New humanitarian catastrophes to come in Haiti

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The great and good of this world, dressed in smart suits, swapped pleasantries at the last Davos forum on 27-30 January in Switzerland. Armed with their first-rate education and culture, they found the right words to describe the terrible earthquake which ravaged Haiti on 12 January. Let's hear what the highly respected Bill Clinton, the former US president, had to say: "this is an opportunity to reinvent the future of the Haitian people and I invite you to be part of the adventure". This is how these gentlemen talk. More than 210,000 deaths, hundreds of thousands of orphans and homeless, and they dare to talk to us about ‘opportunity' and ‘adventure'!

What's more these cynical and abject words contain a lying propaganda message: the media, the politicians, the governments, all of them claim that Haiti will recover thanks to the help of the ‘international community'. In reality, there will be no ‘reconstruction', no ‘renaissance of the martyred island', no formidable ‘adventure'. The future for the population of Haiti is unbearably bleak and this will be true as long as this system of inhuman exploitation survives.

There can be no doubt about this. In recent years there has been a whole series of catastrophes and not one of them has given birth to a ‘new society' rising on the ruins and the corpses. The population of Haiti already knows a bit about this: "Before the earthquake on 12 January, Haiti was already host to a number of uncompleted, indeed forgotten, ‘post-disaster' construction sites. For example, the town of Gonaives, which was gravely affected by cyclones Fay, Gustav, Hannah and Ike (2008) is still in a more or less apocalyptic condition. The ten thousand houses that were destroyed or damaged can still be seen, the town is practically in ruins and its inhabitants poverty-stricken. It's the same for the inhabitants of the area of Fonds-Verettes, destroyed by torrential rain in May 2004. They still live in a phantom village because little has been done to re-house them" (Le Monde 17/1/10).

This time, the contrast between promises and reality is perhaps even stronger and more revolting. All the states, with China, Canada, France, and USA to the fore, have not stopped going on about their efforts to ‘help the Haitian people'. Each gift, each humanitarian action has been covered in media publicity. But the same Haitian people continue to suffer and die. The monsoon season is beginning and this will bring in its wake floods and mudslides. Since the earthquake nearly a million and a half people have been made homeless and at least that number again are living in shacks made out of planks, cloth and tiles. And what are the saviour states offering? "Paris will be putting 1000 tents and 16,000 tarpaulins at the disposition of the Haitians" (Le Figaro 17/2/10) . Yes, you read it right, the generous ‘international community' is going to give the people of Haiti tents and tarpaulins to protect themselves against cyclones. And why not umbrellas?

In reality, all these states, who have shown themselves to be quite capable of mobilising thousands of soldiers to ‘maintain public order', aren't even capable of providing enough of these miserable shelters. "Around 50,000 tents have so far been delivered to the victims. 200,000 more are needed for the 1.2 million men, women and children living in camps" (Radio Canada 14/1/10) Why aren't there enough tents? "The massive delivery of tents to the victims, which was envisaged previously, has been put off recently because they were considered too big, costly and ineffective"(ibid). Yes, even these bits of cloth are too costly. Human lives clearly aren't worth much in the eyes of the capitalists.

This earthquake has left the population sinking even more deeply into misery and they don't need to be told any fairy stories. This downward spiral is going to go on because there will be no real reconstruction apart perhaps for a few symbolic buildings like the presidential palace, the UN base, hotels and a few show houses. The bourgeoisie knows this very well and sometimes says so in a very diplomatic way. The Canadian prime minister, Stephen Harper let it slip that the reconstruction of the country would take "at least 10 years", in other words, never.

This suffering is intolerable. Everyone who has any honesty in their hearts knows that ‘something has to be done'. But this ‘something' means putting an end to this society of exploitation. Only the end of capitalism and the birth of a new society, communism, can really put an end to all the plagues descending on humanity!   

Pawel 28/1/10