FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Tragedy of Gonaives, Haiti

by KEVIN PINA

Port au Prince, Haiti

Prime Minister Gerard Latortue flew into Gonaives, Haiti on March 20th where a huge and boisterous crowd of thousands heralded him. During the celebration Latortue embraced gang elements and the former military that helped overthrow the democratic government of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide as “freedom fighters.” Since then, Latortue and his government have done little to take control of Haiti’s third largest city and has allowed gang leaders like Buteur Metayer and Wilfort Ferdinand to run it like a private fiefdom.

One of the first victims of the campaign of political reprisals the population met upon suspected Aristide supporters, under the direction of the “freedom fighters” in Gonaives, was the destruction of the Biwo Pwoteksyon Civil or Civil Protection Office. This politically benign institution had been established in cooperation with the local municipal government by grants provided by United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and administered through the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF). PADF’s own website confirms this, “PADF’s emergency response and reconstruction efforts are complemented by community training in disaster preparedness. Mitigation training promotes the development of civil action plans that enable communities to identify priorities and reinforce key infrastructure. Last year, 23 local civil protection committees were formed and over 5,000 people were trained in disaster awareness, leading to safer communities.” Unfortunately, with the first disaster of the destruction of constitutional authority in Haiti, ushered in by Washington, Paris and Ottawa, all of those hard earned tax dollars USAID invested in preparing for the type of calamity that just hit Haiti were wasted as well.

It is exactly this type of disaster in northern Haiti that USAID and PADF’s programs were set up to manage. There were components that monitored incoming tropical storms and provided an advanced warning and preparedness network designed to plan a response BEFORE disaster struck. Plans included advising communities in advance of approaching storms and preparing for them by storing large supplies of drinking water, food, medical supplies and portable tents for those displaced from their homes. When Tropical storm Jeanne hit these structures no longer existed and all of the trained and competent participants in the program had long been driven out of the area and their offices pillaged and burned. No where was this more evident than in Gonaives where many associated with the Aristide government and his Lavalas party, were reportedly dragged through the streets and burned alive.

Instead of reasserting control of the State and rebuilding the necessary infrastructure that was destroyed following the coup of February 29th, Latortue followed a policy of benign neglect and accommodation with thugs in the region that has led to needless death and suffering in the wake of Tropical Storm Jeanne. In all fairness, the fault does not lie exclusively with the US-installed government. The Bush administration shoulders much of the blame for the current situation with an ill-conceived regime change that has replaced what they considered a failed state with an even more failed state.

The United Nations also bears a large responsibility for the armed gangs and elements of the former military currently hampering relief efforts in northern Haiti. Like Latortue’s accommodation of the gangs in Gonaives, the UN forces have stood by while the former military has taken over several towns in the north. The official excuse of the UN has been that they do not have enough forces on the ground to challenge the former military from seizing control of the region. It seems that by the time they do have the necessary forces to contend with the former military, they will already find themselves bunkmates in the capital of Port au Prince. This does not bode well for the inhabitants of Port au Prince should a natural disaster ever strike the capital to combine with the current political disaster as it has in Gonaives.

The UN and Latortue are both victims of their own failed policies and ultimately the failed policy of the Bush administration in Haiti. The ones who will suffer the most as a result of these failures are the ones they claim to have come to this island nation to help. The lack of planning and response to this disaster, which is a consequence of poor politic decision making, has resulted in more suffering for the people of Haiti during this time of crisis.

KEVIN PINA is a freelance reporter. He can be reached at: kevinpina@yahoo.com

 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
June 23, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Democrats in the Dead Zone
Gary Leupp
Trump, Qatar and the Danger of Total Confusion
Andrew Levine
The “Democracies” We Deserve
Jeffrey St. Clair - Joshua Frank
The FBI’s “Operation Backfire” and the Case of Briana Waters
Rob Urie
Cannibal Corpse
Joseph G. Ramsey
Savage Calculations: On the Exoneration of Philando Castile’s Killer
John Wight
Trump’s Attack on Cuba
Dave Lindorff
We Need a Mass Movement to Demand Radical Progressive Change
Brian Cloughley
Moving Closer to Doom
David Rosen
The Sex Offender: the 21st Century Witch
John Feffer
All Signs Point to Trump’s Coming War With Iran
Jennifer L. Lieberman
What’s Really New About the Gig Economy?
Pete Dolack
Analyzing the Failures of Syriza
Vijay Prashad
The Russian Nexus
Mike Whitney
Putin Tries to Avoid a Wider War With the US
Gregory Barrett
“Realpolitik” in Berlin: Merkel Fawns Over Kissinger
Louis Yako
The Road to Understanding Syria Goes Through Iraq
Graham Peebles
Grenfell Tower: A Disaster Waiting to Happen
Ezra Rosser
The Poverty State of Mind and the State’s Obligations to the Poor
Ron Jacobs
Andrew Jackson and the American Psyche
Pepe Escobar
Fear and Loathing on the Afghan Silk Road
Andre Vltchek
Why I Reject Western Courts and Justice
Lawrence Davidson
On Hidden Cultural Corruptors
Christopher Brauchli
The Routinization of Mass Shootings in America
Missy Comley Beattie
The Poor Need Not Apply
Martin Billheimer
White Man’s Country and the Iron Room
Joseph Natoli
What to Wonder Now
Tom Clifford
Hong Kong: the Chinese Meant Business
Thomas Knapp
The Castile Doctrine: Cops Without Consequences
Nyla Ali Khan
Borders Versus Memory
Binoy Kampmark
Death on the Road: Memory in Tim Winton’s Shrine
Tony McKenna
The Oily Politics of Unity: Owen Smith as Northern Ireland Shadow Secretary
Nizar Visram
If North Korea Didn’t Exist US Would Create It
John Carroll Md
At St. Catherine’s Hospital, Cite Soleil, Haiti
Kenneth Surin
Brief Impressions of the Singaporean Conjucture
Paul C. Bermanzohn
Trump: the Birth of the Hero
Jill Richardson
Trump on Cuba: If Obama Did It, It’s Bad
Olivia Alperstein
Our President’s Word Wars
REZA FIYOUZAT
Useless Idiots or Useful Collaborators?
Clark T. Scott
Parallel in Significance
Louis Proyect
Hitler and the Lone Wolf Assassin
Julian Vigo
Theresa May Can’t Win for Losing
Richard Klin
Prog Rock: Pomp and Circumstance
Charles R. Larson
Review: Malin Persson Giolito’s “Quicksand”
David Yearsley
RIP: Pomp and Circumstance
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail