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Focus on Haiti: Washington's Militarized Takeover

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Focus on Haiti: Washington's Militarized Takeover
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Haiti is no stranger to adversity and anguish - over 500 years of severe oppression, slavery, despotism, colonization, reparations, embargoes, sanctions, deep poverty, starvation, unrepayable debt, and natural calamities from destructive hurricanes to a dozen magnitude 7.0 or greater Caribbean region earthquakes in the past 500 years. The last major one was in 1946 at 8.1 in the adjacent Dominican Republic, also striking Haiti. Earlier catastrophic ones were in 1751 and 1770, both devastating Port-au-Prince, and the 1842 one destroying Cap-Haitien in the north.

On September 25, 2008, Phoenix Delacroix quoted geologist Patrick Charles of Havana's Geological Institute saying:

"conditions are ripe for major seismic activity in Port-au-Prince. The inhabitants of the Haitian capital need to prepare themselves for an event which will inevitably occur."

Citing a real danger, he explained that the dangerous Enriquillo Fault Zone extends across Port-au-Prince, starting in Petionville, traversing the Southern Peninsula to Tiburon. Noting earlier tremors in the area, he said a larger earthquake usually follows, yet no precautions were taken, leaving Haitians vulnerable to what happened - vast destruction, perhaps hundreds of thousands dead, countless numbers seriously injured, and disease, depravation, and militarized occupation haunting survivors in the aftermath.

After Washington ousted President Jean-Betrand Aristide in February 2004, UN Blue Helmets (MINUSTAH) occupied Haiti as paramilitary enforcers. They still do, subordinate to around 20,000 US land and sea based troops, including Marines, Army 82nd Airborne paratroupers, Navy assault ships, and Coast Guard vessels offshore, a powerful force for indefinite occupation, severe repression, and ruthless exploitation for American interests - obstructing, not providing, humanitarian aid, and facilitating potentially hundreds of thousands of deaths from starvation, dehydration, disease, untreated wounds, trauma, and for some perhaps just giving up and expiring unnoticed, unreported, and uncared about by forces able to help.

It's an old story for Haitians, beleaguered for over 500 years and under America's thumb for nearly two centuries, unrecognized, embargoed, exploited, and slaughtered to assure their freedom is denied. Now again, but first some background.

Occupied Haiti

On April 30, 2004, the UN Security Council authorized MINUSTAH - paramilitary peacekeepers, illegally sent for the first time ever to support a coup d'etat regime in place of a democratically elected president.

Rebel thugs got free reign to join them in the streets, the result being hundreds turned up dead or missing. The state Port-au-Prince morgue was swamped with bodies. Many showed up with their hands tied behind their backs and bags placed over their heads. Ruthlessness was empowered. Orders came from Washington.

Bodies turned up everywhere, in streets, on beaches, abandoned as food for pigs, and anyone connected with Aristide's Fanmi Lavalas party (FL) was fair game.

US Marines and foreign troops arrived, not to deliver aid or for protection, but to intimidate, terrorize, crush resistance, solidify coup d'etat rule, and destroy Haitian democracy under Aristide and prevent any chance of it returning.

MINUSTAH and the reconstituted Haitian National Police (the force Aristide abolished with the army) took over from the initial Multinational Interim Force (MIF), terrorizing Haitians through thousands of political killings, disappearances, torture, and unlawful arrests and incarcerations.

FL was effectively destroyed and Aristide's remarkable accomplishments ended in areas of healthcare, education, free expression, economic and social reforms, human rights and justice, lost under coup d'etat rule and thereafter under the Preval government, a pseudo one subservient to Washington.

In the 2006 presidential and parliamentary elections, he  agreed to painful concessions, surrendered his  authority, and yielded power to US and elitist Haitian interests - a shameless betrayal of his people.

After the coup and thereafter, episodes like the following were commonplace:

On December 22, 2006, Blue Helmets assaulted Cite Soleil (one of Port-au-Prince's most impoverished communities), randomly shot and killed 30 or more people, supposedly to capture a gang member, but in fact to terrorize.

In an earlier July 6, 2005 incident, hundreds of heavily armed troops attacked Cite Soleil with an array of powerful weapons - high-powered assault ones atop armored personnel carriers, precision rifles for assassinations, and a type of gattling gun firing depleted uranium tipped armor-piercing bullets. Thousands of rounds were indiscriminately fired. About 70 people were murdered, and many were left unattended to bleed to death on streets or in their homes.

On January 23, 2007, MINUSTAH forces were back, open fired randomly for hours, and used helicopters to reign death from the skies, killing dozens, then removing the dead to prevent a body count.

