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The United Nations must cure Haiti of the cholera epidemic it caused

category central america / caribbean | imperialism / war | non-anarchist press author Wednesday November 14, 2012 21:57author by Mark Weisbrot - The Guardian Report this post to the editors

Unlike earthquake or hurricane, Haiti's cholera outbreak is a manmade disaster – by the very agency supposed to protect it.

Before Hurricane Sandy slammed into the east coast of the United States, it killed 54 people in Haiti and left tens of thousands more homeless. Haiti is especially vulnerable because of its poor infrastructure and environmental destruction, so people die there – as they did during the earthquake in January 2010 – in greater numbers than they would in other countries subject to the same natural disasters.

But there is one disaster that was brought to Haiti directly by people, not by nature. It was not caused by shifting tectonic plates or extreme weather (or climate change). That disaster is the cholera epidemic that struck Haiti two years ago.

Most people I talk to don't even know that United Nations troops brought this deadly disease to Haiti in October of 2010. There hadn't been any cholera in Haiti for at least 100 years, if ever, until some UN troops from South Asia dumped human waste into a tributary of the country's main water supply. Since then, more than 7,600 Haitians have died and over 600,000 have gotten sick.

If Haiti were any other country in this hemisphere, a human-created disaster of this proportion would be a big international scandal and everyone would know about it. Not to mention the institution responsible for inflicting this damage – in this case, the UN – would be held accountable. At the very least, they would have to get rid of the epidemic.

In this case, getting rid of the epidemic could be easily accomplished. Cholera is transmitted mainly through drinking water that is contaminated by the deadly bacteria. To get rid of it, you need to create an infrastructure where people have clean drinking water and adequate sanitation. The Pan American Health Organization estimates that this would cost about $1bn for Haiti. In fact, that is close to what the UN has been spending in just one year to keep its 10,000 troops in the country.

Furthermore, these troops have no legitimate mission in Haiti. They are not "peacekeeping" troops, as they are often inaccurately described. There is no peace agreement for them to enforce, nor is there a post-conflict situation that would justify their presence.

In fact, the UN troops were brought into Haiti in 2004, after Haiti's democratically-elected government was overthrown by a coup that the United States and its allies helped organize. Their stay in Haiti has been marred by a series of scandals and abuses, including the killing of civilians, and a number of prominent cases of rape and sexual abuse of Haitians. According to polling data, most Haitians do not want them there.

So, there is one obvious source of money for ridding the country of cholera, but there is also plenty of money that governments pledged after the earthquake that has not been distributed. Only about 53% of the $5.35bn pledged by international donors has been delivered. For the US government, it is just 27% (pdf), or $250m, of $900m pledged. If these governments want to help the UN fix the mess that they created, they have already committed the funds to do so.

And why shouldn't they pay? It wasn't the Haitian people that invited these troops to Haiti in the first place – it was the "international community".

The UN is still denying its responsibility, despite studies published by the New England Journal of Medicine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and even by the UN itself (pdf) tracking the origin of Haiti's cholera bacteria to UN soldiers. A study by a team of 15 scientists last year produced even more conclusive evidence, using whole genome sequence typing and two other methods that matched the cholera strain in Haiti to a sample from Nepal that was taken at the time that the Nepalese UN troops arrived in the country.

In short, there is proof beyond reasonable doubt that the UN mission is responsible for bringing this disease to Haiti.

What's more outrageous is that cholera is still killing people in Haiti, two years on. Since the rainy season started in April, more than 514 Haitians have died from cholera and more than 60,000 people have fallen sick. In any other country, this would be considered an outrage, especially given the origin of the epidemic.

Last year, the CEPR published a report showing that international health providers had cut back on cholera treatment facilities just before the rainy season, contributing to a spike in cholera infections. Unfortunately, the same thing happened this year: by June, there were just 61 cholera treatment units and 17 treatment centers, as compared with 205 and 38 the year before. Partners in Health is warning that cholera funding from the CDC is about to expire, even as a new surge in infections is expected in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

After the earthquake, there was much talk about "building back better" in Haiti, with disappointing results. The very least that the international community can do is to fix the damage that its members themselves have caused since the earthquake. That means starting right now, with the urgency that any other country would expect in matters of life and death.

Related Link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/nov/12/uni...demic
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Issue #3 of the Newsletter of the Tokologo African Anarchist Collective

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Central America / Caribbean | Imperialism / War | en

Fri 19 Sep, 15:51

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img_0001wb.jpg imageOctober 19th Mobilization against UN troops in Haiti 16:49 Fri 21 Oct by Batay Ouvriye 0 comments

On the basis of the Call from Collective for the Compensation of Cholera Victims in which we participate, some 400 persons mobilized last October 19th to protest again against the presence of the MINUSTAH (U.N.) troops in Haiti.

