Monday, January 18, 2010

Holding the bully's coat in Haiti

The Haitian government has signed a memorandum of understanding formally transferring control of the Port-au-Prince airport to the US. From the Guardian :

"Flights seeking permission to land continuously circle the airport, which is small, damaged and with a single runway, rankling several governments and aid agencies. "There are 200 flights going in and out every day, which is an incredible amount for a country like Haiti," Jarry Emmanuel, air logistics officer for the UN's World Food Programme, told the New York Times.

"But most of those flights are for the United States military. Their priorities are to secure the country. Ours are to feed. We have got to get those priorities in sync."

France ­protested when an emergency field hospital was turned back.
The foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, said the airport was not for the international community but "an annexe of Washington", according to France's ambassador to Haiti, Didier Le Bret.
Brazil was also indignant when three flights were not allowed to land.

The Red Cross and Médecins Sans Frontières complained about flights with medical staff and equipment which were re-directed to the neighbouring Dominican Republic."

Obstructing assistance from other countries, sending in the military, ... right about now I'm guessing you're remembering the US relief efforts in New Orleans following Katrina.

Toronto Sun : Canada to take lead building 'New Haiti'

On January 25th, given he has nothing else to do til the Owelympic photo event, Steve is hosting a Haiti 'reconstruction' conference in Montreal for leaders from 16 countries which make up the Group of Friends of Haiti . While you're at it, here's something you guys can reconstruct ...

"In 1995, the IMF forced Haiti to cut its rice tariff from 35% to 3%, leading to a 95%increase in rice-dumping from the United States. As a 2008 Jubilee USA report notes, although the country had once been a net exporter of rice, "by 2005, three out of every four plates of rice eaten in Haiti came from the US."

During this period, USAID invested heavily in Haiti, but this charity came not in the form of grants to develop Haiti's agricultural infrastructure, but in direct food aid, furthering Haiti's dependence on foreign assistance while also funneling money back to US agribusiness."

Six years ago Canadian troops held down the Port-au-Prince airport while US troops deported the democratically elected Aristide to Africa. Apparently our preferred government for Haiti consisted of former Tonton Macoutes.

Peter Hallward in The Guardian :

The international community has been effectively ruling Haiti since the 2004 coup. The same countries scrambling to send emergency help to Haiti now, however, have during the last five years consistently voted against any extension of the UN mission's mandate beyond its immediate military purpose.

Proposals to divert some of this "investment" towards poverty reduction or agrarian development have been blocked, in keeping with the long-term patterns that continue to shape the distribution of international "aid"."


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