27 January, 2010 — The Bay View
The Bay View is introducing this interview with an urgent action alert from the Haiti Action Committee, co-founded by Pierre Labossiere, urging readers to “stand in solidarity with Haiti” and call the White House, the State Department and their Congress members today.
Haiti Action Committee Action Alert: Rebuilding Haiti with the Democratic Movement
Jan. 27 – In the aftermath of the devastating 7.0 earthquake, Haitian children, women and men are now suffering through a man-made disaster. Over one week ago, Obama promised, “The people of Haiti will have the full support of the United States in the urgent effort to rescue those trapped beneath the rubble and to deliver the humanitarian relief.” But instead of delivering on this commitment, he has allowed the military response to take priority, resulting in thousands of preventable deaths.
As Haitians organize to rebuild their lives in the midst of an escalated military occupation, we demand that the Obama administration stop its destructive interference in Haiti. Haitians must be at the head of relief efforts and the long term rebuilding of their country. Fanmi Lavalas, the democratic grassroots movement of Haiti, must be at the center of any legitimate rebuilding process.
On behalf of our sisters and brothers in Haiti who have yet to see any relief and are beginning the process of reconstructing their country, we make the following demands on the Obama administration:
The U.S. military must IMMEDIATELY stop obstructing the distribution of water, food and other emergency aid to the survivors urgently in need. Obama must instruct the Marines to stop impeding the relief and rescue efforts of aid workers. They should be delivering food and medical equipment to the Aristide Foundation and other centers where people have gathered for refuge.
Haitians must be free to coordinate and lead the relief efforts and the long term rebuilding of their country.
Jean-Bertrand Aristide, ousted by a U.S.-backed coup in 2004, must be allowed to return to Haiti immediately and safely.
Lavalas must be allowed to participate in free, democratic elections. The ban on Lavalas in the upcoming elections must be revoked.
The military occupation of Haiti by the United States and the United Nations must end once and for all.
We hold the U.S. government accountable for its role in preventing relief efforts and undermining the Haitian grassroots who are organizing to rebuild their country. To stand in solidarity with Haiti at this crucial time, please contact the following U.S. government officials and your local senators and representatives with these demands.
White House: (202) 456-1111; email through www.whitehouse.gov
U.S. State Department: (202) 647-4000
By the time this article hits the internet, it will be two weeks since the 7.0 earthquake that has caused major destruction in the first Black republic in modern history, Haiti. Since this disaster, a number of opportunists have jumped out of the woodwork to join the Haiti relief feeding frenzy. As the POCC, Block Report Radio show and the SF Bay View newspaper, we see it as our responsibility to the people to expose these social vampires.
So this is Part 2 of an interview with Pierre Labossierre, cofounder of the Haiti Action Committee, where he gives the people a heads up on some of these high level criminals. Part 1 is titled, “Earthquake in Haiti: Under Aristide, Haitians were prepared for disaster.”
M.O.I. JR: Since the earthquake in Haiti, 20/20 and a whole bunch of hip hop media journalists have highlighted Wyclef Jean, a popular rap artist who is Haitian, and many people are star struck into giving to his organization, Yele. Can you give us a history of who Wyclef Jean is, as well as who his family is in Haiti?
Pierre: Wyclef Jean is – everybody knows his background – he’s a talented musician, an artist with the Fugees. At the time he had a powerful message, and he has a foundation called Yele Ayiti, so he is out there. And his uncle is a person who has a different set of politics (from ours) opposed to the people’s movement of Haiti, and his uncle really did welcome the coup d’etat (on Feb. 29, 2004, that deposed democratically elected President Jean Bertrand Aristide, beloved by the vast majority of Haitians, who lives in exile in South Africa) and its aftermath. And Wyclef had taken a position in support on that as well. That is what I know about his history.
M.O.I. JR: Now there are other major people who have been getting publicity around Haiti relief work, that being Red Cross, and many of the people who are reading this today know the history of the Red Cross in terms of dealing with Hurricane Amerikkka, which some call Katrina. Can you speak about two of the other criminals that Obama is working with and what their history is – that being former presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush? They are leading a huge relief effort in Haiti and getting people to donate money to their cause. Can you give the people a history about those two criminals specifically?
Pierre: Well, what had happened under President Bill Clinton, really he was pushing what they call neo-liberal policies, which is basically a policy that government should not provide and should get out of the life of the people and really let the marketplace do its thing. I mean the Republicans are more known for that and they come with it very openly, whereas President Bill Clinton deals with it in a different way.
So what has happened as a result in Haiti, those neo-liberal policies have resulted in a weakening of our government structure, the destruction of our economy, a great weakening of our economy. For example, they were pushing on Haiti privatization of government owned enterprises: What I mean by that is the telephone company, the electric company. These are money-makers for the Haitian government. What it is … is that a government manages the resources of the people as a collective – that is what a government is supposed to do – and provide you with services.
Haiti is a country that has been robbed of its resources, first of all by the colonialists if we go way back, and then after Haiti became independent in 1804, the former French slave owners, in collaboration with the U.S., Britain, Spain – all of the slave owning nations – forced Haiti to pay reparations to the former slave owners to the tune of about $22 billion.
