Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Eight Days of Suffering Imposed by Mandate Power

It's been eight days since the earthquake that measured 7.0 on the Richter scale of magnitude struck Haiti.

The number of the dead is still unknown. Haitian officials estimate the death toll between 100,000 and 200,000 people.

Eight days since Haiti suffered the worst earthquake in over 200 years.

A strong aftershock hit on the morning of January 20. Initial reports said it measured 6.1 on the Richter scale.

While tens of thousands of the wounded await medical help, the survivors are burying the dead.
Some three million Haitians—a third of the country’s population—have been directly affected by the earthquake, with one-and-a-half million now homeless.

It's been eight days.

US officials, who had previously refused to make airdrops in case they led to fighting for food on the ground, have changed policy due to congestion at airports hampering food deliveries.

"Parachuting bundles of food and water into Haiti became viable for the first time Monday in part because there are enough troops there to identify a safe place to drop them, according to Air Force officers involved in planning the mission." — 'U.S. airdrops 14,000 meals into Haiti’, USA Today, 19 January, 2010

The excuse for delaying EIGHT DAYS is that the US, having twisted mandate authority from the UN, could not manage to find a flat field in which to drop relief supplies.

Of course, as usual, the corporate media push the line that dropping emergency supplies was not safe. That is what they would like you to believe. Dying of thirst or starvation or untended wounds was not safe either.

It is an emergency. They could have dropped supplies anywhere and everywhere. Maybe some would have been lost, damaged, or snatched by unscrupulous profiteers. But plenty would have got to the people in need.

There was no need to wait for 11,000 US troops to hit the beach. UN has troops in Haiti.
Brazil was in charge of the UN forces in Haiti and could have continued doing a good job of distributing aid. The emergency supplies could have been dropped to those UN forces. But the UN surrendered to US demands for mandate authority, probably to avoid more delays due to US playing vicious political games.

The US games have the usual profit motive determining objectives.

Naomi Klein reported that within 24 hours of the earthquake, the influential right-wing think tank the Heritage Foundation was already seeking to use the disaster as an attempt at further privatization of the country's economy.

It is the neo-liberal pillaging of Haiti that established conditions making the disaster even worse than it would have been. There would not have been so many impoverished people living in Port-au-Prince if they had not been driven from their agricultural communities into the urban concentrations.

The real looting in Haiti is not the desperate people scavenging for food and water to survive.

The real looting of Haiti is the economic policies of the US, as well as institutions such as the IMF and World Bank, that use disaster-profiteering capitalism to exploit and exacerbate suffering.

Canadian soldiers in Haiti number about 2,000, and are deploying in the devastated towns of Leogane and Jacmel, close to the epicenter of the earthquake southwest of Port-au-Prince. Canada has sent two warships, which will be joined by naval vessels from Italy, Spain, and Venezuela in the coming days.

Unless, that is, the US military has orders to interfere as part of the corporate exploitation of disaster.

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