The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Haiti: "Militarization Hinders Relief"


The front-page headline in the Washington Post this morning says: "Haiti relief efforts stifled by chaos."

Patrick Elie, former Haitian Secretary of State for National Defense,
told Al Jazeera English: "There is no war here. We don't need soldiers
as such. ... The choice of what lands and what doesn't land [at the
airport] ... should be determined by the Haitians. Otherwise it's a
takeover, and what might happen is that the needs of Haitians are not
taken into account -- but only either the way a foreign country defines
the needs of Haiti, or [tries] to push its own agenda."

Al Jazeera English also reports: "Two Mexican aircraft with vital
lifesaving equipment were told they can't land on Sunday." Similarly,
Doctors Without Borders released a statement: "Despite guarantees,
given by the United Nations and the U.S. Defense Department, an MSF
[Doctors Without Borders] cargo plane carrying an inflatable surgical
hospital was blocked from landing in Port-au-Prince on Saturday, and
was re-routed to Samana, in Dominican Republic. All material from the
cargo is now being sent by truck from Samana, but this has added a
24-hour delay for the arrival of the hospital." For video and
background, see RaceWire.

Quigley is legal director for the Center for Constitutional Rights. He
has been a longtime Haiti human rights advocate. He was also in New
Orleans when Katrina hit. Quigley said today that "after Katrina, the
constant looping [by the TV networks] of looting gave people the
impression that looting was the major event going on. Helicopters even
stopped for 24 hours when pilots feared they were being shot at -- a
'fact' that no one was ever able to confirm as accurate. Troops on site
were unnerved by thousands of hot hungry thirsty black people until
General [Russel] Honore arrived and told troops to turn their guns away
from the people and restored some calm. There is a clear tendency among
some to demonize the locals. Reports saying 'the locals are restless'
or 'it appears we are on the edge of violence' -- these feed into a
'blaming of the victim' mentality that will give some an excuse to say
that 'these people live in a culture of poverty and violence and there
is no helping them.'

"Militarization hinders relief. The goals of humanitarian
assistance are radically different from the goals of the military.
There are places that the United Nations will not go, places they have
never gone. In those places ... there are community leaders all over
Haiti who can help make sure relief goes smoothly and peacefully. The
international community has to work with communities and their leaders.
The international community has to give Haitians the tools to help
themselves. They do not need military assistance, they need food,
water, healthcare and help."

Quigley just wrote "Why The U.S. Owes Haiti Billions."

He also recently wrote "Ten Things the U.S. Can and Should Do for Haiti."

A nationwide consortium, the Institute for Public Accuracy (IPA) represents an unprecedented effort to bring other voices to the mass-media table often dominated by a few major think tanks. IPA works to broaden public discourse in mainstream media, while building communication with alternative media outlets and grassroots activists.