Haiti was a nation of farmers, but thanks to the strings attached to U.S. aid, government policies made profitable farming unprofitable. So the farmers were pushed to the cities to provide a cheap manufacturing labor force. All those people you see on the TV in their shattered shantytowns? We helped put them there. With exploitative loans and yes, even a classic CIA-backed coup, we helped create this mess.
Here's Naomi Klein, the author of "The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism," speaking Wednesday night at the Ethical Culture Society to warn us against it happening again:
But as I write about in The Shock Doctrine, crises are often used now as the pretext for pushing through policies that you cannot push through under times of stability. Countries in periods of extreme crisis are desperate for any kind of aid, any kind of money, and are not in a position to negotiate fairly the terms of that exchange.
And I just want to pause for a second and read you something, which is pretty extraordinary. I just put this up on my website. The headline is “Haiti: Stop Them Before They Shock Again.” This went up a few hours ago, three hours ago, I believe, on the Heritage Foundation website.
“Amidst the Suffering, Crisis in Haiti Offers Opportunities to the U.S. In addition to providing immediate humanitarian assistance, the U.S. response to the tragic earthquake in Haiti earthquake offers opportunities to re-shape Haiti’s long-dysfunctional government and economy as well as to improve the image of the United States in the region.” And then goes on.
“Bush Was Responsible for Destroying Haitian Democracy”–Randall Robinson on Obama Tapping Bush to Co-Chair US Relief Efforts
But just before the program, I spoke with Randall Robinson. He’s the founder and past president of TransAfrica. He’s currently a visiting law professor at Pennsylvania State University, though he goes home to Saint Kitts tomorrow, where he lives. His most recent book is An Unbroken Agony: Haiti, from Revolution to the Kidnapping of a President. I began by just asking for his thoughts about the crisis right now in Haiti.
RANDALL ROBINSON: It’s important, in trying to find ways to help, to be generous and to give, and to give generously. I would like to commend President Obama for his strong and fast response of a commitment of $100 million. Operations are already underway. I think the world is being incredibly generous, as I understand the pace of things to be at this point, the pace of giving. But, of course, as many lives as can possibly be salvaged need to be salvaged as quickly as possible, and I have every reason to believe that the administration and others are doing the very best that they can. As a private citizen, it’s my responsibility, and our general responsibility, to support every effort that’s being made to save lives in Haiti.
AMY GOODMAN: Word is now President Préval has said they’ve just burned—buried 7,000 bodies in a mass grave, but the most important thing right now is the search equipment, to go in and to save people who are just hanging on, perhaps who have been crushed, who are hidden in the rubble. And yet, that has yet to come. Some word is there’s a lot of aid at the airport not able to get through, and then other aid just hasn’t come.