Category Archives: Haiti

Sean Penn: “our new white expert on ‘all things Haitian'”

Medals like this carry hidden weight. Don't wear swimming!!!

When the July issue of Vanity Fair floated across my desk containing a loving portrait of Sean Penn written by his close personal friend and travel companion, Douglas Brinkley, the accompanying pictures (Penn shoulder to shoulder with U.S. Army Lt. General Ken Keen, Assistant Alison Thompson eschewing World War I nurse’s costume for flower child attire adorned with adorable young Haitians, young white NGO’ers earnestly peering at their shiny Mac Powerbooks) made me wonder.  Are they already filming the movie of themselves?  I mean, as Brinkley points out, the set has been dressed, right?

“…a white, 60-by-20-foot wedding tent from the Dominican Republic…a crude roof over a patchwork of wooden floorboards, which he helped cobble together by hand…two rusty blade fans whirring to keep things cool…a single bulb – its lampshade fashioned from Chef Boyardee boxes – illuminating a long wooden table of bird-dropping white.  A forlorn bookshelf held a collection of dog-eared U.N.-regulation guides, accordian files, and browning bananas.  Down the length of one wall ran a corkboard lined with maps from the U.S. geological Survey: an army cartographer had handsomely re-christened one, changing the name from Pétionville to Pennville.  A calico cat named Guadalupe wandered among a collection of stethoscopes, tool kits, syringes, morphine, a photocopy machine – and a stash of Greek wine and Jack Daniel’s – giving the quarters the patina of M*A*S*H, with a touch of Pee-wee’s Playhouse.

Ezili Dantò, of the Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network (HLLN), has done a masterful job of deconstructing the motivations and the actors behind Penn’s Bosnian/U.S.American NGO, JP/HRO. Dantò is fair, above all, giving Penn credit where credit is due, and calling out the rest of the nonsense by its proper name.  See Sean Penn and Wyclef Jean: Hollywood, Hip Hop and Haiti, excerpt below:

We’ve gone into cartoon land. The sideshow eclipses the living, breathing, suffering Haiti people enduring over 6-nightmarish years of US/US occupation and slaughters and NGO pillage never covered by the mainstream media. The election carnival is just beginning and has reduced, for the moment, the worst disaster in recorded human history to what actor Sean Penn has to say about hip hop rapper Wyclef Jean’s run to sit at the crumbled National Palace in Haiti! Elections under occupation? Neither are saying – krik, not a word, about that!

Ugly U.S. Americans head to Haiti for some extremely personal shopping

The latest U.S. American fashion accessory

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One of the most interesting things about the few news articles that have trickled out so far about the US Americans from Idaho who are currently under arrest in Port au Prince for trying to kidnap 33 Haitian children is that none of them mention the terrible irony in the occupation of the leader of the bunch, Laura Silsby.  Silsby, according to her own website, is the “founder and CEO of [Boise, Idaho based] PersonalShopper.com, a leader in the evolution of personalizing the e-commerce experience for women.”

In the United States of America where anyone who’s experienced a reasonable amount of success in running a business is therefore deemed qualified to meddle in anything at all that catches their fancy, from politics to setting up an orphanage/international adoption agency, this should shock no-one.  After all, doesn’t Madonna do her personal child shopping in Malawi?  And doesn’t everyone want to be like Madonna?

I’m not sure which is more offensive really, the latest story about the U.S. military refusing to airlift any more Haitians to the U.S. for medical treatment due to a political money squabble, or the fact that Silsby and crew clearly view Haitian children as something like a pet rescue operation – why bother asking anyone for permission?  They’re just Haitians after all.  And is there anything more adorable than a tiny suffering Haitian?

But it’s nice to see the U.S. Embassy in Port au Prince rushing to assist the kidnappers, providing them with, in the words of the Associated Press, “bug spray and MREs to eat.”  Bug spray, as everyone knows, is extremely toxic when ingested, but it certainly does seem like an appropriate meal in this case.

It’s the water, stupid

U.S. troops securing the presidential palace in Port au Prince, Tuesday, Jan. 19 - AP Photo/Gregory Bull

U.S. “Security Concerns” Could Cost Many Lives in Haiti

By Mark Weisbrot, Center for Economic and Policy Research

On Monday, six days after the earthquake in Haiti, the US Southern Command finally began to drop bottled water and food from an air force C-17. US defence secretary Robert Gates had previously rejected such a method because of “security concerns”.

If people do not get clean water, there could be epidemics of water-borne diseases that could greatly increase the death toll. But the US is now sending 10,000 troops and seems to be prioritising “security” over much more urgent, life-and-death needs. This in addition to the increase of 3,500 UN troops scheduled to arrive.

On Sunday morning the world-renowned humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders complained that a plane carrying its portable hospital unit was re-routed by the US military through the Dominican Republic. This would cost a crucial 48 hours and an unknown number of lives. Continue reading

Nelson Valdés on rescue priorities in Haiti

Soldiers guarding military plane in Port au Prince

The Rescue Operation’s Priorities in Haiti

By Nelson P. Valdés

“The contempt we have been taught to entertain for blacks, make us fear many things that are founded neither in reason nor experience.”  – Alexander Hamilton in letter to John Hay, 1799.

“Only those who hate the black population, see hatred in blacks.” – José Martí, Montecristi Manifesto, 1895

The recent earthquakes that have demolished the city of Port au Prince and its surroundings have left Haiti stateless, ever poorer, desperate and in need of long term global assistance. A world-wide rescue operation has been initiated. But, it is questionable to what extent the best interests of the people of Haiti have been and will be considered, in the long run.

First, the foreign aid teams “rescued” and took out of the country the non-Haitians, particularly the Europeans, Americans and assorted other tourists. The Voice of America on Jan. 16 reported: “In the last day or so the United States and French governments have started running passenger flights out of the country [Haiti] for evacuees from those countries.  People line up and wait for a plane to arrive so they can leave Haiti and leave behind what is a very difficult, traumatic experience for many.”[1]

Second, five days have gone by without any real significant distribution of medical supplies, food or water to the neediest people. Continue reading

Cuba quietly leading by example in Haiti

While the U.S. is figuring out where and how to insert more “compassionate warriors” per capita in Haiti than it has in Afghanistan, the better to go after Venezuelan oil when the opportunity presents itself, Cuban doctors are going about actually helping sick and injured Haitians.  This remarkable video report by CNN Radio’s Steve Kastenbaum shows how they’re doing it, while possibly endangering Kastenbaum’s career (see the Herb Matthews example).

Hello Haiti, I’m with TSF* and I’m here to help you

Satphone as poisoned apple? You be the judge.

* Telecoms San Frontieres

Clever, isn’t it?  Such a soothing name, such a lovely idea.  Kind of like Medecins Sans Frontieres or what was that other one?  Oh right… CIA Reporters Sans Frontieres.

But really, just imagine the possibilities.

Germans know Reichs

Otto Reich and the Honduran Coup D’Etat: The Provocateur, his Protégé and the Toppling of a President is now available in German, here.  Thank you Mein Parteibuch Blog.

Parts One and Two are listed in one fell swoop as well, in English, here.