Here's the thing about the Haiti crisis. Every mainstream media outlet talks about "instability" and potential for violence, which is supposed to justify the massive presence of more than 10,000 US soldiers. This is eerily reminiscent of the media's racist description of the Hurricane Katrina aftermath in New Orleans. The MSM always concludes that people of color who go through a natural disaster resort to looting and violence. Even so-called liberal commentators like Keith Olbermann have expressed fear that aid workers will be at risk in Haiti.
In Haiti, this racist misperception has convinced the US and the UN that soldiers must precede aid workers to ensure their "security." Of course this delays the arrival and scaling up of aid to 3 million people who desperately need it.
Pretty much everybody that Amy speaks with, from a doctor with Partners in Health, to a journalist who's worked in the country for years, to Haitians themselves, describes a rather non-violent scene. In fact, there's some fears there among Haitians and aid workers that the soldiers will provoke violence rather than quell it. All the effort that went into building up a military presence was basically unnecessary.
Meanwhile, the American military, so intent on building up its presence to create the "protection" supposedly required for aid delivery, is turning away aid coming in through the Port-au-Prince airport that it controls. Doctors Without Borders reported having a plane diverted to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, from which it will take a very long time to get to Port-au-Prince over land. A representative of one Haitian aid group has stated that the US military is directly "blocking aid."
The result of militarization of the aid process in Haiti has been delays in the arrival of aid. It has directly cost Haitian lives. Unfortunately it's too late to scale back the military's presence there. Still, at this late hour our military can stop sending away aid planes in favor of continually building up the security presence.
For Haitians, the militarization of aid is even more ominous than the thousands of lives it is costing. They remember the long history of US imperialism in their country and the disastrous consequences. This includes a Marine occupation from 1915 to 1934, support for brutal rightist military dictatorships from the 1950's to the 1980's, CIA-backed coup against elected President Aristide in 1991, the re-installation of Aristide by President Clinton with the condition that he liberalize Haiti's economy, and the CIA-backed coup #2 against Aristide in 2004. These interventions have crushed resurgent democracy and impoverished the country while shunting wealth to the upper classes. Amy interview with journalist Kim Ives excellently delves into this history here, particularly the privatization of the crucial flour, cement, and telecom industries. I also highly suggest the interview with Robert Fatton that I linked to in my last post on Haiti.