From February 2004 - December 2005 alone, Wayne State University School of Social Work researchers estimated that 8,000 people were murdered and 35,000 women sexually assaulted in the greater Port-au-Prince area - attributed to MINUSTAH, the Haitian National Police (PNH), Haitian demobilized army members, and anti-Aristide paramilitary gangs enlisted to commit terror. Also reported were documented kidnappings, extrajudicial detentions, assaults other than rape, death threats, physical threats, and threats of sexual violence against helpless people. The report concluded that "crime and systematic abuse and human rights were common in Port-au-Prince" involving criminals but also "political actors and UN soldiers."

Today, similar abuses crush resistance, prevent the restoration of democracy, and keep Haitians cowed, abused and exploited. Washington decides their fate, and now the Marines are back along with thousands of combat paratroupers and naval forces (an authorized 20,000 force mostly arrived), not to provide aid, to deny it and perhaps let hundreds of thousands perish - a crime of genocidal proportions, a US specialty, honed and perfected from decades of ritual slaughter, especially against people of color, deemed inferior to American "exceptionalism" and "moral superiority."

Marines came earlier in 1915, stayed 20 years, ravaged the country, destroyed Haitian society and institutions, and committed horrendous crimes against humanity. Most notorious was the infamous 1929 slaughter of 264 peasants protesting in Les Cayes. In addition, corvee or forced labor was employed, brutally exploited, and new weapons tested like today, including aerial bombing years before the Nazis did it against Guernica (in April 1937) in support of Spanish fascists in the country's civil war.

Haiti's Catastrophic Tragedy

After its worst catastrophe in nearly 170 years, millions in the country need everything, not Marines - food, water, medical care, shelter, and deep compassion at their greatest time of need.

Instead, the country is occupied, militarized, denied aid, and taken over for greater exploitation. General Ken Keen, in charge of forces, says US troops will "be here as long as needed," signaling an open-ended commitment for years.

On her January 16 photo-op visit, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton practically announced an emergency decree, suspension of the rule of law, and authorization of curfews and martial law under Pentagon control. She said:

"The decree would give the government an enormous amount of authority, which in practice they would delegate to us," omitting that its choice was do it or else.

Despite the calm and lack of disorder, it's now official under Pentagon command enforcing a state of emergency and martial law. US troops control Port-au-Prince's airport and port facilities, blocking and slowing aid, including relief flights from France, Brazil, Italy and other countries, diverting them to the neighboring Dominican Republic, hours from Port-au-Prince on bad roads. In addition, the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders report aid flights can't land for fast access to treat the injured, ill and dying. Pentagon troops obstruct them, willfully letting people suffer, die, and be ethnically cleaned from Port-au-Prince areas wanted for new development. More on that below.

According to General Keen:

"If an air traffic controller doesn't know what's on an incoming plane, then he doesn't know what priority to give it."

Military flights in and ones out with US citizens and foreign nationals have top priority. Saving lives don't matter. They're just Haitians, poor, black, unimportant, to be removed, using the earthquake as a pretext to do it, dead or alive.

In natural disasters, immediate aid is critical. After that, casualties multiply fast and in Haiti they're exploding, from a lack of medical supplies and equipment, vital surgeries, infections, diseases, extreme trauma, and inadequate essential to life supplies not let in or delayed. Three million or more Haitians need help. A fraction of that number are getting it. As a result, thousands are dying daily.

Phillippe Bolopion from FRANCE24 TV said supplies are piling up at the airport and not being delivered. Desperate people can't "understand why the generosity of the world isn't getting to them. It's really hard to comprehend."

Radio Television Esponola's (RTVE) Fran Sevilla reported:

"There continues to be no distribution of humanitarian aid, of food and water. I ask myself how all these human beings survive. I ask if anyone is helping them, if they are receiving anything, and the answer is always no. They survive thanks to the solidarity between them, sharing between families and groups of friends what little they have, what they can get."

President Rene Preval is disturbingly absent and silent, reportedly at the airport, out of sight, playing no role in the relief effort - something he should lead, not abstain from, and do it visibly, actively, on the ground in Port-au-Prince, what Aristide would do if there.

Despite the obstacles, some nations are doing what they can, Venezuela for one, a critical Hugo Chavez saying on his weekly Sunday broadcast:

"It seems that the United States is militarily occupying Haiti, taking advantage of the tragedy....Thousands of (soldiers) are disembarking in Haiti as if it were a war. (Haiti) needs doctors, tents, rescue teams and machinery....Now, who said soldiers, rifles and machine guns are necessary?"

Venezuelan and Cuban aid were some of the first to arrive, and Chavez and Castro promise more, including food, water, doctors, medical supplies and rescue equipment, yet Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicholas Maduro said shipments were diverted to the Dominican Republic, losing precious hours to deliver it to victims.



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