Sunday, January 31, 2010


African Union offers Haitians way out of American occupation

by Larry Geller

Haiti is one of the most shameful episodes in U.S. foreign policy because Haiti is a neighbor (as is Cuba, where a similar relationship has persisted) and we have treated Haiti with cruelty all through our history. When it became the first independent black Republic in this hemisphere, defeating the Napoleonic army, the administration of Thomas Jefferson (ironically, author of our Declaration of Independence) refused to recognize it.

And in the early 20th century, repeated Marine excursions to put down rebellions, and in 1916, the supposed "idealist" and proclaimer of "self-determination" Woodrow Wilson sent an occupation army, killing several thousand Haitians who would not accept our rule. The occupation lasted eighteen years.

And since then, as you note, support of the Duvalier dictatorship. And hostility to Aristide the first democratically elected president. And for some time now, strangling Haiti economically, and ruining its rice crop for the benefit of U.S. exporters. If we weren't spending hundreds of billions on stupid wars, we could have made much of Port-Au-Prince less vulnerable to natural disasters.
 Howard Zinn, January 25, 2010

There may be a new option for those displaced or orphaned by the Haiti earthquake, even as security trumps humanity in now militarized Haiti.

Haiti-related tweets continue to give a flavor of the unfolding tragedy as the US military either assists or obstructs the relief effort according to differing readings of the situation:

White House says medical evacuations from Haiti to the U.S. to resume within 12 hours - NBC News

U.N. sets up 16 food distribution sites in Port-au-Prince, almost 3 weeks after earthquake hit #Haiti - BBC

A new development may offer long-suffering Haitians a way out from under the thumb of US intervention in their affairs. Senegal has proposed to resettle Haiti’s homeless in a new state created for them in Africa. Here is the Reuters report:

The African Union (AU) agreed on Sunday to consider a Senegalese proposal to resettle Haiti's earthquake homeless and possibly create a state for them in Africa.

The idea was first floated by Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade who said the history of Haitians as descendants of African slaves gave them the right to a new life on the continent.

AU chairman Jean Ping told African leaders at its annual summit in Addis Ababa that they would discuss the proposal during the three-day event. The AU had opened an account for Haiti with the African Development Bank, he said. [Reuters, African Union to consider "land for Haitians" plan, 1/25/2010]

Of course, there is a long way between proposing a radical idea such as this and moving people into a new state ready and equipped to receive them.


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