NDP and Haiti

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Left Turn Left Turn's picture
NDP and Haiti


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Left Turn Left Turn's picture

Here is the [url=http://www.ndp.ca/press/statement-by-new-democrat-leader-jack-layton-for... statement on the earthquake in Haiti[/url]. The statement is sorely lacking. There is no analysis of the US and other foreign intervention in Haiti that has made Haiti the poorest nation in the Western hemishpere, and that has turned a natural disaster into a human-made catastrophe. There is no mention of the Feb 2004 coup against Haiti's democratically elected president Jean Bertrand Aristide, and no call for Aristide's return to Haiti. On top of all this, the NDP has not spoken out against the millitarization of the aid effort by the US in what ammounts to a millitary invasion of Port-Au-Prince, and have not spoken out against the resulting lack of aid that is reaching the Haitian people.

For a political party that supposedly identifies itself as progressive, the NDP's response to the catastrophe in Haiti is pathetic and shameful. The Haitian people need real solidarity, not the sop to imperialism-lite that is found in the NDP's statement.

Of course, none of this is the least bit surprising. The NDP have never recognized the 2004 coup for what it really is, namely a coup; have never recognized the UN occupation of Haiti for what it is, namely an occupation; and have never called for the return of Jean Bertrand Aristide. The NDP has also gone out of its way to not criticize any actions of the Obama administration.


Left Turn Left Turn's picture

My guess is the MP in question was either Svend Robinson or Libby Davies. Unfortuately, the NDP leadership have never taken that position, and I stand by my position that the NDP's statement on the earthquake in Haiti is sorely lacking as per the reasons I gave above.


Ya, I can't remember which NDP MP it was who referred to the US-backed coup in Haiti as Aristide having been removed from power by the CIA. But there were  toady MP's in the Bloc and I believe Liberal Parties at the time who stood up in the House and demanded in loud, overbearing voices that the NDP stop using the word removed and begin using the term departed. They threatened to have the NDP member turfed from Parliament for refusing to knuckle under to their pro-USA toadying at the time.

[url=http://coat.ncf.ca/our_magazine/links/63/63.htm]Lies without Borders:[/url] How CIDA-funded 'NGOs' waged a propaganda war to justify Haiti’s 2004 coup


[url=http://coat.ncf.ca/our_magazine/links/63/63_35.htm]The issue of Aristide’s forced removal[/url] from office and from Haiti was again dropped until the NDP’s Alexa McDonough had the floor.  After asking about CIDA funding cutbacks to Haiti, she returned to Aristide’s allegations and very cautiously asked whether there may have been "a kind of illegitimate regime change":

"To what extent is there some problem associated with the manner in which Aristide’s departure took place? There is I think a strong consensus that clearly this is not a government that was working and Aristide was not going to be able to re-establish legitimacy. Around the real questions of the illegitimate manner in which his departure took place, is there a problem about Canada’s credibility, whether we’ve compromised our own ability to be seen as a trustworthy independent nation? Have we become contaminated somewhat by having been associated with what may be an exaggeration, but a kind of illegitimate regime change, that has now aroused a lot of mistrust in the community, notwithstanding people’s concerns about the Aristide administration?"

Layton said in the House that there should be an investigation of the circumstances surrounding Aristide's removal. Do-nothings in the Bloc and the other two pro-Warshington stooge parties basically laughed it off and refused to acknowledge the NDP's concerns as usual.

Left Turn Left Turn's picture

Alright, I will acknowledge that the NDP did speak out against the removal of Aristide when it happened (though from the looks of it stopped short of calling it a coup). However, that does not excuse the NDP for supporting the subsequent deployment of UN tropps to Haiti, and it does not excuse the NDP for their pathetic response to the current catastrophe in Haiti.


Forced removal, coup, same thing. Still, too many Canadians don't give a damn what happens in this hemisphere. And sometimes it's like the phony war in Afghanistan. Many Canadians are against the phony war but do not question the original pretext for sending troops to that country. A greater percentage of Americans are now doubtful of crazy George's and that government's 9/11 narrative than Canadians. So in effect, Canadians are somewhat with the Republican cabal on why we're actually there on the other side of the world. It's the same with Haiti and Colombia etc. Not enough Canadians could be convinced to care enough about the USSA dictating political and economic agendas in this part of the world to turf our pro-Warshington stooges from the halls of power in Ottawa. And the NDP knows it has to concentrate on democratizing Bananada before we even think about challenging Uncle Sam on his war on democracy in the Caribbean, Central and South America, and beyond etc. The NDP just doesn't have the resources to fight our own stoogeocracy and the vicious empire on multiple fronts. Yanks will have to start their own revolution if they want real change.


Left Turn, I share your sentiments entirely - even though I agree with Fidel that I only heard opposition to the Aristide coup from NDP quarters. The rest of the parties fell into line like [insert a Fidel-style graphic image]. Likewise, the only clear calls for withdrawal from Afghanistan (or non-involvement in the first place) came from the NDP. The problem, in both cases, is consistency and staying power on the part of the leadership. The moment the members and supporters sit back, they waver.

This is a dangerous moment, when besides backing the whole U.S. - French - U.N. neocolonial setup, the Harper government is getting ready to send a massive so-called "peacekeeping" force (consider the obscene irony of that) to help ensure Haiti never again escapes their control. Now is the time for progressive people to speak out and put pressure on all political forces - not least the NDP, which is the most likely to respond positively. It is our internationalist duty toward the people of Haiti.



