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  October 7, 2016

How the Red Cross, UN, and Foreign Governments Made Haiti More Vulnerable to Hurricane Matthew

Interventions, an ongoing cholera epidemic, and the devastating 2010 earthquake left much of the country in a condition that's made the disaster worse
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JAISAL NOOR, TRNN: As parts of Florida are already emerging from the wake of hurricane Matthew, the death toll in Haiti has passed 572 on Friday and continues the rise. The United Nations reported more than 350,000 people are in need of serious relief in a country still recovering from the 2010 earthquake that took over 200,000 lives.

We go to Haiti and look at why advocates fear Haiti’s recovery will be undermined by aid agencies that fail to deliver as well as the legacy of two centuries of foreign interventions that continue to block democratic movements to this day.

Debris littered the streets of Jeremie, with houses reduced to rubble and cinderblock walls broken by fallen trees.

MEDELIN DORVIL: We have big problems here. And what I mean is that there are almost no houses left standing. Luckily we didn't have loss of lives but we lost everything. Look, this was my small business that I completely lost. Everything is destroyed by rain. We don't have food, nor a hospital to get a healthcare.

NOOR: Residents spent Thursday moving rubble from their homes and businesses.

Another resident said he and his neighbors had lost everything in Hurricane Matthew.

SAINTIFUL JEAN PERPETU: We have nothing left. Our personal things, important documents like birth certificates, it's all gone. We sleep on streets with our children and nobody came to help us until now. We have nothing. The hurricane took shirts from our backs. Matthew has hit us seriously, surely because we live close to the sea. Wind gusts were throwing us around. Look what waves did to this house. The sea has taken everything on its way.

NOOR: The hurricane wrought havoc on a UN base in Jeremie as well, demolishing buildings and sending a sheet of metal through a wall.

As many fear a fresh cholera outbreak, we look at the UN’s long denials over involvement in the previous cholera outbreak that killed thousands and from which the country also is still recovering. We also look at why some are saying to not give to organizations like the Red Cross and instead to donate to local Haitian organizations for recovery efforts, as well as the role the Clintons and Foreign powers have had on Haitian democracy.

As Haiti was still struggling to rebuild after the devastating earthquake in 2010, they were struck again by another disaster. A cholera outbreak that ended up killing about 10,000 people and sickened hundreds of thousands. Many Haitians immediately pointed the finger at United Nations troops for causing the outbreak, claims that the UN long denied until August of this year. Brian Concannon is an attorney representing some of the families of the victims of the cholera outbreak. He said that admission is not enough

BRIAN CONCANNON: the UN’s admissions were very carefully crafted to not change anything. It allows the UN to continue to deny in the lawsuit that it had anything to do with it and to evade responsibility. The lawsuit is up on appeal before the US court of appeals for the second circuit. We’re waiting for the decision. We don’t think that this case, that the UN statement will formally effect the case in any way. What will affect the case is that if the UN actually comes through on its promises to take significant action. If the UN actually puts in the water and sanitation that it’s promised to do before and if it compensates the victims.

NOOR: With more than 350,000 in need, some are calling for donations to local organizations and not the Red Cross, invoking the shocking 2015 expose that found that despite raising half a billion dollars after the devastating 2010 earthquake that killed over 220,000 people. The red cross claimed it built some 135,000 shelters but an investigation found it only built six permanent homes.

LAURA SULLIVAN, NPR: They had the resources, they did not have the knowledge. And one of the senior officials we talked to was in charge of their Haiti shelter program, Lee Mullaney, and he said they just never had a plan for housing. Other people we talked to said, this is not anything that they knew how to do. And they were kind of flying blind in some ways in terms of being able to get these housing projects off the ground. And the housing projects that they, they weren't able to build any homes. They say they provided homes for 130,000 Haitians. This is another number that just did not add up when we actually dug down into it.

NOOR: Hurricane Matthew has also caused Sunday’s scheduled presidential election to delayed indefinitely. The United States has long been accused of interfering in Haiti’s elections and some saw this upcoming vote as a chance to restore a more democratic government. Hillary Clinton's involvement in Haiti began before the 2010 earthquake, and the country soon became the "centerpiece" of State Department policy under her leadership.

In 2009, Clinton worked with Haitian elites and multinationals, such as Hanes and Levi's, to stop a raise of the minimum wage. Emails revealed she played a role in the 2011 election of former president Michel Martelly after she personal intervened to pressure Rene Preval to end his candidacy.

Among those running in this election is Dr. Maryse Narcisse of the Fanmi Lavalas Party, the party of former president Jean-Betrand Aristde. The US-backed coups against the Aristide government in both 1991 and 2004. Renowned actor and activist Danny Glover recently told the Real News why he supports Lavalas.

DANNY GLOVER: Well I think the fact that she’s a woman and a mother. The fact that she’s a doctor, and the fact that she’s been engaged as a powerful voice for her people. Those people who are disenfranchised. Those people who remain voiceless and have remained voiceless since the coup de tat that overthrew president Aristide. The fact that she does all that but there’s something about this moment in Haitian history. Haitian history has had dictators from the Papa Doc to Baby Doc. It has a man who provided us with a--who were controlled by the US, controlled by other foreign interest at times. But this is someone who is not controlled by that.

It’s almost like treating this moment as rebirth or a possibility of a rebirth of all the ideals that have brought Haiti into existence in the first place. She represents that. She represents I believe the historic translation or transfer of Haitian dignity and independence and self-determination right here. Those are heavily words to words to lay on her. But her actual work methodology, her actual work over her lifetime warrants the fact that she is here at this moment and says that this is the great possibility right here in the sense to now reimagine, to now retranslate the possibilities for Haitian people.

NOOR: Go to the for all our coverage on Haiti. For the Real News, this is Jaisal Noor.


DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


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