The process of delivering humanitarian aid and the behaviour of aid agencies are often as harmful as they are helpful as the last two weeks in Haiti has clearly shown. The militarisation of the whole process; the disorganised and incompetent delivery of food, water and medical supplies; the instant response to appeals for donations from mega charities who do not have any real sense of the local context and whose record on the amount of real money spent on aid is abysmal; have all compounded the devastation wrought by the earthquake itself.
Margaret Kimberly [Freedom Rider] provides an insightful analysis of what has taken place and the implications for the future of the Haitian people as well as the need for people to make informative choices rather than be simply led by media and celebrity hype.
A telethon hosted by celebrities succeeded in raising more than $57 million in funds for the relief of Haiti earthquake victims. Yet that sum and the many millions more donated by individuals around the world will do little to relieve Haiti’s plight…….Haitians are living in their latest hellish incarnation created by American meddling and the crushing of that nation’s democracy. As long as the United States directs Haiti’s affairs, and empowers a corrupt elite instead of the will of the masses, suffering will continue whether caused by natural or human-made disaster.
The sad fact of the matter is that individuals cannot help Haiti or end human suffering anywhere on earth unless their assistance is combined with political action. The dollars must come with demands of non-interference in Haiti’s affairs and demands of accountability to charitable organizations. If the Red Cross doesn’t even spend all of its enormous contributions, as it shamelessly did after the 9/11 attacks, Hurricane Katrina, and the Asian tsunami, then donors must stop giving before the next disaster strikes.
VivirLatino also has a great post on the Latino media’s perceptions and responses to Haiti with Haitians being “criminalized” “infantilized” and “mamied”.
I would add that the perception of the media, English and Spanish language is that Haiti wasn’t colonized enough, meaning it wasn’t made “white” enough. All people need to do, according to the Spanish language coverage is look to the other side of Hispaniola, to the Dominican Republic, where even Sammy Sosa has learned that whiter and righter and great pains are taken to separate the Dominican from the Haitian, the “white” from the “black” even though as I told my friend the other night there is only one letter difference between “rara” and “gaga”, an Afro-Caribbean musical and religious tradition.