Disasters are Big Business By William Bowles

21 January, 2010

I am staggered. There are 10,000 ‘NGOs’ (Non-Governmental Organizations) in Haiti, one for every 900 inhabitants and each one of them has no doubt at least one Westerner working within, yet aside from the Cuban health workers, it seems they could do nothing until the gringos arrived with their Blackhawks and nuclear-tipped aircraft carrier and of course, the 82nd Airborne, paying yet another ‘visit’ to this benighted and super-exploited land to ‘secure’ the place for the locust storm of aid to come (too late for too many).

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Haiti and the politics of climate change By Op Rana

18 January, 2010 — China Daily

A chilling cartoon by Steve Bell in The Guardian says it all. Standing among the ruins of the Haitian presidential palace in Port-au-Prince are two persons. A speech balloon above one reads: ‘Perhaps if Haiti were a bank…’

The country has been the victim of nature’s fury before. Barely one and half years ago, it was battered by four devastating hurricanes. And now this killer quake, which has leveled Port-au-Prince, has killed tens of thousands of people, left many trapped under rubble or missing, destroyed homes and livelihood, and shattered hope.

The government doesn’t have enough resources and trained manpower to for a full-scale rescue and relief operation and has appealed to the international community for help. Promises have flown in from all corners of the globe.

Some countries, including China, have already dispatched essentials and personnel. But most of the promises are yet to materialize.

Well, Haiti is not a bank. It cannot expect to get what it has been promised. So what if it did not bring the disaster upon itself. Haiti is arguably the poorest countries in the Western hemisphere today. But till well into the 19th century it was one of the richest in the Caribbean (the richest French colony in the New World before its independence in 1804). And unlike the banks, the poor Haiti of today is not the result of its people but of foreign interventions and patronage of its dictators.

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21 January, 2010 — Cuba Update



Billy Bragg and Cuban band Son Mas are among the very special guests performing at the Concert for Haiti – a fundraising concert for the TUC Aid Haiti Earthquake Appeal on Wednesday 3 February at the TUC Congress House, London.

Tickets are now on sale priced £10 and proceeds will go to the Haiti Earthquake Appeal. Please buy tickets today and forward this email and website address to friends, family and colleagues today.

Find out more and book your tickets now at: http://www.concertforhaiti.co.uk


A Cuban bank account has now been opened to receive financial contributions to help with the Cuban medical teams working in Haiti.

Full details on how to donate directly to the Cuban medical brigades in Haiti here:

Full reports and videos available at:

Video interviews with Cuban docotrs in Haiti on the CSC YouTube site:

Interviews with Cuban doctors working in Haiti:

Cuba Update is the news and information bulletin of the Cuba Solidarity Campaign, UK. Reports in this bulletin are from various sources on the web and may contain opinions and phrasing that do not reflect the views of the Cuba Solidarity Campaign.



Cuba Solidarity Campaign
c/o Unite Woodberry
218 Green Lanes
London N4 2HB

Tel. 020 8800 0155

Email: office@cuba-solidarity.org.uk

"The Real Looting in Haiti" BY NICOLE LEE

20 January, 2010 — Institute for Public Accuracy (IPA)

Lee is executive director of TransAfrica Forum.

Co-director of the Louisiana Justice Institute, Washington said today:

‘The real looting in Haiti is not the people trying to get food to survive. The real looting of Haiti is the economic policies of the U.S. and France, as well as institutions such as the IMF and World Bank, in addition to the disaster capitalism that is fast setting in.

‘In Haiti, 200 years of crippling debt imposed by France, the U.S. and other colonial powers drained the country’s financial resources. Military occupation and presidential coups coordinated and funded by the U.S. have devastated the nation’s government infrastructure. Although the country has more than 10,000 NGOs [non-governmental organizations], many of them are profiteering off the small nation’s misery, rather than lifting up people’s lives.

‘As we saw in the aftermath of Katrina, some politicians, corporations and think tanks see disasters as opportunities for profiteering. Author Naomi Klein reported that within 24 hours of the earthquake, the influential right-wing think tank the Heritage Foundation was already seeking to use the disaster as an attempt at further privatization of the country’s economy. The Heritage Foundation released similar recommendations in the days after Katrina, calling for ‘solutions’ such as school vouchers.’

Background: Shortly after the earthquake in Haiti, the Heritage Foundation posted an article titled ‘Amidst the Suffering, Crisis in Haiti Offers Opportunities to the U.S.’ that began: ‘In addition to providing immediate humanitarian assistance, the U.S. response to the tragic earthquake in Haiti earthquake [sic] offers opportunities to re-shape Haiti’s long-dysfunctional government and economy as well as to improve the public image of the United States in the region.’ The piece has since been altered and the titled changed to ‘Things to Remember While Helping Haiti.’

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Video: Media promotes flawed Haiti narrative

19 January, 2010 — Narconews

Update II: Here is an audio-visual presentation by BrownManThinkingHard, courtesy of Baratunde Thurston:

It tells the back story of Haiti’s history and its relationship with US history. Did you know, for example, that the Haitian revolution that won independence from France directly led to the Louisiana Purchase and expansion of US territory? That, and other important context to understand current events in Haiti can be seen and heard by clicking “play.”


more about “Media promotes flawed Haiti narrative“, posted with vodpod
It occurred to me this morning that this is the first time since the dawn of cable news that during a big international story that I don’t have CNN or the other TV news networks turned on as I go about my day. The shift has already happened in which the Internet reporting has surpassed what poses as journalism on the big networks, and any video clip they broadcast that does turn out to add to the story quickly gets posted to the Internet anyway. TV news – at least in English – is now officially dead. And unless it radically changes its way of doing things, it is only a matter of time before the public reaches the same conclusion. Rest in pixels.

Video: Haiti Report by TeleSur’s Reed Lindsay, Now Translated to English

19 January, 2010

(Many thanks to 2010 School of Authentic Journalism scholar Joaquín Nezua Herrera, who put up the subtitles so that English speakers can get this unique ground level view of post-earthquake Port au Prince…)

Update: In contrast, CNN and the English language networks have largely been doing a dreadful job covering the crisis and recovery in Haiti. Ansel Herz offers an informed critique via his blog, Mediahacker: Tell CNN to Stop Hyping Fears of Violence in Haiti.


Video: Haiti Report by TeleSur's Reed Lindsay, Now Translated to English

19 January, 2010

(Many thanks to 2010 School of Authentic Journalism scholar Joaquín Nezua Herrera, who put up the subtitles so that English speakers can get this unique ground level view of post-earthquake Port au Prince…)

Update: In contrast, CNN and the English language networks have largely been doing a dreadful job covering the crisis and recovery in Haiti. Ansel Herz offers an informed critique via his blog, Mediahacker: Tell CNN to Stop Hyping Fears of Violence in Haiti.


Fight back against the colonial takeover of Haiti! By James Circello

20 January, 2010 — Party for Liberation & Socialism

U.S. ruling class has Haitian blood all over its hands


A helicopter lands on the USS Carl Vinson, from where the U.S. military is directing its operations in Haiti. The first U.S. airstrikes against Afghanistan following 9/11 were launched from the USS Carl Vinson’s deck.

The author is a co-founder of March Forward!, an organization of veterans and active-duty service members who stand against war and racism.

In the wake of a devastating earthquake in Haiti, Washington has seized the opportunity to strengthen its grip on Haiti—not only politically and economically, but militarily as well.

The U.S. military has deployed naval vessels, military jets, and more than 2,000 marines and 3,000 soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Infantry Division. An additional 10,000 U.S. soldiers arrived in Haiti on Jan. 18.

U.S. military intervention in Haiti is nothing new. U.S. forces occupied the country from 1915 to 1934. Military intervention has been an effective weapon for wealthy U.S. corporate interests to maintain and expand their dominance in the Caribbean.

U.S. imperialism has been the number one enemy of the people of Haiti in the last century, picking up where Spanish and French colonialism left off. Through decades of occupation, countless interventions and financed coups resulting in the removal of the democratically elected Jean Bertrand Aristide—not once, but twice—the United States is the last place that our sisters and brothers in Haiti expect to receive help from.

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UN, US ask Israel to send cops to Haiti By Yaakov Lappin

21 January, 2010 — THE JERUSALEM POST

[An exercise in hypocrisy. The Ed]

Following a request from the United States and the United Nations, the Israel Police will send dozens of armed officers to join peacekeeping efforts in Haiti, the Public Security Ministry announced on Wednesday.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman asked Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch to authorize the police delegation, and the request will be approved, a source close to the public security minister said.

The officers will undergo a brief period of physical and mental preparation before being flown to Haiti, the source added.

Lieberman said the international peacekeeping force was “one of the most urgent and important requirements for coping with the disaster in Haiti, in view of the breakdown of government rule. The United States has requested that Israel consider sending a contingent of police officers to join the international force, which will be deployed in Haiti in the near future. The Israeli contingent will be comprised of 100 police officers.

“Israeli aid to Haiti not only expresses moral values of the highest order, but is also a Jewish and Israeli tradition that provides the opportunity to demonstrate Israel’s commitment to international efforts to assist disaster victims,” he said.

Last week, a delegation of Israel Police crime scene investigation specialists flew to Haiti with the IDF’s Home Front Command and medical team to assist in the identification of earthquake casualties.

