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Focus on Haiti: Washington's Militarized Takeover
Top Priority is Command & Control, Hindering Desperately Needed Humanitarian Aid
Monday, 25 January 2010
US troops control Port-au-Prince's airport and port facilities, blocking and slowing aid, including relief flights from NGOs, France, Brazil, Italy and other countries, diverting them to the neighboring Dominican Republic, hours from Port-au-Prince on bad roads.
Haiti is no stranger to adversity and anguish - over 500 years of severe oppression, slavery, despotism, colonization, reparations, embargoes, sanctions, deep poverty, starvation, unrepayable debt, and natural calamities from destructive hurricanes to a dozen magnitude 7.0 or greater Caribbean region earthquakes in the past 500 years. The last major one was in 1946 at 8.1 in the adjacent Dominican Republic, also striking Haiti. Earlier catastrophic ones were in 1751 and 1770, both devastating Port-au-Prince, and the 1842 one destroying Cap-Haitien in the north.
On September 25, 2008, Phoenix Delacroix quoted geologist Patrick Charles of Havana's Geological Institute saying:
Citing a real danger, he explained that the dangerous Enriquillo Fault Zone extends across Port-au-Prince, starting in Petionville, traversing the Southern Peninsula to Tiburon. Noting earlier tremors in the area, he said a larger earthquake usually follows, yet no precautions were taken, leaving Haitians vulnerable to what happened - vast destruction, perhaps hundreds of thousands dead, countless numbers seriously injured, and disease, depravation, and militarized occupation haunting survivors in the aftermath.
After Washington ousted President Jean-Betrand Aristide in February 2004, UN Blue Helmets (MINUSTAH) occupied Haiti as paramilitary enforcers. They still do, subordinate to around 20,000 US land and sea based troops, including Marines, Army 82nd Airborne paratroupers, Navy assault ships, and Coast Guard vessels offshore, a powerful force for indefinite occupation, severe repression, and ruthless exploitation for American interests - obstructing, not providing, humanitarian aid, and facilitating potentially hundreds of thousands of deaths from starvation, dehydration, disease, untreated wounds, trauma, and for some perhaps just giving up and expiring unnoticed, unreported, and uncared about by forces able to help.
It's an old story for Haitians, beleaguered for over 500 years and under America's thumb for nearly two centuries, unrecognized, embargoed, exploited, and slaughtered to assure their freedom is denied. Now again, but first some background.
On April 30, 2004, the UN Security Council authorized MINUSTAH - paramilitary peacekeepers, illegally sent for the first time ever to support a coup d'etat regime in place of a democratically elected president.
Rebel thugs got free reign to join them in the streets, the result being hundreds turned up dead or missing. The state Port-au-Prince morgue was swamped with bodies. Many showed up with their hands tied behind their backs and bags placed over their heads. Ruthlessness was empowered. Orders came from Washington.
Bodies turned up everywhere, in streets, on beaches, abandoned as food for pigs, and anyone connected with Aristide's Fanmi Lavalas party (FL) was fair game.
US Marines and foreign troops arrived, not to deliver aid or for protection, but to intimidate, terrorize, crush resistance, solidify coup d'etat rule, and destroy Haitian democracy under Aristide and prevent any chance of it returning.
MINUSTAH and the reconstituted Haitian National Police (the force Aristide abolished with the army) took over from the initial Multinational Interim Force (MIF), terrorizing Haitians through thousands of political killings, disappearances, torture, and unlawful arrests and incarcerations.
FL was effectively destroyed and Aristide's remarkable accomplishments ended in areas of healthcare, education, free expression, economic and social reforms, human rights and justice, lost under coup d'etat rule and thereafter under the Preval government, a pseudo one subservient to Washington.
In the 2006 presidential and parliamentary elections, he agreed to painful concessions, surrendered his authority, and yielded power to US and elitist Haitian interests - a shameless betrayal of his people.
