January 22, 2010
Friday 22 January
Tom Mellen, Morning Star
China has hit back at Washington's claim that it is restricting freedom of information on the internet, charging that the US is engaging in "information imperialism."
On Thursday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged Beijing to investigate cyber intrusions that led US transnational Google to threaten to pull out of - and challenged it to openly publish its findings.
"Countries that restrict free access to information or violate the basic rights of internet users risk walling themselves off from the progress of the next century," Ms Clinton declared.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said that the Chinese government "firmly opposes such words and deeds, which were against the facts and would harm the China-US relations."
Mr Ma described internet access in China as "open," pointing out that the country now has 384 million Chinese cyber citizens, with 3.68 million websites and 180 million blogs.
He observed that the country's constitution protects citizens' freedom of speech, but he emphasised that Beijing "administers the internet according to its laws and policies," in "accord with the world's common practice."
State media denounced Ms Clinton's speech as part of a US campaign to impose its values and denigrate other cultures, labelling it "information imperialism."
A Xinhua editorial noted that "control of the internet plays a strategic role for the US."
It said that Washington used the internet to "intercept information, export US values and opinions, support a colour revolution, feed opposition powers and rebels against anti-US governments, interfere with other countries' internal affairs and make proactive attacks on enemies' communication and directing networks."
vendredi 22 janvier 2010, par Davidi
One thousand Israeli peace activists and communists, Jews and Arabs, protest today (Friday, January 22) in East Jerusalem Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood against Jewish settlement there. Twenty people, among them members of the Communist Party of Israel, were arrested by the Israeli police and the Frontier Guard (Mishmar HaGvul).
Before the protest began, police notified demonstrators that the protest was considered illegal. They began attempting to scatter the activists while arresting some of them.
Protestors waved signs reading, "Free Sheikh Jarrah" and chanted, "Cowardly settlers, leave the homes at once." The demonstrators also criticized the arrest of 80 activists during recent protests in the neighborhood.
Former Knesset speaker Avraham Burg and Hadash (Democratic Front for Peace and Equality – Communist Party of Israek) Chairman MK Mohammad Barakeh and MK Dov Khenin also took part in the rally. "We are determined not to let these scare police tactics deter us", said Barakeh, referring to the arrests. "The protests are against the expulsion of Palestinian families whose homes are being taken over by settlers."
Hadash MK Barakeh addressed the crowd saying, "The issue isn’t about a house here and a neighborhood there, but about the intention to empty Jerusalem from its Arab citizens". "This is a crime against the Arab-Palestinian population and a crime against the peace process," Barakeh said.
Palestinian, foreign and Israeli left-wing activists participate in a demonstration in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, Friday, Jan. 22, 2010. The protest was organized by groups supporting Palestinians evicted from their homes in east Jerusalem by Israeli authorities.
(AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
January 21, 2010
It’s worthy of note that one of the most popular films of 2009 was District 9, a fast-paced and action-oriented flick that takes on the issue of racism through the medium of science fiction. More significantly, it deals specifically with the urgent issue of apartheid.
In District 9, an alien space ship has crash landed on Earth, stranding a species of alien life forms who are derogatorily referred to as “prawns” due to their appearance. The creatures are segregated in a concentration camp style shanty town where they live in abject poverty and desperation while suffering untold abuses by their human neighbors.
The plot thickens when (spoiler alert!) one of the humans becomes infected with a chemical that causes him to start to turn into a “prawn.” This brings them together in fighting to save the aliens, thus revealing the common interest of peoples of different nationalities and ethnicities to unite against racism, national chauvinism, and the system which perpetuates it.
This film was covered in primarily a positive light by the corporate media. However, that same media strove to obscure any likeness between the depiction of an apartheid society in District 9 and any present day examples of Apartheid, namely Israeli apartheid in occupied Palestine.
Instead they focused exclusively on the connection with the apartheid system in South Africa which was dismantled in 1994. This connection is an obvious one, since the film takes place in Johannesburg, South Africa, but the movies significance to more present-day events cannot be denied. If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out. You won’t be disappointed.
review by Stephen Von Sychowski
January 20, 2010
The 2010 winter games are almost upon us. For some, this means the coffers are about to overflow with Olympic riches. But for the rest of us, the 2010 games and the lead up to them has represented little more than a triathlon to the bottom.
Since preparations began for the games, homelessness in Vancouver has increased from 1,000 to over 2,500 and is estimated to reach as high as 6,000 as the full effect of the Olympics hits the housing market this winter. At the same these homeless have been criminalized by laws that fine the homelessness for simply trying to survive, and give police the power to round up homeless people in order to present a thoroughly untrue pristine image to the wealthy tourists who will descend on Vancouver this February.
