January 28, 2010
New Statesman

The Kidnapping of Haiti

by John Pilger

The theft of Haiti has been swift and crude. On 22 January, the United States secured "formal approval" from the United Nations to take over all air and sea ports in Haiti, and to "secure" roads. No Haitian signed the agreement, which has no basis in law. Power rules in a US naval blockade and the arrival of 13,000 marines, special forces, spooks and mercenaries, none with humanitarian relief training.

The airport in the capital, Port-au-Prince, is now a US military base and relief flights have been rerouted to the Dominican Republic. . . .

Haiti is where America makes the equipment for its hallowed national game, for next to nothing. Haiti is where Walt Disney contractors make Mickey Mouse pyjamas, for next to nothing. The US controls Haiti's sugar, bauxite and sisal. Rice-growing was replaced by imported American rice, driving people into the town and jerry-built housing. Year after year, Haiti was invaded by US marines, infamous for atrocities that have been their speciality from the Philippines to Afghanistan. Bill Clinton is another comedian, having got himself appointed the UN's man in Haiti. Once fawned upon by the BBC as "Mr Nice Guy . . . bringing democracy back to a sad and troubled land", Clinton is Haiti's most notorious privateer, demanding deregulation that benefits the sweatshop barons. Lately, he has been promoting a $55m deal to turn the north of Haiti into an American-annexed "tourist playground".

Not for tourists is the US building its fifth-biggest embassy. Oil was found in Haiti's waters decades ago and the US has kept it in reserve until the Middle East begins to run dry. More urgently, an occupied Haiti has a strategic importance in Washington's "rollback" plans for Latin America. The goal is the overthrow of the popular democracies in Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador, control of Venezuela's abundant petroleum reserves, and sabotage of the growing regional co-operation long denied by US-sponsored regimes. . . .


John Pilger, renowned investigative journalist and documentary film-maker, is one of only two to have twice won British journalism's top award; his documentaries have won academy awards in both the UK and the US. In a New Statesman survey of the 50 heroes of our time, Pilger came fourth behind Aung San Suu Kyi and Nelson Mandela. "John Pilger," wrote Harold Pinter, "unearths, with steely attention facts, the filthy truth. I salute him."

Smedley Butler, "'War Is a Racket'," 1933

"Occupation of Haiti (1915-34),"

[The Europeans destroyed what was in their way. That was true over almost the entire world, with very few exceptions. European wars were wars of extermination. If we were to be honest about that history, we would describe it simply as a barbarian invasion.--Noam Chomsky, "European Wars of Extermination," October 1, 1993, p60]

In Haiti in 1981, for example, the IMF paid in $22 million to the Treasury as part of a standby credit; two days later a visiting team of Fund experts discovered that President Jean-Claude Duvalier ("Baby Doc") had withdrawn $20 million of the money for his personal use. It was also discovered that a further $16 million had 'disappered' from various state bodies over the previous three months and that the Central Bank was paying the elegant Mrs Michele Duvalier a salary of $1.2 million a year.--Graham Hancock, "Lords of Poverty: The Power, Prestige, and Corruption of the International Aid Business," Atlantic Monthly Press; Reprint edition (January 10, 1994), p.179]

In May 1998, Indonesian mobs swarmed through the streets of Jakarta, looting and torching more than 5,000 ethnic Chinese shops and homes. A hundred and fifty Chinese women were gang-raped and more than 2,000 people died. In the months that followed, anti-Chinese hate-mongering and violence spread throughout Indonesia's cities. The explosion of rage can be traced to an unlikely source: the unrestrained combination of democracy and free markets - the very prescription wealthy democracies have promoted for healing the ills of underdevelopment.--Amy Chua, "Free-Market Democracy: Our Most Dangerous Export," The Guardian, February 28, 2004

Peter Hallward, "Damming the Flood: Haiti, Aristide, and the Politics of Containment," Verso (April 17, 2008)

Ezili Danto, "Oil in Haiti - Economic Reasons for the UN/US occupation,", October 13, 2009

"Haiti: The transformation of diplomacy or a new Manifest Destiny?,"

[In 2002, when a US-backed military coup temporarily toppled the elected government of Venezuela, most governments in the hemisphere responded quickly and helped force the return of democratic rule. But two years later, when Haiti's democratically elected president Jean-Bertrand Aristide was kidnapped by the US and flown to exile in Africa, the response was muted.

Unlike the two centuries of looting and pillage of Haiti since its founding by a slave revolt in 1804, the brutal occupation by US marines from 1915 to 1934, the countless atrocities under dictatorships aided and abetted by Washington, the 2004 coup cannot be dismissed as "ancient history." It was just six years ago, and it is directly relevant to what is happening there now.

The US, together with Canada and France, conspired openly for four years to topple Haiti's elected government, cutting off almost all international aid in order to destroy the economy and make the country ungovernable.--Mark Weisbrot, "Haiti needs water, not occupation," Guardian, January 20, 2010]

[Each American dollar roughly breaks down like this: 42 cents for disaster assistance, 33 cents for U.S. military aid, nine cents for food, nine cents to transport the food, five cents for paying Haitian survivors for recovery efforts, just less than one cent to the Haitian government, and about half a cent to the Dominican Republic.--Yesica Fisch and Martha Mendoza, "Haiti Government Gets 1 Penny Of Each US Earthquake Aid Dollar, AP Says," Huffington Post, January 27, 2010]

[The UN is to begin a major programme of food distribution in the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince, almost three weeks after the deadly earthquake.--"UN to start major Haiti food distribution programme," BBC News, January 31, 2010]

Martha Brannigan and Jacqueline Charles, "Battle begins over who'll get lucrative Haiti cleanup contracts," McClatchy, February 9, 2010

