I’ve been following the news on Haiti’s horrible, devastating earthquake with a lot of interest.

Where I live in Japan, it’s fairly close to the Kobe earthquake of 1995 and the locals here felt the shaking on that morning. The response to the earthquake was a well-documented scandal that saw the military not being deployed until nine hours after the quake – and it taking five more hours to arrive due to the roads being knocked out, food being poorly distributed and people being buried for days before being found. The fact that the best food distribution was provided by the Yakuza says a lot for what happened. The scandal forced Japan to totally restructure its methods for responding to major quakes, and nowadays rescue teams can be deployed within minutes.

But what about one of the poorest countries in the world? How are they going to fare?

The answer is likely to go along the lines of ‘not well’.

One of the main problems is that the United States military has taken over the running of the main airport. This has caused major problems since they have restricted the landing of planes carrying aid (while letting John Travolta and his troupe of Scientologist loonies through) in order to give military personnel and equipment priority.

The question is, “Why?”

Haiti has long been the subject of U.S. intervention and meddling. The fact that Haiti’s farmers couldn’t grow their own food, despite the soils being fertile, while relying on imports from the U.S. for their sustenance is testimony to the  system set up under a succession of U.S. supported governments. The last Haiti-led democratic government was toppled by a U.S. supported coup just a couple of years before the earthquake. Haiti is also a major location of sweatshops that clothe America’s population and enrich its corporations, while increasing the level of poverty there. Oh yeah, there’s oil too.

So the fact that the U.S. military setting up camp in order to make Haiti safe for its elite to continue exploiting the poor for their own gain (at the behest of U.S. corporations) should come as no surprise.

Naomi Klein calls this kind of intervention ‘disaster capitalism’.

Add to that the NGOs that have infested the country have been doing a bang-up job of promoting themselves while doing blissfully little to actually get any aid to the people who need it most. The members of Haiti’s middle-classes who have got jobs with these NGOs have helped with distributing aid – wait for it – where they live, while ignoring the poor sections of Port Au Prince, as well as the rural areas of Haiti devastated by the destruction.

Meanwhile the U.S. Ambassador to Haiti has been praising the efforts of the NGOs, military, and anyone else supported by the U.S. as doing a great job. I wonder where he’s looking…

In Chile, admittedly a larger and wealthier country, aid is now being distributed more effectively and efficiently after some concerns after their recent huge quake and tsunami. No U.S. military or Scientologists to be seen.

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