While the poor have been hit hard, organized labour has also been attacked because of the Olympics. Some examples would include the workers of Hastings Race Track. Due to the proximity of their workplace to an Olympic venue, it was been included in an Olympic “security zone” and cannot operate during the games. While compensation has been provided to the employer, none has been forthcoming to the workers who will be unemployed during this time. Instead they were told to go find jobs with the Olympics. Another, more well known, example is of course BC Paramedics who were legislated back to work in November of 2009. The legislation, Bill 21, came during voting on a “final offer” Collective Agreement submitted by the government. Bill 21 a continuation of Liberal government policy aimed at eliminating the most basic rights of trade union workers such as the right to bargain a Collective Agreement and the right to strike. It is no secret that the apparent urgency of this legislation came from the demands of VANOC to end the dispute before the Olympics began.
The Olympics have been an environmental catastrophe as well. Construction for the Olympics has led to tens of thousands of trees being cut down, thousands of tons of concrete being used, mountainsides being blasted, destruction of wildlife and fish habitat and more. Just look at Eagle Ridge Bluffs; once a beautiful natural site, now an otherwise unnecessary highway.
The effects of this hit First Nations people, who’s unceded and non-surrendered lands it all takes place on, especially hard. With no resolution to First Nations title and rights issues in sight, the Liberal government bulldozes ahead with the Olympic project which will bring untold wealth to the corporate ruling class while First Nations continue to suffer the highest rates of poverty and unemployment.
The poverty and misery inflicted by an economic system in crisis and the worsened effects brought by the Olympics will no doubt lead to skyrocketing levels of petty crime, drug addiction, imprisonment, prostitution, suicide and other horrors primarily affecting the working class, youth, and the poor.
The answer presented by the capitalist class and its governments is a police state. The Olympics have a long history of association with fascist, police state regimes and with racism. After all, the modern Olympics were founded by French Baron, Pierre de Coubertin, who saw the games as a way to strengthen French colonialism. The beloved torch relay in its modern form originated at the 1936 Olympic Games in Nazi Germany. In 1968, the Mexico City games were preceded by the massacre of 300 protesting students. While Nazi salutes were deemed acceptable in 1936, two athletes who gave the black power salute in 1968 were stripped of their medals.
Claims that the Vancouver Olympics are different are difficult for most to believe when considering that 12,500 police, military and private security will be deployed in Vancouver and Whistler during the games. Surveillance cameras are turning up on street corners, on busses, at Olympic venues and wherever else deemed appropriate by those providing “security” during the Olympics. The same “security” also includes 40km of crowd control fencing and a sonic crowd control device which uses painfully loud blasts of sound to disperse protestors who exercise their constitutional rights outside of select “free speech zones,” and other “undesirables.” Anti-Olympics activists have already faced threats and harassment from police while at home, and at work. In some cases, family members and friends have also received visits.
These are just a few examples of how the 2010 Olympics have been, and will be, a catastrophe for working people and the poor in BC. Not least, the games will be a disaster for youth, the majority of whom can by no means afford to attend any of the Olympic Games but yet will be forced to pay for them for years to come, to raise their children in a soiled environment, and to live with the possible continued existence of draconian “security” measures. All of this and more is ours for only $6 billion dollars of tax payer money. The Olympics represent an offensive of the corporate ruling class against the rights and interests of the working class and the poor. The highly lauded “Olympic legacy” is one of impoverishment, homelessness, environmental destruction, trampling of First Nations, repression, and corporate greed, all at tax payer expense. The question left to be answered is what legacy of resistance will follow it.
Visit the Olympic Resistance Network website: http://no2010.com/
January 18, 2010
In response to the horrendous suffering of the Haitian people resulting from the earthquake and its many aftershocks, many Canadians have been wondering what the most effective way to provide aid is. The Canadian-Cuban Friendship Association of Toronto has proposed the Cuba for Haiti fundraising campaign which is also endorsed by the Canadian Network on Cuba as a national effort.
Cuba has an unequalled record in helping people in crises such as the earthquake in Pakistan and natural disasters in many other countries. In fact it has set up a special emergency unit, the Henry Reeve Medical Brigade, to respond to such disasters. At the time of the earthquake in Haiti, 402 Cuban internationalists, 302 of them medical personnel, had already been helping Haitians. These together with many of the 500
Haitian doctors who had been trained in Cuba free of charge formed the essential early group of lifesavers, attending to 1,102 Haitian patients in the first 24 hours after the earthquake. They have continued their work, boosted by an additional medical brigade which arrived promptly from Cuba.