Why would anyone want to "control" Haiti - the place has no natural resources whatsoever and is of no particular geopolitical value. The place is utterly worthless to any other country. Its not as if they are sitting on any oil reserves or anything. There is NOTHING there. Even the soil is completely eroded due to deforestation. If the world didn't feel sorry for Haiti because its so poor and has suffered such a tragedy this past week - the easiest thing to do would be to do would turn our backs on the place and not spend one red cent there.

It will never happen, but probably the only hope for Haiti would be to ask to be reincorporated into France and then have everyone in Haiti get an EU passport and have massive EU development funds funneled in and for Haitians to get access to French universal social programs etc... nearby Martinique and Guadeloupe are departments of France and people there have per capita incomes that are about 100 times what Haitians have. Or maybe Haiti could apply to be the 11th province of Canada and they could have Michaelle Jean as their head of state!

The Haitian diaspora seems to be quite entrepreneurial and prosperous. If you look at places like Montreal or Miami or New York or Paris where there are large Haitian communities they are some of the most successful recent immigrants. i read that Haitian immigrants in the US within a few years have higher average incomes than African-Americans whose families have been in the US since the beginning of the 19th century. Maybe another solution might be to simply evacuate the whole country and invite the entire population of Haiti to immigrate to Canada or the US or France and turn Haiti into a giant national park.


Perhaps, Stockholm, your residence should be turned over to homeless cats and dogs. That way, besides fulfilling a humanitarian need, there would be less offensive sounds issuing therefrom.

Or, you could apply for incorporation into Zimbabwe - then you could work for change from within - I've read some of your suggestions, and all you lack is the power to implement them.

I've got lots of other good ideas for how to deal with your life. I think it's unfair that you have to sit there solving everyone else's problems without getting some help in return.


[url=http://www.gregpalast.com/the-right-testicle-of-hell-history-of-a-haitia... Right Testicle of Hell:
History of a Haitian Holocaust[/url] Greg Palast

1. Bless the President for having rescue teams in the air almost immediately. That was President Olafur Grimsson of Iceland. On Wednesday, the AP reported that the President of the United States promised, "The initial contingent of 2,000 Marines could be deployed to the quake-ravaged country within the next few days." "In a few days," Mr. Obama? 

2. There's no such thing as a 'natural' disaster. 200,000 Haitians have been slaughtered by slum housing and IMF "austerity" plans.

3. A friend of mine called. Do I know a journalist who could get medicine to her father? And she added, trying to hold her voice together, "My sister, she's under the rubble. Is anyone going who can help, anyone?" Should I tell her, "Obama will have Marines there in 'a few days'"?

4. China deployed rescuers with sniffer dogs within 48 hours. China, Mr. President. China: 8,000 miles distant. Miami: 700 miles close. US bases in Puerto Rico: right there.

5. Obama's Defense Secretary Robert Gates said, "I don't know how this government could have responded faster or more comprehensively than it has." We know Gates doesn't know.

6. From my own work in the field, I know that FEMA has access to ready-to-go potable water, generators, mobile medical equipment and more for hurricane relief on the Gulf Coast. It's all still there. Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré, who served as the task force commander for emergency response after Hurricane Katrina, told the Christian Science Monitor, “I thought we had learned that from Katrina, take food and water and start evacuating people." Maybe we learned but, apparently, Gates and the Defense Department missed school that day.

7. Send in the Marines. That's America's response. That's what we're good at. The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson finally showed up after three days. With what? It was dramatically deployed — without any emergency relief supplies. It has sidewinder missiles and 19 helicopters.

8. But don't worry, the International Search and Rescue Team, fully equipped and self-sufficient for up to seven days in the field, deployed immediately with ten metric tons of tools and equipment, three tons of water, tents, advanced communication equipment and water purifying capability. They're from Iceland.

9. Gates wouldn't send in food and water because, he said, there was no "structure ... to provide security." For Gates, appointed by Bush and allowed to hang around by Obama, it's security first. That was his lesson from Hurricane Katrina. Blackwater before drinking water.

10. Previous US presidents have acted far more swiftly in getting troops on the ground on that island. Haiti is the right half of the island of Hispaniola. It's treated like the right testicle of Hell. The Dominican Republic the left. In 1965, when Dominicans demanded the return of Juan Bosch, their elected President, deposed by a junta, Lyndon Johnson reacted to this crisis rapidly, landing 45,000 US Marines on the beaches to prevent the return of the elected president.

11. How did Haiti end up so economically weakened, with infrastructure, from hospitals to water systems, busted or non-existent - there are two fire stations in the entire nation - and infrastructure so frail that the nation was simply waiting for "nature" to finish it off? 

Don’t blame Mother Nature for all this death and destruction. That dishonor goes to Papa Doc and Baby Doc, the Duvalier dictatorship, which looted the nation for 28 years. Papa and his Baby put an estimated 80% of world aid into their own pockets - with the complicity of the US government happy to have the Duvaliers and their voodoo militia, Tonton Macoutes, as allies in the Cold War. (The war was easily won: the Duvaliers’ death squads murdered as many as 60,000 opponents of the regime.)

12. What Papa and Baby didn't run off with, the IMF finished off through its "austerity" plans. An austerity plan is a form of voodoo orchestrated by economists zomby-fied by an irrational belief that cutting government services will somehow help a nation prosper. 

13. In 1991, five years after the murderous Baby fled, Haitians elected a priest, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who resisted the IMF's austerity diktats. Within months, the military, to the applause of Papa George HW Bush, deposed him.
History repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce. The farce was George W. Bush. In 2004, after the priest Aristide was re-elected President, he was kidnapped and removed again, to the applause of Baby Bush.

