For more on this topic, you can listen to the audio lecture, by Paul Foot, titled The Haitian Slave Revolt or you can purchase a copy of the most famous scholarly work on the topic C.L.R. James’s Black Jacobins (more books on Haiti).
It is one year since Haiti suffered a huge earthquake. More than 200 000 Haitians died and more than a million were left homeless, most of whom still live in tent cities amidst the rubble. Unicef describes the past year as “probably the worst year in living memory for most Haitian adults” and children.
Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic Policy and Research in Washington, D.C. and co-writer with Tariq Ali of the Oliver Stone documentary “South of the Border”, has published an illuminating piece in the Comment is Free section of the Guardian. Variously touching on U.S. foreign policy in general, the WikiLeaks cables on Haiti (apparently it is necessary for the U.S. State Department to know how many drinks the Haitian president can handle), and the ignominious role played by MINUSTAH — the U.N. force in Haiti — Weisbrot writes:
People who do not understand US foreign policy think that control over Haiti does not matter to Washington, because it is so poor and has no strategic minerals or resources. But that is not how Washington operates, as the WikiLeaks cables repeatedly illustrate. For the state department and its allies, it is all a ruthless chess game, and every pawn matters. Left governments will be removed or prevented from taking power where it is possible to do so; and the poorest countries – like Honduras last year – present the most opportune targets. A democratically elected government in Haiti, due to its history and the consciousness of the population, will inevitably be a left government – and one that will not line up with Washington’s foreign policy priorities for the region. Thus, democracy is not allowed.
Residents of the largest slum in Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince have been demonstrating over the country’s response to the cholera outbreak. The protesters in Cite Soleil said the government and the UN have failed to protect them, as the number of people killed by the highly contagious water-borne disease soared to 724. In the meantime, the US Congress continues to block the delivery of the $1.15 billion in reconstruction money it promised to Haiti back in March.
The Pan American Health Organisation, the regional office of the UN’s World Health Organisation, has warned Haiti to expect hundreds of thousands of cases now that the disease appears to have taken hold.
They also vented their anger at NGOs operating in the country, where a devastating earthquake on January 12 killed more than 250,000 people and destroyed homes, forcing more than one million people to seek shelter in cramped makeshift camps.
In the latest edition of Fault Lines, Avi Lewis travels to Port-au-Prince and to the Plateau Central to document the politics of rebuilding in Haiti in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake. It seems the complusion of Haiti’s former colonial masters to use the country and its people as a vast economic laboratory remains unceasing.
In the meantime, Isabel MacDonald at Huffington Post has compiled a “partial index of the West’s ‘humanitarian efforts’ in Haiti” to date:
By Joanne Shansky
“¡Elsa! ¿Cómo estás?” exclaimed Dr. Luther Castillo with a huge smile and a very warm hug. In a rare relaxing moment during a recent whirlwind visit to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Dr. Castillo was reunited with a family friend from his Garífuna community on the northern coast of Honduras.
Dr. Castillo, founder of the first Garífuna hospital and head of the largest international team of physicians working in Haiti, was in town to share his experiences and speak on the topic of health care as a universal right. He traveled with Dr. Juan Almendares, rector of the National University of Honduras, long-time human rights activist, and highly-respected leader of the resistance movement against the June, 2009 military coup.