Another disaster in Haiti: we name the guilty parties
Haiti Support Group press release, 21 September 2004
For Reference, From the thread on this foum at:
So far the total number of fatalities caused by the recent heavy rains and flash-floods in north-west Haiti stands at around 600, but the final tally is sure to be far higher.
This is the second major disaster this year, in addition to numerous other deadly but less well-reported floods. The news is terrible, but it is not enough to wring our hands and say 'poor Haiti'. Nor is it sufficient to call on the international community to provide more and better humanitarian relief. We must look at the reasons why Haiti is prone to these catastrophes.
Both the flash-floods in the south-east in May, and now these in the north-west, are a direct consequence of the ov
er-farming and deforestation of the country's hills and mountainsides. When heavy rain falls, the water cannot be absorbed, and instead cascades down valleys and ravines, sweeping away anything and anybody it its path.
The problems of soil-erosion and deforestation are well-known, and so is the only possible remedy - land reform. Yet over the course of almost three decades, the country's economic policy has been dictated by international finance institutions, such as the World Bank, the IMF and the Inter-American Development Bank, and not only has land reform never appeared on their agenda, but no national government that has proposed it has received any encouragement to carry it out.
Instead, successive governments have been obliged to carry out neo-liberal economic policies which give no priority to the countryside whatsoever, even though some two-thirds of the population live there.
Billions and billions in international aid has been lent to Haitian governments, but the focus has
remained on governance, security, elections and support for the private sector. Next to nothing has been done to support the agricultural sector - no land reform, no subsidies for fertilisers or storage facilities, no reforestation campaign, no irrigation projects, no protection from cheaper imports, etc. etc.
Is it any wonder that Haiti's peasant farmers overwork their small plots, and cut down trees to raise cash from charcoal production?
Even now, after neo-liberal economic policies in Haiti have been shown to have failed over and over again, the current government - with the support of the international finance institutions and the European Commission - is continuing to ignore the needs of the rural population. At the international donors' conference in Washington DC. in July, yet again the focus was on support for the urban private sector.
The attitude of the current interim government was summed up when, shortly after the May 2004 flood disaster, Prime Minister Gerald Latortue
said perhaps the solution would be to employ former soldiers to shoot peasants found cutting down trees.
By, once more, doing everything to preserve the dominance of the country's immensely rich elite, and nothing to support the peasantry, the international community is complicit in the loss of life and misery caused by this, and future, natural disasters in Haiti.
This email is forwarded as a service of the Haiti Support Group.
See the Haiti Support Group web site:
Contact:: Charles Arthur - firstname.lastname@example.org
Solidarity with the Haitian people's struggle for justice, participatory democracy and equitable development, since 1992.
I applaud your post and what seems at this stage to be your efforts to separate fact from fi
ction, myth from reality, so we might move on to building. I hope people take you up on it and I see many, if not all, have.
On a less positive note I am having a very disconcerting reaction to Mr. Arthur's attitudes, writings, here and elsewhere. In short I am avowedly fed up with charlatans feeding pabulum to the masses and more often than not walking off with their dignity and their money.
You say Mr. Arthur's posting was unclear as to who he considered the elite. I do not find anything unclear in Mr. Arthur's posting. It is quite clear. Even if we would no doubt prefer to sweep that highly offensive matter under the rug at this point, and I have no doubt made my point on some of these issues elsewhere, I find it relatively essential to pull back this particular rug, take a look, and see it for what it is.
we name the guilty parties..
... the country's immensely rich elite
Mr. Arthur, What is the purpose of those two phras
es and you may want to provide us here with the credentials conferring you the legitimacy to "name the guilty parties". Are you the grand inquisitor? An expert on Oceanic tides during hurricannes, on runoff and drainage.
Are you a friend to Haiti and an enemy to Haitians, much like the person who loves mankind and hates men, loves God but hates his offspring? By your logic we could be enticed to gleefully applaud that a rattlesnake is a friend in the desert.
From what I have heard Gonaives finds itself in somewhat the same situation as New Orleans as concerns Hurricanes and water flow.
It takes some level of madness to capitalize on a tragedy of this magnitude to score propaganda points or brownie points with whoever is handing them out. Those bodies were real people. They had
mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and children. As do the immensely rich elite your target scope is so regularly focused on.
I regret I am not as subdued, scientific and calm as my friend Patrice above, but quite frankly you are quite the frightening creature, praying on ignorance and/or intellectual mediocrity to advance your agenda.
Social negotiation is no longer exclusively about social conflict. Or has have you missed that chapter of the 20th century. It seems to me you are warmongering every bit as much as George Bush is warmongering. If I were to base my judgments on this single text, were I, like you, to deliver my judgment and name the guilty parties, I would have to logically conclude you are a sham and a charlatan... and in passing no friend of anything I can see, other than possibly your mental construct of the noble savage. When I look around my country I see no noble savages. I see men, women and children struggling very hard to make a go of it. All of them, black, white, rich, p
oor... All God creatures big and small.