14. Haiti was once a wealthy nation, the wealthiest in the hemisphere, worth more, wrote Voltaire in the 18th century, than that rocky, cold colony known as New England. Haiti's wealth was in black gold: slaves. But then the slaves rebelled - and have been paying for it ever since...

Uncle Sam's war on democracy in the Caribbean and Latin America continues.


Re Haiti and NDP - Run with Hare hunt with Hounds - Make one or two figleaf statements of support as sop to supporters - if confronted later refer to token figleaves - dissemble...if caught and all else fails - point out the others are worse - NDP=No Difference Party and this is their standard operating procedure...

Three Years Later, Canada Must Be Held Accountable


"...The reality, however points to a stunning lack of democratic discussion here in Canada. To take just one example, there was the startling fact that the coup in Haiti did not get a mention from any of the major parties in the last federal election. Despite a concerted activist effort to help NDP leader Jack Layton find his voice against the coup, Haiti did not warrant even a line on the party's webpage during the 2006 election.."

Canada's NED? Whose Rights? What Sort of Democracy?


"In mid July 2005, Magloire issued a statement on behalf of the 7 member 'Council of the Wise' saying that any media that gives voice to 'bandits' (code for Lavalas supporters) shoult be shut down. She also asseted that the Lavalas Family should be banned from upcoming elections..

Again, one must ask whose rights and what sort of democracy does Rights And Democracy support, when it effectively aligns itself with fascistic elements in Haiti? But why should anyone care...?

RIghts and Democracy was formerly headed by Ed Broadbent, a former leader of Canada's New Democratic Party...Rights and Democracy has negatively influenced the position of the social democratic NDP..."


"Through detailed discussions between MPs and the Haitian Solidarity activists, it was made clear that an NDP conciliation with the Liberals on the Haiti issue would not only be a betrayal of the principles of equal relations between peoples and the interests of the Canadian polity, but would also play  badly electorally for the NDP...

For certain, in the future, no NDP from BC can claim they were not informed about the Haiti issue or were ignorant of the crimes being committed in Hait in the name of Canada..."


Left Turn Left Turn's picture

Stockholm wrote:
Why would anyone want to "control" Haiti - the place has no natural resources whatsoever and is of no particular geopolitical value. The place is utterly worthless to any other country. Its not as if they are sitting on any oil reserves or anything. There is NOTHING there. Even the soil is completely eroded due to deforestation. If the world didn't feel sorry for Haiti because its so poor and has suffered such a tragedy this past week - the easiest thing to do would be to do would turn our backs on the place and not spend one red cent there.

Why would anyone want to "control" Haiti? Oh, I don't know, to ensure that companies like Disney and Gilden Active Wear can continue to pay Haitian workers 28 cents an hour. Which, btw, is another aspect of the neoliberal imperialism in Haiti on which the NDP has been silent.


[url=http://coat.ncf.ca/our_magazine/links/60/60.htm][font=Comic Sans MS][size=16]A Very Canadian Coup d'etat in Haiti[/size][/font][/url] The Top 10 Ways that Canada’s Government Helped the 2004 Coup and its Reign of Terror

This 50-page issue of the Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade's magazine, Press for Conversion!, exposes ten ways in which [u]Canada's Liberal government[/u] was deeply complicit in: 

(1) aiding and abetting the 2004 coup d'état in Haiti that ousted President Aristide's democratically-elected government and

(2) supporting the illegal, coup-installed regime that was responsible for the two-year, human-rights catastrophe that followed. ...


Stockholm wrote:

Why would anyone want to "control" Haiti - the place has no natural resources whatsoever and is of no particular geopolitical value. The place is utterly worthless to any other country. Its not as if they are sitting on any oil reserves or anything. There is NOTHING there.


Oh yeah? you may be surprised...


'Ms Laurent reminds us of Haiti's offshore oil and other mineral riches and recent revival of an old idea to use Haiti as an oil refinery - to be built there as a trans shipment terminal for US supertankers..'

Haiti is a Rich Country - Eurasian Minerals Inc (Vancouver)



remind remind's picture

Amazing that some are using the plight of Haitians in a political way to try and discredit the NDP...


...good grief it is pretty damn sickening.


remind wrote:
  Amazing that some are using the plight of Haitians in a political way to try and discredit the NDP...good grief it is pretty damn sickening.

Agreed.  There's plenty of other issues to bring about that discrediting effect.  The scale of this catastrophe is such that no political words from either part of the spectrum can measure up to the profound tragedy that this is.


I disagree that people should not be talking politics when it comes to what's happening in Haiti.  That is the right-wing line - oh no, we can't talk about what caused this!  We can only talk about charity and food drops now! 

Wrong.  After you've given your donation to MSF or Red Cross, which takes all of about three minutes, since most of us can't go there, now is DEFINITELY the time to talk about political reasons why this happened.

Now is the time to talk about why it is that Haitians are so poor and why their country has no money to build earthquake-resistant housing and infrastructure.

Now is the time to talk about why Canada and the US aren't "heroes" for chipping in a bit of aid during a catastrophe, when they were directly responsible for the political upheaval there, and for the lack of democracy.

Now is the time to talk about why overwhelming debt has created the conditions for such devastation during a national catastrophe.  Now is the time to state clearly and unequivocally that these Haitians have died of POVERTY, not of an act of God.

Now is the time for anyone who gives a shit about social justice and global economic and environmental justice to stand up and say, this was preventable, and patting ourselves on the back for giving some aid, without recognizing the responsibility we bear for the situation in the first place, is inadequate.

