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Can Capitalism Save Haiti?

By       Message shamus cooke       (Page 1 of 3 pages)     Permalink

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Absolute horror continues in Haiti. The inhuman response by the international community the U.S. especially has been directly responsible for thousands of deaths, whether it be those who were buried alive under rubble, or who died by infection or other untreated injuries.

The U.S. military's domination of the Port-au-Prince airport prevented international medical teams from landing for days, while Partners of Health estimated that up to 20,000 people a day likely died from infections. Starvation and fighting over very scarce food are the persisting deadly threats faced by most Haitians.

What is the solution?

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President Obama would have you believe that thousands of U.S. troops and 100 million dollars of aid have done the trick. But Haitians are right not to have one iota of faith in the U.S. government, which for decades supported dictatorships in the country while forcibly removing a popular president, twice.

Now, the U.S. military encircles the island to prevent starving people from fleeing a living nightmare, a policy that is the logical extension of Obama's general anti-immigrant stance.

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As the situation continues to deteriorate, a slew of U.S. professional pundits are weighing in to give advice to the struggling Haitians. Nearly all of them ignore the U.S.'s past and present actions towards Haiti. Instead, they paint the U.S. as a saintly intervener into the affairs of the backward Haitians.

Even worse, these lecturers ignore the still unfolding humanitarian disaster in Haiti and are brainstorming instead for down-the-road solutions. This saves them from having to denounce the U.S. "effort" to save Haitian lives so as to fantasize about a more perfect, futuristic Haiti.

A popular long-term solution that many are advocating is -- free market "reforms" that will supposedly lift the country out of poverty. These ideas are shared by both wings of the corporate U.S. political establishment. One such example was outlined in The New York Times editorial titled, Thinking About a New Haiti. In the view of New York Times, the "new Haiti" should be one that puts markets ahead of people: a strategy that will "promote self sufficiency" (never mind that no small island nation can become self sufficient, due to size and lack of resources).

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The New York Times answers the prayers of dying Haitians by preaching classic free-market dogma. This tired scripture teaches that Haitians can pull themselves up by their bootstraps by making use of their natural market advantages: ""Haiti has considerable economic advantages, like low labor costs"" (January 31, 2010).

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Shamus Cooke is a social service worker and activist living in Portland Oregon.

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