Haitians remain plagued by a perfect storm combination of earthquake devastation, crushing poverty, raging cholera, electoral fraud, exploitation, persecution, Obama-ordered deportations, and world indifference to their plight, with few exceptions like Cuba and Venezuela.
Post-quake, their aid was some of the first to arrive. After cholera struck, Chavez sent a Ministry of Health team with medications, intravenous drips and rehydration tablets. He promised more as needed for "our Haitian brothers and sisters (exploited) by savage capitalism and imperialism."
Since 1998, Cuba's had hundreds of doctors, nurses, and other medical specialists in Haiti to help. Post-quake, it sent more, and after cholera struck, more still with supplies to set up new facilities and deliver heroic services under the most adverse conditions, including in hard to reach rural areas.
Dr. Lorenzo Somarriba, Cuba's Medical Brigade (BMC) coordinator said the team numbers 908, including Cuban-trained professionals from 19 other countries, mostly Latin American, Carribbean and African ones, serving with its own staff. Included are doctors, nurses, technicians and logistics experts. They speak Creole, know the terrain, provide more aid than other nations by far, and stand ready to send more as needed.
On December 16, Granma International's Juan Diego Nusa Penalver headlined, "Cuban volunteers establish important cholera treatment center," saying:
"In record time," Cuba's BMC established a 100-bed treatment center in Carrefour for its 400,000 residents, 20 km from Port-au-Prince. Its "comprehensive cholera treatment areas" have 32 doctors and staff. In tents, 38 units are operating. "(H)ospitals adapted to confront the disease….which through December 12 had treated 34,309 patients" with a mortality rate of 0.75%.
In total, Cuba plans 20 Treatment Centers throughout the country, including in Mirebalais, Hinche, Saut-d'eau, L'Estere, Plateau-du-Nord, Belladere, Plaisance and Carrefour. "Work is (also) underway to find space and mount an additional 11 facilities of this type….The philosophy of unity (is committed) to defeat an enemy as powerful as cholera…."
On December 19, Granma said additional medical team members arrived, increasing the total to 1,160, including 62 from the Henry Reeve International Contingent for Emergency Situations in Disasters and Epidemics.
Official reports say over 2,500 died. Another 115,000 are ill. According to Operational Biosurveillance, these figures way understate the problem by a factor of four. A recent update said:
"In many areas of Haiti, we are documenting outbreaks that are not being accounted for in the official statistics. We therefore estimate the upper bound of estimated total (subclinical and clinically apparent) case counts to be one million. From a practical operations point of view, these estimates are academic, and we….believe (a more accurate total is) closer to 500,000….The bottom line is the epidemic continues to spread without restraint."
In addition, infected health care workers have been reported, and "more cases (are expected) in the United States. We (already) believe it likely (that) more cases are inside the US unreported. Implications for the United States are non-significant," given the ability to treat them.
On December 15, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said its 4,000 Haitian staff and 315 international employees treated 62,000 patients, continues to treat another 2,000 daily, and increased its mission in Northern and Southern areas. While some locations have stabilized, others show continued spread, including in Northern cities and rural locations. "Despite the significant logistical challenges involved in reaching isolated parts of both departments, MSF teams are expanding the number of units, treatment centers, and rehydration points in both areas."
"Meanwhile, the epidemic has (also) increased sharply in the South." New facilities were set up in Pignon, St. Raphael, Ranquitte (Nord), Gaspard (Nord Ouest), and Jeremie (Grande Anse). "However, as the epidemic continues to spread, the response by local and international organizations remains inadequate."
Resolving Haiti's Electoral Fraud Delayed
On December 18, AP reporter Jonathan Katz headlined, "Haiti election results could be delayed for weeks," saying:
OAS chief Jose Miguel Insulza "asked (Preval) to delay announcing election results until an international panel of experts can review the vote, officials said Saturday." However, "the panel of up to five electoral, legal and information-technology experts has not even been formed, and waiting for its review could drag into the new year….Preval's office could not be reached for comment…."
On December 20, Al Jazeera headlined, "Haiti poll results delay rued," saying:
"The proposed delay….has been met with fierce criticism from some of the candidates. (Haiti's electoral commission) plans a recount of tally sheets in the presence of the three main candidates, although" first place winner Mirlande Manigat and third place one Marcel Martelly won't participate.