And yes, now is the time for any party that pretends to give a shit about any of this at all to stand up and say so.  And now is also the time, on a political discussion forum, for people who give a shit about these things to talk about them, and to also critique those who aren't talking about it.

Furthermore, I'm sure that if people were critiquing the response of any party to this disaster other than the NDP, people here wouldn't find it "sickening" at all.

remind remind's picture

Last thing i would ever think about in this instance is what any of the damn political parties had to say on their web sites...

moreover, i could have rushed on here a couple of days back and stated I just saw Olivia on the news in respect to getting Canadian borders open to Haitian refugees, family re-unification peoples, and adoption in progress children as soon as possible.

however, i give a rat's ass that she is NDP, I am just glad someone in Ottawa is doing something to further this obvious action. It did not even strike me for a moment to be "proud"  that she was 'NDP' and doing so.




remind remind's picture

Don't disagree with a thing you are saying Michelle, it is time to talk politics, but petty partisan blatherings is something I do disagree with playing, and did ya notice anyone here who is NDP partisan start a thread about the failings of the Conservatives and Liberals, or indeed the Green Party?

Nor even start a thread about Olivia's almost immediate actions?


'nuff said.


Then why are you even in this thread, if you don't care about what the NDP (or any other "damn party") has to say about Haiti?  What made you decide to click on "NDP and Haiti" on babble to see what people were saying if it was the very last thing you'd ever think of discussing at a time like this?

My point is - this is a political discussion forum.  People talk politics here, when they have some free time that they're not using to save the world in other ways.  So if you think it's such a huge waste of time and so "sickening" to discuss what the NDP response should be to this disaster, then what are you doing discussing it?

If you're just here to wag your finger at people and tell them that discussing the NDP's response to this "sickens" you, then great.  Noted.  Thanks for sharing.

No one wants you to feel sick, certainly, but unfortunately, we can't help it if you click on a thread that sickens you.


Trying to claim that American imperialism caused an earthquake is as absurd as Pat Robertson claiming that the earthquake was caused by God punishing Haitians for making a pact with Satan 200 years ago.

Right now, there is a humanitarian crisis going on. I think that if the NDP started putting out press releases days after the earthquake trying to blame the earthquake on American imperialism etc...it would be ridiculed and would be seen as the NDP trying to exploit a humanitarian disaster to score some cheap political and ideological points. 

There will be plenty of time to discuss the political history of haiti and what did or did not contribute to the earthquake having a worse impact than it might otherwise have had. But now is not the time for that. Now is the time to get as much assistance into the country as possibly and save lives while people are buried in rubble. This is not the time for a seminar on "the Marxian perspective on Haiti"


Stockholm, please read for comprehension.

No one is saying that American imperialism "caused the earthquake". They're saying that poverty is the reason the earthquake was so devastating, and you can lay the poverty directly at the doorsteps of those who supported the overthrow of democratic governments in Haiti, and who supported Haiti being crushed under debt.

Haitian earthquake: Made in the USA

No, actually, there WON'T be lots of time to discuss the reasons why this happened, because no one will give a shit later, certainly not the media or politicians, anyhow.  Now IS the time to discuss this.


How did Haiti get so poor? Despite a century of American colonialism, occupation, and propping up corrupt dictators? Even though the CIA staged coups d'état against every democratically elected president they ever had?

It's an important question. An earthquake isn't just an earthquake. The same 7.0 tremor hitting San Francisco wouldn't kill nearly as many people as in Port-au-Prince."Looking at the pictures, essentially it looks as if (the buildings are of) breezeblock or cinderblock construction, and what you need in an earthquake zone is metal bars that connect the blocks so that they stay together when they get shaken," notes Sandy Steacey, director of the Environmental Science Research Institute at the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland. "In a wealthy country with good seismic building codes that are enforced, you would have some damage, but not very much."

When a pile of cinderblocks falls on you, your odds of survival are long. Even if you miraculously survive, a poor country like Haiti doesn't have the equipment, communications infrastructure or emergency service personnel to pull you out of the rubble in time. And if your neighbors get you out, there's no ambulance to take you to the hospital--or doctor to treat you once you get there.

Earthquakes are random events. How many people they kill is predetermined. In Haiti this week, don't blame tectonic plates. Ninety-nine percent of the death toll is attributable to poverty.

So the question is relevant. How'd Haiti become so poor?



Everything Michelle said, plus:

Considering that the emergency summit is being held in Canada next week on reconstruction efforts - it is very much relevant to discuss our parties's responses. The world is watching and there is an opportunity for the NDP to get some messaging out there about Aristide, why he is in exile and why he won't be invited to this conference or most likely returning to Haiti. It is not an attempt to "discredit" the NDP, but to encourage them to stand up for democratic principles when it matters. Stating the truth about Aristide in QP is one thing, but stating it when the world is gathered in Montreal to discuss Haiti during this crisis is another.

Edit to respond to Sven: Of course the US or other countries did not cause the Earthquake. The Earth moves on its own rhythm and we have no developped any reliable means to predict earthquakes. However, if an Earthquake of this magnitude hit Vancouver, the situation would not be as dire. There are reasons for that.

