Why is American tv coverage of the Haitian disaster driving me to drink?
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Chris Matthews is on my tv carefully saying how much Haiti’s problems are due to its politics. He is also congratulating the US on how much its image will be burnished because of how quickly it is responding to the crisis. Really. Yes, really. And aren’t we the greatest country in the world?
And most of the reporters that are on my tv are emphasizing how poor and desperate Haiti’s people were before the quake. And how sad isn’t it, that this country has never been able to get its act together oh my! But don’t worry, America’s there to save them now. And aren’t we the greatest country in the world? And not ONE of the assholes has mentioned that the United States and the French were and are a main cause of the poverty, and dictatorship and blood shed. Let me just add to the education going on all over lj and dreamwidth What the US owes Haiti
In 1801, Thomas Jefferson – an owner of 180 slaves himself – became the third President of the United States. Jefferson, who was deeply troubled by the slaughter of plantation owners in St. Domingue, feared that the example of African slaves fighting for their liberties might spread northward.
“If something is not done, and soon done,” Jefferson wrote about the violence in St. Domingue in 1797, “we shall be the murderers of our own children.”
So, in 1801, the interests of Napoleon and Jefferson temporarily intersected. Napoleon was determined to restore French control of St. Domingue and Jefferson was eager to see the slave rebellion crushed.
Through secret diplomatic channels, Napoleon asked Jefferson if the United States would help a French army traveling by sea to St. Domingue. Jefferson replied that “nothing will be easier than to furnish your army and fleet with everything and reduce Toussaint [L’Ouverture] to starvation.”MORE
During the Cold War, the U.S. supported the dictatorships of Papa Doc Duvalier and then Baby Doc Duvalier–which ruled the country from 1957 to 1986–as an anti-communist counterweight to Castro’s Cuba nearby.
Under guidance from Washington, Baby Doc Duvalier opened the Haitian economy up to U.S. capital in the 1970s and 1980s. Floods of U.S. agricultural imports destroyed peasant agriculture. As a result, hundred of thousands of people flocked to the teeming slums of Port-au-Prince to labor for pitifully low wages in sweatshops located in U.S. export processing zones.MORE
Why is Haiti so poor and Hidden from the Headlines: the US war against Haiti and Democracy Now:US Policy in Haiti Over Decades “Lays the Foundation for Why Impact of Natural Disaster Is So Severe” and Haiti and the global food crisis and What you are not hearing about Haiti (but should be) Really, former US diplomat??!!? REALLY?????? and IMF to Haiti: Freeze Public Wages.
Now, in its attempts to help Haiti, the IMF is pursuing the same kinds of policies that made Haiti a geography of precariousness even before the quake. To great fanfare, the IMF announced a new $100 million loan to Haiti on Thursday. In one crucial way, the loan is a good thing; Haiti is in dire straits and needs a massive cash infusion. But the new loan was made through the IMF’s extended credit facility, to which Haiti already has $165 million in debt. Debt relief activists tell me that these loans came with conditions, including raising prices for electricity, refusing pay increases to all public employees except those making minimum wage and keeping inflation low. They say that the new loans would impose these same conditions. In other words, in the face of this latest tragedy, the IMF is still using crisis and debt as leverage to compel neoliberal reforms.
(I pause here to let loose a hearty FUCK YOU! in the IMF’s direction. The blasted parasites!)
But aren’t we the greatest country in the world? So generous! And they’ll pay us back! After all, this is such an opportunity to further exploit them! Oh come now, I hear you say. Those are just the far rightwing you say? We expect that from them! Oh yeah?
Let me just point out one more thing from Catastrophe in Haiti:
In close collaboration with the new UN Special Envoy to Haiti, former President Bill Clinton, Obama has pushed for an economic program familiar to much of the rest of the Caribbean–tourism, textile sweatshops and weakening of state control of the economy through privatization and deregulation.
In particular, Clinton has orchestrated a plan for turning the north of Haiti into a tourist playground, as far away as possible from the teeming slums of Port-au-Prince. Clinton lured Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines into investing $55 million to build a pier along the coastline of Labadee, which it has leased until 2050.
From there, Haiti’s tourist industry hopes to lead expeditions to the mountaintop fortress Citadelle and the Palace of Sans Souci, both built by Henri Christophe, one of the leaders of Haiti’s slave revolution. According to the Miami Herald:
The $40 million plan involved transforming the now quaint town of Milot, home to the Citadelle and Palace of Sans Souci ruin, into a vibrant tourist village, with arts and crafts markets, restaurants and stoned streets. Guests would be ferried past a congested Cap-Haïtien to a bay, then transported by bus past peasant plantations. Once in Milot, they would either hike or horseback to the Citadelle…named a world heritage site in 1982…
Eco-tourism, archaeological exploration and voyeuristic visits to Vodou rituals are all being touted by Haiti’s struggling boutique tourism industry, as Royal Caribbean plans to bring the world largest cruise ship here, sparking the need for excursions.
