Flickr photo by United Nations
I owe this post to Naomi Klein who explored the way that private or corporate interests "use a public's disorientation following massive collective shocks to achieve control by imposing economic shock therapy" in her book "The Shock Doctrine." All should visit her website, NaomiKlein.org, and follow her updates on the aftermath in Haiti.
As I watch the images of devastation, I cannot simply consider how much damage has occurred to Haiti. I cannot cast off concerns about the plight of the Haitians and let worries about U.S. citizens visiting Haiti surpass what has happened to the Haitians with this massive earthquake either.
I cannot simply search for the best relief organization to donate to or cheer at the fact that politicians may practice bipartisanship and agree that Haiti needs this nation to help its people pull through. I must put it all together.
I must connect the poverty in Haiti to the history of the country --- how it has been subjected to colonization, exploitation, and foreign countries whose military and private interests have sought to control the country and violate the nation's right to self-determination.
In particular, I must put the focus on the U.S. and, specifically, USAID, because at the moment USAID is in the country conducting disaster relief. What does USAID hope will happen in the aftermath? What does USAID hope to gain? That's not an unreasonable question because, as you will see in my article, USAID has pursued ventures in Haiti before this earthquake.
The World Bank has agreed to give $100 million in "emergency grant funding to support recovery reconstruction in the Caribbean nation." What stipulations are attached to that? Will the World Bank only allow private interests or public-private partnerships to rebuild? Will it dole out the money to specific interests? Will they use the money as a way of oppressing the people and controlling the political or economic direction of the country? Again, you will see in my comprehensive article that the World Bank has pursued interests in Haiti before this earthquake much like USAID.
What do organizations like the Heritage Foundation, which have already signaled a readiness to take advantage of the crisis, plan to do? What will the American Enterprise Institute and other pro-private enterprise think tanks be suggesting America do in Haiti?
Americans should be concerned for Haiti but also be concerned about who and what organizations will be helping the country in the aftermath.
THE TRUTH BEHIND THE POVERTY RESPONSIBLE FOR SO MUCH DEVASTATION
Haiti is a country internationally known to be one of the poorest (if not the poorest) country in the world. Why is the damage in Haiti so catastrophic?
According to the CIA World Factbook, the GDP is 9.2 billion. The real annual income per capita is $250. The population below the poverty line is 80%. Unemployment is 70%. And, it has an external debt of $1 billion that European countries and the U.S. have used to suppress and oppress social movements in the country.
U.S. engineers suggest "lax building standards" played a role in the devastation. Buildings lacked quality control and were not built with good engineering knowledge. In many cases, nonductile concrete was used to build the building creating a "great seismic life safety hazard" because of the "collapse potential" of nonductile concrete.
High population density along with the fact that, according to the New York Times, many poor residents live in tin-roof shacks, which sit on steep ravines, also intensified the damage.
Lack of disaster preparedness also was a factor. If people were more aware of the risk, the mortality in and after an earthquake would significantly drop as it has in poor countries like Bangladesh.