We believe that this kind of unprecedented and invaluable help which Cuba has been giving Haiti for eleven years deserves to be supported as strongly as possible. The CNC urges you to support Cuba in this work by giving a donation to “The Mackenzie-Papineau Memorial Fund,” indicating on your cheque’s memo line “Cuba for Haiti”.
Charitable receipts will be issued by the Mackenzie-Papineau Memorial Fund (Charitable Org - Revenue Canada Reg, #88876 9197RR0001).
Your donation should be mailed to:
The Mackenzie-Papineau Memorial Fund &
Friends of the Mac-Pap Battalion, Int'l Brigades
Att: S. Skup
56 Riverwood Terrace
Bolton, ON L7E 1S4
The “Cuba for Haiti” contributions will go into a special account, ensuring that 100% of all donations are used for medical support and aid to Haiti. We are working directly with The Cuban Embassy in Ottawa and the Consulate General in Toronto.
Isaac Saney, CNC Co-chair & and National Spokesperson,
Tamara Hansen, CNC Co-Chair
Keith Ellis, CNC Coordinator “Cuba for Haiti”
January 19, 2010
From Cuba's Granma newspaper
Left: Cuban Doctors were already in Haiti
Desolation and Death
PORT-AU-PRINCE, January 14.— Haitian Prime Minister Jean Max-Berllerive said
that one of the reasons for the high number of fatalities caused by the
January 12 earthquake is the serious degree of poverty, which forces many
families to live in precarious housing and extremely crowded conditions.
[image: Desolation and Death]The population of the Haitian capital underwent
another day of anguish on Thursday, in the midst of the chaos and desolation
caused by the collapse of a large part of the city, Prensa Latina reported.
The magnitude of the tragedy, which has yet to be assessed with precision,
is greater than authorities’ capacities, the prime minister stated in a
"We lack a response to an event like this. We are depending on international
aid for dealing with this disaster."
Beginning on Tuesday night, other countries in the region and elsewhere in
the world, as well as international organizations, announced the
mobilization of emergency resources to aid victims.
It was learned that Cuban Joel Melo Torres, who was receiving medical
attention in Port-au-Prince and had been reported in a serious condition,
has been flown from that city to Santiago de Cuba, where he is being treated
at the Juan Bruno Zayas clinical-surgical hospital. Two other Cubans who
were slightly injured, Alberto Bravo Carbonell, director of the education
brigade, and Alina Almeida Rivera, from the same brigade, also returned to
Cuban doctors in Haiti have continued to work, almost without rest and as of
late Thursday night had attended to 1,987 patients and carried out 111 major
and 60 minor surgeries in an improvised field hospital, according to
ANA IVIS GALÁN GARCÍA
ON Wednesday morning, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla
received his counterpart from the Republic of Suriname, Lygia Louise Irene
Kraag-Keteldijk, who is on an official visit to our country.
As part of official talks between the two ministers, Rodríguez gave a
detailed explanation of the situation of Cuban cooperation workers in the
sister Republic of Haiti after the terrible earthquake that occurred on
In that context, he clarified that there are currently "403 Cuban
cooperative personnel, 334 of whom are working in the heath sector as
doctors and paramedics," in the devastated country. He said they had been
able to confirm the status of all those working "within the city of
Port-au-Prince. Only two of them received very slight injuries, and the
others have confirmed that they are all right."
"We are verifying the situation and gathering complete information about
cooperative workers in other parts of the country. We have been able to
locate the majority of them and they are fine," he assured.
The minister added that victims have been receiving medical attention from
the Cuban brigade since the earthquake struck. He noted that "they are now
working in two campaign hospitals in our medical personnel’s accommodation
He said that plans are underway to more emergency aid to the sister
Caribbean nation, consisting of "a quantity of medicine and heath materials.
An additional number of doctors are to travel there."
"Our ambassador and other *compañeros* working in Port-au-Prince spent the
entire night and early morning touring the city to contact our compatriots
there because communication lines have collapsed. Equally, "the team from
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is working tirelessly to coordinate the
response from all of our institutions."
The Cuban foreign affairs minister reiterated Cuba’s disposition to
participate in any CARICOM effort. "In this context we are in contact with
the CARICOM mission and we will certainly work together there to provide
assistance to the Haitian people."
