Haiti's history is one of brutal colonial exploitation followed by systematic neocolonial intervention, and today the country faces extreme poverty and political turmoil. According to the UN Development Program, 78 percent of Haitians live on less than USD 2 per day and 54 percent of the population, or around four and a half million people, currently live on less than USD 1 per day. In light of the problems facing this troubled nation, the new information revealed by WikiLeaks concerning U.S. involvement in Haiti is particularly disconcerting. Janet Sanderson, the previous U.S. Ambassador to Haiti, once dubbed the U.S. "Haiti's most important and reliable bi-lateral partner," but the cables released by WikiLeaks show a much more one-sided relationship. Instead of helping Haiti develop economically and politically, Washington's foreign policy seems completely dominated by influential and well-connected U.S. economic interests.
Rene Preval became president of Haiti in 2006 and immediately attempted to improve U.S.-Haiti relations. U.S. Ambassador Sanderson reported in a cable that Preval "wants to bury once and for all the suspicion in Haiti that the United States is wary of him. He is seeking to enhance his status domestically and internationally with a successful visit to the United States." Yet despite his desire to improve relations, newly elected President Preval unintentionally began alienating the United States on the very day of his inauguration. On this day, Preval signed a deal with Venezuela to join the Caribbean oil alliance, Petrocaribe, which allowed Haiti to buy subsidized oil from Venezuela. The government of Haiti would pay only 60 percent up front and then pay the rest at 1 percent interest over the next 25 years. This payment schedule would save the Haitian government USD 100 million per year, with which the government planned to supply basic needs and services to 10 million Haitians and increase investment in social projects like hospitals and schools. Additionally, the Petrocaribe deal would help lower and stabilize the cost of oil in Haiti after several years of high prices.
Click here to read the entire Axis of Logic article about Wikileaks' revelations concerning the U.S. and Haiti.
I have a law degree (Stanford, 66') but have never practiced. Instead, from 1967 through 1977, I tried to contribute to the revolution in America. As unsuccessful as everyone else over that decade, in 1978 I went to work for the U.S. Forest (more...)
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