Final results were due out December 20. Most candidates, including Martelly, want the fraudulent election re-held with all 19 candidates participating. Washington, Preval and the OAS may be delaying to "run out the clock," defuse public anger, and show only token recount changes to legitimize a bogus process.
Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) said disputed results will be rapidly reviewed. Rapidity is now delay. In addition, disgruntled candidates got until December 15 to appeal. Verification of preliminary results hasn't happened. On December 14, the OAS/CARICOM (MOEC) Joint Electoral Observation Mission learned that establishing the commission was postponed.
On December 19, a CEP statement said:
"Until the end of the litigation stage of the electoral process, the arrival and the completion of the work of an expert mission to the OAS….the PRC has decided to postpone the publication of final results of the first round. No new date (was) specified. However, depending on what we have learned, Opont Pierre Louis, the Director General of the PRC, reportedly (said) 'we gather on (December 20) to fix a new date. A date that is safe and good for the country.' "
Perhaps so for its oligarchy, Obama officials and complicit OAS/UN functionaries. Not at all for ordinary Haitians to be exploited, left out, betrayed, and bludgeoned if they complain.
Obama Orders Diaspora Haitians Deported
Announced earlier in December, The New York Times noticed on December 19 in Kirk Semple's article headlined, "Haitians in US Brace for Deportations to Resume," saying:
"The Obama administration has been quietly moving to resume deportations of Haitians for the first time since" the January quake. US diaspora ones aren't amused, saying "an influx of deportees will only add to the country's woes," never mind the injustice.
After Congress established Temporary Protection Status (TPS) in 1990, Washington granted 260,000 Salvadorans, 82,000 Hondurans, and 5,000 Nicaraguans protection, then extended it on October 1, 2008. It lets the Attorney General grant TPS to undocumented residents unable to return home because of armed conflict, natural disasters, or other "extraordinary and temporary conditions."
Past recipients also included Kuwait, Lebanon, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Guinea-Bissau, Rwanda, Burundi, Liberia, Montserrat, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan and Angola. Haitians never got it, yet granting it is the simplest, least expensive form of aid so Port-au-Prince can concentrate on its crisis, while diaspora Hatians help through remittances back home.
No matter. In recent weeks, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents began rounding up Haitian immigrants ahead of resuming deportations in mid-January. According to ICE spokeswoman Barbara Gonzales, only those convicted of felonies or two or more misdemeanors, who've served their sentences, will be affected, "consistent with our domestic immigration enforcement priorities."
Founded in 1996 in Haiti, Alternative Chance is "a self-help peer counseling program….challeng(ing) the injustice of US immigration policies and assist(ing) immigration attorneys in fighting against deportation."
On December 16, it expressed shock about announced deportations. Pre-quake, it saw firsthand how criminal deportees are treated "in Haiti's DCPJ police administrative building and in other police stations or prisons in and around" Port-au-Prince. Uncharged in Haiti, "their detention is illegal under Haitian law and international standards."
Yet, in grossly overcrowded conditions, they're denied "due process, a release date or an attorney." Many may face indefinite detention for months, in 24-hour lockups, without "food, treated drinking water, medical or mental health care." They have no toilets, sinks, lighting, or room to lie down. Instead, they "must lay directly on insect, rat infested cement floors" in sweltering heat.
Post-quake, conditions are even worse. No matter. Washington-ordered deportations will resume. In a December 16 letter to Obama, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) also objected after 100 Haitians got final orders, were rounded up, and transferred to Louisiana. Outraged, CCR said:
"Sending people to Haiti under these circumstances will end up being a death sentence for many. Sending additional people from the US into the Haitian prison system will also further stress the resources available to the impoverished" already there.
CCR wants deportations halted on humanitarian grounds. Since taking office in January 2009, Obama officials showed Haitians no compassion, in spite of dire post-quake conditions, raging cholera, and the aftermath of the fraudulent election they engineered.
Contemptuously, they now want minor offenders returned to hellish conditions so bad it may kill them. It's a shocking indictment of a criminally unjust administration, planning anguish, human misery and exploitation, not aid, for desperately needy people. Mass outrage is needed to stop them. The lives and welfare of everyone sent back are at stake.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at [email protected]. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.