See Aljazeera video, “Disputes emerge over Haiti aid control,” below
by Ezili Dantò (Marguerite Laurent)
Jan. 16 – The most terrible earthquake rocked Haiti on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2010. The media called. Lamented about how the Haitian government is nowhere to be found in the midst of this earthquake disaster. Can I make a comment?
“The palace collapsed, the police headquarters collapsed, the parliament building collapsed with legislators inside it,” I say. “No one knows how many policemen, municipal workers, legislators were there, how many escaped, who is injured. How many are looking for their families? There’s no communication, no telephones, no electricity, no roads in the capital that are passable, no water in many areas. The hospitals are damaged. It’s nearly impossible to treat the injured and infectious disease will produce many more victims. People are living in the streets because they’re too afraid to go back into the few houses that are still standing. Do you understand?”
“No one has heard from the 9,000 U.N. troop mission in Haiti either,” I further point out. “They are mostly tending to their injured and dead also.” But the media is mostly not concentrating on that, is it? Only on promoting, it seems, the standard those-incompetent-Black-Haitians-can’t-rule-themselves line. Why doesn’t Haiti get a break from that media bombardment? Not even now?
“Is the U.N. really in Haiti,” asks a frantic mother on a call that finally got through. “With my bare hands, I pulled my two daughters out from the rubble myself but I can’t get them to a working hospital. I searched all night Tuesday to find them in the dark and under the concrete. My other two are dead. I don’t have a way to fly to the Dominican Republic for care. The doctors say one crushed leg must be amputated but they don’t have the equipment to do so. There’s too many dead people at the hospital. I am carrying her somewhere else. I don’t know where. There’s no water or food to give them. I can’t get inside the house to recover anything. We are in the streets.”
“I’ll let your husband know you three are alive,” I say. “It’s difficult news to hear but I’ll let him know. Hang in there,” I say. “Help is coming.”
China, Venezuela, Cuba relief teams got there before the world’s richest country and number one superpower. The U.S., with a base next door to Haiti in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, got there two days later, mostly after everyone had died under the rubble baking in the hot tropical sun, trapped inside concrete and metal tombs that used to be homes, schools or businesses. On Thursday, Jan. 15, 2010, the U.S. military began landing in Haiti. It’s Saturday and they haven’t started any rescue. No. Survivors in the capital are still waiting for the basics: water, food, medicine.
Up to 10,000 U.S. troops are expected in Haiti by next week. Soldiers kill, are not humanitarian rescuers, are not policemen. Obama sent Haiti military soldiers. The military is not about providing humanitarian relief. No. It’s about domination, conquest and submission. That’s what soldiers are trained to do.
They took over the airport the day after they arrived. Privatized it. The Haitians manning the damaged control tower fought the privatization. They are Haitian men. They are fathers. They are strong Haitian women, mothers. They need to work. To do something useful, valuable, important. They also need to make money to support their families. They need to be doing something productive. Need, like all Haitians, to have some control over something!
But the U.S. arrived to bring Haiti “security” when Haiti needs emergency earthquake rescue and water, medicine and food distributed. The Haitians working at the airport are arrogantly pushed aside like trash. The U.S. military need, they say, to control the Haitian airport in Port au Prince in order to fly in their military contingent.
They are using the airport for IMPORTANT things, don’t you see? Those buried under the rubble, the over 300,000 homeless Haitians who have not eaten or found clean water to drink since Tuesday when the mountains crumbled on them, can wait.
When the U.S. military got to Haiti, all those Haitians who had WALKED from Cap Haitian in the North or up from the South, from all points they walked for hours under the hot sun to get to Port au Prince and to help their countrymen were also ignored, pushed aside like trash.
But it was these Haitians and neighbors in Port au Prince who were less injured who RESCUED, gave EMERGENCY relief.
The people who could be saved, got saved mostly by HAITIANS frantically using their bare hands to dig through the rubble, lift pulverized concrete in the immediate 48 hours after the earthquake. They worked in the dark on Tuesday night, all day Wednesday in areas that they believed people could be trapped. Did what they could to save themselves as they have been doing since 1503 when the white settlers’ “New World” began.
The country next door, with a military base practically in Haiti at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, arrived two days after the mountains folded into the people of Haiti and they are using the Haitian airport, not to help the earthquake victims under the rubble, but to evacuate the Canadians, Americans, Europeans etc. who have been stuck in Haiti for two interminable days.
They are rescued immediately. Haitians wait. No simultaneous rescue. Haitian survivors fend for themselves. Mostly alone against all disasters, natural and man made, as always. No treatment, no family, no other homes to fly to.
