was the first and only time in human history where freed slaves managed to take and maintain power. Hundreds of thousands of Haitians lost their lives in the course of the revolution. At the time of the revolution Haiti, which had been the French colony of San Domingue, was the richest colony in the world accounting for 40% of French foreign trade. The former slaves of Haiti defeated the French, Spanish, and British armed forces. This French defeat caused Napoleon to sell the Louisiana Territory to the United States at a price of about three cents per acre.

One would think that the United States would have been grateful for what the Haitian people had accomplished. Under horrendous conditions Haitian slaves created much of the investment capital of the eighteenth century which has been used many times over throughout the world. They were the first nation in the Americas to abolish slavery, paving the way for the abolition of slavery in the United States. The US doubled its size for a bargain basement price.

However, the U.S. government never acknowledged the debt it had to Haiti and has done everything in its power to make Haiti the poorest nation in the world. What are the facts?

First the U.S. declared an economic boycott against Haiti because slave-owners didn't want freed slaves talking with the slaves on the loading docks where slavery continued to be the law. Because of this boycott and the fact that Britain and France would not trade with Haiti, the Haitian government felt compelled to pay reparations to France for abolishing slavery on the island. Then in 1915, the United States invaded Haiti and became the ruling power on the island for 19 years. During those years the US armed forces murdered 2,250 Haitians.

The leader of the Haitian resistance to the U.S. occupation was Charlemagne Mussena Peralte. The U.S. occupation forces murdered Peralte. The body of Peralte was tied to a cross and a Hatian flag was draped over his head. A photo of Peralte's body on the crucifix was taken and the U.S. forces distributed thousands of copies throughout the island.

The U.S. government then gave crucial support to the ruthless dictatorships of Papa Doc and Baby Doc Duvanlier. After the Duvanlier dictatorships became unable to continue to rule the Haitian people elected Jean-Betrand Aristide President of their country. The U.S. military then occupied Haiti again with 20,000 troops and forced President Aristide to leave the country.

Understanding this history we can see why planes carrying medical aid to Haiti after the earthquake have been told to leave the country by the U.S. military. The so-called aid to Haiti largely consists of crackerjack box sized food rations a bottles of water distributed by 60,000 U.S. soldiers.

On the other hand, the nation of Cuba has taken an entirely different approach to aiding Haiti. First we need to understand that while Cuba has a tiny percentage of the income of this country, they have more doctors per-capita than any other nation in the world. These doctors not only treat Cubans, but volunteer doctors treat patients in the poorest areas all over the world. Many of these doctors have also treated patients all over the world where there have been natural disasters.

In Haiti there were between 300 and 400 doctors in the country before the earthquake. About 500 Haitians became doctors studying in Cuba. After the Haitian earthquake Cubans doctors set up field hospitals treating hundreds of patients every day. Doctors from other nations were drawn to these field hospitals because these hospitals were the only place where they could attend to patients.

When we look at how the United States and Cuba has treated Haiti, the contrast is clear. Cuba has used its resources to give much needed support to Haiti. The United States has created the conditions where an earthquake has killed about 200,000 people. Then the U.S. government would like to make-believe that it is giving aid to Haiti knowing that Haiti will continue to be the poorest nation in the world.

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