WIKIPEDIA seems to offer a fairly accurate history of Haiti from its discovery, the victims of brutal French slavery and then greedy American commercial intervention and control: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Haiti Interesting though that the small German contingent of just about 200 in the latter part of the 19th century brought the greatest peace and prosperity to the island, until Woodrow Wilson's intervention in 1911 that led to over ten decades of American control and exploitation. Can you imagine the deaths from hunger, exposure, disease that these castoffs of American slavery system endured, which our forefathers created?
Time to rent "BURN" starring MARLON BRANDO and show it to your children.
What You're Not Hearing about Haiti (But Should Be)
IT IS AN AMERICAN SLAVE COLONY, DELIBERATELY KEPT IN UTTER POVERTY
by Carl Lindskoog
In the hours following Haiti's devastating earthquake, CNN, the New York Times and other major news sources adopted a
common interpretation for the severe destruction: the 7.0 earthquake was so devastating because it struck an urban area that
was extremely over-populated and extremely poor. Houses "built on top of each other" and constructed by the poor people
themselves made for a fragile city. And the country's many years of underdevelopment and political turmoil made the Haitian
government ill-prepared to respond to such a disaster.
True enough. But that's not the whole story. What's missing is any explanation of why there are so many Haitians living in and
around Port-au-Prince and why so many of them are forced to survive on so little. Indeed, even when an explanation is
ventured, it is often outrageously false such as a former U.S. diplomat's testimony on CNN that Port-au-Prince's
overpopulation was due to the fact that Haitians, like most Third World people, know nothing of birth control.
It may startle news-hungry Americans to learn that these conditions (roads, airport,) which the American media correctly attributes to magnifying the impact of this tremendous disaster were largely the product of American policies and an American-led development model.
From 1957-1971 Haitians lived under the dark shadow of "Papa Doc" Duvalier, a brutal dictator who enjoyed U.S. backing
because he was seen by Americans as a reliable anti-Communist. After his death, Duvalier's son, Jean-Claude "Baby Doc"
became President-for-life at the age of 19 and he ruled Haiti until he was finally overthrown in 1986. It was in the 1970s and
1980s that Baby Doc and the United States government and business community worked together to put Haiti and Haiti's
capitol city on track to become what it was on January 12, 2010.
After the coronation of Baby Doc, American planners inside and outside the U.S. government initiated their plan to transform
Haiti into the "Taiwan of the Caribbean." This small, poor country situated conveniently close to the United States was
instructed to abandon its agricultural past and develop a robust, export-oriented manufacturing sector. This, Duvalier and his
allies were told, was the way toward modernization and economic development.
From the standpoint of the World Bank and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Haiti was the
perfect candidate for this neoliberal facelift. The entrenched poverty of the Haitian masses could be used to force them into
low-paying jobs sewing baseballs and assembling other products.
But USAID had plans for the countryside too. Not only were Haiti's cities to become exporting bases but so was the
countryside, with Haitian agriculture also reshaped along the lines of export-oriented, market-based production. To accomplish
this USAID, along with urban industrialists and large landholders, worked to create agro-processing facilities, even while they
increased their practice of dumping surplus agricultural products from the U.S. on the Haitian people.
This "aid" from the Americans, along with the structural changes in the countryside predictably forced Haitian peasants who
could no longer survive to migrate to the cities, especially Port-au-Prince where the new manufacturing jobs were supposed to
be. However, when they got there they found there weren't nearly enough manufacturing jobs go around. The city became
more and more crowded. Slum areas expanded. And to meet the housing needs of the displaced peasants, quickly and
cheaply constructed housing was put up, sometimes placing houses right "on top of each other."
Before too long, however, American planners and Haitian elites decided that perhaps their development model didn't work so
well in Haiti and they abandoned it. The consequences of these American-led changes remain, however.
When on the afternoon and evening of January 12, 2010 Haiti experienced that horrible earthquake and round after round of
aftershock the destruction was, no doubt, greatly worsened by the very real over-crowding and poverty of Port-au-Prince and
the surrounding areas. But shocked Americans can do more than shake their heads and, with pity, make a donation. They can
confront their own country's responsibility for the conditions in Port-au-Prince that magnified the earthquake's impact, and they
can acknowledge America's role in keeping Haiti from achieving meaningful development. To accept the incomplete story of
Haiti offered by CNN and the New York Times is to blame Haitians for being the victims of a scheme that was not of their own
making. As John Milton wrote, "they who have put out the people's eyes, reproach them of their blindness."
Carl Lindskoog is a New York City-based activist and historian completing a doctoral degree at the City University of New
York. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
TWO OTHER JOURNALISTS CONTRIBUTE MORE DETAILS (THE TRUTH ABOUT A CENTURY of AMERICAN EXPLOITATION OF HAITI
Article printed from www.CommonDreams.org
URL to article: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/01/14-2
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