REFLECTIONS OF FIDEL
The lesson of Haiti
TWO days ago, at almost six o’clock in the evening Cuban time and when,
given its geographical location, night had already fallen in Haiti,
television stations began to broadcast the news that a violent earthquake –
measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale – had severely struck Port-au-Prince. The
seismic phenomenon originated from a tectonic fault located in the sea just
15 kilometers from the Haitian capital, a city where 80% of the population
inhabit fragile homes built of adobe and mud.
The news continued almost without interruption for hours. There was no
footage, but it was confirmed that many public buildings, hospitals, schools
and more solidly-constructed facilities were reported collapsed. I have read
that an earthquake of the magnitude of 7.3 is equivalent to the energy
released by an explosion of 400,000 tons of TNT.
Tragic descriptions were transmitted. Wounded people in the streets were
crying out for medical help, surrounded by ruins under which their relatives
were buried. No one, however, was able to broadcast a single image for
The news took all of us by surprise. Many of us have frequently heard about
hurricanes and severe flooding in Haiti, but were not aware of the fact that
this neighboring country ran the risk of a massive earthquake. It has come
to light on this occasion that 200 years ago, a massive earthquake similarly
affected this city, which would have been the home of just a few thousand
inhabitants at that time.
At midnight, there was still no mention of an approximate figure in terms of
victims. High-ranking United Nations officials and several heads of
government discussed the moving events and announced that they would send
emergency brigades to help. Given that MINUSTAH (United Stabilization
Mission in Haiti) troops are deployed there – UN forces from various
countries – some defense ministers were talking about possible casualties
among their personnel.
It was only yesterday, Wednesday morning, when the sad news began to arrive
of enormous human losses among the population, and even institutions such as
the United Nations mentioned that some of their buildings in that country
had collapsed, a word that does not say anything in itself but could mean a
For hours, increasingly more traumatic news continued to arrive about the
situation in this sister nation. Figures related to the number of fatal
victims were discussed, which fluctuated, according to various versions,
between 30,000 and 100,000. The images are devastating; it is evident that
the catastrophic event has been given widespread coverage around the world,
and many governments, sincerely moved by the disaster, are making efforts to
cooperate according to their resources.
The tragedy has genuinely moved a significant number of people, particularly
those in which that quality is innate. But perhaps very few of them have
stopped to consider why Haiti is such a poor country. Why does almost 50% of
its population depend on family remittances sent from abroad? Why not
analyze the realities that led Haiti to its current situation and this
enormous suffering as well?
The most curious aspect of this story is that no one has said a single word
to recall the fact that Haiti was the first country in which 400,000
Africans, enslaved and trafficked by Europeans, rose up against 30,000 white
slave masters on the sugar and coffee plantations, thus undertaking the
first great social revolution in our hemisphere. Pages of insurmountable
glory were written there. Napoleon’s most eminent general was defeated
there. Haiti is the net product of colonialism and imperialism, of more than
one century of the employment of its human resources in the toughest forms
of work, of military interventions and the extraction of its natural
This historic oversight would not be so serious if it were not for the real
fact that Haiti constitutes the disgrace of our era, in a world where the
exploitation and pillage of the vast majority of the planet’s inhabitants
Billions of people in Latin American, Africa and Asia are suffering similar
shortages although perhaps not to such a degree as in the case of Haiti.
Situations like that of that country should not exist in any part of the
planet, where tens of thousands of cities and towns abound in similar or
worse conditions, by virtue of an unjust international economic and
political order imposed on the world. The world population is not only
threatened by natural disasters such as that of Haiti, which is a just a
pallid shadow of what could take place in the planet as a result of climate
change, which really was the object of ridicule, derision, and deception in
It is only just to say to all the countries and institutions that have lost
citizens or personnel because of the natural disaster in Haiti: we do not
doubt that in this case, the greatest effort will be made to save human
lives and alleviate the pain of this long-suffering people. We cannot blame
them for the natural phenomenon that has taken place there, even if we do
not agree with the policy adopted with Haiti.
But I have to express the opinion that it is now time to look for real and
lasting solutions for that sister nation.
In the field of healthcare and other areas, Cuba – despite being a poor and
blockaded country – has been cooperating with the Haitian people for many
years. Around 400 doctors and healthcare experts are offering their services
free of charge to the Haitian people. Our doctors are working every day in
227 of the country’s 337 communes. On the other hand, at least 400 young
Haitians have trained as doctors in our homeland. They will now work with
the reinforcement brigade which traveled there yesterday to save lives in
this critical situation. Thus, without any special effort being made, up to
1,000 doctors and healthcare experts can be mobilized, almost all of whom
are already there willing to cooperate with any other state that wishes to
save the lives of the Haitian people and rehabilitate the injured.
