". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Monday, January 18, 2010

Who Wants Looters? We Do! When Do We Want 'em? Now!

I have been listening to radio reportage from all over the Americas and Europe on the situation in Port au Prince. I've been surfing newspapers from the Americans and Europe online. No one is talking looters. They talk about how the U.S. military isn't allowing any Haitians in or out of the airport, only more U.S. military, U.S. citizens and journalists. They speak of re-routed and detoured portable hospitals, food and water, equipment to dig through the rubble.

But they are not talking about looting and violence. Rather, I hear them marveling at how orderly the people are when finally some of them are getting some rice and beans, lining up peacefully, putting young children and women at the heads of lines. I also hear them reporting on European aid and relief orgs' bewilderment that they aren't being allowed to do what they're there to do -- as if doing it isn't just about impossible already.

It's only via U.S.A. primary faux noose commentary that I ever hear about threats of looters and violence. And how many more military are arriving to 'prevent social disorder.'

However, capitalism rolls merrily along. Luxury liners are still docking at private beaches near Haiti's devastated earthquake zone for holidaymakers to enjoy the water, complicated cocktails and cookouts.
I expect nothing in Haiti to change from this at all, other than more misery, more homelessness, more violence of every kind to be visited on the people.  Though, of course, somebody-bodies are going to do very very very well out of the donated millions in money and supplies (though not the average Haitian).  Why?  Because I have seen and heard every bit of this before regarding Haitian crises, and still no sewer systems, no electrical grid, no highways, no functioning government, only U.S. military supported thug kleptocracy that gets very rich.
I see first hand among my friends the stupendous ability of Haitians to work, their work ethic, their hunger to work. The most effective aid that has arrived in Haiti is from Haitians who have come to this country and become citizens (they know other ways to get into the country than the port and airport at Port-au-Prince). They could build their own country all by themselves, thank you, if they were allowed to. But that's never been allowed to happen before, so I don't expect it to happen anytime in the looming future.  After all, we demand Haitians to do what we'd never demand of ourselves, particularly we banking folks.  Yes, IMF, I am looking at you, among others.

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