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Haiti Is Open for Business

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Haiti Is Open for Business - by Stephen Lendman

In December 1984, Canada's conservative prime minister, Brian Mulroney, told the New York Economic Club that "Canada is open for business," meaning US companies were welcome, the two countries would work for greater economic integration, America's sovereignty took precedence of his own, and corporate interests from both countries could operate freely at the expense of most Canadians.

That's always been Haiti's curse, now more than ever. Under American militarized control, Haiti is occupied for profit, its pseudo government largely invisible, and predators aim to cash in to the fullest. On January 21, in his article titled, "Securing disaster in Haiti," Peter Hallward explained, saying:

"....the US-led relief operation has conformed to the three fundamental tendencies that have shaped the more general course of the island's recent history. It has adopted military priorities and strategies. It has sidelined Haiti's own leaders and government, and ignored the needs of the majority of its people. And it has proceeded in ways that reinforce the already harrowing gap between rich and poor. All three tendencies aren't just connected, they are mutually reinforcing. (They'll also) govern the imminent reconstruction effort as well, unless determined political action is taken to counteract them."

Post-quake, conditions on the ground are horrific. Three million or more Haitians are affected. Most are displaced and struggling. Essential aid is obstructed and limited. Hundreds of thousands are being removed from the capital, not to help them, to "cleanse" the area for development. The official estimated death toll tops 230,000, over 300,000 are injured, and AP reported (on February 9) that the "Health crisis in Haiti enter(ed) a deadly new phase," the result of "a half-million (or more) people jammed into germ-breeding makeshift camps" where a health emergency is already apparent in the form of malnutrition, diarrheal illnesses, acute respiratory (and other) infections, at least one reported typhoid case, and fears of possible outbreaks of tetanus, measles, TB, malaria, dengue fever, diphtheria, acute flaccid paralysis, meningococcal meningitis, rabies, and other infectious diseases, including water-borne ones, particularly threatening children.

Independent reports cite outbreaks of tetanus, TB, diarrhea, scabies, ringworm and growing depravation, misery and anger, mostly unreported in the mainstream that instead focuses on disease containment and improving conditions. Daily, conditions are worse, not better, threatening a far greater disaster ahead.

Given the widespread depravation, the obstruction of food, clean water, and temporary shelter, and lack of proper sanitation, infectious disease outbreaks may cause biblical levels of more deaths ahead, perhaps raising the toll to from 500,000 - one million Haitians, a scale definable as genocide.

The Genocide Convention defines it as "any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group (including) causing serious bodily or mental harm (and) deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part...."

US forces control everything - Haiti's airport, port facilities, the Presidential Palace, and other strategic locations. They patrol Port-au-Prince streets menacingly with heavy weapons. In late January, police beat people, and UN Blue Helmets fired rubber bullets, tear gas and pepper spray at hungry Haitians wanting food, a likely precursor to graver confrontations ahead as desperate people seek it to survive. One Haitian told a reporter: "They treat us like animals, they beat us, but we are hungry people."

On February 7, the 19th anniversary of Jean-Bertrand Aristide first inauguration, his supporters commemorated the event as they do every year, calling for his return, denouncing the occupation, condemning the lack of food and other aid, and the corruption exacerbating the problem along with America's obstruction to let desperate people suffer and expire.

A month after the quake, inadequate amounts of everything are being distributed. Residents in poor areas like Cite Soleil have gotten virtually nothing and were in desperate straits pre-disaster. On February 8, thousands marched through Petionville, a Port-au-Prince suburb, denouncing what's occurring throughout stricken areas - mayors and other officials hoarding food and selling it at inflated black market prices, not distributing it to starving Haitians.

One protestor said: "I am hungry, I am dying of hunger. (Mayor) Lydie Parent keeps the rice and doesn't give us anything."

Haitian-truth.org said Haitian customs agents are charging people arriving with aid fees to deliver it. Otherwise, their supplies will be held indefinitely.

AlJazeera and other sources reported fake coupons being used for free food, to be sold on the black market at inflated prices.

On February 10, AP reported that public and private hospitals are charging patients, UN officials warning free medications won't be sent to ones that do. Christophe Rerat of the UN's Pan American Health Organization said they got about $1 million worth of free drugs, supplied by donations, and all medical care is to be provided without charge. Donated funds are also paying staff.

On February 11, rain and growing frustration sparked spontaneous street protests denouncing President Rene Preval's inaction, calling for Aristide's return, and demanding food, clean water and tents for shelter. Club wielding police met marchers. Scuffles followed. Minor injuries were reported. A sign read: "The rain has soaked us. The MINUSTAH must go. We need help. We need aid."

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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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