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A street in Port Au Prince, Haiti.
PHOTO /United Methodist News Service

By Steve Miller

Many of the people reporting on the radio from Haiti talk about how hard the post-earthquake situation is on the poor. For the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, this is the vast majority of the people.
There is water, the reports go, but it is only for sale on the streets as bottled water. The public delivery of water, already quite decimated by years of government cutbacks, is non-existent – unless you can pay. Food is available, too, but only at a price. If you can afford it, you’ve got it. If you can’t, you go without.
Haiti may be Hell on Earth, but it shows that Hell, too, has been privatized. The government of Haiti, full of criminals, since the 2006 coup, and re-empowering fascist death squads, totally bought into something that might sound familiar: “Government is the problem, not the solution; it needs to be shrunk down; big government simply can’t do the job; the private sector is best equipped to provide services and solve social problems.”
New Orleans, too, experienced Privatization-Hell. Hurricanes and earthquakes are natural occurrences; but the withdrawal of social support for suffering people is planned and implemented. It was all privatized, to operate at a profit for private corporations. Haiti’s government abdicates all responsibility toward passing out the necessities of life to devastated people for free. Why that’s the role of the market!
This monstrous crime has been organized internationally for years by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. In country after country, in exchange for loans, they have demanded the end to social services, like price supports for cooking oil, government support of health clinics, and public government infrastructure projects. This destroyed any semblance of a safety net. Everything is for sale. Clear out if you can’t afford it.

oh Haiti! you are the battered face
of what we do and what we are

poorest of poor:  poor made poorer
crushed and abandoned with
the vultures of exploitation
wheeling around your broken bones
dipping their beaks in your blood
sending in their soldiers and guns
to keep you again
from what you need:
a scrap of food a rag to lie on
when all the blankets are laid across
broken bodies

oh Haiti! thin from your fare of starvation
your stomach on fire from your diet of mud
left to you by the global profiteers
in your immiseration
by sweatshop-peddling ex-presidents
and the crooked gamblers
of ghoul capital
by the architects of slums
the poisoner privateers
the mercenaries of hunger

behold: the tender babes
thrown into the jaws
of a man-made earthquake

we’ve seen it here:  how they let us drown
and bring in the troops to gun us down
when we try to take what we need
out of the ruins that nature makes everyone’s

how much violence will it take
to enforce this separation
of food and mouth of life and limb?
how much more will it take
till we take it back again?

will they who have least of all
and nothing to lose and all taken all
show us how it’s done
out of this utter rubble?

—Sarah Menefee

the world
to the horror
with what
you are---Love
the eyelid of a dead
child of nine
feels your
wakens and knows
to be or to be not
is the same.
How much
has died? Can you
weigh it? Will it
your question

whether there is
rock and roll
in heaven?
I promise I will
keep you
like a caress
in my days ago.
All who die
their time,
but how can
that be?
Nothing is
without a
cargo of smiles
on the boat
that is
even hell
     —Jack Hirschman


This article originated in the People's Tribune
PO Box 3524, Chicago, IL 60654, 773-486-3551,
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