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Peoples Solidarity with Haiti - Make Demands on the U.S. Government: Statement from the International Action Center

Justice for Haiti means immediate aid, reparations, debt cancelation, restoration of President Aristide, asylum for all Haitians and self-determination not military occupation.

The International Action Center expresses its full solidarity with the Haitian people at this time of greatest crisis following the devastating Jan.12 earthquake. In the Haitian capital, tens of thousands of lives have been lost and the lives of hundreds of thousands of additional people are at stake. It is essential that there be an all-out effort for immediate and massive humanitarian relief effort.

Tons of supplies could be parachuted to desperate people in immediate need of food and especially water. The delivery of this essential aid, plus the placement of rescue and medical teams must be the priority. Dozens of countries from all over the world, rich and poor, immediately sent hundreds of doctors and emergency medical teams and search and rescue teams and supplies. Cuba already had 344 health workers in Haiti and is ready to send 152 more.

Because the United States is the most powerful and wealthiest country in the world and is so near to Haiti, it is almost inevitable that many will look to Washington to lead the rescue effort. And with all concerned for immediate relief for the Haitians, it will be easy to ignore the political realities both before the calamity and in its aftermath. These realities, however, will continue to affect the future of Haiti, and all of us should keep them in mind.

1. Haiti is the poorest and least developed country in the hemisphere, everyone repeats. That is true, but it is because Haiti has been occupied by U.S. imperialism again and again. In 2004 in a coup, planned from Washington and supported by troops from France and Canada, President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a president democratically elected by over 75 % of the vote was kidnapped and removed. The U.S. still prevents President Aristide from returning to Haiti from South Africa, where he is exiled. The U.S. set up an occupation of Haiti under UN command. Six years of this UN occupation has done nothing to develop Haiti or improve its infrastructure. Instead it has led to still greater poverty and hunger and higher debt.

2. The Pentagon is controlling the U.S. intervention in the disaster. Its priority is not the rapid delivery of food and water, but the establishment of a beachhead of 2,200 Marines and 3,500 paratroopers, now increased to 10,000 military to police the Haitian population. This military has a dual role that includes delivery of aid, but its main role is repression and control, just as it is in Afghanistan, Iraq and other occupied countries. Jarry Emmanuel of World Food Organization stated: “There are 200 flights going in and out every day. But most of those flights are for the U.S. military. Their priorities are to secure the country. Ours are to feed.”

3. President Barack Obama has appointed not only Bill Clinton but also George W. Bush in charge of raising support for the U.S. relief effort. It was Bush -- probably the most hated of U.S. presidents worldwide -- who cynically delayed relief efforts and allowed the people of New Orleans to drown following the Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and who presided over the kidnapping and enforced exile of President Aristide.

4. From 1804, when the first successful slave revolution in history drove out the French colonialists and slave masters, until the present, Washington has continually imposed sanctions, debt repayments and military intervention in an attempt to crush Haitian independence. The U.S. directly occupied the country from 1915 to 1934 and again in the last 20 years.

5. The $100 million President Obama promised sounds like a lot of money, but it is tiny compared to the amount the rulers of France and the United States stole from Haiti and its people over centuries. It is a fraction of the $1 billion that Haitian workers in the diaspora send home to their families every year. It is less than what the U.S. spends in 5 hours for the occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq. It is far less than 1% of the $18 billion that Goldman Sacks executives will receive in bonuses after a $700 billion bailout of the banks.

6. The IMF immediately gave a $100 million loan to Haiti. This is an outrage and a crime. Haiti’s debts are already unsustainable. Hundreds of millions in debts remain from the U.S. imposed Pap Doc and Baby Doc Duvalier dictatorships. IMF required ‘structural adjustments’ have forced Haiti from sustainable agriculture to cash crops for the rich, raised the price of electricity, leaving millions in the dark and frozen pay on vital social services of doctors, nurses, teachers, public transit and infrastructure.

Millions of people in solidarity with the Haitian people are making great efforts to send emergency supplies. The Haitian people themselves are organizing and gathering desperately needed supplies. Along with emergency peoples relief efforts there must be peoples’ demands on the U.S. government and the powerful corporations.

In light of the above points, the International Action Center proposes the following demands:

  • Immediate delivery of food, water and medical supplies, not military occupation;
  • Allow the return of democratically elected President Aristide to Haiti and restore his government;
  • Reparations from the U.S., France and Canada so that Haitians can take charge of the relief effort and invite the international assistance of their choice;
  • Immediate Cancelation of Haiti’s debts;
  • Immediate asylum for all Haitians in the United States;
  • Permission for Haitian residents of the U.S. to go to Haiti to help their families and to return to the U.S.;
  • Self-determination for Haiti.

International Action Center
55 W. 17th St, # 5C,
New York, NY 10011
212-633-6646

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UPDATED Jan 15, 2010 12:39 PM
International Action Center • Solidarity Center • 147 W. 24th St., FL 2 • New York, NY 10011
Phone 212.633.6646 • E-mail: iacenter@iacenter.org • En Español: iac-cai@iacenter.org