Three days ago, we described the on-going situation in Plaine de Cul de Sac in Port-au-Prince, where 3,000 residents have had no help in the form of food, water, or shelter since the earthquake, despite the fact that we began to alert all major Canadian NGOs to the need a month ago. We have written to foreign affairs ciritcs Bob Rae, John Rafferty, Johanne Deschamps, to Bev Oda, CIDA, the Governor-General, and major news outlets, referring them to the problem. We have had one response from one NGO who passed the phone number of the local community leader we discuss in our writings along to his Port-au-Prince office. I have not yet had a response to my request that he instead pass the phone number of the Port-au-Prince office to the community leaders of Plaine de Cul de Sac.
The evidence suggests that both English- and French-Canadian NGOs do not feel accountable to Canadians for their actions in Haiti. There is even less evidence that they feel accountable to Haitians for the money that Canadians donated directly or through CIDA for humanitarian relief to the victims of the earthquake. To whom are they accountable? It’s not difficult to figure it out.
The “reconstruction” plan for Haiti, written at the behest of the United Nations by economist Paul Collier, was tabled in January 2009. A year later, it was promoted as a response to the earthquake. Its intentions are very clear and should outrage anyone who defends democracy and the right of Haitians to control their lives. In fact, we are watching the “reconstruction” of Haiti in the hands of the nemesis of Haitian democracy: Bill Clinton. The document, “Haiti: From Natural Catastrophe to Economic Security,” clearly describes where the funds available for reconstruction will be allocated. The program promotes three main areas of economic development: assembly plants for the North American apparel industry, agricultural exportation, and tourism. In brief, Haitians will sew clothes that they will not wear, grow mangoes that they will not eat, and primp beaches where they will not swim. Who in their right mind can call this “development?”
Not one of the poor Haitians with whom Joegodson has discussed the plan was aware of its existence. That is not surprising, since it has never been diffused in Creole, their language. The Plan is that they will learn about it when they are sewing shirts under a brutal quota system for US$2.98 a day, slaving on plantations from which their ancestors died to liberate themselves, and serving drinks to North Americans staying at luxury hotels on their prettiest beaches. There are alternative plans, conceived by Haitians, founded upon principles of sustainable and equitable domestic development. The Collier-Clinton nightmare shackles Haiti to a failed model of economic destruction called “development” only when profits accrue to Wall Street.
The Collier Plan has the virtue of clearly articulating the requirements for its success. The apparel industry can only succeed if the price of labour and electricity undercut that of the most “competitive” free trade zones in East Asia. Labour is no problem: Haitians will be forced to work for whatever North American corporations and Haitian bourgeois subcontractors decide is sufficient to keep them on this side of eternity. The United Nations has already offered its soldiers as mercenaries to pacify the labour force. Brazil has accepted the role of mercenary state in exchange for kickbacks from the United Nations. However, since there is no reliable source of electricity, development funds will have to be allocated to build power plants: not to supply Haitians, mind you, but to furnish the assembly plants with cheap power. Haitians are being kept in the dark in more than a figurative sense. The Collier plan calculates that, in order that Haiti be competitive with East Asia, private generating companies will need to furnish electricity at 10-12 cents per kilowatt for the assembly plants. Meanwhile, roads and ports will have to assure that the export products be easily transported out of Haiti. Infrastructure will be built, not so that Haitians may travel in their country or enjoy electricity, but so that multinationals can run the most streamlined operations possible. Those roads and ports will also be conceived to get mangoes to the overstocked shelves of North American markets and overfed North Americans to Haitian beaches.
The money that was collected for humanitarian aid is now being reserved for the reconstruction of Haiti to put Haitians in the service of the apparel giants, agribusiness, and the tourism industry. Studies show that the international tourism industry contributes nothing to domestic economic development while robbing destinations of their natural wonders.
When Aristide returned to Haiti from exile in the United States in 1995, he was forced to implement what Haitians soon called The Plan of Death. It was essentially the same as the Collier-Clinton plan. This may be christened the Resurrected Plan of Death. Haitians have already rejected it at the polls numerous times. The only way that the United States and its imperial client states were able to thwart the will of the people, before the earthquake handed Clinton a helping hand, was to physically remove Aristide from the country. Now, people all over Haiti are calling for his return. Clinton is leading Haiti down a very bloody road that he thinks leads to corporate profits for his buddies. We are not sure that is where it is headed at all. But bloody it will be.
Prime Minister Harper and other representatives of the Canadian government have claimed that they are holding back humanitarian funds for the reconstruction. They are, in fact, holding back funds for the Resurrected Plan of Death.
Is this what Canadians had in mind when they donated to relieve the suffering of Haitians? Do Canadians want to participate in the ultimate act of imperial aggression upon a people who need every kind of support to face the crises before them?
Canadians must declare themselves. They must first insist that the money they donated help the people of Plaine de Cul de Sac. That one is simple.
Then they must insist on a debate in the House of Commons to determine Canada’s role in the reconstruction of Haiti. Does Canada support the Resurrected Plan of Death or the Will of the People of Haiti?
It’s time that Canadians faced up to their role in the world.