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Stolen Haitian Relief Money

By       Message Stephen Lendman     Permalink
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They, like other local manufacturers, want to exploit Haitians lucky to have work no matter how poorly they're paid and treated. They get below poverty wages. They're treated little better than slaves.

Two and a half years after the quake, "Haiti remains mired in a humanitarian crisis." Hundreds of thousands are homeless. They're largely on their own to survive.

This and other commercial developments benefit profiteers, not Haitians. "Caracol Industrial Park is hardly reconstruction in the strictest sense."

Its developers downplay labor and environmental concerns. They came to make money, not help Haitians. Sae-A has an odious reputation. It closed its Guatemala factory over troubled labor relations. 

The AFL/CIO urged Haiti's government not to accept them. A detailed memo described "egregious antiunion repression." It includes "acts of violence and intimidation." Guatemalan monitor Homero Fuentes called Sae-A "one of the major labor violators."

Worker Rights Consortium executive director Scott Nova calls the company "a big player in a dirty industry with a track record that suggests a degree of ruthlessness even worse than the norm."

Other critics expressed concerns about its Guatemalan labor and criminal law violations. Company executives used every dirty tactic imaginable to squeeze out profits. Manufacturing is conducted amidst intimidation, death and other threats on workers.

Nonetheless, Bill and Hillary Clinton welcomed Sae-A with open arms.

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Caracol Bay contains Haiti's most extensive mangrove reserve and valued coral reef. Better suited sites were bypassed. Haiti's Audubon Society head Arnoud Dupuy called doing so "heresy."

Environmental considerations were ignored. Despite objections, development went ahead as planned. It includes a heavy fuel oil power plant, a dense housing project, and port on a soon to be lost pristine bay.

Instead of promised "building back better," profits superseded environmental and people concerns. Local backers and US officials downplayed the enormous damage done.

Haitians won't be helped. They'll be ruthlessly exploited for profit. Caracol's mayor, Landry Colas, wasn't consulted. He'd have picked a different site, he said.

This one is vast. It comprises nearly a square mile. It's in Haiti's north, south of Cap-Haitien. It's bisected by the Hole of the North River and fed by the Massacre Aquifer.

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Land was cleared last year. Small farmers were evicted. The tract resembles "a gravelly lunar landscape. Its perimeter is fenced, and outside the gate, a banner drapes a church, proclaiming "Sae-A Loves You.' "

It reminds some of Orwell's "War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength."

Sae-A executives see Caracol Bay as a blank slate to develop and exploit as they wish. Haitians have a much different view. Land chosen has a history of foreign exploitation and agrarian struggle. Peasants alternated between occupation and eviction.

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I was born in 1934, am a retired, progressive small businessman concerned about all the major national and world issues, committed to speak out and write about them.

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