Haiti: more than meets the eye

The world grieves as images of the beleaguered and dying Haitian people find their way into our homes. Despite the outrageous statements of Pat Robertson (Haitian people made a pact with devil), Rush Limbaugh (President Obama is going to use tragedy to improve his poll numbers, so don't give), David Brooks (Haitian culture is the real culprit) and miscellaneous right-wing Republicans, the world is responding.

Governments, including our own, social organizations and ordinary people are sending aid to the Haitian people in this moment of national tragedy. Thank goodness moments like this evoke our better angels. Tragedy, as we know from Katrina, can tear down the barriers that fracture humanity along so many lines. It can enlarge our sense of solidarity that in ordinary times is often confined to family, or city, or region, or nation, or race, or nationality, or religion.

We see this happening now. Old social boundaries that are real and historically constructed are melting away in the face of this catastrophe. Across the planet people are opening up their hearts and pocketbooks.

And it must be sustained and enlarged upon by the U.S. and the other economically advanced countries for two reasons.

First, these countries have the resources and people power to maintain a steady flow of aid to the victims of this crisis.

Second, the scope of this human tragedy is connected to Haiti's history of underdevelopment, which is explained, first of all, by the division of the capitalist world from its very beginning into a few developed capitalist states and a majority of states on the margins of development. Moreover, this initial division of the world has been sustained and reinforced by military coercion, unfair economic advantage and racism over the past three centuries, locking countries like Haiti into a state of permanent poverty and underdevelopment.

So let's press ahead with our effort and let's press our leaders to do more to assist the people of Haiti. At the same, let's join in the dialogue (already under way in the countries of the South) on the larger reality in the background of this tragedy. We can't control earthquakes, hurricanes and other natural disasters, but we can better prepare for them and the world, if it is to survive and peacefully prosper, has no choice but to construct a different developmental path that is sustainable and just for everyone inhabiting this planet.

Not only are the people of Haiti and the other people and states of the South insisting on it, but the American people in our own interest, in the interest of our children and grandchildren, should do likewise, if not for ourselves as an act of intergenerational solidarity.


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  • Vivian:

    South Africa.

    Posted by Ifear Formyjob, 01/16/2010 12:13pm (5 years ago)

  • Comrade Sam is absolutely right and speaking like a true materialist: The USA has a tremendous capacity and responsibility to help Haiti and we should press our
    politicians to do everything possible.

    Anyone denouncing the USA for sending aid and guns - or MINUSTAH (the best organized, most disciplined, stable and most constructive institution in Haiti) - is flaunting their ignorance and misunderstanding of Haiti, it's people, the social and political realities.

    I call this 'knee-jerk' anti-imperilalism - it is the height of superficial thinking and subjectivity - especially tragic in the present desperate circumstance. This not anti-imperialism, but emotion-based anti-americanism. There is a difference. Some people even consider the comrade-exterminating Al-Qaeda and the Taliban 'anti-imperialist' just because they fight Americans. By this logic the NAZI's were anti-imperialist. There is only one person whose presence in Haiti would cause great chaos and seriously impede humanitarian relief and cause a lot of deaths. Unfortunately, I am not at liberty to say his name - but the Haitian government is seeking his arrest and the confiscation of his ill-gotten wealth for crimes against the people.

    If you were dying of thirst you would be happy to owe your life to anyone who gave you water. You wouldn't care if they had a gun, what country or planet they were from, or what their politics are. Sorry, sometimes the best thing to do is to shoot people. We don't have to like it - but then there are a number of other aspects of reality we don't like either.

    Regarding the satanic Pat Robertson: The Voodoo priest Boukman was not a Satanist. Haitian Voodoo is unique in that it is inseparable from the ideas of revolution, Liberty, Fraternity and Equality. In the Abrahamic religions the snake is the giver of human consciousness and reason -- and that's bad, as it contradicts blind faith in god's word. In Haitian Voodoo
    the snake represents the same - but in Voodoo THAT'S GOOD! Also, in Voodoo there is one god, Papabondye, but he is distant - as if he doesn't care (excellent reasoning!). It is the lwa, (spirits) who are appealed to.

    The Haitian slaves, with the wisdom of Danbala Wedo, where smart enough to recognize that it didn't make any sense to pray to the slave-owner's god for their liberation. They got courage from each other and the voodoo spirits and took matters into their own hands.

    Danbala Wedo m se koulev ou.
    Map fe ou we sa, Danbala Wedo.

    Le mwen rive pou m ale.
    Mwen se petit papa pye Danbala,
    kote mwen pase m siye nom ou.

    Posted by Ifear Formyjob, 01/16/2010 12:09pm (5 years ago)

  • Comrades can donate to help organized labor in Haiti.

    I represent a Haitian federation for international relations, UACSH (Unity for Constructive Action by Haitian Unions) and an organization of former (Haines) textile workers in the free trade trade zone. (The plant was shut down several years ago in response to union organizing.) I also have relations with the federation (left led) Haitian Labor Coordination, CSH.

    As yet I have not been able to contact these comrades, but expect to at any moment. The ALF CIO Solidarity Center in Santo Domingo told me they are sending someone into Port-au-Prince to try to locate survivors.

    The North Florida Central Labor Council donated $1000
    Wednesday night.

    As of this moment, (10:30 am 1-16-10) I have only had contact from 2 people:
    My fiance and Edgard LeBlanc, leader of the party OPL, Organization of People in Struggle - led by veterans of the Haitian Communist Party (by email this morning).
    My fiance was able to call via internet Thursday 7pm.
    House collapsed but she made it out uninjured. Living in the street. Hadn't eaten or had water since the 5pm quake last Tuesday. As we spoke she started screaming -- another aftershock as we spoke.

    In my opinion, by now getting drinkable water to people is the most urgent aspect of aid. Access to safe drinking water was a severe problem before the quake - now access is nearly impossible. People will be dying from dying of thirst and contracting diseases. My friend's daughter had Typhoid fever 2 weeks ago and water-borne diseases were already a problem before the quake.

    Comrades and friends wishing to donate directly to unionists in Haiti can contact me at:


    to donate and for my credentials.
    Russell PELLE

    International Relations, Unite d'Actions Constructives des Syndicats Haitiens, UACSH

    Posted by Ifear Formyjob, 01/16/2010 10:42am (5 years ago)

  • I notice you are following the lead of Obama, the Democrats and the mainstream media by ignoring the heroic role of Cuba and the Cuban people who arrived quicker than Obama's marines and with medical aid, shovels, picks and sledge-hammers instead of guns.

    As Naomi Kline has pointed out; imperialism always looks for disasters of any kind to move in and take advantage of people. Doesn't she call this "disaster capitalism" or some such thing?

    Was the United States asked to bring in gun toting marines?

    To the extent police are needed why is it the U.S. marines and not the United Nations?

    Like Cuba, Sam Webb intentionally ignores the role of the United Nations.

    Posted by kickitonupanotch, 01/16/2010 10:33am (5 years ago)

  • Here come the angels again.

    This guy should have been a preacher.

    Posted by Barb, 01/15/2010 7:37pm (5 years ago)

  • I have just seen on Al Jazeera tv pictures of the us troops landing in Haiti with guns.
    What sort of help is that?
    Is Obama going to turn Haiti into a colony?

    Posted by , 01/15/2010 5:08pm (5 years ago)

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