Saturday, January 16, 2010

Natural Causes for Haiti's Problems

Steve Hays may not be blaming God for the problems in Haiti like Pat Robertson does. I suppose it's good that he looks to natural causes. However that doesn't make his thinking any less repugnant. He's basically blaming the tortured people of the land. They're "on the dole" and need to "seize control of their national destiny." For the moderately informed this is kind of disgusting.

Let's review some of the basic facts. Way back in the early 20th century Woodrow Wilson demanded that Haiti adopt some measures that were wanted by the U.S. business community. When the Parliament refused he sent the Marines. He disbanded parliament and a referendum was then passed adopting a new Constitution (written by FDR). It passed with a whopping 99% of the vote (only 5% of the population was permitted to vote). Now the U.S. business interests had what they needed. Wealth would be exported. Poverty would reign in Haiti.

The U.S. military remained and ruled Haiti for the next couple of decades. They left in 1932 and left behind a series of brutal U.S. backed dictators, including the infamous Papa Doc Duvalier.

But something strange happened in 1990. Popular grass roots movements swept into office a priest from the slums of Haiti. This was Jean Bertrand Aristide. This completely caught the U.S. off guard as he soundly defeated the U.S. backed candidate. It was a surprising display of democracy in a land that had been long been tortured.

Unfortunately for the people of Haiti this did not last long. He was soon removed by military coup. Ultimately he was re-installed under Clinton on the condition that he adopt the policies of the candidate he had soundly defeated years earlier. This he did and the people of Haiti resumed suffering as before.

Haiti, Nicaragua, Colombia, Bolivia. All of these countries have suffered immensely over the years. Robertson would have us believe that in Haiti's case it's their "deal with Satan." But the others are Christian. What explains their suffering? Incidentally these are the countries that have experienced the vast majority of U.S. intervention in our hemisphere.

So I wonder what Steve means with "on the dole". If a foreign government backs a brutal dictator that slaughters with impunity and exports the wealth of your nation, does the support provided by that foreign government make you "on the dole"?

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