During my recent visit to Haiti, working on a book and documentary about disaster capitalism, it was very clear that the US government, many NGOs and multinationals all wanted a piece of the country. And it’s working out badly.
There’s a new book about how outside forces, especially Washington, continually attempt to control Haiti by violently suppressing any resistance to their aims. Paramilitarism and the Assault on Democracy in Haiti by Jeb Sprague is discussed by Belen Fernendez at Al-Jazeera:
In the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti, certain media outlets painted a picture of a country overrun by looters and at the mercy of gang members and other criminals, including thousands of prisoners jolted free by the quake.
Relevant details were ignored, such as the contention by prominent Haitian human rights attorney Mario Joseph that80 per cent of said prisoners had never been charged. The media effort perhaps aided in rendering less incongruous in the eyes of the international public the deployment of a sizeable US military force to deal with quake-affected people who did not seemingly require military attention.
A Reuters dispatch from one week after the disaster – which reported “marauding looters”, “scavengers and looters swarm[ing] over damaged stores”, “increasingly lawless streets” and “[h]eavily armed gang members” – offered the following plea from policeman Dorsainvil Robenson:
“Haiti needs help … the Americans are welcome here. But where are they? We need them here on the street with us.”
The whereabouts of the ever-elusive Americans are of course hinted at two paragraphs later, when we learn that “the White House said more than 11,000 US military personnel are on the ground, on ships offshore or en route”. Elsewhere, French Co-operation Minister Alain Joyandet was quoted as commenting in reference to seemingly skewed US priorities: “This is about helping Haiti, not about occupying Haiti”. As foreign military monopolised the Port-au-Prince airport, teams of paramedics and first responders were delayed in the critical hours immediately following the earthquake.
Subscribers to the fantasy that the US is somehow qualified to counteract violence and install order in the Caribbean nation would do well to peruse a new book entitled Paramilitarism and the Assault on Democracy in Haiti, in which author Jeb Sprague masterfully documents – among other topics – the detrimental role of US and fellow international actors in Haitian history.
Offering new evidence obtained through interviews and a massive amount of formerly classified US government documents, the book clarifies how Haiti’s post-quake reconstruction rests on a foundation of total impunity achieved by the country’s most brutal paramilitaries and their financiers.
Here’s a recent discussion in the US about how Haiti is coping after the 2010 earthquake and the desperate need for aid organisations (and their sometime corporate backers) being far more accountable for their finances and actions: