Feb 1, 2010
Royal Caribbean International, the second largest cruise ship line in the world, continues to use Haiti as one of its port stops. The line regularly stops there carrying hundreds, or even thousands, of tourists on their dream trip to the private beaches of Labadie, about 90 miles from Port-au-Prince. This company location, rented from the Haitian government since 1985, is enclosed in a barbed-wire fence ten feet tall, patrolled by armed guards.
Royal Caribbean declared it was not simply motivated by profits, but equally concerned for the Haitian people. It promised to give a million dollars in aid – the equivalent of profits gained in Haiti. It said it would bring some supplies to aid the survival efforts on each voyage. The company president dared to argue that ending the cruises would mean abandoning Haiti because Royal Caribbean provides a few jobs for Haitians.
The four cruise ships that make trips to Labadie can carry 5000 people or more, with enough supplies to last a week. These ships carry water that could be used for drinking, but instead goes into swimming pools. They produce enough electricity to light up an entire town. Royal Caribbean, using the boats with which it ferries tourists ashore, could have helped evacuate thousands of wounded Haitians.
But instead of requisitioning this fleet of ships, the big powers that claim to be doing all they can, don’t demand the boats be used to aid the Haitian people during this disaster.
This is what they have done in times of war, using passenger liners to transport troops. But no matter what Obama and other politicians say, no one is declaring war against misery in Haiti.