Where Katrina victims were bused out to shelter, food, and care in days, most of the earthquake victims, in Port-au-Prince, Leogane, and beyond, have been blessed only with what little their victim neighbors have had to share. Now, without consulting those affected, plans are afoot for wholesale transfer of homeless to tent cities in the countryside.
The outpouring of American relief contributions has outstripped Katrina aid, caring America at its best. On Sunday, January 17, our small Sherman Street parish collected $3724! Nationwide, probably thousands have dropped everything to go down to help.
In the process, givers and relief workers are learning of our responsibility for Haiti's ecological plight, and the consequent urban glut of jobless poor living in unsafe housing — in a nation stripped of its nascent government bureaucracy by US-instigated or led coups and denied the promised aid to create a functional government and such infrastructure as rescue equipment. We are as responsible for the human loss as the quake.
Unlike Katrina, compassionate Americans may well not lapse into indifference as they learn of our gigantic failure to do what we could have done in Haiti — in time. Enough is enough. After Katrina and with 700-odd military bases worldwide, there is no excuse for us not having a ready-response disaster plan that would put a fleet of cargo planes with critical aid in the air in hours to meet a major disaster anywhere. Haiti is in our backyard; we had no sense of urgency.
Instead, as in every past US Haiti intervention, our priorities have been injecting troops, sidelining the Haitian government, and not helping the vast majority of Haitians in need — imperialism's Standard Operating Procedure. The only Haiti Washington and the corporate powers that be care about is our ordained lowest-minimum-wage offshore sweatshop assembly stations, serving to depress sweatshop wages throughout the Caribbean and Central America. Cheaply-sewn Pocahontas pajamas are all-important in our scheme of things.
Meanwhile, within hours of the quake, the US Coast Guard increased surveillance, determined that none of the desperate earthquake victims should darken our shores.
William H. Slavick
EDITOR'S NOTE As conspiracy theories go, this one is a doozy. But who knows, maybe he's right.