In the aftermath of the devastating earthquake that recently ravaged Haiti, it unfortunately hasn’t taken the US government long to seize this “golden opportunity” to step up its efforts to dismantle the sovereignty of Haiti. The fact that it has been trying to do so for over a century – and the French even earlier – is truly a testament to the resiliency and power of the Haitian people. Yet substantial damage has been done in the process, and this damage can certainly be seen in the level of devastation being felt in Haiti at this moment. Eric Holt-Gimenez of Food First, in his recent Huffington Post article, “Haiti: Roots of Liberty, Roots of Disaster,” does an excellent job of laying out the distinction between the natural phenomenon that was the earthquake and the very unnatural disaster that ensued, in a country whose ability to care for its people was already very much on the edge.
From the vantage point of the US, there are at least two things we must urgently do. The first is to denounce all forms of US intervention other than actual emergency aid in Haiti. Haiti doesn’t need our soldiers. It needs our doctors and rescue workers – and it needs them to be able to collaborate with others arriving from other parts of the world. The US has absolutely no right to control Haiti’s airports under any circumstance, let alone block entry of much-needed supplies and workers. Instead, it could follow the example of Venezuela, which just sent another shipment of 6 thousand tons of emergency supplies to Haiti and is working directly with social movements on the ground to ensure that the supplies make it to where they are most needed. Venezuela has also sent another brigade of doctors (recently graduated from medical school in Cuba ) plus unarmed soldiers to help remove ruins.
Secondly, we need to channel all possible resources to efforts led by and for the people of Haiti. Grassroots International, for instance, has been working with Haitian farmer organizations and other popular movements over the several decades to support their efforts to reclaim their food sovereignty, which was dismantled by the World Bank, IMF, USAID, and others (For an excellent yet maddening example, check out this video by Grassroots International about the eradication of the Creole Pig in Haiti led by USAID . Fortunately, the video also includes inspiring efforts to bring it back.). Now, these same farmer and people’s movements, such as MPP and PAPDA, are hard at work to respond to the crisis at hand while preparing for the longer-term implications of migration back into the countryside – and they can use all the support we can give.