Italian conservative criticizes US militarism in Haiti


This video is called Haiti: girl trapped under earthquake rubble screams for rescue.

Somewhat like the French Sarkozy administration, and “Doctors Without Borders”, the Rightist Berlusconi government in Italy is “Atlanticist“.

Yet, like with the French government and “Doctors Without Borders“, there is now Italian conservative criticism of United States militarism in Haiti in the wake of the earthquake disaster there.

From the Financial Times in Britain:

Italy weighs into spat over US Haiti effort

By Guy Dinmore in Rome

Published: January 25 2010 12:34 | Last updated: January 25 2010 12:34

Franco Frattini, Italy’s foreign minister, on Monday sought to contain the diplomatic fallout from harsh criticism of the US relief effort in Haiti made by Guido Bertolaso, head of Italy’s civil protection agency.

Mr Bertolaso, who is close to Silvio Berlusconi, prime minister, slammed the US response on Sunday night, telling Italian television that the US “confuses military intervention with emergency aid” and had failed to co-ordinate with humanitarian agencies in the quake-devastated country.

“We are missing a leader, a co-ordination capacity that goes beyond military discipline,” said Mr Bertolaso, who arrived in Haiti last Friday.

“It’s a truly powerful show of force, but it’s completely out of touch with reality,” he said of the US military. Speaking generally, he also criticised what he called a “vanity parade” of people trying to demonstrate the importance of their own countries’ relief efforts.

But Mr Frattini, speaking in Washington ahead of a meeting with Hillary Clinton, secretary of state, told reporters that the Italian government “dissociated itself” from Mr Bertolaso’s “head-on” confrontation with the US authorities and relief organisations.

The US has sent 13,000 troops to Haiti following the January 12 quake, which is believed to have killed up to 200,000 people and left more than 1.5m homeless. The US and other donor countries are gathering in Montreal on Monday for a conference on Haiti’s reconstruction

Mr Frattini, for whom the relationship with the US is the key pillar of Italian foreign policy, said a crisis of such complexity required US leadership together with the most effective co-ordination by the United Nations of the international relief effort.

Unlike Mr Bertolaso, the lawyer Frattini is not a medical doctor, which, apart from ideological rifts within the Italian government, may explain differences in their views.

Oxfam: Write off all Haiti’s £552m debt: here.

Murdoch’s Fox News and Spanish monarchist daily ABC falsely accuse Venezuelan president Chavez of clainming the US caused the Haitian earthquake: here.

Richard Seymour, the author of The Liberal Defense of Murder, analyzes the propaganda manufactured to justify U.S. actions in Haiti after the earthquake: here.

How can we measure the resiliency of the Haitian people who are the poorest in the western hemisphere with 55% living below the extreme poverty line of $1 a day? On a good day in Haiti, nearly half the population doesn’t know when or where the next meal will come; in good times, 47% don’t have any access to the most basic health care; 45% of the population doesn’t have clean water and 80% are without basic sanitation. People fear going to the nation’s main hospital, which we have worked to bring to life over the last week, because at its best, it provided inadequate care in facilities with marginal electricity and water, and received no funding. When we arrived there, we found no basic medical supplies to restock the meager supplies we could fit into our bags and our small plane: here.

4 thoughts on “Italian conservative criticizes US militarism in Haiti

  1. ANSA, 25 January, 13:06

    During an Italian TV broadcast from Port-au-Prince on Sunday, Bertolaso was asked to describe the situation there two weeks after the Caribbean nation was devastated by an earthquake estimated to have claimed as many as 350,000 lives.

    The civil protection chief, who headed up the relief effort after the April 2009 earthquake in L’Aquila, responded with a broadside against the lack of central coordination among the various relief agencies present.

    ”A lot of them are more interested in parading in front of the cameras than rolling up their sleeves and going to work to find survivors,” he said.

    ”It’s like the bonfire of the vanities”. Bertolaso also said the US had done a poor job of spearheading the relief effort, sending too many troops and not enough people trained in disaster management.

    ”What’s really needed here is a person like (President Barack) Obama to come and take charge of the emergency”. ”Instead, they sent in a bunch of starlets,” he said in an apparent reference to a handful of celebrities, such as actor Sean Penn, who have made their way to the island over the past week.

    Regarding United Nations envoy to Haiti, former US president Bill Clinton, Bertolaso said he ”ought to be running this operation from headquarters instead of having himself filmed while he hands out bottles of water”.

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  2. Food Not Troops – End the U.S. Military Occupation

    Send a message to President Obama, former Presidents Clinton and Bush: “The People of Haiti need food, water, and medical aid, not military occupation”

    Sign the Petition at http://iacenter.org/haitipetition/

    “STAND WITH HAITI”:

    24 cities and communities in solidarity with Haiti during Haiti Emergency Earthquake International Solidarity Week: A list of marches, demonstrations and events

    A partial list of marches, demonstrations and events:

    1. New York City – Friday 1/29, “Stand with Haiti” Mass March across the Brooklyn Bridge. Sponsored by New York’s Haitian community. Gather at 4 pm at Cadman Plaza Federal Building in Brooklyn, and at 5:30 pm march across the bridge to the Federal Bldg at Foley Square in Manhattan.

    Earlier in the week, on Wed. 1/27, 5-6:30 pm, there will be a demonstration for Haiti and Honduras at Union Square, sponsored by the International Action Center.

    2. Montreal – Mon. 1/25 at noon – Protest outside the Ministerial Preparatory Conference on Haiti. The conference, called to plan reconstruction financing for Haiti, will be attended by the foreign ministers of the 3 countries that engineered the 2004 coup [US, France & Canada], including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Bernard Kouchner. Protest organized by Haiti Action Montreal, part of the Canada Haiti Action Network (CHAN). Location: 999 University Street. Metro: Square Victoria. Theme of the demonstration: Haiti needs emergency relief, not military intervention! Protesters are also demanding a temporary loosening of immigration controls to allow Haitians to enter Canada. ** [See below] Interest in Haiti is high. The previous Friday nearly 400 people packed a theater at Concordia University to see the film Aristide and the Endless Revolution.

    3. San Francisco – Mon 1/25, “Stand with Haiti” demonstration 5 pm, Powell & Market (Powell Street BART), followed by a march through downtown San Francisco. Sponsored by Haiti Action Committee, with sound provided by the Answer Coalition. Demands include: Get water, food and medicine to the people now! Denounce the U.S. for militarizing and stalling the relief effort! Return President Aristide from forced exile in South Africa, as the vast majority of Haitians demand!

    4. Baltimore – Monday, 1/25, 6:30 pm, “Stand with Haiti” demonstration in the well-traveled area near City Hall at 100 North Holliday Street. Sponsored by International Action Center and the Bail Out the People Movement. Demands include: Demilitarize the Haiti relief effort!

    5. Toronto – Thurs Jan 28 – 7pm. Eyewitness report from Haiti by BC Holmes of the Toronto Haiti Action Committee, part of the Canada Haiti Action Network. Event is being held at OISE, 252 Bloor Street West. Report on an 11-day visit by a Canadian human rights delegation. Co-sponsored by Pan African Solidarity Network.

    6. Oakland, California – Two weekend concerts for Haiti relief capped a week of activities in Oakland to support the Haitian people.
    +++ The Vukani Mawethu Choir and the musical group Troublemakers Union packed the house at the Bay Area Christian Connection in Oakland on Sat. 1/23, raising $4,000 for the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund and $1,000 for Partners in Health. [Concert sponsored by Haiti Action Committee and Vukani Mawethu.]
    +++ The San Francisco Boys Chorus, with mezzo sopranos Frederica von Stade and Zheng Cao, filled Oakland’s Cathedral of Christ the Light on Sun.1/24, in a concert to benefit Catholic Charities’ Haiti project. The event was sponsored by the Catholic Diocese of Oakland, and the Bishop of Oakland spoke.
    +++ Some 200 people came out in the rain on Martin Luther King Day, to attend a candlelight vigil for Haiti outside the Oakland Federal Building. Speakers included Congresswoman Barbara Lee, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus; civil rights attorney Walter Riley, chair of the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund, just returned from Haiti where he witnessed the earthquake; Rev. Phil Lawson, with the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI); Sister Maureen Duignan, director of East Bay Sanctuary Covenant and longtime friend of Haiti; Rev. J. Alfred Smith Jr., pastor of Allen Temple Baptist Church in Oakland; Supervisor Keith Carson; and Pierre Labossiere, co-founder, Haiti Action Committee.
    +++ The Golden State Warriors basketball team joined up with the Oakland Black Firefighters Association to collect donations at the next two home games for Haiti Earthquake relief. One of the recipients will be East Bay Sanctuary Covenant, sponsor of the Haiti Rural Education Project. At the Warriors’ home games on January 20 [vs. Denver] or January 22 [vs. New Jersey], Oakland Firefighters carrying firefighter boots will encourage fans to “Fill The Boot” with donations for Haiti.

    7. Miami – Mon. 1/25, 7 pm, meeting of a newly formed committee called Haiti Solidarity, at Veye Yo, 54th Street and North Miami Avenue, in the Little Haiti neighborhood. Members will discuss a proposal to mount a demonstration in Miami to raise these demands: 1) Demilitarization of US aid to Haiti and Prioritizing aid to the popular neighborhoods devastated by the earthquake; 2) Cancellation of Haiti’s debt [there is now a temporary moratorium on repayment of the debt, but it has not been cancelled]; 3) Opening of US borders to Haitians; 4) Restoration of Haiti’s sovereignty.