Another significant number of young Haitians are currently studying medicine
We are also cooperating with the Haitian people in other areas within our
reach. However, there can be no other form of cooperation worthy of being
described as such than fighting in the field of ideas and political action
in order to put an end to the limitless tragedy suffered by a large number
of nations such as Haiti.
The head of our medical brigade reported: "The situation is difficult, but
we have already started saving lives." He made that statement in a succinct
message hours after his arrival yesterday in Port-au-Prince with additional
Later that night, he reported that Cuban doctors and ELAM’s Haitian
graduates were being deployed throughout the country. They had already seen
more than 1,000 patients in Port-au-Prince, immediately establishing and
putting into operation a hospital that had not collapsed and using field
hospitals where necessary. They were preparing to swiftly set up other
centers for emergency care.
We feel a wholesome pride for the cooperation that, in these tragic
instances, Cuba doctors and young Haitian doctors who trained in Cuba are
offering our brothers and sisters in Haiti!
Fidel Castro Ruz
January 14, 2009
Translated by Granma International
CANADIAN & US MILITARY SHOULD NOT TREAT VICTIMS OF EARTHQUAKE AS ENEMY
EXAGGERATED REPORTS OF LOOTING THREATEN VICTIMS
(January 19, 2010) The Canada Haiti Action Network is deeply concerned about the militarization of the relief efforts in Haiti and exaggerated reporting on ‘looting’ and potential violence.
“There is an exaggerated focus on unlawfulness,” says one the group’s representatives in Toronto, Niraj Joshi. “Taking food and water from destroyed stores does not constitute looting,” she said. “It is an instinct of human survival, caused by the failure of the international relief effort to provide timely and effective assistance.”
Many poor neighbourhoods in Port-au-Prince have yet to see any assistance. Yet reports from CHAN’s colleagues and friends in Port au Prince say that human solidarity and a quiet determination to survive prevail. Reports on CBC television and radio are saying the same thing.
Meanwhile, Canada’s emergency relief teams have been sent home, told they will not be deployed.
Roger Annis of CHAN’s affiliate in Vancouver commented, “Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs told the country on anuary 16 that its disaster relief teams are not equipped for Haiti, that only soldiers can do the job. Canadians have apparently been labouring under the false impression that its disaster relief teams are able to handle earthquake disasters.”
“Like Washington,” he said, “Ottawa has quite simply prioritized the sending of its military to Haiti over disaster relief. Are Canadians comfortable with that choice, and what is the purpose of this military show of strength?”
The group says that earthquake victims need food, water, medical treatment and shelter, not more guns pointed at them.
In February 2004, some 500 Canadian troops were dispatched to Haiti as part of a UN Security Council-endorsed mission that followed the overthrow of its elected government and exile of its elected president, Jean Bertrand Aristide. As the AP news service reported today, there is a growing clamour in the poor neighbourhoods of Haiti for the return of the only president in their recent, troubled history that took measures to alleviate their suffering.
Representatives of the Canada Haiti Action Network are available to speak to media in cities across Canada. Consult the “About CHAN” page on the website below
January 18, 2010
By Alissa Trotz
Alissa Trotz is Editor of the In the Diaspora Column
It is now nearly one endless week since the earthquake that devastated Haiti, shattering lives and communities. In Toronto, where I am based, the Haitian diaspora (one of the largest outside of Haiti) has come out en masse, organizing support while mourning and searching for missing or dead relatives and friends. One event planned in Ottawa will be called “AYITI VIVAN” (Haiti is ALIVE!). These initiatives are part of a longer Haitian tradition known as konbit (collective work), and they continue on the ground and in the diaspora.
Haitians are engaged and are mobilizing as they always have, taking the lead even as they must be overwhelmed with sorrow and loss. We must demonstrate our solidarity, and not just in the short-term, when the emergency requirements are so crucial. We can all ask ourselves what might be the best ways that we can each offer meaningful support, now and in the longer-term. For example I have received distressing messages about Haitian colleagues dead or missing. One e-mail said simply and heartbreakingly that “University Quisqueya, the Université d’État d’Haïti and many high schools have collapsed, some with teachers and students.” As a teacher, one of the meaningful commitments I can make is to organize with others at our places of work and professional associations to offer support for the rebuilding of Haiti’s educational infrastructure.
