The Haitian Revolution

Even if you have been watching Democracy Now’s outstanding coverage of the Haitian tragedy, the despicable neglect with which the United States and other rich countries have treated the disaster-struck nation, you still can’t fathom the depth of outrage the Haitians feel unless you put it into the context of its tortured history. Here is an excellent overview from C. S. Soong’s Against the Grain.

It was a cataclysmic event, the first and only successful slave revolution in the Americas. In 1791 brutally exploited slaves on a small Caribbean island rose up and eventually won emancipation. Their story, a legacy that has inspired and instructed people and nations for centuries, is told in Laurent Dubois’s Avengers of the New World.

Haiti and the Instruments of Death

This is how the ‘International Community’ (read the West) is responding to the tragedy in Haiti: still no aid, yet plenty of guns. US has taken control of the Port-au-Prince airport and according to Al Jazeera it is turning back aircraft with much needed aid from other nations.

Don’t miss Patrick Cockburn’s brilliant piece. Here are some highlights:

The rhetoric from Washington has been very different during these two disasters, but the outcome may be much the same. In both cases very little aid arrived at the time it was most needed and, in the case of Port-au-Prince, when people trapped under collapsed buildings were still alive…In New Orleans and Port-au-Prince there is the same official terror of looting by local people, so the first outside help to arrive is in the shape of armed troops. The US currently has 3,500 soldiers, 2,200 marines and 300 medical personnel on their way to Haiti…

A sour Haitian joke says that when a Haitian minister skims 15 per cent of aid money it is called “corruption” and when an NGO or aid agency takes 50 per cent it is called “overheads”…

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The Agronomist

This superb documentary by Oscar-winning director John Demme (Philadelphia, BelovedMan from Plains, The Manchurian Candidate) uses  the story of legendary Haitian journalist and broadcaster Jean Dominique as a focus to present the larger history of the country’s political struggles. The film features excellent archival footage and interviews, and a briliant soundtrack (although Wyclef Jean I have just learned is a poseur who actually echoed the Bush State Department line in laying the blame for the 2004 coup and kidnapping of Jean Bertrand Aristide on the president himself).

(Don’t miss Democracy Now!‘s excellent, in-depth coverage of the tragedy in Haiti)

Prepare to Be Enraged: Rush Limbaugh & Pat Robertson’s Drivel on the Haitian Earthquake

Leave it to two of the most deplorable figures in the American media to use the recent earthquake in Haiti as a platform to express their ongoing discontent with the Obama administration’s domestic policies, and as an opportunity to spew not–so-carefully hidden hate rhetoric under the guise of religious ‘humanity’.

A mere day after the Haitian earthquake, Rush Limbaugh and Pat Robertson have polluted the media, perhaps unsurprisingly, with more of their infamous mind numbing drivel.

Here are Limbaugh’s comments, as broadcasted on the Rush Limbaugh Show earlier today:

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URGENT APPEAL: Haiti 7.0 Magnitude Earthquake

Chaos after the earthquake in Haiti.Haiti, the Western hemisphere’s most destitute country, has just experienced a crippling blow in the form of a 7.0 magnitude earthquake. The earthquake, centered just 10 miles from Port-au-Prince, has devastated sections of the city and knocked out important infrastructure, including telephone communications. It is the worst earthquake in 200+ years in the region.

Partners in Health is a reputable organization based out of Boston which has a long, established history promoting social equity and health in Haiti. It was originally founded by Dr. Paul Farmer, a medical anthropologist and infectious disease specialist from Harvard, who has dedicated much of his life to alleviating the social inequalities rampant in Haiti. PIH states clearly that its mission is a “preferential option for the poor in health care.”

Donate generously at PIH’s website. PIH is actively organizing a mission to provide medical necessities and supplies to the areas that have been hit the hardest. Every little bit counts at this point. Thousands of people lay trapped in the rubble tonight.  Natural disasters, like war, do not discriminate with victims.  Innocent men, women and children are suffering needlessly. Our heart goes out to them.

The Haitian Slave Revolt

paulfootThe following is an illuminating lecture by Paul Foot on the Haitian slave revolt where he challenges the perception that British goodwill ended slavery. The lecture is based on C.L.R. James’ classic study The Black Jacobins. There is also an excellent documentary on this topic titled Egalite for All: Toussaint Louverture and the Haitian Revolution.

Paul Foot – The Haitian Slave Revolt of 1791 (57:27): MP3

Paul Foot vividly describes how the most successful slave revolt in history, which began in 1791, came to be closely allied to the events of the French Revolution and how each in turn influenced the other.

Taking self-emancipation as his main theme, Foot also challenges the idea that it was William Wilberforce, the British Tory MP and factory owner, that brought about the abolition of the most brutal and systematic regime of bondage and exploitation.

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