Sunday, November 27, 2011

Chomsky Post-Earthquake: Aid Should Go to Haitian Popular Organizations, Not to Contractors or NGOs

By Keane Bhatt
Photos by Wadner Pierre 
For decades, Noam Chomsky has been an analyst and activist working in support of the Haitian people. In addition to his revolutionary linguistics career at MIT, he has written, lectured and protested against injustice for 40 years. He is co-author, along with Paul Farmer and Amy Goodman of Getting Haiti Right This Time: The U.S. and the Coup. His analysis “The Tragedy of Haiti” from his 1993 book Year 501: The Conquest Continues is available for free online. This interview was conducted in late February 2010 by phone and email. It was first published in ¡Reclama! magazine. The interviewer thanks Peter Hallward for his kind assistance. 

Keane Bhatt: Recently you signed a letter to the Guardian protesting the militarization of emergency relief. It criticized a prioritization of security and military control to the detriment of rescue and relief.
Noam Chomsky: I think there was an overemphasis in the early stage on militarization rather than directly providing relief. I don’t think it has any long-term significance...the United States has comparative advantage in military force. It tends to react to anything at first with military force, that’s what it’s good at. And I think they overdid it. There was more military force than was necessary; some of the doctors that were in Haiti, including those from Partners in Health who have been there for a long time, felt that there was an element of racism in believing that Haitians were going to riot and they had to be controlled and so on, but there was very little indication of that; it was very calm and quiet. The emphasis on militarization did probably delay somewhat the provision of relief. I went along with the general thrust of the petition that there was too much militarization.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Army in Haiti:A History of US-Sponsored Violence

The United States has a long history of sowing violence in Haiti.  Nearly one hundred years ago, the Marines invaded Haiti and occupied the country for nineteen years, over the course of which they killed thousands of Haitians who attempted to resist the repression.  The pretext for the invasion was instability.  But for the tens of thousands of Haitians who were dispossessed of their land by American businesses or who were put into forced labor, the true source of instability originated with their neighbor to the north.  In order to protect its investments in Haiti and to ensure the country’s future “stability,” the United States created and trained a new Haitian army that would become infamous for its brutal repression of the population.
Three decades after the US left Haiti, it still continued in its support of a violent regime there.  The dictator François Duvalier and his son, Jean-Claude Duvalier, commanded a personal death squad, called the Tonton Macoutes, that murdered several thousand people and terrorized the population.  Duvalier and their supporters were intent on protecting the interests of Haiti’s wealthy elite at all costs, and during their rule, the gap between rich and poor widened.   They were enabled by the United States, which sent the dictators tens of millions of dollars before their nearly thirty-year rule ended.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Impunity for Venezuela's big landowners - Opinion - Al Jazeera English

Hundreds of Chavez supporters have been assassinated by wealthy landowners for implementing new land policies.
Venezuela's Land Law was enacted to reduce dependence on food imports, however, wealthy landowners believe they will lose profits if it is implemented - so they are threatening and killing those who attempt to implement the law [EPA]
For close to a decade, Venezuela has been the focus and the target of mainstream news coverage, as the scene of a heated political struggle over control of the country's destiny.

But the parade of pundits eager to criticise the country's elected president and simplify the country's political conflict as a rule ignore the deep socio-economic inequality that propelled President Chavez to power.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Gambit's 40 Under 40 Our annual look at some accomplished New Orleanians under 40

©gambit New Orleans


Wadner Pierre, 28
Photojournalist/Author/Advocate for Haiti
Like many other journalism students at Loyola University, Wadner Pierre writes for the student newspaper The Maroon, does volunteer work, maintains a blog ( and hangs out with neighbors in his adopted hometown of New Orleans, where he's lived since 2009. But driving these activities is a singular mission to which Pierre, a native of Gonaives, Haiti, has dedicated his life.
"I became a photojournalist because you can use your communication skills to be the voice of your community," Pierre says. "I want to be the voice of my people in Haiti."