Public Comment

Incredible Boldness

By Marvin Chachere
Thursday January 21, 2010 - 09:30:00 AM

I am not a masochist and therefore I cannot explain why I allowed myself to suffer for two minutes seeing and listening to Bush and Clinton ask us to help Haiti (YouTube). My stomach turned over seeing George W, poised unblinkingly before the cameras, saying, “When confronted with massive human suffering Americans have always stepped up and answered to call to help.” Witnessing such incredible boldness is excruciating. Here was the worst president in our history speaking as if he sincerely wanted to do for the black residents of a benighted island what he failed to do for the black residents of his own country in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. 

  Bill Clinton’s appearance, understandable as (self-promoting) president of the Clinton Foundation, was, as former US president, more disgusting. He continued his predecessor’s policy of intercepting shiploads of Haitians, refusing to hear pleas for asylum (granted to other immigrants) and abruptly escorting them back where they came from. Indeed, US policy is responsible in no small measure for Haiti’s being the poorest country in the western hemisphere. Haiti has been a real or virtual protectorate of the US for the last hundred years, always manipulated and from after WWI until 1935 occupied by US military.  In living memory, US policy no more than winked at the ruthless murders during the Duvalier era. Afterwards the US tried to make amends by supporting the election and bolstering the presidency of Bertrand Aristide.  

  I wanted to find out the conditions in Haiti when Bill and Hilary Clinton honeymooned there so I went on the Internet and without reading the text of “Haiti in 1975” learned from photos that abject poverty and squalor 35 years ago were on a par with that prevailing for decades before the earthquake—except of course for hillside mansions with servants where newlyweds, Bill and Hilary, could, no doubt, wallow for a time in secluded luxury.  

  The earthquake that destroyed Haiti, like the flood that destroyed New Orleans following Katrina, no more than revealed with murderous effect, decades of neglect, manipulation and indifference.  

  An avalanche of money and humanitarian aid sure to come in the wake of this Category 5 news event will never succeed in rebuilding Haiti—nor New Orleans—because people in power are complacent and complicit; they will not reverse prejudices manifested in allowing poverty to fester and spread wherever descendents of slaves have made their home.  


Marvin Chachere is a San Pablo resident.