Haiti: Lad os ikke glemme historien

Mens man forsøger at få overblik over antallet af døde i Haitis hovedstad Port-au-Prince og verdens regeringer er ved at falde over deres egne ben for at love hjælp til den nødlidende befolkning, var det måske en idé at huske på, hvorfor Haiti er så fattigt et land, som det er, og hvordan den hjertensgodhed, som diverse regeringer pludselig har fundet frem, ellers plejer at vise sig.

Peter Hallward opsummerer i dagens Guardian:

The noble “international community” which is currently scrambling to send its “humanitarian aid” to Haiti is largely responsible for the extent of the suffering it now aims to reduce. Ever since the US invaded and occupied the country in 1915, every serious political attempt to allow Haiti’s people to move (in former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s phrase) “from absolute misery to a dignified poverty” has been violently and deliberately blocked by the US government and some of its allies.

Haiti is now a country where, according to the best available study, around 75% of the population “lives on less than $2 per day, and 56% – four and a half million people – live on less than $1 per day”. Decades of neoliberal “adjustment” and neo-imperial intervention have robbed its government of any significant capacity to invest in its people or to regulate its economy. Punitive international trade and financial arrangements ensure that such destitution and impotence will remain a structural fact of Haitian life for the foreseeable future.It is this poverty and powerlessness that account for the full scale of the horror in Port-au-Prince today. Since the late 1970s, relentless neoliberal assault on Haiti’s agrarian economy has forced tens of thousands of small farmers into overcrowded urban slums. Although there are no reliable statistics, hundreds of thousands of Port-au-Prince residents now live in desperately sub-standard informal housing, often perched precariously on the side of deforested ravines. The selection of the people living in such places and conditions is itself no more “natural” or accidental than the extent of the injuries they have suffered.

Maggie Korth-Baker går et skridt dybere i et indlæg på Boing Boing, hvor hun korrekt identificerer den egentlige synder i landets nuværende, miserable forfatning: Pengeafpresning og mellemfolkeligt gældsslaveri:

Haiti was forced to pay France for its freedom. When they couldn’t afford the ransom, France (and other countries, including the United States) helpfully offered high-interest loans. By 1900, 80% of Haiti’s annual budget went to paying off its “reparation” debt. They didn’t make the last payment until 1947. Just 10 years later, dictator François Duvalier took over the country and promptly bankrupted it, taking out more high-interest loans to pay for his corrupt lifestyle. The Duvalier family, with the blind-eye financial assistance of Western countries, killed 10s of thousands of Haitians, until the Haitian people overthrew them in 1986. Today, Haiti is still paying off the debt of an oppressive dictator no one would help them get rid of for 30 years.

The rest of the world refuses to forgive this debt.

Så næste gang du hører om den franske og amerikanske regerings gode vilje til at hjælpe, så husk baggrunden. Baggrunden for, at Haiti er så fattigt, at man overhovedet har brug for hjælp til at håndtere katastrofen, for det er naturligvis ikke nogen naturlov.

Og spørg også, hvordan den “hjælpende” Ulla Tørnæs mon presser på for at få verden til at eftergive Haitis udlandsgæld. Lidt mere end to hundrede år efter selvstændigheden er det vist på høje tid.

Link: Our role in Haiti’s plight

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