Haiti Newslinks 20-21 January, 2010

21 January, 2010

US to increase troops in Haiti by a third as rescue teams pull back 21 Jan 2010
The US is to send another 4,000 troops to Haiti to assist the earthquake relief effort in its third troop surge to the devastated country. The move, which will increase the number of US troops involved in the huge aid effort to 16,000, will mean diverting Marines who were to be deployed in the Gulf and Africa. The surge will comprise a three-ship unit of 1,700 sailors and 2,300 Marines, the US Defence Department announced today, joining the 12,000 troops already there.

US to send 4,000 extra troops to Haiti 20 Jan 2010
The US is sending another 4,000 sailors and marines to Haiti for the earthquake relief effort, diverting them from deployments in the Gulf and Africa. The 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit and USS Nassau Amphibious Ready Group would “significantly” increase the ability to quickly provide aid, the navy said. The move will increase the number of US troops involved to about 16,000.

Haiti: Schoolgirl killed by police for [alleged] looting 21 Jan 2010
While the images of survivors being pulled alive brought joy and hope, there was further heartbreak on the capital’s streets after a girl of 15 was shot dead as a suspected looter. Fabienne Geismar had survived the quake which devastated the family home but died in its aftermath, lying face down in her own blood beside the rubble and the worthless pictures she was said to have been stealing. Her father Osam, sister Samantha and brother Jeff had watched helpless as she was cut down by a bullet… It is unclear whether police deliberately aimed at looters who had targeted properties destroyed in the earthquake, or had been firing warning shots over their heads.

Crisis of the one million Haitian orphans as Unicef warns the devastation has jumped to ‘unbearable proportions’ 19 Jan 2010
The first of Haiti’s evacuated orphans have arrived in the US to begin new lives, according to reports. However aid groups fear as many as one million more on the island have been left without one or both parents following the last week’s devastating earthquake. Just 26 children who cleared the process before the disaster struck have been taken out of the country – but Unicef has warned the scale of the crisis has jumped to ‘unbearable proportions’.

SOUTHCOM ‘went live’ with disaster drill for Haiti when earthquake hit 15 Jan 2010
On Monday, Jean Demay, DISA’s [Defense Information Systems Agency] technical manager for the agency’s Transnational Information Sharing Cooperation project, happened to be at the headquarters of the U.S. Southern Command in Miami preparing for a test of the system in a scenario that involved providing relief to Haiti in the wake of a hurricane. After the earthquake hit on Tuesday, Demay said SOUTHCOM decided to go live with the system. On Wednesday, DISA opened up its All Partners Access Network, supported by the Transnational Information Sharing Cooperation project, to any organization supporting Haiti relief efforts. The information sharing project, developed with backing from both SOUTHCOM and the Defense Department’s European Command, has been in development for three years.

US to send 4,000 extra troops to Haiti 20 Jan 2010
The US is sending another 4,000 sailors and marines to Haiti for the earthquake relief effort, diverting them from deployments in the Gulf and Africa. The 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit and USS Nassau Amphibious Ready Group would “significantly” increase the ability to quickly provide aid, the navy said. The move will increase the number of US troops involved to about 16,000. 

Rescue Teams Pull Back as Haiti Aid Flows In
New York Times
By REUTERS PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) – The search for survivors of Haiti’s killer earthquake has started to wind down as international rescue teams begin …

Vows to Move Fast for Haitian Immigrants in US
New York Times
Deleranaeis Dolvin waited to speak with a counselor on Wednesday at the Notre Dame d’Haiti church in Miami. By JAMES C. McKINLEY Jr. MIAMI — Clutching their …
See all stories on this topic:

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Ecosocialist Round-Up, 5

20 January, 2010 — Climate and Capitalism

* World Leaders Fail the Planet
* The 350 ppm Carbon Dioxide Challenge and How to Achieve It
* Haiti and the Politics of Climate Change
* As the World Burns
* The Climate Killers

World Leaders Fail the Planet. Liam Young in Frontline: An Independent Marxist Review from Scotland

While the defeat of global summitry at Copenhagen may have initially appeared negative, for many it has finally have put paid to any illusions that the current system can be reformed. The economic and environmental crisis that capitalism has unleashed on the world has placed the question of change on a revolutionary scale back on the agenda.

The 350 ppm Carbon Dioxide Challenge and How to Achieve It. Renfrey Clark in Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

Nature and civilization will be saved only if masses of the world’s population – the people who have no stake in continued greenhouse pollution – enter the political process directly. The lies of the spinmeisters must be answered forcefully and in detail.

Haiti and the Politics of Climate Change. Op Rana in China Daily

That we are living in a global village is a myth. The global village is a concept used by the rich nations to become richer at the expense of the poor countries. What a global village we live in that does not even have a core of relief doctors, workers and equipment to help victims of natural disasters?

