Disaster capitalism – in Haiti, Congo, Pakistan and New Orleans

by Judith de los Santos

Panelists: Ezili Danto, Kambale Musavuli, Adaner Usmani and Beverly Bell

Moderator: Judith de los Santos

The end of the first decade of the new millennium seems to have been marked by a series of natural disasters that have displaced and killed millions of people. The earthquake in Gujarat, India, in 2001, and volcanic eruptions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2002 were followed by earthquakes in China and Algeria in 2003, the tsunami in 2004, the earthquake in Pakistan’s northwest frontier province in 2005, Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans later that year, the Japanese earthquake in 2009, and Haiti and Chile in 2010.

The disasters, which mirror the devastation caused by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, have generated a complicated and fractured terrain on which human rights and economic justice are seriously compromised.

Displaced people, scattered communities, devastated homes and grieving families combine with acute shortages of food, health care and other resources. In the wake of such life disruptions, neo-liberal policies and conservative political formations take root, penetrating the political-economic cracks and simultaneously the collective consciousness of a people.

This panel will give us an update on the current situation in Haiti, the DR Congo and Great Lakes region of Africa, Pakistan and New Orleans. The panel will also look at the intersectionality of the psychological, socio-political and economic implications created by these natural disasters. What patterns and trends have been generated over the course of the decade? What are the long-term psychological after-effects? Under these conditions, how are local leaders and groups organizing?

In solidarity with the people, how do we consider, organize with and fight for justice. What structures of accountability can we generate when economies of the wealthy few are tied to the devastation of the disenfranchised many?

Bay View readers will welcome this opportunity to see and hear two outstanding and internationally renowned advocates, Ezili Danto and Kambale Musavuli, whose writing the Bay View has been proud to publish. Ezili (longtime readers will remember her as Marguerite Laurent) emphasizes the economic disparity in Haiti: Half of 1 percent of Haitians own 98 percent of the wealth.

Judith de los Santos is a New York-based writer and activist around issues of struggle and resistance within the African Diaspora and Central Africa. She can be reached at judith.dlsantos@gmail.com. Ezili Danto, attorney, playwright and performance poet, heads the Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network (HLLN). Visit her at www.ezilidanto.com, www.margueritelaurent.com or www.open.salon.com/blog/ezili_danto. Kambale Musavuli is spokesperson and student coordinator for Friends of the Congo. He can be reached at kambale@friendsofthecongo.org.

This story and video first appeared, as “The Evolution of Disaster Capitalism,” on PoliTube.org. It was recorded Nov. 10 at the Brecht Forum in New York City.