So while Pat Robertson denounces Haiti’s great slave revolution as a pact with the devil, Clinton is helping to reduce it to a tourist trap.
Lovely. Having to commoditize one’s religion for the entertainment of strangers. And I wonder if the Haitians will be able to afford the entry fees into that historical monuments and archeological digs that all these tourists will be visiting? To say nothing of that good old standby of exploitation, the sweatshop. Some of whom have fled the country in its hour of greatest need. What a solid economic linchpin. But aren’t we the greatest. most generous country in the World?
And if this all it would be bad but par for the course. But WTF is UP with the insistent, slavering drumbeat anticipation of violence breaking out among the Haitian populace? EVERYONE, from Keith Olbermann, who with his disclaimers shows that HE FUCKING KNOW BETTER BUT CHOOSES TO DO IT ANYWAY, to Brian Williams and that CNN can-we-please-kick-this-stain-on-humanity-Wolf-Blitzer! To the point that they happily this morning seized on rumors that they had rifled a UN org’s food warehouse, and only reluctantly were forced to acknowledge that this was a fucking LIE. And of course there was much seizing on the boys carrying machetes around, completely ignoring the fact that machetes are a fucking farming implement, not a fucking weapon in and of itself! Shades of fucking Katrina.
Of course, the trend of focusing and individualizing and humanizing the trapped and dead Americans, as opposed to the tragic undifferentiated mass of shell shocked dying and dead Haitians is par of the course in disaster reporting on American tv. “Thousands of Haitians are dead tonight (camera pans over shrouded bodies). ” ” Sarah American went to Haiti to study poverty (camera pans over Sarah’s famiy and friends and homes and dorm rooms and church members etc.”) I suppose its a sign of progress that that mantle of of “American” was bestowed on Americans of Haitian descent? This is actually the first time I have seen disasters happen outside of America and so many non-white Americans were interviewed. :/ And aren’t Americans the greatest country in the world, helping out those poor unfortunate souls and risking their own lives to do it!
To say nothing of sensationalizing the ordinary live sand actions of poor people THEY ARE DIGGING WITH THEIR BARE HANDS OMG THEY ARE SO DESPERATE AND POOR DID I TELL YOU HOW DESPERATE AND POOR THEY ARE??!?!?!??!?!?! THEY ARE DIGGING WITH THEIR BARE HANDS!!!!! What does everyone do if they can’t afford fancy rescue equipment? Or if said fancy equipment is held up at the airport? Why on EARTH was this treated as such a strange exotic novelty?
And then there is the subject of aid. You see, as far as US news networks are concerned, the only aid that matters is US Aid. In the broadcasts that I have seen, US Aid listed in detail, over and over again. 2000 marines, several ships, piles and piles of stuff, 100 million dollars. But aid from other countries is slipped over. Barely mentioned. Brian Williams for instance this evening, (this was yesterday) came out with Andrea Mitchell and they promised tell us about all the global aid that that was pouring into Haiti. Only to spend the majority of the segment talking about US aid, and them mentioning 6 or 7 countries in which aid was coming from. Nothing about the specifics. But isn’t the US the greatest country in the world? In fact at one point, Mr. Williams went on to comments that aid was coming in from the “free world”. I presume that China and Cuba and Venezula don’t count? Let me tell you what the rest of the world has been doing:
Brazil offers to build cemetery in Haiti and promises it will respect the Voodoo beliefs of part of the Caribbean country’s population, officials say. They are also “setting up of field hospitals, debris clearing, security, and the distribution of food and water.”
The United Nations has released $10 million from its emergency funds
Meanwhile, China dispatched a chartered plane loaded up with 10 tons of tents, food, medical equipment and sniffer dogs that arrived in Haiti on Thursday. Accompanying the emergency materials were a 60-member earthquake relief team that had firsthand experience in the country’s own quake disaster two years ago.
Australia pledged an initial $9.3 million for emergency humanitarian relief and reconstruction assistance, with about half going for emergency water, food and shelter, while the remainder will be for rehabilitation efforts.
Japan will provide up to $5 million in aid, along with $330,000 worth of tents and blankets, a Foreign Ministry official said. A four-member fact-finding mission will also be sent to determine what Japan can do to help.