72a2d82c4bd14e14f80e6a7067000da2.jpg imageEnough is enough: let us all demand an end to the UN occupation of Haiti (29th February 2012) 16:27 Mon 17 Oct by Various Authors 0 comments

There are a thousand reasons for the UN occupation troops in Haiti (MINUSTAH) to leave. And not one single legitimate reason for them to stay. [Castellano] [Kreyòl Ayisyen] [Français]

35224_114775465236655_100001126067519_82272_7402679_n1.jpg imageCosta Rica: No cheeks left to turn 00:18 Thu 05 Aug by Colectivo La Libertad 2 comments

Statement by the Colectivo La Libertad from Costa Rica on the increasing militarization of Central American-Caribbean area, the growing repression of the popular movement and of any form of social protest, and their position on the approval for the stationing of thousands of US Marines on Costa Rican territory. Solidarity! [Castellano] [Français]

460_0___30_0_0_0_0_0_pwen_6.jpg imageHaiti: workers take over Flag Day (May 18th) 23:20 Sat 12 Jun by Batay Ouvriye 0 comments

May 18th, 2010, Flag Day commemoration! But: what flags? The American one, the French one, the Canadian, Chilean, Brazilian, Argentine, Bolivian, Ecuadorian, Paraguayan ones…? Or those of Jordan, Nepal, Congo, Senegal, China Israel, Sri Lanka…? Or, perhaps, those of Doctors without Borders or the Oxfam team?

demokrasi_popile_1.jpg imageSolidarity with the Haitian people! No to militarisation! 06:06 Wed 24 Feb by Comité Democrático Haitiano en Argentina 0 comments

The earthquake that shook Haiti on January 12th, also shook the consciousness and the heart of people all over the world, in whose eyes Haiti once again existed. It also shook our memory, since in between the press releases on this natural catastrophe, there have been leaks of the “social” catastrophes that have been suffered by the Haitian people and which are never taught at school. US and UN military occupations, bloody dictatorships backed by the Pentagon, embargoes and sanctions imposed by French and US imperialism, all of which have been as devastating as the earthquake. [Castellano] [Français] [Italiano]

dscf0017.jpg imageReport on the Haiti Solidarity Day demo (Dublin) 19:58 Thu 08 Feb by Paddy Rua 7 comments

Brief report of the Dublin activity in solidarity with the Haitian people struggle on the 7th of February

haitis.gif imageThe UN’s Christmas present to Haiti -- Assault on Sité Soley 06:49 Tue 26 Dec by Haiti Action 2 comments

Urgent action alert from the Haiti Action Committee - December 24, 2006

In the early morning of Friday, December 22nd, starting at approximately 3 a.m., 400 Brazilian-led UN occupation troops in armored vehicles carried out a massive assault on the people of Cite Soleil, laying siege yet again to the impoverished community. Eyewitness reports said a wave of indiscriminate gunfire from heavy weapons began about 5 a.m. and continued for much of the day Friday -- an operation on the scale of the July 6, 2005 UN massacre in Cite Soleil. Detonations could be heard for miles, AHP reported.

02.jpg imageUN whitewashes massacre amid new attacks in Haiti 01:33 Mon 16 Jan by HIP 0 comments

The January 9 strike came two days after the death of the commander of U.N. military forces in Haiti Lt. Gen. Urano Bacellar. His death was initially reported as a suicide but U.N. Special Envoy to Haiti Juan Gabriel Valdes has implied in recent interviews to the Haitian press that it may have been an assassination by forces trying to disrupt the electoral process. And finally, the right-wing opposition of president Mbeki in South Africa with ties to Haiti's elite ridiculously implied that a sniper from their country, at the behest of Aristide, killed the general.

pwen_1.png imageHaiti: On the January 9 (2006) Strike 20:22 Sun 08 Jan by BO 3 comments

For us of Batay Ouvriye, this is a call that is directly and openly against our interests, we of the popular masses. In the solution they are requesting – and building -, the strike is a first step. The next will be against us, since already in the first one, they don’t take into account the true nature and true forms of OUR problems in the question of insecurity. In truth, broadly shooting down residents of the popular neighborhoods (the strike heads might as well ask for bombs to be dropped massively on them) solves the gang problem, for all they are concerned.

pwen.png imageOn the Haitian Elections 19:27 Sun 08 Jan by BO 0 comments

Batay Ouvriyé Union's position on the Haitian elections.

