How to help? “Some guides on progressive donors” states:
Progressive-minded people who want to contribute to humanitarian aid efforts too often abandon their progressive principles, particularly in crisis situations. Why? They want to help, and they want to do so quickly. And they focus on the service-delivery – food rations, medicines, shelter – rather than the service deliverers. Natural enough, when people are starving in front of you on your television every night.
The problem is that aid goes not to projects or services but first to service providers, the agencies themselves. And aid is power. Those who get more aid end up stronger than those who don’t. The issue that I think progressive-minded people should always keep in mind is how their donation is affecting the relative power of different groups involved in a crisis situation. In other words, when the crisis is over, who do you want to be stronger as an institution, and therefore better able to address or avert such crises in the future?
A very brief history of the source of Haiti’s problems is offered by Tracy Kidder, author of Mountains Beyond Mountains, which is an important read (though glorifying a white hero), and was the First Year Common Read at moho when i was a first year. a brief summary of the book. below is what Kidder said in his editorial in nyt:
Haiti is a country created by former slaves, kidnapped West Africans, who, in 1804, when slavery still flourished in the United States and the Caribbean, threw off their cruel French masters and created their own republic. Haitians have been punished ever since for claiming their freedom: by the French who, in the 1820s, demanded and received payment from the Haitians for the slave colony, impoverishing the country for years to come; by an often brutal American occupation from 1915 to 1934; by indigenous misrule that the American government aided and abetted. (In more recent years American administrations fell into a pattern of promoting and then undermining Haitian constitutional democracy.)
beyond this crisis, the general context of this horrible situation created by the U.S. government to oppress haiti offers no hope that the obama administration is going to get things right, with regards to haiti. big surprise. this is why i would never be able to vote if i could, in a presidential election. i would be racked with guilt when a person i voted into office ended up continuing the dragging down of haiti into a vicious, vicious cycle of debt and violence.
Under Obama, the U.S. has granted Haiti $1.2 billion in debt relief, but it hasn’t canceled all of Haiti’s debt–the country still pays huge sums to the Inter-American Development Bank. The debt relief is classic window-dressing for Obama’s real Haiti policy, which is the same old Haiti policy.
In close collaboration with the new UN Special Envoy to Haiti, former President Bill Clinton, Obama has pushed for an economic program familiar to much of the rest of the Caribbean–tourism, textile sweatshops and weakening of state control of the economy through privatization and deregulation.
the same article urges caution when thinking about donating resources to international NGOs:
While everyone should support the current outpouring of aid to help Haiti, no one should do so with political blinders on. As Engler said:
Aid in Haiti has always been used to further imperial interests. This is obvious when you look at how the U.S. and Canada treated the Aristide government in contrast to the coup regime. The U.S. and Canada starved Aristide of almost all aid. But then after the coup, they opened a floodgate of money to back some of the most reactionary forces in Haitian society.
We should therefore agitate against any attempt by the U.S. and other powers to use this crisis to further impose their program on a prostrate country.
We should also be wary of the role of international NGOs. While many NGOs are trying to address the crisis, the U.S. and other governments are funneling aid to them in order to undermine Haitians’ democratic right to self-determination. The international NGOs are unaccountable to either the Haitian state or Haitian population. So the aid funneled through them further weakens what little hold Haitians have on their own society.
racist pat robertson on “the real cause” of the earthquake, thanks cnn and major media outlets for carrying this atrocious news!!
Pat Robertson, the evangelical Christian who once suggested God was punishing Americans with Hurricane Katrina, says a “pact to the devil” brought on the devastating earthquake in Haiti.
and finally, the partners in health haiti site. i hear they do good work. moral of the story: stay aware, stay compassionate, and help. thanks to friend for sharing the above links.