As a banker in Haiti's 4th largest bank, and a member of the bank's credit committee who reviews every Monday afternoon for 4-5 hours the accounting of our grand elite, I can affirm beyond a shadow of a doubt that:
1) If you are speaking about the past you are 99.99% wrong
2) If you are speaking about the present you are 99.99% wrong
Where exactly do you get your facts. Or do facts not matter. It seems to me you are still stuck in the Magloire era. That is a while back. The traditional and new elite, economic or otherwise, are very far from immensely rich by even the wildest reach and stretch of your highly vivid imagination (or is that your livid imagination). My English fails me. Perhaps we are in fact arrogant, or are we simply tough and hardened by our environment and your complexes, prejudices and misconceptions are reading us as arrogant. Just as likely a scenario.
Why am I so fed-up with your approach? We are quite skilled at spot
ting horse manure trying to pass for diamonds. This as a result of having been sold horse manure for diamonds by a wide and divers collection of charlatans. From the oh so angelic, sweet and sandaled to the oh so "Las Vegas Pinky Ring Missionary" and our own lively collection of home grown charlatans sprinkled throughout for good measure.
For your research on the immensely rich, which seems a particular obsession of yours, The traditional elite have fallen proportionally far behind the new elite in the last 40 years. The people you think have the money are not necessarily the ones that do. And even those that do, are insignificant in terms of wealth when compared with our regional neighbors, much less the developed world. Just so we get our vocabulary right, for me anyone with over two million dollars in the bank, that actually belongs to him, is immensely rich. How many of those do you think exist? In both cases, 98% of what passes for the immensely old or new rich, cannot afford to buy a one bedroom
apartment in Manhattan.
The problem, as you well know, if you are not the pseudo-something I currently imagine you to be, is not that the top is too high, or that it is squeezing the bottom, the problem is the bottom has a hard time rising. Maybe we might give some thought to enabling the bottom to the best of our abilities without putting them at war with anyone, themselves to begin with, and those of other colors or social classes to end with. Your approach is not intellectual or any other type of leadership, it is crass demagoguery, and has already cost our people plenty.
Well we have tried to blame every group and social construct and his brother for our own collective failures, as have our "friends".
So get ready, here I come, although a toppermost of the poppermost Beatle fan, I now blame the British as a group for all Haiti's ills. If you can blame us, why can't we blame you? In my mind forthwith all our problems can be directly traced back to Britannia and I will work on a piec
e that demonstrates that particular pabulum, certainly as deftly as your own article above demonstrates our diabolical oppression. Although, we do not consider ourselves immensely rich, I do get the distinct impression you are talking about a group to which in your mind we belong.
Haiti has been the charity basket case of the Americas for quite a while now, perhaps we can bootstrap ourselves to development without relying on our "well meaning friends". Perhaps when our friends offer us their unsolicited free and/or costly advice, we can listen, take and leave it. I see your advice as eminently worth leaving. If a friend comes up to me and tells me my brother is scum, I tend to not take it too seriously.
Our nation is poor, there is no doubt. I am equally certain there are probably only one-three people in the private sector who could be described as immensely rich by Richond-upon-Thames standards. We may more accurately and more constructively be defined as lacking sufficient investment in our c
ollective shared space and that is something we can attempt to do something about as urgently as possible. We are all poor. The roads stink, there is no electricity, the housing sub-human, not enough hospitals, insufficient access to rewarding work.
Mr. Arthur, when are we going to get off the myth train and talk about present reality vs. some imagined past reality that suits your or someone else's preconceptions or agendas whatever those might be. Quite frankly when we are tallying up the damage done to this country I believe the devil and his work can be more accurately found at http://www.fordi9.com.
Are you funded by someone? Where does your funding come from? Please advise us here. Please present your budget with the incoming and outgoing. As I said I am a banker, so in my mind integrity and credibility is important. I know so little about you and your organization. Are you simply in the employ of someone and executing their program? Please clarify as I do not see on your Frequently Asked
Questions page or any other page of your site where your funding comes from.
Do you have the personal and intellectual courage?
As a closing note please know that claiming to be a friend while doing your level best to destroy does not bring my hands together in the rousing ovations those more frightened of you might be inspired to demonstrate.
Very un-cricket old chap.
Mirroring your approach, I feel I can only honestly say at this point: please find my worst regards, and deepest lack of respect,
PS: I do so hope that you can take as good as you give, and enjoyed my rant above. Now that we may be functioning on a level of mutual respect or even a lack thereof I can present to you a mutual challenge: Is it a secret to you that man, here and everywhere, is not generally as concerned by the progress of his brothers and sisters as he might be if a responsible citizen. Is that a Haitian monopoly. Perhaps we might work on that. I can assure you I much pre
fer to work on a job description entitled "Responsible Citizen of Haiti" than to sit around attacking whatever group you belong to. I do so love England and the British, I would no doubt botch the effort. I have actually been to Abbey Road Studios, sat on the front stairs with my daughter and cried in gratitude for what the Beatles brought to this world direly in need of more love and less hatred. Are you up to it? I have some dynamite templates for job descriptions we might use as a framework for thought, they are quite detailed. Show me your sources of funding, which as a banker I will verify, and I will show you my templates, they are quite excellent. Are you interested in getting constructive?
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