Sunday, January 17, 2010
Your news on Haiti has been censored
by Larry Geller
“From my own work in the field, I know that FEMA has access to ready-to-go potable water, generators, mobile medical equipment and more for hurricane relief on the Gulf Coast. It's all still there.” —Greg Palast
If you subscribe to the Advertiser, check out their front-page story yesterday (Saturday) on relief efforts in Haiti. It completely, totally, erases any news of relief efforts by countries other than the USA. It doesn’t mention how inadequate the US response has been. It also doesn’t go near the responsibility that the US bears for the death toll.
The story originated at the Lost Angeles Times, but of course was selected by editors from among many possible choices. The Advertiser is in good company, a New York Times story the same day also erased any foreign participation in rescue and relief efforts.
If you’ve been reading this blog, you know that the US lagged behind other countries in getting to Haiti. Giving the American public the impression that Haiti is being saved by the US (and the US military in particular) is another great journalistic failing in the making. No wonder newspapers are in trouble.
Bless the President for having rescue teams in the air almost immediately. That was President Olafur Grimsson of Iceland. On Wednesday, the AP reported that the President of the United States promised, "The initial contingent of 2,000 Marines could be deployed to the quake-ravaged country within the next few days." "In a few days," Mr. Obama? [gregpalast.com, The Right Testicle of Hell: History of a Haitian Holocaust, 1/17/2010]
(Image is a Google map posted on Greg Palast’s website)
More, snipped from Greg Palast:
A friend of mine called. Do I know a journalist who could get medicine to her father? And she added, trying to hold her voice together, "My sister, she's under the rubble. Is anyone going who can help, anyone?" Should I tell her, "Obama will have Marines there in 'a few days'"?
China deployed rescuers with sniffer dogs within 48 hours. China, Mr. President. China: 8,000 miles distant. Miami: 700 miles close. US bases in Puerto Rico: right there.
Obama's Defense Secretary Robert Gates said, "I don't know how this government could have responded faster or more comprehensively than it has." We know Gates doesn't know.
From my own work in the field, I know that FEMA has access to ready-to-go potable water, generators, mobile medical equipment and more for hurricane relief on the Gulf Coast. It's all still there. Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré, who served as the task force commander for emergency response after Hurricane Katrina, told the Christian Science Monitor, “I thought we had learned that from Katrina, take food and water and start evacuating people." Maybe we learned but, apparently, Gates and the Defense Department missed school that day.
Send in the Marines. That's America's response. That's what we're good at. The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson finally showed up after three days. With what? It was dramatically deployed — without any emergency relief supplies. It has sidewinder missiles and 19 helicopters.
But don't worry, the International Search and Rescue Team, fully equipped and self-sufficient for up to seven days in the field, deployed immediately with ten metric tons of tools and equipment, three tons of water, tents, advanced communication equipment and water purifying capability. They're from Iceland.
I think you can see why the Advertiser/LA Times/NY Times coverage is a gross distortion of what is happening and of the US failure to provide critically needed aid.
As to the responsibility for the death toll, no, the US did not cause the earthquake. But it is responsible for the shantytowns piled on the hills that collapsed and killed multitudes of people.
Let’s go back to a Democracy Now interview from April, 2008:
An official from the UN Conference on Trade and Development, Rolf Traeger, faulted the Structural Adjustment Programs prescribed by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank for gutting agricultural production in the developing world.
AMY GOODMAN: Nowhere is this perhaps more clear than in the case of Haiti. Thirty years ago, Haiti had all the rice it needed. Then in 1986, Haiti turned to the IMF for a loan. Now, after cutting tariff protections on local rice, Haiti imports most of its rice from the United States, which in turn remains heavily subsidized. US rice farmers get one billion dollars a year in government subsidies. Meanwhile in Haiti, hungry people are rioting in the streets because they cannot afford to buy rice. [Democracy Now, The US Role in Haiti’s Food Riots, 4/24/2008]
So the farms were destroyed, and people piled up in the slums that were obliterated by the earthquake.
And now Obama sends in Bush (who destroyed Haitian democracy by abducting the elected president Aristide and removing him to Africa) and Clinton (who is responsible for not only the trade policy but for promoting sweatshops, really slave labor, for US benefit) as a team to rescue Haiti. More on this:
Of course, President Bush was responsible for destroying Haitian democracy in 2004, when he and American forces abducted President Aristide and his wife, taking them off to Africa, and they are now in South Africa. President Clinton has largely sponsored a program of economic development that supports the idea of sweatshops. Haitians in Haiti today make 38 cents an hour. They don’t make a high enough wage to pay for their lunch and transportation to and from work. But this is the kind of economic program that President Clinton has supported. I think that is sad, that these two should be joined in this kind of effort. It sends, I think, the wrong kind of signal. But that is not what we should focus on now. We should focus on saving lives. [Democracy Now, “Bush Was Responsible for Destroying Haitian Democracy”–Randall Robinson on Obama Tapping Bush to Co-Chair US Relief Efforts, 1/15/2010]
Please check out Greg Palast’s article, which also appears on Huffington Post and other websites.
Oh yes, Hillary Clinton showed up in Port-au-Prince:
Though the visit is mainly intended as a show of American support for Haiti, Mrs. Clinton said there were a few tangible benefits. In addition to bringing in supplies, her C-130 plane evacuated 50 Haitian Americans who were stranded here — including a baby who was sleeping soundly in a crib before takeoff despite the roar of the aircraft engines.
She was also able to deliver some goods to American diplomats. The night before her flight, Mrs. Clinton’s senior staff members prowled the aisles of supermarkets and drug stores buying bulk supplies of toothpaste, mustard, even cigarettes. [New York Times, In Show of Support, Clinton Goes to Haiti, 1/17/2010]
Good for the American baby. Good for those American diplomats who now have toothpaste, mustard and cigarettes (!). Shame on Hillary Clinton. Shame, unfortunately, on America.
What’s next for Haiti? A de facto military takeover looks likely.
Follow events on the web. For news on the Haiti disaster, our commercial press is worse than useless it seems.