Obama just stopped deportations, finally granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Haitian nationals in the U.S., but his team said earthquake survivors in Haiti with nowhere to go won’t be welcomed in the U.S. And those Haitians who are trying to get to us, who call us their own, who can really help us, are mostly not allowed to get to us.
I’ll share just one of the letters we’ve been getting since the earthquake:
“Zili, … please help me bring my wife and my son here to the United States. My son is only 15 months old. He was injury by a block fall on top his head. They both are homeless without no medical care no food, no shelter. My son he is an American citizen. But the American Embassy requested DNA test for him also the U.S. Embassy already granted Visa to my wife since October 19, 2009 by filling petition for her. But because of the DNA test she couldn’t left him alone. Please help me.”
Haitians who flew on commercial planes towards Haiti and were waiting for the landing strip to open up for their planes to land, were sent back, could not land.
“I want to see my sister,” she said to me. “Why do the Blan – the foreigners – always have more important business to take care off in Haiti than me?”
Her plane was re-directed to Miami, where she waits in agony. The moral support she wanted to give to whomever she found still alive at her house, the money she borrowed from families in Canada so she could bring something to whomever she found still alive is not important.
“My wife is waiting for me,” said the husband of the woman with the two daughters when I reached him. “She knows I am coming. She knows I’m coming no matter what I have to do to get to her.”
His plane is redirected to the Dominican Republic. He says he’s taking a bus into Cap Haitian. He says he will walk if he has to down to Port au Prince to find his wife.
“They’re evacuating Port au Prince,” I say. He said, “Lighting may strike, thunder may fall and shatter me on the way there, but I swear to God they won’t stop me from finding my family.”
On Thursday, more than 7,000 Haitians were buried in a mass grave to clean up the streets and get rid of from 200,000 to 500,000 corpses. Who is in that mass grave? Are his two dead daughters in those graves with the rest of the unidentified dead? Did his wife manage to find a hospital to amputate the other’s crushed leg?
The mass displacement of the population in the capital also means the injured and dying are harder to locate and families have been separated from their loved ones. Even if the father from abroad walks to Port au Prince after crossing through the Dominican Republic, how hopeless and harrowing is his task?
He may die over and over again, be left with no closure like so many of the 4 million Haitians living abroad who are similarly riveted to this drama. They too mostly may never know if loved ones are in that first mass grave or the next one the U.S. will order. Won’t know. They shall feel they’ve let down their families.
The media called: Haitians need emergency rescue and relief, not military invasion, I say
Jan. 17 – The most terrible earthquake rocked Haiti on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2010. The media called. Asked me, “What are Haitians thinking?”
“You don’t want to know,” I say. “Haitians need humanitarian help,” I say. “But the U.S. sent a military invasion.”
“In the innermost sanctum of their souls quakes a fear as big as the earthquake that hit them,” I say, “a knowing too awful to let reach their heads. Haitians are aware that the depopulation the Western corporatocracy was looking for in the coastal areas of Port au Prince – they’ve got it now.”
And just as the Black Katrina victims were vilified and criminalized, so too shall the Haitian earthquake victims be criminalized, vilified and evacuated at the point of guns, for more than their own good. For the benefit of this opportunistic U.S. invasion disguised as emergency rescue.
There are other interests bigger than the earthquake victims’ welfare and well being. They know that. See it. No real rescue, relief or large scale aid has come and it’s almost five days since the earthquake. They are looking about trying to figure out how to defend themselves.
Just as the Black Katrina victims were vilified and criminalized, so too shall the Haitian earthquake victims be criminalized, vilified and evacuated at the point of guns.
They know the history of U.S.-Euro rescues in Haiti. Many have lived through two bloody Bush dynasty regime changes (1991 and 2004) and all Haitians are aware of the terror suffered by their predecessors during the 19-year first U.S. occupation of Haiti from 1915 to 1934. So, on top of thirst, hunger, grief beyond bearing, they have a credible fear they shall not be allowed to survive and to return in any form to the places the Western corporate aristocracy has wanted to own for the oil and mineral resources that are in Haiti.
Haiti needs humanitarian help. Obama sent a bipartisan military invasion – 10,000 military guns sent come to help us to death.
Haitians hear Desalin singing songs of resistance and clarity, as Ogou: “Simityè, plen moun ohh. Baron mande, tout moun ki la, si se Bondye k mete yo?”
Marguerite Laurent, also known as Ezili Danto, award winning playwright, performance poet, dancer, actor and activist attorney born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, founded and chairs the Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network, supporting and working cooperatively with Haitian freedom fighters and grassroots organizations promoting the civil, human and cultural rights of Haitians at home and abroad. Visit her website at www.margueritelaurent.com.
Disputes emerge over Haiti aid control