Solidarity with Haiti’s people — a Workers World statement
Published Jan 14, 2010 5:25 PM
The earthquake that flattened Haiti’s capital and brought a new
calamity to millions of people in that heroic but impoverished country has
awakened calls for solidarity and aid from the vast majority of the
world’s people. The number one priority is to provide food, drinkable
water and emergency medical care to the approximately 3 million Haitians
affected by the disaster to try to limit the deaths, injuries and illnesses to
All reports from Port-au-Prince, located 14 miles from the shallow epicenter of
the devastating magnitude 7.0 earthquake and whose un-reinforced buildings
nearly all collapsed, are that casualties are already in the tens of thousands.
Even the main hospital and the national palace have collapsed, as has the hotel
housing the U.N. occupation force. One Haitian minister said he expected
Anyone feeling solidarity with fellow humans is moved by this tragedy. One is
especially moved if aware of the world’s debt to the Haitian people for
their historic contribution: they carried out a successful slave rebellion and
liberated their island from French colonialism.
We know that many of our readers want to offer their own personal aid to show
solidarity with Haiti. There will be a myriad of private charities asking
donations for aid to Haiti. Many of the most powerful charities, like the Red
Cross, are closely tied to the imperialist establishment that has no desire to
promote Haitian sovereignty.
We would suggest that those who wish to support the sovereignty of Haiti as
well as get aid directly to the Haitian people donate to Fanmi Lavalas. This
was recommended at a Jan. 13 Boston meeting hosted by the mostly Haitian-origin
Steelworkers Local 8751 (School Bus Drivers), local Haitian organizations and
Fanmi Lavalas is the party associated with former Haitian President Bertrand
Aristide, the most popular of recent Haitian leaders who was twice removed by
military coups supported by the U.S. In the last instance, in February 2004,
Aristide was expelled from the country by U.S. troops and agents in
collaboration with French and Canadian imperialism.
Governments will provide the bulk of aid to Haiti. Some of these governments
— mainly the old colonial powers and U.S. imperialism — will
attempt to use the disaster as a way to increase their own dominance over the
Haitians, even as others freely aid in solidarity.
It was predictable that the U.S. government, while delaying any actual delivery
of aid, put its military foot forward. Gen. Douglas Fraser, commander of the
U.S. Southern Command, said that the U.S. would send the Aircraft Carrier Carl
Vinson along with the U.S. Bataan, an amphibian ship with an expeditionary unit
of 2,200 Marines to police the Haitians in Port-au-Prince, claiming that
security was “a serious concern.” (New York Times blog, Jan. 13)
Later is was revealed that 10,000 U.S. troops will occupy Haiti.
In addition, while much of the U.S. media reports alleged looting, few mention
that many Haitians barely survive from day to day and breaking into a shop may
be the only way they are able to obtain food. No one can forget how the U.S.
federal and local governments handled the disaster caused by Hurricane Katrina
in New Orleans. There police, National Guard, army and mercenary guards from
Blackwater focused on control and repression, not on aid and rescue.
Socialist Cuba, in contrast, with the experience of sending medical brigades to
meet emergencies in Pakistan, Bolivia, China, Guatemala and Indonesia, already
had a team of 403 people aiding Haiti, 344 of them healthcare workers, some of
whom immediately set up field hospitals. More doctors are on their way. On the
first day they had treated 800 Haitians and performed 19 surgical
interventions. (TeleSur, Jan. 14).
Chile, Nicaragua, Spain, Guatemala, France, Mexico and Russia all rushed aid,
mostly food and water, to Haiti on Jan. 13, while the U.S. was still discussing
how the Marines would land. China sent a 60-member search-and-rescue team with
Venezuela immediately sent 19 doctors and 10 firefighters who specialize in
search and rescue along with 20 other experts and material aid. The Bolivarian
government of Venezuela has always recognized South America’s debt to
Haiti, which in the 1820s gave the aid to Simón Bolívar he needed to
help free some of the South American countries from rule by Spain.
French imperialism especially — and the U.S. too — owes a great
portion of its early wealth and subsequent development to its looting of the
natural resources and super-exploiting the labor of Haiti, though they both
refuse to acknowledge the reparations they owe to the Haitian people for that
and for their continued role in preventing Haiti’s development.
The progressive movement in the U.S., while joining in providing aid and
solidarity to the Haitian people, should also demand that the U.S. government
stop deporting Haitians, allow the return of Aristide and provide reparations
so the new Haitian government can establish a functioning system and stop
military intervention and subversion of Haiti.
The Bail Out the People Movement has the right idea with its demand to use the
tens of billions of dollars Wall Street now wants to pay its undeserving
executive bankers in bonuses as a down payment on reparations to Haiti.
It’s hard to imagine a similar transfer of wealth that could be more
effective in establishing justice.
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