Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: Black, Bush, disaster capitalism, earthquake, extraction, Haiti, human activity, infrastructure, Naomi Klein, people of color, race, racism, Shock Doctrine, US
I have to admit, when I was blog-surfing and looking for information on the recent devastating earthquake in Haiti, I came across a few obscure posts that it could’ve been triggered by US-sponsored oil drilling. It seemed like a hyper-paranoid lefty conspiracy theory that was using a tragic natural disaster to (once again) point out how evil US imperialism is. And while I agree on the evil nature of US imperialism, I was still skeptical. But after reading this blog post from the Haitian Blogger, I’m a little more convinced. This blog goes deeper than the sensationalist ‘Bush did it!’ rhetoric that I’d read in a different blog, and backs up opinions with more facts, specifically from Haitian and other officials who’ve warned about the dangers of deep drilling in triggering large earthquakes.
Also, the Haitian Blogger points out that the country’s emergency response system was gutted under the Bush-backed Preval administration, which obviously would weaken any rescue and relief efforts after a disaster such as an earthquake. As we can see in other poor countries like Cuba, which is hit yearly by often-devastating hurricanes, even the most basic infrastructure and prevention efforts can minimize human deaths. In California, during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake (which I experienced), killed only 63 people, in large part because of the more strict building codes here but also because of better infrastructure to deal with rescue and relief efforts.
In any case, whether you believe drilling for oil and mining triggered the Haitian earthquake of 2010 or not, environmental degradation and the neglect of infrastructure-building in Haiti has made this natural disaster a man-made disaster. Many other bloggers have commented on this terrible phenomenon, Mother Jones published a decent piece, and the UK Guardian published a good commentary. Naomi Klein has also been writing extensively about Haiti using the lens of her new book on ‘disaster capitalism’ called Shock Doctrine, which I have yet to read. Clearly, what’s happened in Haiti is a long-standing man-made disaster that has only been grossly exacerbated by a natural (or semi-natural?) disaster.
And the fact that Haiti is the first Black republic of the Western Hemisphere, and the result of the largest African slave revolt in history? Of course, that has nothing to do with the fact that the governments of much larger industrialized nations keep intervening in their sovereign affairs,right? Like sponsoring invasions or propping up dictators or demanding the Haitian government follow neoliberal economic policies that keep its people poor. The racism here is too blatant.
The bottom line? Human activity on Earth can be damaging, exploitative and deadly, or it can be healing, life-affirming and cooperative. It’s our job as a species to decide which path we want to take. I choose the latter. How about you?