Naomi Klein Addresses the Haiti Crisis

Journalist and author Naomi Klein spoke at the Ethical Culture Society in New York addressing the crisis in Haiti: “We have to be absolutely clear that this tragedy—which is part natural, part unnatural—must, under no circumstances, be used to, one, further indebt Haiti and, two, to push through unpopular corporatist policies in the interest of our corporations. This is not conspiracy theory. They have done it again and again.” The following is based on a transcript posted by Democracy Now! of Amy Goodman’s report on Klein’s talk.

Naomi Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, said in her lecture that “crises are often used now as the pretext for pushing through policies that you cannot push through under times of stability. Countries in periods of extreme crisis are desperate for any kind of aid, any kind of money, and are not in a position to negotiate fairly the terms of that exchange.” She quoted an entry that went up on the Heritage Foundation website with the title, “Haiti: Stop Them before They Shock Again:”

“Amidst the Suffering, Crisis in Haiti Offers Opportunities to the U.S. In addition to providing immediate humanitarian assistance, the U.S. response to the tragic earthquake in Haiti earthquake offers opportunities to re-shape Haiti’s long-dysfunctional government and economy as well as to improve the image of the United States in the region.”

Now, I don’t know whether things are improving or not, because it took the Heritage Foundation thirteen days before they issued thirty-two free market solutions for Hurricane Katrina. We put that document up on our website, as well. It was close down the housing projects, turn the Gulf Coast into a tax-free free enterprise zone, get rid of the labor laws that forces contractors to pay a living wage. Yeah, so it took them thirteen days before they did that in the case of Katrina. In the case of Haiti, they didn’t even wait twenty-four hours. Now, why I say I don’t know whether it’s improving or not is that two hours ago they took this down. So somebody told them that it wasn’t couth. And then they put up something that was much more delicate. Fortunately, the investigative reporters at Democracy Now!  managed to find that earlier document in a Google cache. But what you’ll find now is a much gentler “Things to Remember While Helping Haiti.” And buried down there, it says, “Long-term reforms for Haitian democracy and its economy are also badly overdue.”

But the point is, we need to make sure that the aid that goes to Haiti is: one, grants, not loans. This is absolutely crucial. This is an already heavily indebted country. This is a disaster that, as Amy said, on the one hand is nature, is, you know, an earthquake; on the other hand is the creation, is worsened by the poverty that our governments have been so complicit in deepening.

[Many thanks to the Caribbean Philosophical Association fro bringing this item to our attention.]

For the NPR program, go to http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2007/12/05/midmorning2/

For full article, see http://www.democracynow.org/2010/1/14/naomi_klein_issues_haiti_disaster_capitalism

See Naomi Klein’s website at http://www.naomiklein.org/main

Also of interest is “US Policy in Haiti over Decades ‘Lays the Foundation for Why Impact of Natural Disaster Is So Severe’” at http://www.democracynow.org/2010/1/14/us_policy_in_haiti_over_decades

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s