By: Henry Wilno / Source: La Haine / The Dawn News / November 7, 2016
Not every aspect of the Haitian tragedy can be explained by the superior force of nature.If Haiti is a “cursed country”, imperialism and the local leading class are the main causes of this.
The catastrophe that just hit Haiti, namely Hurricane Matthew, has caused over a thousand deaths (although the official number is of only 372). Added to that, the hurricane caused material destruction that left tens of thousands of people homeless, and the contamination of the water may lead to a cholera epidemic.
The island nation is regularly affected by natural disasters, since it’s located on an area crossed by hurricanes and its tectonic plates are prone to earthquakes -a particularly serious one, in 2010, caused between 200,000 and 300,000 deaths.
Is it inevitable?
Some are tempted to invoke the bad luck of this allegedly “cursed” country, located on an inconvenient geographical area. Some point out that hurricanes or earthquakes of similar proportions invariably cause more deaths in Haiti than in other countries. But their conclusions border racism when they attribute this to the inability of Haitian people to manage their affairs.
It is as if the imperialist interference with Haiti, uninterrupted since 1804, hadn’t played any role at all. As filmmaker Raul Peck recently said to Le Monde, “We’re also suffering due to a foreign interference that never ceased since this rebel Republic was founded”.
International assistance allows Haiti to face some urgent matters. This help in indispensable after Hurricane Matthews, but it doesn’t fix the underlying problem. In fact, in key aspects it does quite the contrary. After 2010, Bill Clinton orchestrated the international “help” as a special envoy of the UN and co-president of the Haitian Commission for Reconstruction and Development. The Clinton’s nefarious role in Haiti is infamously well-known.
The predatory bourgeoisie
Of course, Haiti’s citizenship, like that of any other country, is not incapable of governing itself. But the local leadership and of the governments that have held the power have had much to do. Above all, these people have concerned themselves with getting rich fast and consolidate their wealth. In contrast with the poor majority, a handful of people are very rich in Haiti. When the hurricane hit the land, Haiti was in electoral season, and there was a provisional in power since May 14, when the mandate of Michel Martelly ended.
In January this year, Haitian seismologist Claude Prépetit expressed his concern over the absence of preventive policies for earthquakes following the disaster of 2010. “It’s absolutely disheartening to issue alerts and see no reaction at all, because our function isn’t to make pretty maps but to inform so that measures can be taken to limit the risks”, he said.
An example of what Haiti could be like is Cuba. Hurricane Matthew also hit that island, just as hard: with winds that reached 300 km/h and heavy rains. The city of Baracoa, with 82,000 inhabitants, was razed. Communication and agriculture were severely affected. But there were no deaths. Authorities had taken measures to evacuate hundreds of thousands of people before the tempest. This is not to say the Cuban regime is perfect, but it’s a widely.known fact that in Cuba hurricanes cause almost no deaths thanks to the systematic preventive work that is done by the government.
Nature doesn’t explain everything. If Haiti is a “cursed country”, then imperialism and the local leadership are the ones who cursed it.