We also want to know that our contributions are actually reaching the Haitian people, that the monies collected are not either being diverted elsewhere or getting lost as part of administrative overhead of the collecting agency. In Guyana there is a commendable national drive for resources. In addition to supporting this national drive, Red Thread is also continuing with the appeal it began on the night of the earthquake as part of the Global Women’s Strike, which works with grassroots women and men in Haiti. They are supporting the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund, which was established long before the earthquake
(http://www.haitiaction.net/About/HERF/HERF.html ) and has a demonstrated capacity to get resources to grassroots Haitians in Haiti.
You can take donations to the Red Thread Centre, 72 Princes & Adelaide Sts., Georgetown, Guyana, or make payments directly to the account, where all monies received will be promptly acknowledged: Account name: Red Thread/Haiti Emergency Fund for Grassroots Women and Families;
Signatories: Andaiye and Joy Marcus;
Bank: Citizens Bank, 201 Camp Street, Georgetown, Guyana;
Account number: 0218 567806.
In trying to think about what solidarity with Haiti might look like, I found inspiration in a statement issued by Fidel Castro on January 14th – in fact, Cuban doctors were already on the ground when the earthquake hit, and Cuba was one of the first Caribbean countries to respond – in which he also described co-operation with Haitians as consisting of “fighting in the field of ideas and political action in order to put an end to the limitless tragedy suffered by a large number of nations such as Haiti.”
This comment put into words the frustration and anger I have felt at how the mainstream media – with their immense power and reach – have been managing the tragedy, shaping our perceptions through their coverage.
There is of course the language of the extreme right, exemplified by the obscenely racist demagoguery of American televangelist Pat Robertson that the earthquake was payback for the pact Haitians made with the devil in return for an end to slavery under the French. In an interview on the Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC, Haitian Ambassador Raymond Joseph offered a perfect response: “I would like the whole world to know, America especially, that…when the slaves rose up against the French and defeated the French army, the US was able to gain the Louisiana [purchase] for fifteen million dollars, that is three cents an acre. That is thirteen states west of the Mississippi, that the Haitian slave revolt in Haiti provided America. Also, the revolt of the rebels in Haiti allowed Latin America to be free. It is from Haiti that Simon Bolivar left with men and boats, to deliver Gran Colombia and the rest of South America. So [the] pact the Haitian has made with the
devil has helped the United States become what it is”.
It is easy to condemn such virulent messages as the exception, while missing the subtle – and therefore more dangerous – underlying text running through most of the major broadcast networks, which have been offering up the earthquake and its tragic aftermath on a television platter, an unchanging one course meal for us to consume until the next headline. As a friend commented, it is tantamount to eating the pain of others.
In most of this coverage, we are given a familiar and racist patronizing script, in which Haiti is once again reduced to a basket case, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. In the images that flash before us on the television screens, it is the foreign press that is reporting, Western governments that are making decisions, the ones acting and doing, taking centre stage, perennial agents of salvation.
In these unending stories Haitian engagement is displaced, and Haitians are reduced to supplicants, increasingly desperate, who must be rescued by the West. Just yesterday we learned that a CARICOM emergency and technical mission that included the Secretary-General was refused permission to land by the United States, now in control of the airport in Port-au-Prince. They will probably have to go through the Dominican Republic. We will surely hear that the airport is congested, but this is the regional integration movement, of which Haiti is a member. And no-one refused landing permission to the plane carrying Secretary of State Hilary Clinton. Her visit made front page news. One can only wonder what will happen if the governments of Cuba (which incidentally granted permission for the US to fly aid and evacuation missions over its airspace) and Venezuela try to bring in supplies and technical support.
Let me be absolutely clear. The people of Haiti are suffering and need our support immediately in terms of emergency relief and in the medium- to long-term as they set about the painstaking process of rebuilding shattered lives. But the language of charity is not the model, for it springs from pity and is not based on a principle of equality. It ends up enhancing the generosity of the giver and – ironically – emphasizing the distance and disconnection between the giver and the receiver.
It also offers no wider context to situate the tragedy. In September 2008, this column commented on the vastly different outcomes of Hurricanes Gustav and Ike in Cuba and Haiti (few deaths in the former, over a thousand fatalities and 12% of the population displaced in the latter). Back then there was discussion of the political crisis that accounted for the overwhelming lack of resources and absence of an infrastructure to cope with the threats of natural disasters and their aftermath. Back then there were calls to unconditionally cancel Haiti’s debt and use the payments for relief and long-term reconstruction. And here we are, less than two years later and witnessing such immense grief and tragedy in a sister nation. In his January 14th statement, Fidel Castro observed:
“The tragedy has genuinely moved a significant number of people, particularly those in which that quality is innate. But perhaps very few of them have stopped to consider why Haiti is such a poor country…why not analyze the realities that led Haiti to its current situation and this enormous suffering as well?”
What are the stories that are being told instead? A few days ago CNN and the New York Times carried reports of looters and mobs roaming the streets (this time BBC reports contradicted these security concerns), and of tens of thousands of heroic US military troops arriving to secure the country. I asked myself, who are the real culprits here who have denied and continue to deny Haitian liberation and self-determination? The Stabroek News has carried two excellent editorials that foreground the historically criminal actions that began 200 years ago when sanctions were imposed by the Americans and French on a newly independent Haiti, forced to ‘compensate’ France for the loss of its slave plantations and the cost of the war the enslaved waged to free themselves. The list is long.
What of the criminals who have authorized various occupations of Haiti? The financial institutions that bankrolled the Duvalier dictatorship for years because the government obeyed the bidding of foreign investors, but then withheld monies from the democratically elected government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide when he attempted to stand up to them? The governments that engineered the kidnapping and removal of Aristide in 2004, the bicentennial of Haitian independence? Those who authorized the exclusion of Fanmi Lavalas from the supposedly democratic electoral process that was to take place this year? Those who continue to press for free trade and the opening up of the Haitian economy, policies that are patently anti-people?
In a jointly written op-ed piece in yesterday’s New York Times, Presidents Bill Clinton (who visited Haiti just recently to press for free trade, more export factories and foreign investment) and George W. Bush stated that “Crises have the power to bring out the best in people.” The title, A Helping Hand for Haiti, is telling. An excellent translation of this classic case of doublespeak can be found in a recent interview with journalist and author Naomi Klein, who talks about disaster capitalism, where profiteering scavengers prey on crises and the weaknesses they engender in affected countries to impose their own pro-business, anti-poor agendas. As one egregious example of this, Klein pointed to a conservative American think tank the Heritage Foundation, which posted the following notice on its website less than 24 hours after the earthquake (it has since taken it down):
“Amidst the suffering, crisis in Haiti offers opportunities to the U.S. In addition to providing immediate humanitarian assistance, the U.S. response to the tragic earthquake in Haiti offers opportunities to re-shape Haiti´s long-dysfunctional government and economy as well as to improve the image of the United States in the region.” In other words, disasters are big business. Klein warns us that the tragedy facing the Haitian people now must not be used as a pretext to further policies that prioritize corporations and saddle Haiti with more debt. We must insist that any money that goes to Haiti is in the form of grants and not loans, and is not conditional or tied aid. Transparency and accountability must not be to big business or international financial institutions and the governments that control them, but to the most vulnerable in Haitian society, the majority of the Haitian people.
In an emotional press conference, Michaelle Jean, Haitian-born Canadian Governor-General, offered these words: “Women and men of Haiti, we shall not lose hope. We have, we are known for our strength and resilience. We need to stand courageously, before this challenge that is affecting us again. And I was saying to the Haitian people that they are not alone.”
And a colleague at the University of Toronto who has lived and worked in Haiti, shared these words: kenbe fèm devan lavi, pa lage’l (stay strong in the face of life – don’t let go). It seems unfathomably obscene how much the people of this country have had to face, the price in bodies and blood they continue to pay, this island nation that liberated itself from colonialism and slavery 200 years ago, that offered solidarity to all freedom-loving people, that backed it up with material support to Simon Bolivar.
This is what Haiti has taught us, to never let go, and she has also held us, continues to hold us, even now. In return for this priceless gift, we are the ones who have let Haiti and Haitians go, over and over again. Will we do so again now, once the headlines disappear, the cameras stop rolling and the media moves on to its next breaking news story? Let us finally recognize the debt we owe, and think about what action, what responsibility recognition finally entails. If fighting on the terrain of ideas is one way, by educating ourselves about Haiti beyond the distortions of the corporate media, what will we do with that knowledge, how will we then put it to work? It is support and solidarity, not help, that is needed now more than ever. Our hearts are full for Haiti. Let it really mean something this time.
On behalf of member, friendly and all youth organizations from the globe the World Federation of Democratic Youth expresses our deepest sympathy, sorrow and solidarity with our suffering Haitian brothers and sisters who have hardly hit by the devastating impact on their lives caused by the earthquake of January 12, 2010.
The reports coming out of Haiti reveal a catastrophe of an unimaginable scale. We send our hope for those who have survived. We hope that the Region and the International community will quickly coordinate efforts to assist with the rescue and saving of the lives of those persons who are still trapped in these difficult times.
We call on all the youth and student organizations all over the world to lend their support in solidarity with the people of Haiti in mobilizing international response and aid. In this regard we urge governments in the neighborhoods to swiftly move into Haiti to rescue the situation. This is the moment where people of Haiti really need urgent assistance. The Federation stand ready to lend its support to the noble people of Haiti, we mourn with our Haitian brothers and sisters as this is our tragedy also.
May the future of Haiti, its people and youth, be urgently brought to a normal state and fast recovery from all catastrophes that both nature and imperialism has brought to the innocent souls of this
CC WFDY HQ
14 January 2010
Embassy of the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
January 7, 2010
On Monday January 4, press reports indicated that as from that day, the US Transport Security Administration was applying additional security measures, at every airport in the world, to any passenger carrying a passport from the countries the State Department has listed as “sponsors of international terrorism.” Among the countries unfairly and arbitrarily included in that list are
It has been reported that the decision to impose these new measures was adopted after an attempted terrorist action against an American Northwest Airlines aircraft aimed for
According to statements from unidentified American officials ran by the press, the passengers that qualify in these categories will be subjected to body search and their hand luggage will be thoroughly checked using sophisticated explosive-detection techniques or imaging scanners.
In the evening of January 5, after a meeting with members of his National Security staff, President Barack Obama confirmed the adoption of the abovementioned regulations, in effect since the previous day, affecting “passengers traveling to the
That same evening, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cuba and its Interests Section in
In the Note, the MINREX categorically rebuffs this new hostile action by the
The Note contests the elaboration of such lists and underlines facts that prove
That same day, in response to an AFP question on the MINREX Note of protest, a State Department spokesman said that “
Following the public announcement of this new measure, columnists of major US newspapers like the Washington Post have referred to Cuba’s designation as a “terrorist State” as something “ridiculous” and “unwarranted,” and have recalled that our country poses no threat to the security of the United States, adding that looking for terrorists in flights coming from Cuba “is a waste of time.”
Again on January 5, 2010, State Department spokesman Philip Crowley stated that
As one more element of its policy of hostility and its propaganda campaigns aimed at discrediting the Revolution, in 1982, long before the attacks on the
The insertion of
Every year, the
On April 30, 2009, Obama’s administration ratified the absurd inclusion of Cuba in that list while insisting that “the Cuban government continues to provide save haven to various terrorists,” that “members of ETA, the FARC and the ELN have remained in Cuba during
The presence of various exiled members of the Basque organization ETA was not initiated by
The members of ETA living in
As to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN) of
The transparent position of the Cuban government and its contribution to the peace process has been publicly recognized not only by the FARC and the ELN but also by the United Nations and the Colombian government.
As to the presence in
Also living in
In contrast, since the triumph of the Revolution the
Those same State Department reports that designate
Cuba refuses to accept the illegitimate mechanism used by the US administration to take upon itself the right of certifying the behavior of other nations with respect to terrorism and to issue politically motivated, discriminatory and selective lists while assuming a double-standard position and failing to take to trial the confessed culprits of horrible terrorist actions against Cuba who are instead allowed to go free.
An example of this is provided by our Five Heroes -- Gerardo, Fernando, Ramón, Antonio and René—who are serving arbitrary and unfair sentences in American prisons for protecting Cuba, --3478 of whose citizens were killed and 2099 maimed by terrorist actions-- and also for defending the integrity of citizens from the United States and other countries.
- The Cuban territory has never been used nor will it ever be used to arrange, finance or implement terrorist actions against any other country, including the
- Cuba does not have, nor does it intend to have, any kind of weapon of mass destruction and it abides by its obligations stemming from the international instruments it has signed related to nuclear, chemical and biological weapons;
- The National Assembly of People’s Power of the
- In this spirit,
- On various occasions, the Cuban authorities have let the
- Likewise, the Cuban authorities have provided the
- It should not be forgotten that
The government of
The government of Cuba also demands the immediate removal of Cuba from the list of “States sponsors of international terrorism,” since it is an unfair, arbitrary and politically motivated designation that contradicts the exemplary conduct of our country in the struggle against terrorism and calls into question the seriousness of the United States in the fight against that scourge.
Similarly, it urges the US administration to act firmly and without double standards, --as an expression of its commitment to the antiterrorist struggle-- against those that have carried out terrorist actions on Cuba from the US territory; and to free the Five Heroes who are Cuban antiterrorists unjustly incarcerated in that country.
Phone: (613) 563-0141
388 Main St.,
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