Sunday, 17 January 2010


Blackwater before drinking water

Greg Palast
Sunday 17 January, 2010

1. 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.

2. There's no such thing as a 'natural' disaster. 200,000
Haitians have been slaughtered by slum housing and IMF
"austerity" plans.

3. 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'"?

4. 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

5. 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

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. Gates wouldn't send in food and water because, he said,
there was no "structure ... to provide security." For
Gates, appointed by Bush and allowed to hang around by
Obama, it's security first. That was his lesson from
Hurricane Katrina. Blackwater before drinking water.

10. Previous US presidents have acted far more swiftly in
getting troops on the ground on that island. Haiti is the
right half of the island of Hispaniola. It's treated like
the right testicle of Hell. The Dominican Republic the
left. In 1965, when Dominicans demanded the return of Juan
Bosch, their elected President, deposed by a junta, Lyndon
Johnson reacted to this crisis rapidly, landing 45,000 US
Marines on the beaches to prevent the return of the elected

11. How did Haiti end up so economically weakened, with
infrastructure, from hospitals to water systems, busted or
non-existent - there are two fire stations in the entire
nation - and infrastructure so frail that the nation was
simply waiting for "nature" to finish it off?

Don't blame Mother Nature for all this death and
destruction. That dishonor goes to Papa Doc and Baby Doc,
the Duvalier dictatorship, which looted the nation for 28
years. Papa and his Baby put an estimated 80% of world aid
into their own pockets - with the complicity of the US
government happy to have the Duvaliers and their voodoo
militia, Tonton Macoutes, as allies in the Cold War. (The
war was easily won: the Duvaliers' death squads murdered as
many as 60,000 opponents of the regime.)

12. What Papa and Baby didn't run off with, the IMF
finished off through its "austerity" plans. An austerity
plan is a form of voodoo orchestrated by economists
zomby-fied by an irrational belief that cutting government
services will somehow help a nation prosper.

13. In 1991, five years after the murderous Baby fled,
Haitians elected a priest, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who
resisted the IMF's austerity diktats. Within months, the
military, to the applause of Papa George HW Bush, deposed
him. History repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as
farce. The farce was George W. Bush. In 2004, after the
priest Aristide was re-elected President, he was kidnapped
and removed again, to the applause of Baby Bush.

14. Haiti was once a wealthy nation, the wealthiest in the
hemisphere, worth more, wrote Voltaire in the 18th century,
than that rocky, cold colony known as New England. Haiti's
wealth was in black gold: slaves. But then the slaves
rebelled - and have been paying for it ever since.

From 1825 to 1947, France forced Haiti to pay an annual fee
to reimburse the profits lost by French slaveholders caused
by their slaves' successful uprising. Rather than enslave
individual Haitians, France thought it more efficient to
simply enslave the entire nation.

15. Secretary Gates tells us, "There are just some certain
facts of life that affect how quickly you can do some of
these things." The Navy's hospital boat will be there in,
oh, a week or so. Heckuva job, Brownie!

16. Note just received from my friend. Her sister was
found, dead; and her other sister had to bury her. Her
father needs his anti-seizure medicines. That's a fact of
life too, Mr. President.

*** Through our journalism network, we are trying to get my
friend's medicines to her father. If any reader does have
someone getting into or near Port-au-Prince, please contact immediately. Urgently recommended
reading - The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L'Ouverture and the
San Domingo Revolution, the history of the successful slave
uprising in Hispaniola by the brilliant CLR James.

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