From Ashley Smith at Counterpunch:
Aid in Haiti has always been used to further imperial interests. This is obvious when you look at how the U.S. and Canada treated the Aristide government in contrast to the coup regime. The U.S. and Canada starved Aristide of almost all aid. But then after the coup, they opened a floodgate of money to back some of the most reactionary forces in Haitian society.
We should therefore agitate against any attempt by the U.S. and other powers to use this crisis to further impose their program on a prostrate country.
We should also be wary of the role of international NGOs. While many NGOs are trying to address the crisis, the U.S. and other governments are funneling aid to them in order to undermine Haitians’ democratic right to self-determination. The international NGOs are unaccountable to either the Haitian state or Haitian population. So the aid funneled through them further weakens what little hold Haitians have on their own society. [there’s more]
Readers of the The Shock Doctrine know that the Heritage Foundation has been one of the leading advocates of exploiting disasters to push through their unpopular pro-corporate policies. From this document, they’re at it again, not even waiting one day to use the devastating earthquake in Haiti to push for their so-called reforms. The following quote was hastily yanked by the Heritage Foundation and replaced with a more diplomatic quote, but their first instinct is revealing:
“In addition to providing immediate humanitarian assistance, the U.S. response to the tragic earthquake in Haiti earthquake offers opportunities to re-shape Haiti’s long-dysfunctional government and economy as well as to improve the public image of the United States in the region.”
Yes, there will now be a great outpouring of immediate aid, as there always is after any spectacular disaster. And of course, this is laudable, and I encourage anyone who can to contribute what they can to these efforts. But unless there is a sea-change in American policy, unless there finally comes an end to the curse that has been laid on Haiti — not by God, or by the Devil, but by the hard hearts of elites following blindly in the cruel traditions of their predecessors — then this flurry of caring and attention will soon give way again, as it has always done, to callous disregard, brutal repression and inhumane exploitation.
The tale of these cruel traditions — and the “continuity” with them that Obama has already displayed — does not augur well for such a change. But as that wise man, Edsel Floyd, always says, we live in hope and die in despair. And such a hope for Haiti is worth holding onto, and working toward.
At the same time, hope must not be blind; you have to acknowledge the grim realities in order to know just what you’re up against. So let’s take a long, hard look. [more]
Try Partners in Health for donations to Haiti
UPDATE II: And the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund