Haiti under control

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Amid this catastrophe, imperial powers and corporate vultures are circling, eyeing the profits to be made from reconstruction.

The Street, an investment Web site, published an article, misleadingly titled “An Opportunity to Heal Haiti,” that lays out how U.S. corporations can cash in on the catastrophe. “Here are some companies,” they write, “that could potentially benefit: General Electric, Caterpillar, Deere, Fluor, Jacobs Engineering.”

Other commentators–like James Dobbins, a former U.S. special envoy to Haiti under President Bill Clinton–likewise see an opportunity to remake Haiti along free market lines. As he wrote in the New York Times, “This disaster is an opportunity to accelerate oft-delayed reforms.” As director of the International Security and Defense Policy Center at the Rand Corporation, the reforms he advocates are not designed to meet people’s needs, but to pad corporate profits through mechanisms like privatization.

THE U.S., a few other imperial powers, some lesser countries and the UN convened a meeting on January 26 in Montreal to profess their concern and promise to aid Haiti.

The 14 so-called “friends of Haiti” at the conference made sure to include Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive to at least give the illusion of respect for the country’s sovereignty. But outside, a protest organized by Haiti Action Montreal challenged the meeting with signs demanding “Medical relief not guns,” “Grants not loans” and “Reconstruction for people not profit.”

Guardian columnist Gary Younge criticized the summit for failing to produce any solutions:

Even as corpses remained under the earthquake’s rubble, and the government operated out of a police station, the assembled “friends” would not commit to canceling Haiti’s $1 billion debt. Instead, they agreed to a 10-year plan with no details and a commitment to meet again–when the bodies have been buried along with coverage of the country–sometime in the future.

By contrast, Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez and his Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas grouping of Latin American and Caribbean nations opposed to U.S. neoliberal plans has called for relief not troops and cancellation of Haiti’s debt. On his weekly television show, Chávez declared that thousands of “soldiers are arriving, Marines armed as if they were going to war. There is not a shortage of guns there, my God. Doctors, medicine, fuel, field hospitals–that’s what the United States should send. They are occupying Haiti undercover.”

Source: Ashley Smith

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