Regional left statement: Cancel Haiti's debt!

Issue 

The following is a joint statement by Asian left organisations in solidarity with the people of Haiti. To add your organisation's support, email international@prp-indonesia.org.

On 13 January 2010, a 7.3 Richter scale earthquake struck Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti. The earthquake caused great destruction and 200,000 people are thought to be dead. Three million Haitians have been rendered homeless by the quake, which also damaged many public buildings, such as hospitals and schools.

The quake has caused Haitians, who have struggled under decades of poverty and imperialist intervention and exploitation, even deeper suffering. Approximately 75% of Haitians earned less than US$2 per day and 56% of Haitians — around 4.5 million people — earned less than $1 per day. Most Haitians live in houses made of adobe and mud.
Haiti is the poorest nation in the western hemisphere.

The poverty is caused by imperialism and neoliberalism that has been oppressing the nation for centuries.

The Haitian people have continuously struggled against this oppression. The 400,000 African slaves on the colonialists' sugar and coffee plantations were among the first to fight against slavery. In 1804 they won their struggle: Haiti became the first independent Black republic. However, the newly independent nation was forced to pay 150 millions francs "compensation" to its former colonial master, France.

For decades, the Haitian people suffered under and struggled against US-puppet dictatorships. In 2004, democratically elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was overthrown in a US-backed coup.

Neoliberal policies were enforced on the population: education and health services were privatised and import tariffs on rice were severely cut.
Under the pretext of helping Haiti to recover from the earthquake, the US is trying to redesign the political and economic situation to suit international capital.

This is not the first time the US has done this: New Orleans, smashed by Hurricane Katrina, and Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Thailand, devastated by the great tsunami in 2004, have faced a similar situation to Haiti. Natural disasters are used to legitimise "aid" that has neoliberal requirements attached, such as privatisation.

The US has sent 3000 fully armed troops to Haiti, soon to increase to around 15,000. This intervention is based on the declaration of an Emergency Situation, which was forced on Haiti when Hillary Clinton visited Haiti on January 16. Immediately afterwards, the US took control of the airport: it is now deciding what goes in and out of Haiti.

US troops are not mobilised for the sake of humanity. Instead the US military's mission is to preserve the reactionary social order for US corporations. This is evident by the failure to use US warships to take care of injured people.

The increase in US troops in Haiti is closely related to the US' economic and political interest in Latin America as a whole, where it is attempting to strengthen its power. We note the bilateral agreement between the US and Colombia, which gives the US wide access to Colombia's military bases and increases US forces stationed in Colombia.

The next stage of the US' post-disaster program in Haiti is redesigning the country's economy.

This is indicated by the IMF's announcement of a $100 million loan to Haiti that requires the implementation of more neoliberal programs, including increasing electricity tariffs, freezing state workers' wages and reducing inflation. That loan will increase the burden on Haiti, which already has a debt to the IMF of $165 million.

Based on this, we, the undersigned, extend our solidarity to the people of Haiti, including humanitarian aid and support for the Haitian people's struggle for freedom from imperialist exploitation.

Furthermore, we demand:
• The immediate and unconditional cancellation of Haiti's debt;
• That government in our country give substantial, untied and unconditional humanitarian aid to the people of Haiti;
• That the humanitarian aid will support and be used to reconstruct Haiti in a way that will empower the people of Haiti to establish democracy and genuine independence for their nation.
• We condemn the US government's exploitation of the disaster to advance the US's economic and political interests by making disaster as a relief industry.

We are calling all democratic and progressive organisations around the world to unite to build true solidarity with the people of Haiti. This includes helping to end the Haitian people's oppression by the imperialist states, and full support for the restoration of freedom and sovereignty for the people of Haiti.

Signed:
Committee for a Workers International, Malaysia; Confederation Congress of Indonesia Union Alliance; Friends of the Earth Indonesia (WAHLI); Partido Lakas ng Masa (Philippines); Partido ng Mangganggawa (Philippines); Peoples Democratic Party (Indonesia); Socialist Party of Malaysia; Socialist Alliance (Australia); Socialist Alternative (Australia); Socialist Party (Australia); Socialist Worker (New Zealand); Solidarity (Australia); Working Peoples Association (Indonesia).

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