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The pit of human despair known as Haiti just got a little bleaker.  Cholera, a result of the non-existent sanitation and waste disposal is becoming more widespread.

“An outbreak of cholera is worsening in Haiti, and moving closer to the country’s earthquake-devastated capital, Port-au-Prince.As of the most recent reports on Saturday evening, the disease has killed at least 208 people and sickened another 2,674.

There are concerns tens of thousands of people made homeless by January’s earthquake could be at risk.”

Haiti has return to the memory hole, resurfacing only recently as more grim news besets the population.

“If the epidemic makes its way to Port-au-Prince, where children and families are living in unsanitary, overcrowded camps, the results could be disastrous,” said Dr. Estrella Serrano, World Vision’s emergency response health and nutrition manager.
What the West needs to do is immediately negate any debt owed to them.  France, Canada and the US are all partially responsible for the wretched state Haiti is in.  Consider small portion of the historical record (from the comments section of the CBC article):
“69% of Haitians voted for Aristide. Then the elites together with American and Canadian governments ensured that he was maligned and then whisked off to Central African Republic in the middle of the night. 

Why? Because he actually wanted to help the huge poor majority with radical things like increasing minimum wage and organizing better housing. Not so good for profits if you are an American garment maker. Dangerous stuff if you are a wealthy Haitian enriched by the status quo.”

We broke it, we need to fix it.  Debt forgiveness would be only the first step.
For a detailed breakdown of the relief effort in Haiti please see the Wiki article. – H/T tildeb.

Well other than the largest presence on the ground since the disaster ocurred in Haiti, nowhere I guess (ghosts?).

“One major international news agency’s list of donor nations credited Cuba with sending over 30 doctors to Haiti, whereas the real figure stands at more than 350, including 280 young Haitian doctors who graduated from Cuba. The final figure accounts for a combined total of 930 health professionals in all Cuban medical teams making it the largest medical contingent on the ground.”

This is not just Haiti, Cuba has a history of being among the first responders to crisis situations worldwide.

“Cuban medical teams played a key role in the wake of the Indian Ocean Tsunami and provided the largest contingent of doctors after the 2005 Pakistan earthquake. They also stayed the longest among international medical teams treating the victims of the 2006 Indonesian earthquake.

In the Pakistan relief operation the US and Europe dispatched medical teams. Each had a base camp with most doctors deployed for a month. The Cubans, however, deployed seven major base camps, operated 32 field hospitals and stayed for six months.”

Cuba, a nation still in an economic stranglehold enforced the the US, still has the resources to send to other disaster stricken countries around the world.  Do they vie for international resources or media time like other NGO’s?  Rarely.  No, rather they are have been, on many occasions, the first ones on the ground and the last ones to leave stricken areas of the world.

How do they do it?  Cuba is a poor island nation, but yet they get it done.  There is not glitzy flavour of the day fundraising and the enormous overhead that goes along with such hoopla; they just get there and start helping people to the best of their limited ability.

Do we hear about the outstanding work that Cuban doctors are doing in our filtered and standardized media.  Not a peep of course.   Being on the official US enemy list makes you magically disappear from positive media coverage.

Cuba sets the gold standard on what effective crisis response should look like.  Imagine how much Cuba could achieve  if the West were not determined to strangle their nation economically.

When all is said and done in Haiti will things change?  Or will the status quo remain?  Media Lens has done a excellent job at giving a short historical primer about Haiti and Western intervention within the small island nation.

“In September 2008, Dan Beeton of the US-based Center for Economic and Policy Research told us:”Media coverage of floods and other natural disasters in Haiti consistently overlooks the human-made contribution to those disasters. In Haiti’s case, this is the endemic poverty, the lack of infrastructure, lack of adequate health care, and lack of social spending that has resulted in so many people living in shacks and make-shift housing, and most of the population in poverty. But Haiti’s poverty is a legacy of impoverishment, a result of centuries of economic looting of the country by France, the U.S., and of odious debt owed to creditors like the Inter-American Development Bank and World Bank. Haiti has never been allowed to pursue an economic development strategy of its own choosing, and recent decades of IMF-mandated policies have left the country more impoverished than ever.” (Email to Media Lens, September 9, 2008)”

The short form is that, we have chosen profit over people in Haiti.  The results are obvious, endemic poverty, economic ruin, desperate people.

“Aristide’s balancing of the budget and “trimming of a bloated bureaucracy” led to a “stunning success” that made White House planners “extremely uncomfortable”. The view of a US official “with extensive experience of Haiti” summed up the reality beneath US rhetoric. Aristide, slum priest, grass-roots activist, exponent of Liberation Theology, “represents everything that CIA, DOD and FBI think they have been trying to protect this country against for the past 50 years“. (Quoted, Paul Quinn-Judge, ‘US reported to intercept Aristide calls,’ Boston Globe, September 8, 1994)”

Yet another grim legacy written in unnecessary human suffering.  When we are blind to history, when our media institutions promote, rather than banish, lies and approved truth we lose an important part of our character; our empathy and compassion.  Our motivations to help others are not activated because the suffering  is cloaked in the twin grey falsehoods of nationalistic myth and self-serving rationalizations.

We owe Haiti much more than emergency aid.  We owe them their country and their right to self-determination.

Thanks to Jake Tapper from abc’s blog Political Punch for the story.

Pat Robertson on Haiti:

“And you know, Kristi, something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it.

“They were under the heel of the French, uh, you know Napoleon the 3rd and whatever, and they got together and swore a pact to the Devil.

“They said, ‘We will serve you if you’ll get us free from the French.’

“True story.

“And so the Devil said, ‘Okay, it’s a deal.’

Wow, way to minimize a natural disaster.  The Haitians deserved it for consorting with the devil.

Look no further for an explanation as to why Religion needs to be relegated to the dustbin of history.

Robertson’s handlers issued a ‘clarification’ later:

“[…] His comments were based on the widely-discussed 1791 slave rebellion led by Boukman Dutty at Bois Caiman, where the slaves allegedly made a famous pact with the devil in exchange for victory over the French. This history, combined with the horrible state of the country, has led countless scholars and religious figures over the centuries to believe the country is cursed. Dr. Robertson never stated that the earthquake was God’s wrath. […]”

Whoa..good save.

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