The Spark

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

Haitian misery not just caused by the weather

Sep 22, 2008

In Haiti, the number of victims from Hurricanes Fay, Gustav, Hannah and Ike continues to mount. Official sources state that over 600 people have died and over one million have faced some type of property damage.

Haiti is located in a region particularly subject to hurricanes and tropical storms. But why do these same climactic phenomena cause 50 or a 100 times more damage and victims in Haiti than they cause in the neighboring countries, such as Florida in the U.S. or in Cuba?

The government of Haiti is incapable of alerting the population when danger is anticipated. There’s no plan in place to allow Haitians to take refuge in areas outside of the danger. Afterwards, the poor people pile on top of each other in whatever makeshift housing they can find, more often than not in areas subject to flooding. In this underdeveloped country, there are almost no sewers or evacuation systems. The very few that exist are not maintained.

Today, the U.N. has sounded the alarm, citing a disastrous situation with great difficulties in implementing a rescue mission. But for years the U.N. military forced stayed in Haiti supposedly to stabilize it. Couldn’t it have constructed an infrastructure and put in place the equipment lacking today? Didn’t they have the means to react as soon as the first hurricane was announced? The U.S. government finally promised to send in a few helicopters to help. The same enormous dollar amounts and technological marvels the U.S. now uses to kill in Iraq or Afghanistan cannot be found to save lives in Haiti.

It is not inevitable storms that kill in Haiti. The population is victimized much more by underdevelopment than by climatic conditions.

Who is responsible? Both U.S. imperialism and French imperialism. From the time of colonialism and slavery to that of the corporate trusts today, the great powers of the world continue to drain the resources out of Haiti, leaving behind a country in extreme misery.