So from 1826 until 1946, Haiti was saddled with that payment of $22 billion. Monies that should have been building Haiti were actually being sent to former slave owners in reparations for the loss of their property. And what was their property? Us, we the people, our African foremothers and forefathers and their descendants.
So what had happened during that time when President Clinton came in, he was pushing for Haiti to privatize its industries. These industries could be used by the popular government in Haiti: The revenues are supposed to be used to build schools, to build hospitals, to rebuild the country that has been so destroyed over the two centuries of our history.
Not only because of the debt, the ransom, we were forced to pay to the French, but also the dictatorships: first the Duvalier dictatorships and the military dictatorship that succeeded the Duvalier dictatorships, which further destroyed the Haitian economy. And now President Aristide (was) elected by the people of Haiti with a mandate to build schools, to build hospitals, to invest in agriculture, build irrigation canals to give our farmers the tools they need to produce food and also to have better crops.
Now we are being told that we should privatize those industries to the very same elite who are the ones who can afford to buy them and to the multi-nationals who could use them to make more money. So that’s what President Aristide resisted, and it is another reason for the coup. And so President Clinton was pushing that, and Aristide resisted, and there was a serious undermining of his government and an undermining of the program of the people.
Now we come to President Bush. When Bush came in, Aristide was again elected by the people, and his thing again was continued pressure on the government of Aristide – economic sabotage – which when they were unsuccessful in toppling this government of the people, it resulted in the brutal kidnapping and overthrow (of Aristide).
It wasn’t just Aristide that was overthrown, it was every elected representative, everyone from the local council members all the way to the president – everybody. That coup resulted in the murder of over 10,000 people according to various estimates, and the destruction of our infrastructure, so that whenever you even have a little heavy rain in Haiti, it is a catastrophe because for our people there is no infrastructure that is in place.
For example, in the absence of government, people have to live somewhere, and they build in places where they shouldn’t be building. And it is not their fault. Because of the destruction of the farms and of the agricultural economy, many people were forced to leave their farms.
They lost their land, moved to the cities, which was part of the plan of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank – to form this large labor pool in the capital city and make them fight over a few jobs. And so people have to live somewhere, so they build wherever they can, and in places where they shouldn’t build. And so any heavy rain that you have, it’s a major catastrophe with loss of life.
And so we have to look at this in the context of this earthquake and the magnitude of it and the massive loss of life, within the context of that broader aspect of the destruction of Haiti’s economy and the destruction of any kind of governmental management, meaning to provide services and to look after the wellbeing of the people. So it’s in that broader context that we have to look at this.
M.O.I. JR: How can people help the Haitian people and how could people get in touch with you?
Pierre: We have the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund. This is a fund that is used to directly help the grassroots organizations in the country, not on a charity basis – these are brothas and sistas engaged in rebuilding the country, in fighting for the liberation of our country and sovereignty.
We can be reached at Haitiaction.net and there is a button there to donate and to support the work of the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund. And people can also call the Haiti Action Committee at (510) 483-7481.
M.O.I. JR: I understand that you put out a call for people to also call their elected officials, right?
Pierre: I understand that what is going down on the ground right now is criminal. It has been beautiful the way that people have responded. I mean I’m overwhelmed by the response of the public here in the Bay Area and throughout the nation. I mean it is beautiful, people to people solidarity. It moves me, and I’ve shared that with brothas and sistas in Haiti, and they are moved.
However, they have told me that all of those resources – the food, the water, the medicine, the medical supplies that they so desperately need – it is stuck at the airport and it is not being given to the people. So people are scrounging. Today, again, I spoke just before the show, I wanted to verify what was going on, and they told me, “Look, they are not providing us with anything, not distributing the food, the medical supplies or the water that people so desperately need.”
So it is very criminal what is going on right now. Some of them are saying, it appears to be a gigantic experiment that they are doing to see exactly how we will respond and what will be our response. And as people lay dying – I mean the footage is there – it is plain to see that people are not being cared for.
But brothas and sistas in Haiti are resilient. They are coming up. They have organized themselves in neighborhood committees. They are scrounging around for food.
However, there are people who are wounded, who have very serious injuries, people who need help. They need assistance. There is a danger of infection that is going to take place. People need those supplies. They need that food, that water. It doesn’t belong to the U.S. government that is tying this thing down at the airport.
It is from the people to the people of Haiti, from people all over the world, particularly here in the states. And it needs to go to the people and not be kept somewhere so in a few days or so, somebody is going to make a profit out of it selling it on the street or in other countries nearby, such as the Dominican Republic.
So it is very similar to New Orleans’ Katrina what’s going on there, and it has been over a week and people right there in Port au Prince, in the capital city, one mile from the airport, where the materials are, people are not receiving water, they are not receiving food, and they are not receiving the medical supplies. Doctors are complaining about it. I’ve also been hearing that doctors and some field hospitals provided by the people of France were also stopped and turned around. This is criminal what is going on.
Email POCC Minister of Information JR, Bay View associate editor, at firstname.lastname@example.org