PSTU Statement on the Tragedy in Haiti
(Statement by the Brazilian section of the IWL )
Tragedy has hit Haiti severely. The worst earthquake ever had its epicenter precisely in Port-au-Prince, the capital of the country, and destroyed two thirds of it. The first estimations quote 100 000 fatal casualties. The scenes being broadcasted reveal a terrible situation, with corpses lying in the streets and wounded under the rubble awaiting assistance which does not come. One cannot help being overcome by emotion at the sight of Haitian. The Negro people of the poorest country on the continent is facing up to another tremendous tragedy. The tragedy of the earthquake was unleashed over a country devastated by capitalism. The earthquake would not have such terrible consequences if the country were in a different social situation. Unemployment reaches between 70% and 80% in Port-au-Prince. The few employed live on salaries just over $40 a month. There is no real national structure of medical assistance. There are very few public hospitals in the country and they are not up to playing any significant role in such situation. Neither is there firemen service. After the earthquake, after seeing their houses turned to rubble, it has been the survivors themselves who tried to rescue those who still remained under the debris. The wounded crowded into parks and squares with no hope of finding relief. Many simply await death.
The Haitian tragedy will be used to defend the Minustah, the UN troops led by Brazilian soldiers who have been maintaining military occupation for 5 years now. Very soon, many will try to prove the need for the Minustah in these days. But there is nothing humanitarian about the real target of these troops. They are there to ensure the fulfillment of the neoliberal plan in the service of the multinationals established in that country. Those great companies produce textiles at an extremely low price (due to miserable wages) just a few km from the USA. That means they are paying less than in China and at a much more convenient distance. Facts belie the capitalist propaganda for Minustah. There has been no social improvement during the 5 years that the troops have been there. The military occupation served to repress demonstration of Haitian workers, as in August 2009, during the strike of textile workers demanding a minimum salary of 200 gourdes (less than $75) that produced two fatal casualties. It was also useful to repress the students who demonstrated against the troops. Over 20 students were arrested last November.
And now, when the earthquake shook the country, survivors talk about the absence of the Minustah, when real humanitarian action was most needed. The description made by a group of Brazilian students at the moment present in Haiti is impressing: “the situation is getting more and more complicated – they describe – walking along the streets in search for water, we can see many people wounded or dead in the middle of the street ; hoses are demolished and people trying to remove the rubble. There are also fights for food, looting, some shooting and, what is worse, that there seem to be no tanks anywhere to be seen, no car or officials of the UN were there during the first moment of terror. We only found out that the troops were removing the debris of the Hotel Montana, one of the high class hotels where personalities on the UN are said to be.”
There is a great difference between the solidarity that workers need and the legitimating of the usurpation of the military occupation of Haiti. At the PSTU we have been right from the very first moment we have been against the occupation of Haiti. At this moment, when the anguish of the Haitian people shakes the world we wish to assert our solidarity with the workers as well as our most absolute repudiation of the military occupation. More than ever, we are now against the presence of the imperialist troops but also show off their uselessness when humanitarian action is needed.
PSTU call on the workers and students of the world to start a campaign through their trade unions, collecting contributions from the grassroots so as to send it to the to Haitian workers. The Conlutas and its trade unions are already proposing a campaign like that. We trust neither the Haitian nor the Brazilian government nor do we have any confidence in the Minustah’s solidarity with the people. The aid could be used to stifle the revolt now present among the people or it could sink into the immense corruption prevailing in the country. Imperialism displays all its cynicism in Haiti. The same governments that offered $25 billions to save the banks from the economic crisis, “offer” 145 million to Haiti. During the five years of occupation, UN spent $3.5 thousand million and now they “offer” 10 million for aid. We demand from the Brazilian government who talk so well about solidarity with the Haitian people, to call Brazilian troops back home and to use the money now spent on occupation on humanitarian help. The government has promised to send the ridiculous sum of $10 or 15 million, when the maintenance of the troops there has already cost 600 million.
All our solidarity with the Haitian people
Out with Minustah from Haiti
We demand from the Brazilian government immediate withdrawal of the troops from Haiti and the transformation of the expenditure in real humanitarian aid!