After the coup and thereafter, episodes like the following were commonplace:
On December 22, 2006, Blue Helmets assaulted Cite Soleil (one of Port-au-Prince's most impoverished communities), randomly shot and killed 30 or more people, supposedly to capture a gang member, but in fact to terrorize.
In an earlier July 6, 2005 incident, hundreds of heavily armed troops attacked Cite Soleil with an array of powerful weapons - high-powered assault ones atop armored personnel carriers, precision rifles for assassinations, and a type of gattling gun firing depleted uranium tipped armor-piercing bullets. Thousands of rounds were indiscriminately fired. About 70 people were murdered, and many were left unattended to bleed to death on streets or in their homes.
On January 23, 2007, MINUSTAH forces were back, open fired randomly for hours, and used helicopters to reign death from the skies, killing dozens, then removing the dead to prevent a body count.
From February 2004 - December 2005 alone, Wayne State University School of Social Work researchers estimated that 8,000 people were murdered and 35,000 women sexually assaulted in the greater Port-au-Prince area - attributed to MINUSTAH, the Haitian National Police (PNH), Haitian demobilized army members, and anti-Aristide paramilitary gangs enlisted to commit terror. Also reported were documented kidnappings, extrajudicial detentions, assaults other than rape, death threats, physical threats, and threats of sexual violence against helpless people. The report concluded that "crime and systematic abuse and human rights were common in Port-au-Prince" involving criminals but also "political actors and UN soldiers."
Today, similar abuses crush resistance, prevent the restoration of democracy, and keep Haitians cowed, abused and exploited. Washington decides their fate, and now the Marines are back along with thousands of combat paratroupers and naval forces (an authorized 20,000 force mostly arrived), not to provide aid, to deny it and perhaps let hundreds of thousands perish - a crime of genocidal proportions, a US specialty, honed and perfected from decades of ritual slaughter, especially against people of color, deemed inferior to American "exceptionalism" and "moral superiority."
Marines came earlier in 1915, stayed 20 years, ravaged the country, destroyed Haitian society and institutions, and committed horrendous crimes against humanity. Most notorious was the infamous 1929 slaughter of 264 peasants protesting in Les Cayes. In addition, corvee or forced labor was employed, brutally exploited, and new weapons tested like today, including aerial bombing years before the Nazis did it against Guernica (in April 1937) in support of Spanish fascists in the country's civil war.
Haiti's Catastrophic Tragedy
After its worst catastrophe in nearly 170 years, millions in the country need everything, not Marines - food, water, medical care, shelter, and deep compassion at their greatest time of need.
Instead, the country is occupied, militarized, denied aid, and taken over for greater exploitation. General Ken Keen, in charge of forces, says US troops will "be here as long as needed," signaling an open-ended commitment for years.
On her January 16 photo-op visit, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton practically announced an emergency decree, suspension of the rule of law, and authorization of curfews and martial law under Pentagon control. She said:
Despite the calm and lack of disorder, it's now official under Pentagon command enforcing a state of emergency and martial law. US troops control Port-au-Prince's airport and port facilities, blocking and slowing aid, including relief flights from France, Brazil, Italy and other countries, diverting them to the neighboring Dominican Republic, hours from Port-au-Prince on bad roads. In addition, the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders report aid flights can't land for fast access to treat the injured, ill and dying. Pentagon troops obstruct them, willfully letting people suffer, die, and be ethnically cleaned from Port-au-Prince areas wanted for new development. More on that below.
According to General Keen:
Military flights in and ones out with US citizens and foreign nationals have top priority. Saving lives don't matter. They're just Haitians, poor, black, unimportant, to be removed, using the earthquake as a pretext to do it, dead or alive.
In natural disasters, immediate aid is critical. After that, casualties multiply fast and in Haiti they're exploding, from a lack of medical supplies and equipment, vital surgeries, infections, diseases, extreme trauma, and inadequate essential to life supplies not let in or delayed. Three million or more Haitians need help. A fraction of that number are getting it. As a result, thousands are dying daily.
Phillippe Bolopion from FRANCE24 TV said supplies are piling up at the airport and not being delivered. Desperate people can't "understand why the generosity of the world isn't getting to them. It's really hard to comprehend."
