Meddling Americans 

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It is disappointing to see someone besides Pat Robertson believing the devil numbnuttery as an explanation for Haiti’s woes. Gil Montano [“Earthquake Voodoo,” Letters, Jan. 21, City Weekly] sadly proves me wrong. Haiti’s problems (earthquakes aside) are not supernatural, but manmade—much of it made in the United States and France.

Haiti’s 1804 slave revolt freed it from French Imperial domination, so we forced them to pay reparations to French slave traffickers for most of the 19th century. President Thomas Jefferson refused to recognize Haiti as an independent nation, and this continued until the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1864.

In the early 20th century, America invaded Haiti and occupied it until 1934, making it a safe haven for U.S. corporate powers to exploit the population and siphon its wealth into their bank accounts. After troops withdrew, a series of brutal U.S. sponsored dictatorships oppressed the people, the most notable being the Duvalier father-and-son regime, and its murderous and ruthless Tonton Macoutes.

The only freely elected leader of Haiti was the former priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide, elected in 1990 and removed in a U.S.-created coup in 1991, and reinstalled in 1994 by Clinton—serving two years but burdened with International Monetary Fund “structural agreements,” designed to destroy the public sector, typical of “free (forced) trade” requirements of the neo-liberal/Chicago School ideology. A former food-exporting country soon became 100 percent dependent on imported food as U.S. imports collapsed its agricultural class.

Aristide was re-elected in 2001, amid much intimidation and violence directed at his supporters by opposition groups and former Tonton Macoutes secret-police members, and he was again removed by Bush in 2004.

And earthquakes? Luck of the draw there.

Paul Ames

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