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Haitian sovereignty vs. U.S. relief effort

In foreign policy, sovereignty on February 2, 2010 at 3:04 am

“Many big powers, they want to use Haiti as an example of what not to do.”

At first glance, the United States’ and international community’s interests in Haiti appear unselfish, even noble. After all, what could global superpowers possibly want in such a poverty-stricken country as Haiti? But a closer examination of the relief effort has some Haitians questioning the intentions of their rescuers.

Patrick Elie, Haiti’s former secretary of state for national defense, shares their concerns.

In a recent interview, Elie commented on the deployment of the now 20,000-plus U.S. troops to the island and their take over of its airports.

“We don’t need soldiers as such. There’s no war here,” Elie said.

The United States has been criticized for turning away aircraft carrying foreign aid from countries such as Mexico. Elie believes the issue to be one of national sovereignty.

“The choice of what lands and what doesn’t land should, you know, the priorities of the flight, should be determined by the Haitians,” he said. “Otherwise it’s a take over.

What might happen is that the need of Haitians are not taken into account but only, either the way a foreign country defines the need of Haiti or try to push its own agenda.”

But what agenda could the United States possibly have for Haiti?

Ronald Charles is a Ph.D. student in Biblical Studies at the Department of Religion, University of Toronto and was a lecturer at Christianville University College in Haiti, where he translated parts of the Bible into Haitian Creole. In a recent interview with The Real News Network, Charles explained what he believes to be America’s interest in the Haiti crisis.

“The reason would be you have a country independent for 206 years now, and from the beginning that was a bad example in the eyes of the big powers of the time,” Charles said. “So when some people would say, ‘Well, look at them after 200 years — more than 200 years of independence, and look at their condition,’ so other people around the world, other people fighting for liberation, for freedom, they might — well, these colonial powers, these big powers, might point Haiti to them. Look, there is no way. Many big powers, they want to use Haiti as an example of what not to do.”

Given the United States’ long history of intervention and occupation of Haiti, Charles’ claim may not be too far off.

Even Haiti’s former president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, told CNN that the United States was responsible for his removal in the 2004 coup d‘etat.

“I was told that to avoid bloodshed I’d better leave,” he said.

And although the White House denied his allegations, the incident spurred eleven members of congress to introduce a bill calling for an investigation of the Bush Administration’s role in the 2004 coup d’etat.

For more info see ‘New Haiti,’ Same Corporate Interests