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Thursday, February 4, 2010

Haití kidnapped (again)

A very complex subject but full of evil. That's surely why I haven't felt like writing much on it yet. But also felt I had to... so I'm finally on it.

A brief historical review

As A. Montero mentioned the other day at La otra economía, based on E. Galeano's historian work, the Western powers never forgave Haití that it dared to break its chains. Then France imposed a debt for such pride and Haití swallowed in exchange of recognition. The debt soon ended in US hands that used it to squeeze further the country that first abolished slavery. But the USA took 60 years to recognize the second independent country of America: slavery and racism were too high in its agenda, as well as its own form of imperialism.

It took Haití 124 years to pay off that debt that never contracted. By then the whole country belonged to the US banks.

But, even Simón Bolívar, who owed so much to the Caribbean nation, where he found refuge in the low times of his rebellion, where he was given weapons, ships and even soldiers, the very blood of the country. When he succeeded he didn't recognize Haití either. He formally abolished slavery as promised but no other sign of recognition to Haití.

Racism was incredibly powerful these days, it seems.

The last decades

But well, let's get to a more recent Haití. Some 20 years ago I was on holiday in New York and had the opportunity of taking part in a huge demonstration in support of democracy for Haití, which had been suppressed by a violent coup promoted by George Bush Sr. I still have over there a pin with the Haitian banner and the simple slogan: Free Haití.

Per the promise of Bill Clinton, Aristide went back to power... only to be forced to give the presidential band a few months later. But he was elected again four years later and George Bush Jr. meddled, in agreement with France, to cause a pretext of violence and propaganda of corruption, to invade the country with the UN blessings.

Aristide, the only popular president in a century or so, was kidnapped by the blue berets and sent to Central Africa. He's now in South Africa and has shown desire to return.

For many years now, Haití has been an odd international protectorate, as if the country could not rule itself. It could of course but not to the like of Washington nor Paris.

Earthquake and invasion

A few weeks ago we were all shaken by the tragic news of an earthquake in Haití. Not anywhere in Haití but right near the capital, destroying suddenly all the state's and UN's central infrastructure. Not the US embassy though: newly built with the most modern anti-sysmic technology.

But lucky Haitians... the US Southern Command was precisely at that moment making a drill on a hypothetical hurricane devastating Haití. The American friend was ready and in a few days they invaded the country again. All for the good of the Haitians, of course.

Since then everything is under control... or so we are told. We know little of what is really going on anymore, as journalists are not able to report properly. For security reasons, of course. Just like in Iraq... or in Gaza... The cold and totalitarian militarist logic has replaced the warm and frank logic of solidarity.

Just that nobody has reported feeling threatened... before the marines landed. So what the heck?!

Why is the USA invading Haití again? Guess that there are many reasons...

Economic reasons

Haití is practically owned by multinational corporations, mostly based on the USA, as well as by a tiny oligarchy that owns most of the land. The country has many mineral but ill-exploited resources and, crucially, there seems to be a huge oil reserve between Haití and Cuba, only recently discovered, and particularly extending under the soil of Port-au-Prince.

Hmmm... curious. How handy that the capital has been devastated providing an excuse to deport all or most of its inhabitants.

Maybe Thierry Meyssan is correct when claiming that the earthquake was not natural but the product of an ill-known but way too real type of weapons that cause earthquakes he may be onto something. Yah, "conspiration theories" sure... but you being paranoid doesn't mean that they are not after you anyhow. And such weapons do exist and the circumstances are too suggestive of criminal action.

Geostrategic reasons

It is well known that the Caribbean Sea is the gate of America. All European powers but Portugal accessed that way, the pirate wars, the US-Spain war of 1898 and the several military interventions of the USA in the area since then are clear signs of the importance of this sea and its islands. The largest of them, Cuba, has managed to stay independent, not without a fight that continues nowadays... but the rest barely so. Some are still in fact colonies of European powers or the USA.

And Haití is the most battered of all, maybe because it's just east of Cuba and the infamous Guantanamo base, too close to some key straits that have been central since the age of piracy. The infamous Tortuga island is of course in Haití, not far from the Windward Passage, which was one of the main sceneries of the piratical actions sponsored by France, Britain and the Netherlands against the Spanish Empire and particularly Cuba. Today the same cold strategic logic applies but the enemy is not a powerful colonial empire but some of its former colonies, Cuba of course but also Venezuela and others.

But there may be more. The only country that can dream of shadowing the USA some day in America is Brazil, a power of growing international importance, which has been playing very diplomatically but has been recently pushed to some confrontation by the US actions in Honduras and Colombia. Brazil was in charge of the UN force in Haití... until the earthquake.