And, most importantly going forward is how all this reconstruction money is going to be spent? I for one believe sweatshops for cheap Disney garbage will be taking precedence over adequate housing, utlities, etc. This is not about politicizing a tragedy, but discussing the issues involved honestly.

remind remind's picture

call it fascination with a train wreck sydrome...


but point taken, why bother checking to see if it is the usual partisan bashers, gnashing their teeth over sfa, or indeed make political commentary about those being partisan on the backs of those already exploited and in great misery, i should have just taken it for granted that it was so...next time.


meanwhile as I am here and involved, IMV, the analysis of why Haiti is in this mess, would be grossly inappropriate in the NDP's statement on what their actions are in respect to aleviating immediate plights, and what people can do, in the first days in an emergency.


The horses are out of the barn on that score, and what needs to be done is immediate efforts and direction, not posturings on why the horses got out of the barn.


derrick derrick's picture

This thread reminded me that I wrote a piece about the NDP leadership's silence about the Haiti coup during the 2006 election campaign. Stockholm's plea for getting aid to the people of Haiti reads as merely pro forma, given his earlier comment that I think sadly reveals the mentality of too many right-wing social democrats or liberals about Haiti: they just don't give a damn. (So much so that they can't even feign interest in the historic causes of Haiti's immiseration in the wake of 150,000+ dead bodies in the streets of Port-au-Prince). 'Why even keep Haiti around as a country?' In other words, while protesting against an analysis of imperialism's history of subjugating Haiti, Stockholm expresses the ultimate imperialist arrogance and advocates the ethnic cleansing and liquidation of Haiti as a nation. That will teach those slaves not to rebel successfully ever again. He may protest that his tongue was firmly in cheek but, then, this no time to be waxing sarcastic, is it?

Ironically, the democratic government of Aristide and the Lavalas movement whose repeated overthrow was sponsored by Canada, the US and France -- leaving the country so woefully without infrastructure, or public sector resources, or a remotely credible government -- was hated by the neoliberals to the north for its stubborn insistence on implementing a crazy, radical, utopian project: moderate, pragmatic, social democratic reforms to alleviate the worst poverty in the hemisphere. The fact that our self professed pragmatic, moderate NDPers could care less speaks volumes.

I would encourage folks to check out the amazing coverage at http://democracynow.org.

remind remind's picture

going to put it in blunter and more personal analogy terms....about how inappropriate it would have been for the NDP's first statement to ramble into the area of how Haiti got so poor.

So here goes my direct analogy....I believe that the death of my granddaughter's father  was directly attributable to his parent's failure to support his alcohol addictions treatment, because they did not want the commuity at large to know of their son's plight, as they thought they would lose face and status.


Should I have sent them a Sympathy card stating it was their damn fault he was dead? Or stood up at the service and railed about  the fact that had they gotten help for him,  an dbeen less shallow, perhaps his daughter would not now be without a father?

Of course the answer is a resounding, No!

There is a time and place for commentary...and the time now is to get real political action happening to help Haitians in their plight, not standing around pointing fingers at any political party's failure to give "class analysis" about a current and developing human tragedy of epic proportions in their initial statement on what happened and call to action.



Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Haiti isn't dead, despite our best efforts.

Thank you, derrick, for your post.


I'm sorry, have there been subsequent statements about what happened?  Clearly no one expects an initial response to be analysis - you want to give help immediately.

But this happened a week ago.  So what's wrong with analysis?  I just did a search for "Haiti" on the NDP web site, and there seems to be a stronger focus on speeding up the adoption process for Haitian children to Canadian families than getting aid to Haiti anyhow.

And in general (not that the NDP is doing this, necessarily), when you're giving immediate help, patting yourself on the back about how benevolent Canada is for doing so is just as much political commentary (by sweeping under the rug our complicity in the death toll) as it would be to state that Canada is simply giving what it owes, and not nearly enough either.


"How'd Haiti become so poor?"

How did North Koera become so poor? How did Zimbabwe become so poor? How did Gabon become so poor? How did Ireland get to be so rich after being so poor? How did Chile become by far the richest country in Latin America?

There have been many books as thick as a a New York phone book trying to explain and speculate on why some countries are so poor and others are so rich. There are no simple answers.

Imagine what the reaction on babble would be if the earthquake had hit Cuba instead of Haiti and there were hundreds of thousands dead and the Harper government immediately put out a press releasing stating that the huge loss of life in Cuba was proof that Communism was a failure and that it was all Castro's fault? I saw that there were massive floods and landslides in Venezuela that killed thousands - i guess it must all be the fault of Chavez!

I remember very well how "touchy" some people on babble got whenever anyone pointed out that an estimated 100,000 North Koreans died of starvation in the 90s and that maybe just maybe, it was partly the fault of the pseudo-communist kleptocracy that runs North Korea (after all in neighbouring South Korea people have the same stadard of living as in Japan!). Instead I got a chorus of apologists for Kim Jogn Il saying "no, no, no, the famines in North Korea have NOTHING to do with government policy there - its just that they had a typhoon!" (I guess the typhoon mysteriously stopped right at the border between North and South Korea)

I don't believe for one second that the earthquake would have been any less devastating if Aristide had been power for the last ten years. haiti was dirt poor then and its dirt poor now.


There's a difference between geopolitical analysis and domestic partisan positioning, when juxtaposed against the literal backdrop of mountains of dead people, the most impoverished in the hemisphere.  Haven't they been exploited enough?


How would it be "partisan" positioning for the NDP to state that Haitians have died of poverty, not the earthquake (which many would have survived had they had proper infrastructure), and that this is directly due to Canada's role in propping up a leadership by coup, and supporting unfair debt burdens on Haiti?

Because guess what?  After everyone feels good for making their $50 donation to some charity or other, and after the images are out of the news, you know what's going to happen when the next earthquake, or tidal wave, or tsunami, or whatever, hits Haiti?

