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Monday, September 27, 2004

Why did Jeanne kill 2000 in Haiti?

Kevin Pina has one of the reasons. Excerpt:
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.