Jun 7, 2004
Six days after torrential rains stormed down on Haiti and the Dominican Republic, the U.N. estimated there were at least 2,600 dead or missing in Haiti and another 700 in the Dominican Republic. Entire villages were engulfed by water or carried away by an avalanche of water, mud and rocks. Some 25,000 survivors are trying to keep alive under terrible conditions.
Tropical rains and hurricanes are regular occurrences in the Caribbean, but the weather is not the main reason so many people died in Haiti.
The people where the flooding occurred are peasants living on the sides of bare hills or in the bottom of valleys in river beds. The government has provided them with no gas or electricity, so in order to cook, they chop down trees, leaving the land subject to erosion. Stagnant water has remained in this area ever since 1998, when Hurricane George hit, but they have received no help to drain the area.
Of course the rains caused the flooding, but the terrible poverty in Haiti is the reason for the extent of the suffering.
When the catastrophe hit Haiti, there were 1,500 U.S. troops in the country. They invaded three months ago, when former president Aristide could no longer preserve order, and fighting between armed gangs threatened the safety of U.S. business investments in Haiti, as well as the safety of Haiti's rich.
The towns hit by the flood became unreachable since the roads were blocked by mud and rocks. At first the U.S. military used its helicopters to deliver some small amounts of food, medicine and supplies – not nearly enough, however – a couple of pounds total per person. And on Sunday, June 1, even these minimal efforts ended.
Guy Gauvreau of the World Food Program said, "We deeply deplore that the multinational force has other priorities ... and that we won't be able to count on their helicopters any more." Those "other priorities" are the movement of the U.S. troops in Haiti to Iraq!
U.S. businessmen have plundered Haiti for over a century, with numerous armed invasions to back them up. When the U.S. government decided to invade Haiti three months ago, it spared no cost to fly in the well-equipped troops from Camp Lejeune, NC. But today it turns its back on providing aid to desperate people in the flood zone. These are the priorities of U.S. imperialism, which views the people of Haiti only as something to exploit.