The same damn thing.  Because they're debt-ridden, impoverished, and their crumbling infrastructure will kill them again.  And again.

And every time, people will wring their hands and cry out, "Now's not the time to talk about that!  How heartless!  Here's $50 and a few tears."

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

While some might think it gauche to point out that Haiti's suffering is a direct result of Canadian and American politics, it is as odious as it is audacious and paradoxical to claim that we shouldn't stop the source of Haiti's suffering because of their suffering.

remind remind's picture

Michelle wrote:
I'm sorry, have there been subsequent statements about what happened?  Clearly no one expects an initial response to be analysis - you want to give help immediately.

But this happened a week ago.  So what's wrong with analysis?


Well "clearly" Left Turn, yourself and others did, as the OP link  and resulting commentary was about the NDP's failures to give class analysis in their initial press release.

And is what  is happening now any less than what was happening a week ago?



Frankly if the NDP  right at this moment started carrying on with who was to blame, I personally would be furious....aid is being prevented from getting in, adopted children and refugees need help getting to Canada.... focus on what needs to happen right now this minute is what is needed,  intellectual and partisan posturing. aka finger pointing, is not.


And when you're giving immediate help, patting yourself on the back about how benevolent Canada is for doing so


Is the NDP patting themselves on the back? Anyone here at babble?




Because its crass speculation as to numbers of dead and how many would have survived.  That 90% survival figure from a 7.0 magnitude plus earthquake in a densely populated zone, (any zone really) in that commondreams link should have been hosed off a little before publishing it, after having been pulled from someone's ass.  There's a time for everything you know..like maybe shortly after they've recovered and buried the 10's of thousands of still unaccounted for bodies.  Perhaps the opportunism at that point wouldn't stink nearly as bad.


You missed my edit - I don't think anyone in the NDP is necessarily doing that, but the media is and so are a lot of politicians, which is why it wouldn't hurt for someone to stand up and say, "Hey, wait a minute.  We're not the heroes here.  We OWE them this, and a lot more, too."  I don't think it will cause a slowdown in clearing the tarmac in Port-au-Prince for a political party in Canada to point out what we did to cause that kind of suffering in Haiti at the same time that we call for aid.  I don't know about you, remind, but I can walk and chew gum at the same time.

Anyhow, it's easy to demand that a rush be put on flying their orphans here to be given to Canadian families.  Maybe not quite so easy to look at the root causes of why there are so many orphans to begin with.



Remind you are right there is never a right time to talk about real change.  Courage my friends tis not to late to salvage some little thing since building a better world is impossible.  You and Fidel are doing an excellent job telling all and sundry that there is no power in parliament. 

I don't believe that a privileged Canadian who wants a poster Haitian children should be the focus of anything.  Why have we not sent teams of Doctor's instead of troops to augment the American force.  Why was the Vancouver Search and Rescue team stood down?  If the NDP wants to relevant then maybe they should leave the stories about children waiting to be rescued to the MSM and the Conservatives and start talking about all the rest of the Haitians who have not been "adopted."  The NDP might want to talk about the command structure of our military.  What is the chain of command?  Are we sending supplementary troops to the US military presence or are we too be under the UN mission.  There are lots of pressing issues that the NDP needs to focus on.

Offering suggestions to the left party in the House is not necessarily attacking them.  There is also for me and other posters the fact that we expect more from the NDP.  If not them then who will raise the issues.


Stockholm wrote:

"How'd Haiti become so poor?"

How did North Koera become so poor? How did Zimbabwe become so poor? How did Gabon become so poor? How did Ireland get to be so rich after being so poor? How did Chile become by far the richest country in Latin America

[drift]Chile is not a neoliberal miracle as some rightwingers in the US far removed from the real situation in Chile like to claim. Reports put poverty in Chile at 20%. But with inadequate pensions of retirees in Chile, some say the poverty rate is closer to 40%. Vast inequalities still define Chile and Brazil today, even after poverty reduction strategies were implemented by the Bachelet social democrats. And Ireland got to be so rich with money from the EU invested in education and infrastructure but is not a Washington consensus neoliberal miracle as Chile is not. Chicago school ideology collapsed in Chile by 1985, Pinochet actually fired Friedman's students and implemented a kind of New Deal socialist agenda in Chile in hopes of kick-starting the economy, and hoping that the people might actually vote for him in the first free elections by end of the decade. They didn't.

derrick derrick's picture

The objectionable thing about the NDP and Haiti, IMO, is their six years of near silence about the coup and its aftermath. Which is not to say they don't have MPs and lots of members who were concerned and who worked to bring attention to the systematic undermining of Haitian democracy. It is to say the communications staff and the leader's office decided not to make this a priority -- at best.

Does Stockholm really believe that the death toll and the suffering in its aftermath is unrelated to the undermining of the public sector, refusal to raise the minimum wage and campaign of extermination against the party favoured by Haiti's poor majority? I don't know if his assertion is really made in good faith. Take just one example: Aristide, during his second mandate, called on the government of France to repay $21 billion for payments unfairly squeezed from Haiti post-independence. What if, instead of overthrowing Aristide (after in fact witholding aid and loans for years), France had paid this sum or a portion thereof. That would have meant billions of dollars added to the miniscule annual budget of the Haitian government, meaning the possibility of road improvements, higher grade cement for construction, more hospitals, more doctors, more nurses, more emergency vehichles -- in other words, a semblance of a public sector to meet people's needs before, after and during an emergency. It is unarguable that this would have saved lives.