Radio Television Esponola's (RTVE) Fran Sevilla reported:
President Rene Preval is disturbingly absent and silent, reportedly at the airport, out of sight, playing no role in the relief effort - something he should lead, not abstain from, and do it visibly, actively, on the ground in Port-au-Prince, what Aristide would do if there.
Despite the obstacles, some nations are doing what they can, Venezuela for one, a critical Hugo Chavez saying on his weekly Sunday broadcast:
Venezuelan and Cuban aid were some of the first to arrive, and Chavez and Castro promise more, including food, water, doctors, medical supplies and rescue equipment, yet Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicholas Maduro said shipments were diverted to the Dominican Republic, losing precious hours to deliver it to victims.
So far, Venezuela alone has sent fuel, 616 metric tons of food, and 116 metric tons of equipment, including water purification systems, electrical generators and heavy equipment for moving rubble, Chavez saying:
Chavez later announced that another five ships loaded with food and medical supplies left for Haiti on January 19 with Venezuelan soldiers on board to "protect the safety of everyone, but not to militarily occupy (the country) as the US intends to do."
Venezuela and other ALBA nations (Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas) pledged generous aid, additional shiploads already sent carrying thousands of tons of food and other supplies.
America's Response - Occupation, Not Aid
In a show of strength, US paratroupers took control of the Presidential Palace, symbol of the nation's sovereignty, wanting it for a command center, and angering one Haitian to say:
Besides control, security is top priority, never mind how calm, resilient, compassionate, and committed able Haitians are to help, asking no more than for vital supplies to survive at a time they can't provide them on their own. Yet Keen claims:
In separate incidents, they fired tear gas and rubber bullets at a crowd close to the Port-au-Prince airport, and Hatian police did as well against civilians in the city center. Another report said police were shooting Haitians and letting them bleed to death in the street.
"We don't need military aid. What we need is food and shelter," shouted one man at UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during his one-day visit with officials and UN forces, not to assess the tragedy and direct massive aid to address it.
Arriving on January 17, he left the same day, an appalling display of arrogance and indifference. During a photo-op near a tent city, he was heckled by angry crowds demanding help from the international community. Instead he said:
In fact, they're being obstructed and prevented from landing, and much getting in is stacked at the airport, not delivered or delayed. The result is death, devastation, and human suffering everywhere while Ban, Hillary Clinton and husband Bill come for photo-ops and shameless comments like the former president saying:
If fact, no heavy equipment was delivered. UN and US troops didn't help, and Haitians had to use small implements and their bare hands to rescue a bare handful of people on their own while perhaps hundreds of thousands perished.
At the same time, desperation grows, arousing one woman to say:
Another man shouted:
Head of mission of Doctors Without Borders (MSF), Michelle Chouinard, described their enormous challenges:
Two million or more are homeless, living on streets or, if lucky, in tents. Partners in Health, (with 25 years experience providing healthcare to Haitians), estimates 20,000 are dying daily from lack of surgery and essential treatment. The human tragedy is incalculable. Tens of thousands of bodies get dumped in mass graves like garbage.
MSF's Dr. Greg Elder fears:
On January 20, even The New York Times reported that:
The Wall Street Journal reported that Port-au-Prince General Hospital is besieged by over 1,000 patients needing surgery. "....thousands of injured, some grievously, wait outside virtually any hospital or clinic, pleading for treatment."
BBC correspondents said aid arriving by sea is taken to the airport, "where it is piling up and not being distributed to those who need it." As a result, most Haitians are getting little or nothing. An estimated two hundred thousand or more have died. Many more will perish for lack of help.
At the same time, MINUSTAH and US forces provide security, not aid, leaving Haitians on their own, at the mercy of what relief agencies can provide and doctors from Cuba, Venezuela and other concerned nations, not America, not the EU, not Canada, not the world's wealthiest states able to mount a sustained, large-scale effort but won't.
