by John Maxwell
Their sovereignty trampled, their elected leadership kidnapped and exiled, their nation occupied by foreign militaries, the Haitian people now face a tsunami of food price increases that threaten to grind millions into the dirt. Yet among the nations of the Caribbean, only Cuba provides substantial assistance to a people whose forebears "implemented for the first time anywhere in the world, the idea of universal human rights." Under the tyranny of the United States, Canada and France, Haitians struggle to gather enough calories to preserve life. Jamaicans seem oblivious to the fact that hunger is stalking the entire developing world.
Is Starvation Contagious?
by John Maxwell
This article originally appeared in Jamaica Observer .
"The Haitians are over the edge, they are starving, refugees in their own proud country."
Few people, much less their governments, appear to be concerned about what is happening in Haiti, next to Cuba our nearest neighbor and, in historical terms, the people who paved the way for our freedom from slavery and implemented for the first time anywhere in the world, the idea of universal human rights.
Yet, today, while Haiti suffocates in poverty, hunger and dirt, her neighbors in the Caribbean, with the exception of Cuba, pass by on the other side of the road where Haiti lies in pain and anguish, ignoring the brutalization of the poorest people in this hemisphere by the richest nations in the world.
Four years ago the Americans and Canadians with the backing of the French, decapitated Haitian human rights, kidnapping her President and instituting fascist rule by a combination of some of the greediest businessmen in the world and the murderous thugs they hired in an attempt to depose the overwhelmingly popular president of the Haitians, Jean Bertrand Aristide.
Mr. Bush and Mr. Colin Powell and a mixed gaggle of French and Canadian politicians had decided that freedom and independence were too good for the black people of Haiti. Lest you think I am being racist there is abundant evidence that the conspiracy against Haiti was inspired by racial hatred and prejudice.
"The starving people in Haiti have been trying to get the world to listen to their anguish and misery."
I have gone into this before and I will not return to it today. Suffice it to say that the US, Canada and France, acting on behalf of the so-called "civilized world," decided on the basis of lies that, as in the case of Iraq, a free and independent people had no business being free and independent when their freedom and independence was seen to threaten the economic interest of the richest people in Haiti and, by extension, the wealthiest countries in the world.
Today, and especially for the last few weeks, the starving people in Haiti have been trying to get the world to listen to their anguish and misery. Along with some other poor people in other countries the Haitians have been driven to desperation and the edge of starvation by the rapidly increasing price of food. Unlike all the others the Haitians are over the edge, they are starving, refugees in their own proud country, many forced to eat dirt to survive, however tenuously.
Only the Cubans, the Venezuelans and the Vietnamese appear to care about what is happening in Haiti. The rest of us are too concerned with "wealth management" and the prospects of foreign investors with bursting wallets floating down from the sky to make us all rich.
But if one listens to people on the Jamaican street it is obvious that we too are in the early stages of the same curse of the globalization which makes Haitians expendable and assesses their value at well under the price of one Jamaican patty per day.
So, the Haitians have taken to the streets and more than half a dozen starvelings have already been shot dead by the armed forces of civilization, by the satraps and surrogates of George Bush and his Canadian and French accomplices.
"Only the Cubans, the Venezuelans and the Vietnamese appear to care about what is happening in Haiti."
The World Food Program has appealed to the world for help for the Haitians. So has the Vietnamese representative on the UN Security Council. Venezuela has given Haiti money and supplied them with cheap oil. Cuba, among other things, is training nearly 500 Haitians to be doctors, about half in Cuba and the rest in Haiti.
The [Jamaican] Golding government, like its predecessors, pays no attention to our suffering neighbor languishing and dying because of the explicit actions and strategies of the United States of America and its President, George Bush.