South Korea will give emergency humanitarian aid worth $1 million, its Foreign Ministry spokesman Kim Young-sun said, and is considering sending rescue teams.
The European Commission has approved $4.37 million while member states Spain, the Netherlands and Germany promised millions more.
Rescue teams from France and Switzerland were on their way, while Spain dispatched three planeloads of rescuers and 100 tons of tents, blankets and cooking kits.
The Israeli army sent in two planeloads of rescue staff and equipment to set up a field hospital in Haiti that can serve up to 500 people a day. The crew will include 220 rescue workers, including 40 military doctors and 24 nurses.
Israel was sending in an elite Army rescue unit of engineers and doctors.
Canada sent a military reconnaissance team to assess and planned an initial donation of $4.8 million, with more aid to flow after reports to Ottawa by military reconnaissance team.
I am not counting the international orgs that are giving money and aid as well.
In Haiti seeks aid after powerful quake we find that:
… search and rescue teams were said to be arriving from nearby Guadeloupe and the Dominican Republic with other rescue teams on their way from many other countries…
Russia was ready to dispatch an Il-76 plane with a mobile hospital, food and medicines to help the victims, said a spokeswoman for the Emergency Situations Ministry on Wednesday.
She said 45 people, including 20 doctors, would leave for Haiti on Thursday.
Germany would donate 1 million euros (about 1.45 million dollars) in immediate aid for the victims, the Foreign Ministry said Wednesday.
Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said Germany had called together a rescue team that would help in rescue work and provide relief to victims.
Italy was ready to do its part in the relief operations, ANSA news agency quoted a Foreign Ministry official as saying on Wednesday.
An emergency cargo flight was to be sent to Haiti with food, medicines, tents and other supplies. On board the flight would also be a team from Italy’s civil protection department tasked to make a first-hand evaluation of the immediate needs of the Haitian population.
France had also decided to dispatch civil security service and gendarmes to participate in rescue operations in Haiti, said its Foreign Ministry.
The Brazilian government announced on Wednesday that it would send two planes with 28 tons of food and water to Haiti.
Earlier in the day, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva announced a 10-million-dollar aid to the country.
Nicaragua on Thursday sent 31 military doctors of the Humanitarian Rescue Unit (URH) and humanitarian aid for the victims of a magnitude-7 earthquake that shocked Haiti on Tuesday…The 31 officers of the URH travel in one of the planes, while the other plane was loaded with portable beds and medicines to aid the victims in Haiti. The cost of this aid is of 100,000 U.S. dollars. Among the 31 URH officers there are experts to reestablish the electricity system and to provide the first aids.
Mexico will send doctors, search-and-rescue dogs and infrastructure damage experts.
Sweden has offered 6 million kronor (US$850,000), along with tents, water purification equipment and medical aid.
Denmark has donated 10 million kroner (US$1.9 million).
The Netherlands has donated euro2 million (US$2.91 million) and will send a 60-person search-and-rescue team.
The Irish telecommunications company Digicel said it would donate $5 million to aid agencies and help repair the damaged phone network.
Germany gave euro1.5 million (US$2.17 million) and sent an immediate response team. Another team with 20 rescue dogs is on standby.
Taiwan is flying in 23 rescue personnel and two tonnes of aid and equipment.
Iceland sent a 37- strong team of search and rescue workers to Haiti to help in relief work after the massive earthquake on the island. The team was due to arrive in Haiti later Wednesday and would transport 10 tons of tools and equipment, including communications facilities and water purification gear.
Turkey is sending a mobile hospital, two check-up devices, 20-member relief team, 10 tons of medicine and medical equipment.Also, Turkey will send 20 tons of tents, blankets, foodstuffs and kitchen sets by a General Staff plane.
The UAE (United Arab Emirates) Red Crescent Authority (RCA) is gearing up to send emergency aid…consisting of foodstuff, medical and sheltering stuff, will be dispatched to the survivors of the earthquake, in keeping with the directives of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Ruler’s Representative in the Western Region and Chairman of the RCA.”The first stage of the relief programme will involve provision of sheltering materials to the people who lost their homes,” added Am Mazrouei.
Canada readied two warships, military helicopters and planes with medical supplies, as well as a large relief and rescue force, with a first aircraft expected to arrive in Port-au-Prince on Wednesday.
And I’m sure I’m missing some other countries. *sigh* Frankly, it weren’t for the fact that other people who insist on watching television in my house, I would have thrown it outside a very very long time ago.