Our Own Backyard

It’s hard to awaken the media.

It’s even harder to awaken the American populace.

This is true for many things—from things sitting right in our own collective front yard like voter fraud or the bankruptcy bill, to things that are far away, things from which our government and media do their best (or, truthfully, their worst) to shield us, like what’s really going on in Iraq and Afghanistan to the many crises plaguing Africa. What’s happening in our own backyard is equally as ignored, and perhaps one of the greatest tragedies of this age is occurring with little awareness on the part of most Americans, despite America’s government having played a significant role in its origins, and that is the trouble in Haiti.

On February 29, 2004, Haiti’s president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, resigned from his position following a bloody rebellion and was flown to the Central African Republic by the US government. At least, that was the official story. Aristide had another story. He claimed to have been kidnapped and led away in handcuffs. There was also some concern that he had not been granted asylum in the Central African Republic, but was being help captive, even though the Frence Defense Minister assured the world he was being protected, not imprisoned. The true details of Aristide’s departure are, ultimately, unknown; both the US and France blocked a UN investigation into the circumstances.

Since then, civil unrest, social and economic chaos, and the unfortunate addition of flooding and hurricanes have been tearing Haiti apart at its seams, with scant notice of its turmoil from the US, and the rest of the global community.

Recently, the situation has deteriorated even further. In late May, the Department of State issued a travel warning, due to “the volatile security sitation” there, and last Tuesday, the UK did the same, following a civilian massacre orchestrated by UN “peacekeeping” troops on July 6 in one of Haiti’s poorest shantytowns, Cite Soleil. (This followed immediately after a four-day siege conducted by Haitian police on the pro-Aristide neighborhood of Bel Air, in which at least 30 people were killed and more than 15 homes were reportedly burned to the ground.)

Cite Soliel

Bel Air

The official rationale offered for the raid on Cite Soleil was to clear out gang members loyal to Aristide in preparation for Haiti’s upcoming October elections, but the slaughter seemed indiscriminant; a member of the San Francisco Labor Council, who had sent a delegation to Haiti to meet with the Confederation of Haitian Workers, visited Cite Soleil the day after the raid, and counted, along with a team of Haitian Human Rights workers, 23 bodies lying in pools of blood, some in the streets and some in their homes. The bodies included those of women and children, at least one as young as a year old. The residents of Cite Soleil report that the neighborhood was surrounded by UN troops, who cut off all exit points and monitored from above in circling helicopters, then began firing on unarmed civilians. (More here.) The UN and Haitian police deny the accusations, but the bodies of babies and an elderly woman (among others) being removed from the scene were filmed by a Reuters TV crew.

Last Tuesday, CN Todd of Freiheit und Wissen implored his fellow lefty bloggers to raise awareness of Haiti’s plight. See CN’s latest post here, which includes links to the other posts he has been doing on the issue, and here you will find the round-up of other bloggers who have written about this issue in an attempt to raise awareness of the terrible madness that goes on unabated in our own backyard. (Find out why America was so interested in Haiti in the first place here.)

If you are a blogger, please contribute to the blogswarm—and everyone, please check out the Haiti Action Committee website to find out more and donate to the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund.

Shakesville is run as a safe space. First-time commenters: Please read Shakesville's Commenting Policy and Feminism 101 Section before commenting. We also do lots of in-thread moderation, so we ask that everyone read the entirety of any thread before commenting, to ensure compliance with any in-thread moderation. Thank you.

blog comments powered by Disqus