Which is why after Aristide, Haitians died like flies because of hurricanes and rainstorms: their local democracy and their early warning systems had been destroyed by the criminal gangsters who Bush put in charge of 8 million Haitians. And when the situation became too noisome even for Bush and the Republican party, Haitians were allowed to vote but not allowed to vote for the man they wanted, so they voted for a surrogate. This meant that the Haitian elite friends of Bush, the Chalabis of our hemisphere, were back in charge and the primacy of the light-skinned minority re-established, just as it was in the eighteenth century, before the American, French and Haitian revolutions.
It is possible that Haiti may not even be Bush's worst crime. In Haiti he destroyed nearly 300 years of History and the Rights of Man. In Iraq he obliterated much of the record of the last 8,000 years of civilization and set the people at each other's throats
Many Haitians were killed by the American-paid assassins who inherited military power from the American and Canadian Marines. More were murdered because they were community leaders and allies of Aristide. Even more died from unnatural disasters precipitated by the decapitation of democracy. And many, many more will die from the effects of eating dirt for the greater glory of George Bush and because they have had enough of Bush's modern version of slavery.
I told you so
Just to be tiresome I want to remind you of a column published in this paper on Sunday, December 10, 2000, my 240th column for this paper. It was published just as the Republican party was prepping the US Supreme Court to appoint George Bush President of the US.
I wrote, inter alia:
"The approaching triumph of Greenspan/Ayn Rand capitalism may just be slowed down by the latest developments in the US economy, but that is not cooling down the ardor of the "Cognitive Elite" to gain a handle on the whole business of corporate control of the economies and governance of the world. The Americans a few days ago, chastised Haiti for electoral defects which, compared to Florida, were child's play and did not really affect anything very much more than the letter of the law.
"... George Bush, if he is appointed President, will use his time to destroy the integrity of the country he rules, starting with the Supreme Court. Then he can start on dealing with the rest of us. That's his job, and as the American Press has made plain, nothing needs to be known about him and his multifarious incapacities because Big Brother in the giant corporations will tell him what to do.
We are all in a for a very rough ride."
That was published before Bush became president, before Enron, before 9/11, before the invasion of Iraq and before the rape of Haiti.
Today when the world faces climatic, ecological and economic meltdown we in Jamaica are as far away from reality as ever.
We persist in our suicidal pursuit of unsustainable development-by-gimmick, heading for disaster like the Haitians but of our own free will, unlike the powerless Haitians. We are determined to grow sugar cane until it destroys our society, watching helplessly and cluelessly as food prices rise out of our reach and unwilling to even try to save ourselves by growing more food and putting idle hands and idle lands to work, and unwilling to face the elemental truths about this slave society.
We can't afford rice or cooking oil, or bread or Lexuses.
Where, one wonders, is our Marie Antoinette to advise us to eat Johnnycake?
More than sixty years ago when we were faced with the (for us) less dire crisis of the Second World War our British governors forced all landowners to plant at least ten percent of their land in food crops. Sugar estates began to produce food for the first time in 300 years and our unemployment and malnutrition rates plummeted.
"We are going to grow food for cars while our people starve."
Today we face our unreality bravely, encouraging the most backward among us to sing songs of hate against homosexuals, denying Amnesty's findings about our internecine violence although they are merely echoing what people like me were writing forty years ago. We are going to grow food for cars while our people starve.
We know what's wrong but resolutely refuse to face reality. In the struggle for survival we say, along with George Bush, every man for himself and let the devil take the hindmost.
The title of my 2000 column I quoted earlier could serve as our epitaph. It was: "Democracy? Enough already!"
I told you so.
John Maxwell of the University of the West Indies (UWI) is the veteran Jamaican journalist who in 1999 single-handedly thwarted the Jamaican government's efforts to build houses at Hope, the nation's oldest and best known botanical gardens. His campaigning earned him first prize in the 2000 Sandals Resort's Annual Environmental Journalism Competition, the region's richest journalism prize. He is also the author of How to Make Our Own News: A Primer for Environmentalists and Journalists. Jamaica, 2000. Mr. Maxwell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright ©2008 John Maxwell