Haiti Earthquake Disaster: The Untold Story

As part of the Branch’s efforts to encourage debate and discussion on issues outside LUL but still relevant to the times we live in, this month we were addressed by Cecil Gutzmore, a lecturer at the University of West Indies, living in Jamaica. Cecil is a pan afrikanist (a political ideology meriting more explanation than is available here, but generally in favour of Afrikan Political unification and taking note of the effect of the slaving system that has created huge inequalities for people and nations of Afrikan origin today and generally advocating reparations to Afrikan nations from those countries that benefited from this system, in particular the United States) and on an extended stay in the UK to promote the campaign “Reparation Now. Haiti First! Haiti Now!" It was the political and economic backdrop to the current humanitarian disaster that was explained at branch.

In particular, it is not well known that Haiti was the first nation to break free from the tyranny of slavery by way of an armed rebellion. Independence was forged against France, the colonial occupier at the time, and not long after the American Revolution against Britain. It was highlighted that the US revolution resulted in Britain being excluded from the US’s development path, but in the case of Haiti, France, the UK and the US colluded to impose a levy of 150 million French Francs (23 million US dollars) against Haiti due to the loss of revenue from the Slave trade! It was either a case of pay this or face a sea blockade and be starved to death. It was the backdrop of this huge imposed debt and subsequent US invasions and interference with the political independence of Haiti (e.g. the overthrow of the progressive Aristade regime, which got a massive 90% vote from the predominately poor population of Haiti) that meant that Haiti was unable to deal with the catastrophic events of January 12th.

It appears its development has been stunted by aggressive interference from more developed nations such as France and the US which meant that the buildings were not of a standard, such as those in Japan and California, which are designed to resist earthquakes. It appears that the US has wasted no time using the opportunity to send in troops as opposed to significant medical aid and it was reported that countries like Cuba (which itself has been subjected to an aggressive US blockade) were better equipped to send in medical help to save lives. It appears that speculators are using the opportunity to grab chances to make money like buying over local radio stations, and the local population has real fears of child abduction etc. It was agreed that efforts should be made to support grassroots organisations and the branch agreed to support a demonstration by “United Haitians in the UK” planned for 24th March outside the US embassy and donations can be made by visiting their website at www.ukuk.org.

Article from Feb 2010 edition of Finsbury Park Monthly News