To deny that any of this history, recent and longer-term, has anything to do with the death toll and current suffering really just amounts to an assertion that you don't care.

I would argue that the work that the Canada Haiti Action Network has been doing so valiantly for years is motivated by precisely the same noble sentiments which are motivating people to give generously in this hour of need. To point out the history of Haiti in this context is not to deny the present urgency, but rather to urge that the noble sentiments towards Haiti be extended well into the future. Because, when people really know this country's tragic history they will never again ignore its suffering, and hopefully they will get involved with ongoing solidarity efforts. Because no matter where one is, an injury to one is an injury to all.



So...the poverty rate in Chile sounds like its about the same as it is in Canada. But for the for the sake of comparison we could look at North Korea where the poverty rate is about 98% (ie: everyone except Kim Jong Il and his immediate family and harem of sex toys lives in abject poverty).

Vast income inequalities define the world as a whole - even the wealthiest most affluent countries have concentrations of wealth. But some countries are a lot richer overall than others. Why is Switzerland so much richer than Belarus? is the world price for Gruyere cheese, chocolates and cuckoo clocks so high that it explains it all?


Is it too soon to talk about the issues raised in this story at The Nation too?
IMF to Haiti: Freeze Public Wages

...it's also time to stop having a conversation about charity and start having a conversation about justice--about recovery, responsibility and fairness. What the world should be pondering instead is: What is Haiti owed?

Haiti's vulnerability to natural disasters, its food shortages, poverty, deforestation and lack of infrastructure, are not accidental. To say that it is the poorest nation in the Western hemisphere is to miss the point; Haiti was made poor--by France, the United States, Great Britain, other Western powers and by the IMF and the World Bank.

Now, in its attempts to help Haiti, the IMF is pursuing the same kinds of policies that made Haiti a geography of precariousness even before the quake. To great fanfare, the IMF announced a new $100 million loan to Haiti on Thursday. In one crucial way, the loan is a good thing; Haiti is in dire straits and needs a massive cash infusion. But the new loan was made through the IMF's extended credit facility, to which Haiti already has $165 million in debt. Debt relief activists tell me that these loans came with conditions, including raising prices for electricity, refusing pay increases to all public employees except those making minimum wage and keeping inflation low. They say that the new loans would impose these same conditions. In other words, in the face of this latest tragedy, the IMF is still using crisis and debt as leverage to compel neoliberal reforms.

How very generous of the IMF. $100,000,000. 

The US has spent over $200,000,000,000 on Afghanistan and over $700,000,000,000 on Iraq. Canada has spent more than $10,000,000,000 on Afghanistan. That's 100 times as much as the total IMF conditional "loan". There's money galore to be spent on killing people and trying to mould nations in our image. 


Haiti has been THE poorest country in the Western hemisphere for a long, long time. Why try to downplay that by saying that poverty is everywhere? The Haitian people continue to be punished for having the nerve to liberate themselves from slavery more than 200 years ago. 


Yes, I can just imagine the scene. The Presidents of the US and France and the PM of Canada and the Bilderberg group and maybe Queen Elizabeth all having secret meetings where the number 1 issue on the agenda is "How do we make sure that Haiti stays as poor as possible to punish them for liberating themselves from slavery 200 years ago?".

I'm surprised you don't think the British are conspiring to make the US economy collapse because the 13 colonies had the nerve to declare their independence from the UK in 1776!


Did I say it was the #1 item on the agenda? Did you read the link that I posted about crippling reparations Haiti was forced to pay for its freedom? 


Just a bit more about "the value of Haiti" [re:Stockholm's post here] from a Global Research article.


"... the average wage in Haiti is "$1 a day" which even with all the other costs thrown in still totals only $2 per day. And by the strategic location of textile plants in the Dominican Republic, the two countries will be forced to compete with each other in keeping wages as low as possible."

Does your kid wear Walt Disney pajamas?

Because if he/she does, the chances are they're made in Haiti at the US-owned plant of L.V. Miles which manufactures them under license for the Walt Disney corporation:

"In one day [in 1996]...20 workers earn $66.60, and together they produce 1,000 pairs of pajamas. That is $11,970 worth of pajamas for $66.60. Less than seven cents per pair goes to pay the workers who produced it."

This is from a report written by the National Labour Commission, a US NGO funded by trade unions investigating the conditions of workers in countries like Haiti. The report goes on to say that,

"In 1994, Wal-Mart made a profit of $2.681 billion, Disney made $1.1 billion. The workers who sew the clothes for these companies are, in many cases, making less than $312 a year working full time. Basic respect for the law is not too much to ask.

"Today's minimum wage has less buying power than before Aristide's election in December 1990. Since 1980, its real value has declined some 50 percent. It is the lowest in the entire Caribbean area and provides less than 60 percent of the barest needs for a family of five. A more usual wage of $1 a day, or $6 for a standard workweek, provides about one- quarter of these minimum needs.

"For U.S. multinational corporations, Aristide's support for an increase in the minimum wage was a good enough reason for overthrowing him. Andrew Postal, president of Judy Bond, a U.S. women's apparel maker with plants in Haiti, said of Aristide, "It was not a business-friendly government.""

The report says that after Artistide's ouster "and while the Haitian military was murdering 3,000 to 5,000 people, Postal went right on producing in Haiti and exporting to the U.S. despite the OAS embargo."

Link to this article> http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=17044


Besides that issue, I just want to say Fidel and others have posted some great info about the Haitian catastrophe, then and now.

The issue of "USA blocking aid" is credible. Disaster capitalism is in full swing there, and we will see that more clearly by summer of 2010.

