Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Racism behind charges of looting in Haiti?

by Larry Geller

Two snips from Democracy Now. First, from today’s headlines, an idea of the depth of the need:

Group: 20,000 Dying Daily from Lack of Surgery

Aid efforts have yet to approach meeting the dire humanitarian needs. In a statement, the medical relief group Partners in Health said some 20,000 people are dying each day who could be saved by surgery. The World Food Program says it’s handed out more than 250,000 ready-to-eat food rations amidst estimates some three million people are in need. The agency says it needs to hand out 100 million food rations in the next month, but is on pace to only have 16 million available. Earthquake survivors continue to receive medical care in makeshift clinics around Haiti. In a video, Doctors Without Borders anesthetist Deane Marchbein described the magnitude of the amputations being performed.

Deane Marchbein: “I imagine that not since the Crimean War have surgeons seen and amputated so many limbs. Perhaps the Civil War in the United States. But we’re talking about a situation that I’ve certainly never seen in my experience.” [Democracy Now, 1/20/2010]

And then a segment from yesterday’s program (website has video, transcript) on the militarization and so-called “security” problem (snippet):

DR. EVAN LYON: … One thing that I think is really important for people to understand is that misinformation and rumors and, I think at the bottom of the issue, racism has slowed the recovery efforts of this hospital. Security issues over the last forty-eight hours have been our—quote “security issues” over the last forty-eight hours have been our leading concern. And there are no security issues. I’ve been with my Haitian colleagues. I’m staying at a friend’s house in Port-au-Prince. We’re working for the Ministry of Public Health for the direction of this hospital as volunteers. But I’m living and moving with friends. We’ve been circulating throughout the city until 2:00 and 3:00 in the morning every night, evacuating patients, moving materials. There’s no UN guards. There’s no US military presence. There’s no Haitian police presence. And there’s also no violence. There is no insecurity.

JUAN GONZALEZ: That was Dr. Evan Lyon of Partners in Health talking about the situation at the General Hospital in Haiti. [Democracy Now, 1/19/2010]

It would be very strange if some stores or warehouses were not broken into. Suppose you and your family were starving, about to die, and you’re outside a grocery store with food inside. Of course, it happens and has or will happens in Haiti. The US press would rather have you believe that shooting the “looters” is the right thing to do.

What US military could do that would be helpful would be to bust down the door and distribute the food inside.

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I'd certainly bust down the door if I was there -- wouldn't you?

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