The earthquake that hit Haiti in January 2010 was a devastating blow to a country that has weathered many natural and manmade disasters since it gained its independence in 1804. Like Katrina in New Orleans in 2005, the disaster in Haiti uncovered the underlying racism and economic exploitation that the people of Haiti have been suffering under for centuries.
The reason 80% of the Haitian people were living in poverty before the earthquake is that their democracy and their economy have been subverted time and time again by the actions of the United States, France, and other Western nations. As a result, millions of unemployed and impoverished Haitians resided in and around the capital city of Port-au-Prince in substandard, earthquake-prone housing.
And like New Orleans, black people are being demonized, criminalized and marginalized by the U.S. government, U.N. authorities, rightwing pundits, and the U.S. media. They have been called devil worshippers, rioters, and looters. There is much talk in the media about the endemic corruption in Haiti with not a peep about the U.S. complicity in condoning and supporting dictator after dictator and in backing the 2004 overthrow and kidnapping of Jean Bertrand Aristide, the democratically elected president of Haiti. Nothing is said about the long history of U.S. corporations exploiting Haitian workers in foreign-owned sweatshops and factories.
Show Your Solidarity
As U.S. citizens and residents, we cannot allow our government to continue its misuse and abuse of Haiti. We must stand for justice for the Haitian people.
Towards that end, Black Alliance calls on the people in the United States to support these measures:
1. The U.S. government should increase its grants to assist in the relief efforts and in the rebuilding of Haiti. The Haitian people should not be saddled with any more bilateral loans or loans from multilateral lending institutions. The International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the InterAmerican Development Bank should cancel Haiti’s current debt immediately;
2. The people of Haiti must be directly involved in planning and carry out the relief and rebuilding effort. The rebuilding effort should vigorously seek the development of a sustainable economy not a sweatshop-based manufacturing platform for the benefit of foreign, multinational corporations. The Haitian poor must also benefit from the employment that will be generated and must be paid livable wages;
3. Now and in the future, the U.S. government should expedite the applications of Haitians in the U.S. who have applied for family visas to bring their family members from Haiti to the United States.
4. The U.S. government should grant at least 60,000 Humanitarian Parole visas to Haitians who have suffered because of the earthquake, especially those in need of intensive medical care. No Haitians should be treated as criminals and should not be put in detention centers at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba or in the United States for attempting to migrate to the United States.
5. Those Haitians in the United States with Temporary Protected Status should have the ability to apply for permanent residency.
The United States government should support the restoration of democracy in Haiti, including allowing the Lavalas party to participate in Haitian elections and the return of the democratically elected president of Haiti, Jean Bertrand Aristide, who was deposed in 2004 with U.S. assistance.
Call or write President Obama, your Senator and your Representative and ask them to support these measures.
The number for the White House Comment Line: (202) 456-1111 and TTY/TTD (202) 456-6213. To email President Obama, go to http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact (you can send an email from your organization by clicking on the link that reads, “Organization Contact Form.”