 Low wages, no unions, no rights, no complaints from the workers who "have to be gratefull to be alive" after the earthquake, and who "have to be gratefull for any wages at all" after the USA rescued [cough cough] them from the rubble.

And oh ya - that $100 Million IMF loan should keep them subjegated for another decade at least ["conditional" loans by the IMF in Africa usually demand that governments not spend money on social programs, and if Haiti does not have robust social program spending the citizens will not be in any position to exersize their rights or even to demand them]



Stockholm wrote:
So...the poverty rate in Chile sounds like its about the same as it is in Canada. But for the for the sake of comparison we could look at North Korea where the poverty rate is about 98% (ie: everyone except Kim Jong Il and his immediate family and harem of sex toys lives in abject poverty).

Neoliberalism hasn't worked anywhere in the world, even with the alleged advantages of capital inflows and trading freely with the rest of the capitalist world. Chile's economy collapsed by 1985 because the economy had become reliant on foreign capital, which fled the country at a time of global capitalist crisis in the Northern hemisphere 1985to '87.

Stockholm wrote:
Vast income inequalities define the world as a whole - even the wealthiest most affluent countries have concentrations of wealth. But some countries are a lot richer overall than others. Why is Switzerland so much richer than Belarus? is the world price for Gruyere cheese, chocolates and cuckoo clocks so high that it explains it all?

Europe as a whole is between a rock and a hard place today with leaders divided as to whether to side with "the affluent" west led by the US, or Russia, it's largest supplier of oil and gas. Exporting countries like Germany and Switzerland are heavily dependent on importing raw materials and energy. Germans and Swedes etc realize that they have to become less reliant on dirty energy imports. And like it was during the cold war era, the west promises to provide Europe with alternative energy with competing pipelines routed through various countries. And it looks like four of the largest Asian countries have their own plans for energy and economy.

What I think, Stockholm, is that the west perpetrated a big lie during the cold war era about what capitalism is capable of providing the rest of the world in terms of standard of living. Socialists kept it simple with promises of universal health care, education, housing and jobs. Capitalists most certainly lied about delivering middle class capitalism based on consumption for the other 85% of humanity, and the disaster that is Haiti so close to the source of the ideology in America is just one indication of the futility of the terrible cold war era lie. 25 years ago, there were 500 million chonically hungry people around the world. Today it's one billion. IN  free and democratic societies, people around the world will give up on the promise of plastic widgets and indebtedness in favour of health care and education. Haiti is not a free or democratic society, because ideologues refuse to let it happen.


What I think, Stockholm, is that the west perpetrated a big lie during the cold war era about what capitalism is capable of providing the rest of the world in terms of standard of living.
Capitalism did not deliver on its trickle down promises built upon deregulation, privatization, shrinking democracy and cuts to social services. Not in the global north or the global south. They made themselves extraordinarily more rich and throw a few cents at Haiti and expect to be congratulated for their generosity. 

New Point: Check out Duncan Cameron's piece on rabble.ca today - Haiti calls for help -

Activists for disaster relief should make immediate forgiveness of every dollar of the Haitian debt a top priority. Reparations for past injustices should be part of any long term international plan for Haiti.
Maybe that's something the NDP could get behind? Or is it too soon? 


I agree with calling for debt forgiveness.

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

this is the biggest thread on Haiti at the moment, so I thought I would add a sidebar on the country.


It seems that the USS Carl Vinson will be floating off the waters of Haiti - wait for it - to assist in the aid efforts ... AND TO MAKE SURE THAT HAITIAN REFUGEES DON'T MAKE IT TO THE US.(place clever observation about US blockade of Cuba here)

Ooh RAh! What the Lord (I mean the USA) gives with one hand he taketh away with the other.

Supplemental: I wonder what new public institution will be privatized in Haiti in the current crises as another example of what Naomi Kline called the shock doctrine? Maybe the government itself? Any ideas?


just read something astonishing about the history of Haiti that was new to me.  Is this true?


[after 1805]

“The French government sent a team of accountants and actuaries into
Haiti in order to place a value on all lands, all physical, assets,
the 500,000 citizens who were formerly enslaved, animals, and all
other commercial properties and services. The sums amounted to 150
million gold francs. Haiti was told to pay this reparation to France
in return for national recognition. The Haitian government agreed;
payments began immediately. Members of the cabinet were also valued
because they had been enslaved persons before Independence.
Thus began the systematic destruction of the Republic of Haiti. The
French government bled the nation and rendered it a failed state. It
was a merciless exploitation that was designed and guaranteed to
collapse the Haitian economy and society. Haiti was forced to pay this
sum until 1922 when the last instalment was made. During the long 19th
century, the payment to France amounted to up to 70% of the country's
foreign exchange earnings …

radiorahim radiorahim's picture

Polunatic2 wrote:

Haiti has been THE poorest country in the Western hemisphere for a long, long time. Why try to downplay that by saying that poverty is everywhere? The Haitian people continue to be punished for having the nerve to liberate themselves from slavery more than 200 years ago. 

You hit the nail right on the head.

Haiti has been punished for the last two centuries by western colonialists and imperialists for having the audacity to engage in the first successful slave revolt.  It was the Haitian revolutionaries who aided Simon Bolivar in liberating Colombia and Venezuela from Spanish colonial rule.

Since then, the Haitian people have been made to pay and pay and pay.

That's why this earthquake has been so catastrophic.   IMHO it's the responsibility of folks who call themselves progressives and/or leftists to raise these issues...to talk about solidarity and not just charity.