Protecting Haiti's Interest By John Maxwell

2 February, 2010 — Black Agenda ReportJamaica Observer

john-maxwell.jpgThe ‘Big Three’ tormenters of Haiti – the U.S., France and Canada – now posing as the quake-struck nation’s benefactors, ponder how to rebuild Haiti without Haitian input or permission. ‘France, the United States and Canada owe the Haitians billions in damages. It is not for them to tell the Haitians what to spend it on.’

’Haitians know how to develop their nation.’

It would be ironic, if you like your irony flavored with blood and disinfectant, to discover that moored off Port au Prince at this moment is the US hospital ship, the USS Comfort, one of two employed in 1994 as floating slave barracoons in Kingston Harbor. Today the Comfort is providing medical care for people injured in the great earthquake of January 12.

In 1994, the Comfort and its consort functioned as temporary ‘processing facilities’ for Haitian refugees fleeing from a US supported coup and attendant tyranny. The refugees had been picked up either on the high seas or in Jamaican waters, running for their lives from a US-backed hoodlum-state, whose favorite law and order procedures were murder by dismemberment and disemboweling with bodies left in the streets; and women and children, beaten, publicly raped and disfigured and otherwise terrorized to encourage the others. Of those kidnapped either in Jamaican waters or on the high seas, 78.5% were sent back to their murderers while the rest were sent to Guantanamo Bay.

This barbarous triage was a joint venture operated by President William Jefferson Clinton of the United States and Jamaican Prime Minister Percival James Patterson. It was ended by Clinton’s deciding he couldn’t afford the death of a prominent black American leader on his record, if not on his conscience. Randall Robinson, President of TransAfrica, in one last desperate initiative, began a fast to the death in protest against his President’s callous behavior.

‘It didn’t matter that the Cubans, like Jamaicans and Mexicans, were economic refugees while the Haitians were literally in fear of their lives.’

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3 February, 2010 – MEDIA LENSCorrecting for the distorted vision of the corporate media

It matters that the media have lavished so much attention on the aftermath of Haiti’s January 12 earthquake. The coverage has helped inspire people around the world to give of their time, energy and money in responding to the disaster. On the Democracy Now! website last week, filmmaker Michael Moore described how almost 12,000 members of the US National Nurses Union had signed up to leave for Haiti immediately. Moore explained:

“… the executive director of the National Nurses Union. She contacted the [Obama] administration. She got put off. She had no response. Then they sent her to some low-level person that had no authority to do anything.

“And then, finally, she’s contacting me. And she says, ‘Do you know any way to get a hold of President Obama?’ And I’m going, ‘Well, this is pretty pathetic if you’re having to call me. I mean, you are the largest nurses union… I don’t know what I can do for you. I mean, I’ll put my call in, too.’ But as we sit here today, not a whole heck of a lot has happened. And it’s distressing.”

The courage and compassion of thousands of people willing to enter a chaotic disaster zone threatened with aftershocks are very real. Compassion arises out of a recognition that ‘their’ suffering is no different to ‘my’ suffering. The heart trembles and softens in response to this awareness. Such a subtle resonance and yet it has the power to relieve much of the world’s despair. It is the only counter force to the brutality and greed of human egotism willing to sacrifice everyone and everything for ‘me’.

But if compassion is to make a real difference, it must be allied to rational analysis. In the absence of this analysis, compassion is like a bird with a broken wing flapping in futile circles, never leaving the ground.

Joining compassion with reason means asking why over 80 per cent of Haiti’s population of 10 million people live in abject poverty. Why less than 45 per cent of all Haitians have access to potable water. Why the life expectancy rate in Haiti is only 53 years. Why seventy-six per cent of Haiti’s children under the age of five are underweight, or suffer from stunted growth, with 63 per cent of Haitians undernourished. Why 1 in every 10,000 Haitians has access to a doctor. (

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