progress is not the elimination of struggle, but rather a change in its terms’ - Aneurin Bevan

Another shock doctrine for Haiti?

The earthquake in Haiti on January 12 is estimated to have caused over 200,000 deaths. Public infrastructure, already fragile, has been dealt a huge blow. Extreme poverty is being made worse by the devastation and supplies of humanitarian aid are being slowed by distribution problems.

What is remarkable about this tragedy is that in recent years Haiti has been largely ignored by UK media. I recall press reports of the coup that ousted popular leader Jean-Bertrand Aristide, in which the CIA is heavily implicated, stressed that perhaps with a UN peacekeeping force, development could proceed. The concern amongst the US elite has long been that Haiti would succeed in joining Cuba in pursuing a path of development independent of US corporate influence.

Obviously, a natural catastrophe on the scale of the recent earthquake will draw a great deal of media attention. It is a great shame that there wasn't a huge aid effort during the spikes in food prices during 2008 that sparked riots in Haiti.

But now there is a chance to assess what has gone wrong for Haiti. All of the policy recommendations of the free-market think-tanks and institutions were implemented - deregulation of markets, the ending of trade barriers. And to what end?

There should be no "shock doctrine" imposed upon Haiti.

(You will note that as news broke of this tragedy, the Tory shadow chancellor announced that if the Tories win office they will impose immediate spending cuts. A reminder that unnatural disasters await us if we do not try and stop them...)

The UK govt has trebled humanitarian relief to Haiti. You can donate here.

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