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Earthquake in Haiti

U.S. strengthens military control
By staff |
January 14, 2010
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Roof tops of Site Soley, the poorest neighborhood in Port Au Prince
Looking out over the roof tops of Site Soley, the poorest neighborhood in Port Au Prince (Fight Back! News/Staff)
Demonstrator holding a placard calling for the return of Aristide
Demonstrator holding a placard calling for the return of Aristide

Haitian government officials say that up to 500,000 are dead, crushed beneath their homes, schools and workplaces during a mighty earthquake Jan. 12. Most were killed when poorly constructed buildings collapsed on them. Television news in the U.S. showed rows of children's bodies lying lifeless, bloodied and bruised. It is a horrible tragedy that will be largely reported as a natural disaster. There is nothing natural about it.

James Jordan of the Campaign for Labor Rights said, "I just returned from Haiti last week where I saw a people organizing for freedom and equality. I am heartbroken by the devastation, but I am also angry because I know all those people did not have to die. It is the poverty and misery imposed by the U.S. empire that creates the conditions where so many die, are injured and lose their homes because of a natural disaster. It reminds me of all the African-Americans and working people in New Orleans who died or were forced out during Hurricane Katrina."

Haiti suffers under U.S. domination and exploitation. Poverty is abundant and hunger stalks the vast majority. Many homes are made of concrete cinderblocks with corrugated metal or other found materials used for roofing. Due to poverty and lack of materials, the bigger buildings are shoddily made and there is little regulation or standards. These came tumbling down on top of hundreds of thousands of Haitian people.

U.S. Marines are landing in Haiti before any large scale humanitarian aid or teams to dig out victims. The U.S. military's mission is to preserve the reactionary social order for U.S. corporations and to protect the wealthy few. While Haitian people are sleeping on the streets, searching for clean drinking water and digging out loved ones with their hands and sticks, the U.S. government is worrying about maintaining their military might. The U.S. supports a small Haitian ruling class composed of a few land-owning families and rich businessmen. They keep the vast majority of the island in poverty and backward living conditions.

The U.S. has dominated Haiti for decades, sponsoring military coups and death squads. In 2004, the U.S. orchestrated the ousting and kidnapping of President Aristide, a former Catholic priest and advocate for social justice and equality. Aristide opposed the privatization of state industries like the electricity and telephone companies. President Aristide put the interests of ordinary Haitians above those of the elites. Aristide still lives in exile. Haiti is suffering and many more are sure to die in the coming weeks. U.S. troops are occupiers, not liberators.