Instead, reports say flyers are being circulated throughout Port-au-Prince, telling people to evacuate to safer places. It's reminiscent of New Orleans post-Katrina, a mass ethnic cleansing exodus to level the city's most valued parts, prepare it for upscale development, and prevent poor Haitians from returning.
On January 22, AP reported that:
In fact, Pentagon forces run everything, providing aid not their concern. They're relocating people, dumping and forgetting about them, out of sight and mind.
The New York Times ignores it, referring only to aid groups helping the homeless by "an epic relocation (of) up to one million people." Not a word about capitalizing on disaster for profit.
Before the quake, Haiti had over 10,000 NGOs profiteering on the nation's misery, preparing now for a bonanza at the expense of the poor, displaced and immiserated.
Blocking a Haitian Exodus
The Pentagon has Haiti under siege. Five US Coast Guard vessels and Navy warships patrol offshore to interdict those fleeing and forcibly return them back home.
On January 19, cnn.com reported that:
The message comes from Raymond Joseph, Haiti's US ambassador, saying in Creole:
If large numbers flee, they'll be incarcerated at Guatanamo's Krome Service Processing Center under conditions others earlier faced. After the 1991 coup deposed President Aristide, thousands fled to America. Most were sent home, but around 300 were held at Guantanamo because tests showed they were HIV positive. In subsequent years, thousands more were interned there.
Conditions were deplorable. Treated like prisoners, they were held behind razor wire in leaky barracks with bad sanitation, poor food, and little medical care even for the sick and pregnant women. After one protest and a hunger strike, crackdowns were severe, and many were imprisoned.
In October 2002, 212 Haitians reached South Florida seeking asylum and safety. Instead, they were rounded up, handcuffed, held in detention, and grossly mistreated. Families were separated from children, husbands from wives, and siblings from each other, but it wasn't an isolated incident under a secret Bush administration policy authorizing what now is the Department of Homeland Security to detain South Florida arrivals, regardless of their asylum eligibility.
It's how Washington always treated Haitians since they began arriving over 50 years ago to escape repression, only to be treated abusively once here.
Today, sick and dying Haitians are denied visas for emergency medical treatment and those with them can't leave. On January 19, the Miami Herald reported that commercial flights from Haiti are banned because checks can't screen out potential terrorists, a policy applying to Haitians, not US citizens or others allowed to depart.
Abducting Haitian Children
Noted international law and human rights expert Professor Francis Boyle reports the following:
Boyle added that Defense Secretary Gates said America won't police Haiti. However, under Fourth Geneva, occupying the country and displacing its sitting government (even in weakened form) is precisely what Washington is doing.
On January 19, The New York Times headlined, "53 Haitian Orphans Are Airlifted to US," then explained that some Haitian orphanages "are fronts for traffickers who buy children from their parents and sell them to couples in other countries." Now profiteers are stealing them.
According to UNICEF spokesperson Christopher de Bono:
According to UNICEF adviser Jean Luc Legrand, children are also missing from hospitals.
Fast-track adoptions are proceeding in Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, and America.
They're victims of child-traffickers, now aided by Homeland Security's January 18 announced policy of waiving visa requirements on humanitarian grounds for Haitian children approved for adoption, or perhaps abducted to be sold for profit, never to see their parents again or know if they're alive. DHS is facilitating a crime, a practice it's expert at targeting Latino immigrants, including documented US citizens.
Boyle asks who gives "the White Racist United States (the) Divine Right to go around the world (stealing) Black Children from Third World Countries, depriving those children and their countries of their future?"
It may also violate America's "Genocide Implication Act as amended by the Genocide Accountability Act and perhaps the US War Crimes Act."
The White House pressured the Haitian government to comply, forcing it to be complicit in child abductions - trafficking potentially thousands of Haitian children for profit at a time they're most vulnerable.
"Notice the duress and coercion involved here. The Black Haitian government was forced by the White Racist USA to surrender up their Children to White American child thieves," parents complicit in a crime with lawyers helping them who know better but are well paid to stay silent.
Listen to Lendman's cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.
Mr. Lendman's stories are republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.
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