Bill Quigley, "Haiti by the Numbers,", February 9, 2010

[Our debt to Haiti stems from four main sources: slavery, the US occupation, dictatorship and climate change.--Naomi Klein, "Haiti: A Creditor, Not a Debtor," Nation, February 11, 2010]

James Rosen, "USAID Steers No-Bid Haiti Contract to 'Politically Connected' Firm of Bill Clinton Friend ,", February 16, 2010

AUDIO: "Clinton Family Pockets Haiti Assets in Telephone Company Privatization,", March 9, 2010

Beverly Bell, "The Shock Doctrine in Haiti: An Interview with Patrick Elie," Huffington Post, April 16, 2010

George Russell, "UN's Ballooning $732 Million Haiti Peacekeeping Budget Goes Mostly to Its Own Personnel,", April 20, 2010

Timi Gerson, "Five Questions Monsanto Needs to Answer about its Seed Donation to Haiti,", May 17, 2010

"$900,000 For A 3-Bedroom ... In Haiti?," Associated Press, October 17, 2010

[Twelve months after the quake wrecked 350,000 homes and left at least 1.5 million people homeless, 87 per cent of the survivors are still living in squalid, dangerous tented camps. Dozens of rapes are committed every day, and so much rubble is uncleared that what remains on the ground, clogging any serious reconstruction, would fill trucks which would stretch halfway round the world. All this in a country which, staggeringly, hosts tourists from cruise ships.--Nina Lakhani, "Haiti: One year on from quake," Independent, January 9, 2011]

Dan Coughlin and Kim Ives, "WikiLeaks Haiti: Country's Elite Used Police as Private Army,", June 22, 2011

Bill Quigley, "Haiti, 17 Months After the Quake,", June 23, 2011

Paul Hales, "WikiLeaks: Haiti earthquake sparked US Gold Rush,", June 25, 2011

Jacqueline Charles, "WikiLeaks cables show US calling shots in Haiti,", July 20, 2011

[Two and a half years after the earthquake, Haiti remains mired in a humanitarian crisis, with 390,000 people languishing in tents. Yet the showcase project of the reconstruction effort is this: an industrial park that will create jobs and housing in an area undamaged by the temblor and in a venture that risks benefiting foreign companies more than Haiti itself.--Deborah Sontag, "Earthquake Relief Where Haiti Wasn't Broken,", July 5, 2012]

Jonathan M Katz, "The Big Truck That Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster," Palgrave Macmillan (January 8, 2013)

Judith Scherr, "For Disenfranchised Haitian Islanders, Tourism Signals a Paradise Lost,", August 10, 2014

Armin Rosen, "How the U.N. Caused Haiti's Cholera Crisis -- and Won't Be Held Responsible,", February 26, 2013

Daniel Halper, "Protesters Gather at Clinton Foundation to Complain of 'Missing Money' from Haiti Recovery,", January 12, 2015

[Tony Rodham - Hillary Clinton's younger brother - serves on the advisory board of a U.S.-based company that in 2012 won one of Haiti's first two gold-mining permits in 50 years.--Kevin Sullivan and Rosalind S. Helderman, "How the Clintons' Haiti development plans succeed - and disappoint,", March 20, 2015]

Amy Wilentz, "How America and the Rest of the World Ruined Haiti,", March 25, 2015

Justin Elliott and Laura Sullivan, "How the Red Cross Raised Half a Billion Dollars for Haiti and Built Six Homes,", June 3, 2015

Mark Schuller, "Humanitarian Occupation of Haiti: 100 Years and Counting,", July 28, 2015

[I was present at a December 2010 meeting where the so-called "Core Group" . . . plotted a coup against Haitian President Rene Preval--Ricardo Seitenfus, "Hillary Clinton and Haiti,", April 11, 2016]

Justin Elliott and Laura Sullivan, "Red Cross Built Exactly 6 Homes For Haiti With Nearly Half A Billion Dollars In Donations,", June 30, 2016

[The money that was donated to help earthquake victims in India and Haiti and HIV/AIDs sufferers has mostly enriched the Clintons, Corsi claims--Caroline Howe, "Partners in Crime: The Clintons' Scheme to Monetize the White House for Personal Profit,", June 29, 2016]

This blockbuster exposé reveals the mysterious multimillion-dollar Foundation gift from an obscure Indian politician that coincided with Senator Clinton's reversal on the nuclear nonproliferation treaty; how Secretary of State Clinton was involved in allowing the transfer of what was projected to be 50 percent of US domestic uranium output to the Russian government; how multimillion-dollar contracts for Haiti disaster relief were awarded to donors and friends of Hillary and Bill--Peter Schweizer, "Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich," Harper Paperbacks; Reprint edition (July 26, 2016)

Kim Ives, "Risk of Another Round of Disaster Aid to Haiti to Reinforce U.S. Domination,", October 13, 2016

Haiti assassin trained by US military, RT America, July 15, 2021

Yves Engler, "Outsiders Impose Leader in Haiti Yet Againn,", August 4, 2021


To the global West, Haiti has always been a place where labor is cheap, politicians are compliant, and profits are to be made. Over the course of nearly 100 years, the US has sought to control Haiti and its people with occupying police, military, and euphemistically-called peacekeeping forces, as well as hand-picked leaders meant to quell uprisings and protect corporate interests. Earthquakes and hurricanes only further devastated a state already decimated by the aid industrial complex.-- Jake Johston, "Aid State: Elite Panic, Disaster Capitalism, and the Battle to Control Haiti," St. Martin's Press (January 30, 2024)

Jemima Pierre, The Real Reason the US is Invading Haiti, May 11, 2024

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