    Also in Miami, on Sat. 1/23, a fundraiser at the Tap Tap Haitian Restaurant in Miami’s South Beach neighborhood raised $1,800 for the late Father Gerard Jean-Juste’s What If? Foundation, which provides free meals to children at St. Clare’s Church in Port-au-Prince. [The St. Clare’s food program has just gotten back in operation after the earthquake, thanks to the efforts in Haiti of Lavarice Gaudin, from the Veye Yo organization in Miami, who has been shuttling truckloads of food and supplies from the Dominican Republic.]

    8. London, England – On Wed. 1/20 Global Women’s Strike called an emergency Haiti earthquake vigil, on the steps of St. Martin in the Fields Church, Trafalgar Square. About 150 people, many of them Haitian, attended. The vigil was called “to press for urgent relief and rescue for Haitian people, not military occupation. As the US military blocks supplies getting through, health providers estimate that 20,000 people perish daily whom they could save.” Placards called for the return of Haiti’s elected president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, removed by a US Coup in 2004. Global Women’s Strike leader is Selma James, widow of C.L.R. James, author of Black Jacobins, the definitive historical account of the 1804 Haitian Revolution that defeated Napoleon’s army [then the world’s most powerful] and ended slavery in Haiti. Selma James says that now, after the earthquake, “only Aristide has the mandate to lead Haiti’s recovery.” At the Trafalgar Square vigil, Global Women’s Strike encouraged donations “to the long established Haiti Emergency Relief Fund, dedicated to helping grassroots people. Funds go directly to those in immediate need, beginning with women and children, without taking any ‘administrative cut’.”

    9. Johannesburg, South Africa (Auckland Park) – On Mon.1/25 the radio station Channel Africa, affiliated with the South African Broadcasting Corporation, will tape a program in the English language devoted to the Haiti Emergency Earthquake International Solidarity Week, hosted by radio personality Faz da Hall, for airing later in the week. The program will discuss the many bottlenecks imposed by the US military, that have prevented aid from getting where it is needed.

    10. Detroit – Sat. 1/23, Emergency public meeting and dinner for Haiti, at 5920 Second Avenue, north of Wayne State University in Detroit, on the theme, “US Imperialism: No Friend of Haiti; Humanitarian Mission or Military Occupation?” Speakers raised the demand for the permanent lifting of the deportation orders on Haitians, withdrawal of U.S. military troops from the country, and the return of the ousted President Jean Bertrand Aristide, who was overthrown by the U.S. and exiled in 2004. Sponsored by Workers World Party and the Harriet Tubman School.

    11. Bronx, New York – Sunday 1/24, 2:30 pm into the evening, Benefit Concert in Solidarity with the People of Haiti at St. Margaret Church, 940 East 156th Street in the Bronx. Sponsored by many organizations, principally from the Garifuna community (immigrants of African descent from Honduras and other Central American countries). Featured performers include Tormenta Agrupacion, Amistad Garifuna, T.N.C Libana Maraza, Paula Castillo, El Maestro and Alagany Band.

    12. Richmond, California – The Richmond City Council voted unanimously last week to demand immediate and widespread distribution of water and supplies to the people affected by the earthquake in Haiti. They faxed letters to this effect to President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Senators Boxer and Feinstein, and Rep. George Miller.

    13. Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada – Mon 1-25, Haiti earthquake relief fundraiser, at Lo Pub, Ellice & Kennedy. Artists and DJ. Sponsored by Mass Appel.

    13. Dublin, Ireland – Latin American solidarity activists are meeting this week to form a countrywide action committee on Haiti. This will be followed by a speaking tour in three cities of Ireland – Galway, Cork and Dublin – featuring Elsie Haas from the Haitian community in Paris, and raising funds for the Haitian doctors’ association in France. Organizers called for “ending the occupation of Haiti by foreign powers” as a prerequisite for Haiti’s sustained recovery.

    14. Portland, Oregon -Sat., 1/23, Haiti-El Salvador Dinner Benefit attended by 400 at Sunnyside Elementary School.
    Sponsored by Salvadorenos Unidos de Oregon, Portland Central American Solidarity Committee, and Portland Jobs with Justice.
    The community event raised $2,500 for Haiti and El Salvador.

    15. Philadelphia – Wed. 1/27, 4:30-6:00, Demonstration for Haiti and Honduras on the steps of City Hall, 15th & Market. Sponsored by the International Action Center. Held on the occasion of the inauguration of the new “President” of Honduras, elected in fraudulent elections. In both countries, US-backed governments have excluded from elections candidates of the popular movements.

    16. Galway, Ireland – Haiti activists will visit Galway next week, on a speaking tour about Haiti, as solidarity efforts ramp up to include other cities of the Emerald Isle in addition to the capital. Elsie Haas, former director of the Haiti Tribune in Paris, will be speaking.

    17. West Oakland – Haiti Relief Fundraiser Sunday evening 1/24 at the Black Dot Cafe, 1195 Pine St. in the heart of the historic African American community in West Oakland. Speaking are civil rights Attorney Walter Riley, chair of the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund, who was in Haiti when the earthquake struck, and Pierre Labossiere, co-founder, Haiti Action Committee. Benefits the Haiti Media/Medical Team, which is being pulled together by JR, a broadcast journalist and associate editor of the San Francisco Bay View-National Black Newspaper, and his friend, a young doctor. They plan on traveling to Haiti “to work in solidarity with the people, ministering to their medical needs and reporting the truth to the outside world: the stories of the Haitian people, from their point of view.”

    18. Buffalo, N.Y. – Wed. 1/27, late afternoon demonstration for Haiti and Honduras, against the US military presence and influence in both countries. Sponsored by the International Action Center.

    19. Vancouver, British Columbia – Fri 1-22, afternoon panel discussion on situation in Haiti at University of British Columbia, Freddy Wood Theatre. Sponsored by a university-wide coalition.

    20. Boston – Sat., 1/23, Forum on Haiti featuring Claude St. Germain, Fanmi Lavalas representative and exec board member, United Steel Workers Local 8751 (Boston School Bus Drivers), and Larry Hales, a leader of the youth group F.I.S.T. (Fight Imperialism, Stand Together). Speakers at the Workers World forum, held at the International Action Center, 284 Amory Street, denounced the fact that aid is not getting through to the people who need it, and opposed the militarization of Haiti relief by US authorities. The School Bus Drivers, a majority of whom are Haitian, have taken the lead in building support in Boston for Haiti during this time, starting with an emergency mass meeting at their union hall on the day after the earthquake.

    21. San Jose, California – Monday, 1/25, 5 pm, Speakout and leafleting about the situation in Haiti, at south end of Cesar Chavez Plaza, corner Market and San Carlos, downtown San Jose, to reach many people pasing by on foot and in cars.

    22. Cork, Ireland – A three-city speaking tour next week, including Cork and Galway, hopes to expand Haiti solidarity work beyond the Irish capital of Dublin. Elsie Haas, from the Haitian community in Paris, will cross the English Channel to make the connections.

    23. Los Angeles – On Thurs, 1/21 Global Women’s Strike and the International Action Center sponsored a picket at the downtown Federal Building, demanding that U.S. authorities in Haiti “Stop Blocking Aid to those in Need”. They also called for “No militarization of aid to Haiti” and the return of President Aristide to Haiti. SEIU Local 721 Latino caucus, the Answer Coalition and the Filipino American organization Bayan USA participated in the demonstration. These same organizations are planning a fundraiser for Haiti in Los Angeles later in the month.

    24. Joseph, Oregon – Vigil for Haiti, late afternoon on Wed., 1/27, in the small town of Joseph.

    ** Note: A background document, circulated by Haiti Action Montreal, in preparation for Monday’s demonstration, cast a scornful eye on the motives of the US, France and Canada in planning earthquake relief and reconstruction in Haiti:

    “Can these so-called Friends of Haiti be trusted now to respect the best interests of the Haitian people? In the aftermath of the earthquake, they’ve militarized the relief efforts, jeopardizing the lives of thousands more Haitians who are desperately awaiting food and medicine, not soldiers. They’ve refused to temporarily loosen immigration controls that might alleviate the suffering in Haiti.

    “The development they’ve controlled in the past have benefited only the country’s small, wealthy elite and foreign investors, while further impoverishing the majority of Haitians. And they have not hesitated to brush aside Haiti’s democracy when it served their interests. Bay kou bliye, pote mak songe (Those who deal the blows forget, those who carry the scars remember).

    “There is a danger that these major powers will try to exploit the earthquake to further narrow pro-corporate ends, if reconstruction of New Orleans after Katrina and in Asia following the tsunami are any indication.

    “But there is also an opportunity to help our brothers and sisters in Haiti reconstruct the country according to their needs, to build back better, to respect Haitian sovereignty, and to welcome homeless Haitians into Canada. The true friends of Haiti must be in the streets on Monday, to demand that reconstruction not be carried out at the expense of justice and democracy.”

    Sign the Petition at http://iacenter.org/haitipetition/

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