And even more. Anybody who has been a minimally serious Diplomacy player can easily recognize that in the increasing global polarization centered in Washington and Beijing, Brazil is a natural ally of China, as it's not easy that the two will compete, while the competition between the USA and Brazil is almost a given. Of course diplomatists would contest that nothing is set on stone and that's why the game is called Diplomacy. But I'd say that the current scenery has been one of increased confrontation.

This is maybe because the Bush presidency was so extremely focused on the Middle East and Central Asia that ignored Latin America to some extent. Instead the Obama term seems to be more and more focused on a global aggressive policy in all fronts, with a clear focus on Latin America and also, it seems now, in increasing tensions with China.

As per above, the two things may not be really detached. But neither was the focus on Central and West Asia, though China has managed to land on its four on the very countries that the US aimed to control (see my previous post on this issue), while Bush was not too interested in directly increasing tensions with the Asian giant, that he perceived as too important for the US economy. Some say that the influece of Zbigniew Brzezinski's thought is too strong in the Democrat aparatchkik for anything else than pursuit of total global domination.

And Haití happens to be in the middle, to want to improve their situation democratically after many decades of brutal dictatorship by US-sponsored tyrants, to have oil, and to be so lucky, as to have the US Navy ready to invade it, for humanitarian reasons, of course, when the earthquake happened.

But there are other natural forces in Haiti, like the force of the water that in Creole is called Lavalas, avalanche.

Yankees, go home!

Further reading:
- Rebelión on Haití (in Spanish).
- Voltaire Net on Haití.
- Global Research on Haití.


Kepler said...

Por favor!

Provoked earthquake? I have read the VIVE crap, I then read the Russian news: Russian authorities denied it, the origin was an obscure and very ridiculous Russian conspiracy site that is taking its data from another obscure US site.

Yes, the Soviets and US Americans made experiments on this(there is this EU resolution of 1999 about those things, I forgot the number), but the Haiti earthquake was not such a thing. There were two very concrete studies by sysmologists (not communist propaganda workers) years earlier saying a major earthquake was to be expected very soon (as they have said about San Andreas and Japan).

The latest report was from 2008, I think.

Venezuela is also a country with quite some tectonic activity. I have experienced several big and lots of minor earthquakes at home. They cannot be predicted accurately but there are clear patterns and we have seen that over and over again. We have been having earthquakes in all the major plaques in the world in January, most people were just not paying attention. Venezuela has had minor earthquakes recently, some over6 (by the way, the minister of Desinformation denied we could have another >6r earthquake in 500 years, the chuzpah...soon after that one just below that stroke)

Alexander von Humboldt described very well the earthquakes he experienced in cumana and then the one that happened after he left Venezuela in the capital and some other regions: massive destruction, half the population in the affected cities died or were wounded.

One of the differences has been that since 1967 there have been very stringent construction policies (one of the few things that are stringent in Venezuela). My sister is a civil engineer and she has explained me the details.

I have been in Venezuelan buildings during earthquakes. Once I was in one on the 13rd floor when the earthquake stroke and I had the impressio the whole building was gelatine, it moved a lot back and forth but it stood (that was the purpose). Still, as my sister said, the problem is that more and more slums have appeared and buildings are insecure there and more illegal buildings. So if a major earthquake hits an urban centre now in Venezuela we may have quite some dead. Still, the buildings are in general way better than in Haiti (normal, more money).

May the US be interested in Haiti? Probably. But this about provoking an earthquake there is over the top.

As for Bolivar: I don't adore the guy (unlike most of Venezuelans), but I do have the impression (not sure) he did recognise Haiti. The problem was that all those around him undermined his orders.
Bolivar asked the government of Haiti to go to the congress of Panama, but his workers simply did not send his letters, there was still a widespread resistence.

The abolition of slavery was not complete during Bolivar's lifetime, even though he did his best, as can be read from his letters and other records and his 1816 degree. Very few among his generals paid attention. It was only in 1854 when slavery got abolished, rather because it was not profitable for terratenientes to guarantee all the food, etc. Little changed. People could go away, but few did: they had no land.

Maju said...

I can't tell for sure, Kepler. But it was at least a quite unbelievable coincidence that the US armed forces were precisely preparing an invasion of Haití on humanitarian grounds when the earthquake happened.

Nobody says that it could not be natural. But there has been not one of any magnitude in all that area since the tsunami of 1666 that destroyed Port Royal.

And maybe you're right about Bolívar. In truth I have always thought of him as a honest trustworthy person... but you never know. He sent his sword (a merely symbolic gesture) but apparently did not recognize the republic. Not sure why.

Maju said...

Ok, here there is an article on the issue of Great Colombia and Haití.

It seems it was Santander and other conservative caciques (Gual) who, along with the USA, opposed the recognition of Haití and, in fact, the abolition of slavery.