As the World Burns. Jeff Goodell in Rolling Stone

Our failure to confront global warming is more than simply political incompetence. Over the past year, the corporations and special interests most responsible for climate change waged an all-out war to prevent Congress from cracking down on carbon pollution in time for Copenhagen.

The Climate Killers. Tim Dickinson in Rolling Stone

Meet the 17 polluters and deniers who are derailing efforts to curb global warming

Bleak Prospects for Haitian Recovery: To Avoid Repeating Past Mistakes, US Role Must be More Than Rhetorical

20 January, 2010 — Council on Hemispheric Affairs by COHA Research Associate Christina Esquivel

As the days go by, it has become almost impossible to exaggerate the untold devastation left in the wake of the massive earthquake that struck Haiti on Tuesday, January 12, with its epicenter just southwest of the capital city of Port-au-Prince. The quake, registering a magnitude of 7.0 on the Richter scale and followed by over thirty serious aftershocks, left what is likely to be well over 200,000 dead and millions more injured. Many additional victims remained trapped in the rubble of homes, schools, hospitals, and government buildings as the primary three-day window for search and rescue ran out. Early this morning, a major aftershock registering a magnitude of 6.1 wreaked yet further havoc on the island.

The crisis has thus far drawn significant contributions of humanitarian aid from around the globe, including $100 million pledged by the US and tens of millions more by public and private agencies, in addition to relief efforts bearing food, medicine, and supplies for critical search and rescue operations. Still, the international response has been insufficient to keep up with the mounting challenges stemming from Haiti’s weak existing national infrastructure, social and political instability, and chronic underdevelopment, amplifying the disastrous impact of the earthquake. On Friday, January 15, the United Nations announced an emergency appeal of over $550 million in international humanitarian assistance for earthquake relief efforts over the next three to six months. However, the overpowering logistical and bureaucratic challenges that have complicated relief efforts so far may prove even more difficult to confront in the face of the enormous challenges posed by rebuilding the infrastructure and institutions of Haiti, above and beyond coping with the immediate devastation wrought by the earthquake.

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Haiti’s Tragedy Could Provide an Opportunity for Improved US-Cuban Relations Through Disaster Relief Collaboration

20 January, 2010 — Council on Hemispheric Affairs By COHA Senior Research Fellow Julie Feinsilver

Why is there almost no media coverage of Cuba’s medical assistance to Haiti? The Cuban government has provided free health care to the Haitian people since 1998 as well as many full scholarships to its medical schools. It also should be noted that Cuban doctors work in all 10 of Haiti’s departments (administrative divisions). At the time the earthquake struck, 344 Cuban doctors were providing health service in Haiti along with over 500 local Haitian graduates of Cuban medical schools. For years, the Cubans had been implementing their model Comprehensive Health Program in Haiti, but immediately switched to treating earthquake victims when the emergency struck. The Cubans quickly established field hospitals at the University Hospital in Delmas 33, and at Rennaissance and Oftama. Cuban personnel also began performing operations on an18 hours-a-day schedule. Yet, not a word of this appears in the mainstream U.S. media. In fact, U.S. news organizations seem to make the charge that patients routinely die at US-operated makeshift medical clinics and hospitals in Haiti because of a lack of adequate facilities to care for them, yet what about Cuban-run hospitals on the island? Do they have a better record?

In a tragedy as great as Haiti’s, there is no room for political cards to be played. All aid-givers should be cooperating to save as many lives as possible. They also should share resources to the greatest extent possible, as well as integrate their medical resources and patients. The present tragedy gives both the US and Cuba an opportunity to work together, thereby harvesting the benefits of medical diplomacy through a rational integration of their respective health service resources. This cooperation between Cuba and Washington would increase aid to Haitian victims while improving their own bilateral relations. Wouldn’t it be a constructive moment if the Cuban medical teams, which have been on the ground in Haiti for many years, and the now newly arriving US medical teams could work together? This would allow them to share their practical knowledge, procedures and supplies to save more Haitian lives today, and later jointly assist the island authorities in constructing their own viable health care system capable of responding to future natural disasters.

Julie Feinsilver is a COHA Senior Research Fellow and a Visiting Researcher at Georgetown University’s Center for Latin American Studies. She is writing a new book tentatively titled Medical Diplomacy: Fifty Years of Cuba’s Soft Power Politics, and has conducted research on Cuban medical diplomacy since 1979. Dr. Feinsilver is the author of the book, Healing the Masses: Cuban Health Politics At Home and Abroad (University of California Press, 1993), as well as numerous articles and book chapters on Cuba dealing with medical issues.

Dr. Feinsilver earned a Ph.D. in sociology at Yale University (1989) and taught Latin American politics at Wesleyan University and number of other institutions.