The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Haiti:
The ravages of hurricane Dennis made worse by the ravages of gangsters

Aug 15, 2005

The following article is translated from the newspaper Combat Ouvrier (Workers Fight), published by the revolutionary workers organization of that name active in Guadaloupe and Martinique in the Caribbean.

Hurricane Dennis ravaged the south of Haiti on July 6th and 7th. Preliminary reports said 11 people were dead, 20 wounded and 15,000 left without necessities. Two hundred fifty homes were destroyed or damaged.

In Grand-Goâve six people were killed when a bridge collapsed and 25 houses were destroyed. Seven-hundred fifty others were disaster victims. The region of Grande-Anse was also seriously affected. Beaumont, a town in Grande Anse, remains isolated because of numerous mud slides and floods. In the south, rivers overflowed their banks, tearing up trees, pulling up electric poles and ruining farmers' fields. Some homes along the southern coast were flooded by sea waters. And more than a hundred people cannot be accounted for.

But what aid will the authorities provide? We can see from the example of Tropical Storm Jeanne in September 2004. That storm left 3,000 dead or disappeared, as well as thousands of additional victims. The regions of the north of Haiti and particularly the city of GonaVves are still in a dilapidated and abandoned state. When international aid arrived, it went into the pockets of officials or was squandered. The population of the poor areas never got any of it, for armed men have always been in control, whether they were partisans of [former president] Aristide or those in the service of the next Haitian government. The Haitians live in terror, threatened by these gangsters.

This is the same oppression that the inhabitants of Port-au-Prince live under, particularly in the shanty town of Cité Soleil. The latest episode was the death of gang leader Dread Wilmé, shot last week during a confrontation with the blue helmets of MINUSTAH (the United Nations forces). His lieutenants organized a symbolic funeral on Sunday, July 9, in a church in Cité Soleil. His funeral allowed his supporters to threaten the local population in neighborhoods they control with reprisals.

The population of the south has suffered the passage of Hurricane Dennis; the number of victims will never be known. But each day in Haiti the population suffers from assaults of "armed bands in the service of politicians of every stripe." With killings, kidnappings and fear, these gangsters, these police, these soldiers ravage more people each day than a hurricane does.