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imageMartelly’s (s)election in Haiti: dance to the sound of Duvalierism! Aug 02 by José Antonio Gutiérrez D. 3 comments

Article on the recent electoral process in Haiti, the (s)election of "Sweet Mickey" Martelly and the process of restoration of Duvalierism by the so-called international community. Originally appeared ins an edited version in the British magazine "The Commune" , issue 23 - July 2011, with the title "Another UN presidential (s)election in Haiti".

imageBaby Doc returns to Haiti: the Duvalier Restoration Jan 19 by José Antonio Gutiérrez D. 0 comments

With the arrival of Baby Doc back in Haiti, the cycle opened by the extraordinarily tragic popular revolts of 1986 can be said to have come to completion. The restoration strategy of Duvalierism has succeeded, at least for now. Mouthing pious words about relief and wiping the crocodile tears about the misery they have created from their eyes, the "international community" has spared no efforts in helping the neo-Duvalierists bring about the Restoration. [Castellano]

imageThe Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the UN Occupation in Haiti Nov 03 by B.O. Solidarity Network 0 comments

At first glance, one might wonder what the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have in common with a UN “peace” mission on the opposite side of the world, in Haiti, a non Muslim country. Indeed, from the standpoint of US military casualties or US military expenditures, there is little in common

imageNo to US/Imperialist Occupation of Haiti Aug 02 by BO Solidarity Network 0 comments

For more than 30 years, since the end of the 70’s, each year, without fail, progressives in NY have gathered to mark July 28, 1915, the anniversary of the first US occupation of Haiti, a 19 year occupation that made more than 15,000 victims, an occupation that radically changed Haiti.

imageWhy We Should Oppose the U.S. Occupation of Haiti Apr 20 by John Reimann 0 comments

From the Industrial Worker (Official Newspaper of the Industrial Workers of the Wolrd, IWW) #1723, vol. 107, No.2, February-March 2010.

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imageEnough is enough: let us all demand an end to the UN occupation of Haiti (29th February 2012) Oct 17 0 comments

There are a thousand reasons for the UN occupation troops in Haiti (MINUSTAH) to leave. And not one single legitimate reason for them to stay. [Castellano] [Kreyòl Ayisyen] [Français]

imageCosta Rica: No cheeks left to turn Aug 05 2 comments

Statement by the Colectivo La Libertad from Costa Rica on the increasing militarization of Central American-Caribbean area, the growing repression of the popular movement and of any form of social protest, and their position on the approval for the stationing of thousands of US Marines on Costa Rican territory. Solidarity! [Castellano] [Français]

imageSolidarity with the Haitian people! No to militarisation! Feb 24 0 comments

The earthquake that shook Haiti on January 12th, also shook the consciousness and the heart of people all over the world, in whose eyes Haiti once again existed. It also shook our memory, since in between the press releases on this natural catastrophe, there have been leaks of the “social” catastrophes that have been suffered by the Haitian people and which are never taught at school. US and UN military occupations, bloody dictatorships backed by the Pentagon, embargoes and sanctions imposed by French and US imperialism, all of which have been as devastating as the earthquake. [Castellano] [Français] [Italiano]

imageThe UN’s Christmas present to Haiti -- Assault on Sité Soley Dec 26 2 comments

Urgent action alert from the Haiti Action Committee - December 24, 2006

In the early morning of Friday, December 22nd, starting at approximately 3 a.m., 400 Brazilian-led UN occupation troops in armored vehicles carried out a massive assault on the people of Cite Soleil, laying siege yet again to the impoverished community. Eyewitness reports said a wave of indiscriminate gunfire from heavy weapons began about 5 a.m. and continued for much of the day Friday -- an operation on the scale of the July 6, 2005 UN massacre in Cite Soleil. Detonations could be heard for miles, AHP reported.

imageHaiti: On the January 9 (2006) Strike Jan 08 Batay Ouvriyé 3 comments

For us of Batay Ouvriye, this is a call that is directly and openly against our interests, we of the popular masses. In the solution they are requesting – and building -, the strike is a first step. The next will be against us, since already in the first one, they don’t take into account the true nature and true forms of OUR problems in the question of insecurity. In truth, broadly shooting down residents of the popular neighborhoods (the strike heads might as well ask for bombs to be dropped massively on them) solves the gang problem, for all they are concerned.

more >>
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