Is the 'Shock Doctrine' taking place in Haiti?

4/12/2011, 5:25 p.m.

Are we witnessing the 'Shock Doctrine' in Haiti?


Amsterdam News Staff

Unpopular, usually right wing, economic and political reforms tend to pass through with no mention in times of duress. Whether it's within a nation or on foreign soil, the dominant power that claims "we're here to help" ends up creating the new power structure of a nation. The foreign power rebuilds the country in its own image. Some people have referred to this policy as "The Shock Doctrine," making reference to the Naomi Klein book of the same name.

In the book, Klein speaks of how the United States takes advantage of nations in the midst of disaster by exploiting their need for aid of any kind. Freedoms come under the whims of U.S. occupation, much needed services are cut or provided with strings attached and other services that were once public are forced into the private sector.

It looks like Haiti could be in the throes of the Shock Doctrine.

U.S. troops have recently taken control of the presidential palace grounds in Port-au-Prince. The Haitian government, with the help of U.S. troops, declared a state of emergency and has imposed martial law in the nation, leaving little to the imagination. With Haiti in desperate need of medical supplies and clean water, and an increase of 7,500 soldiers this past Monday, America is in Haiti for the long haul. The American right-wing think tank the Heritage Foundation sure hopes that's the case.

In a blog post titled "Things to Remember While Helping Haiti," the organization presented several points they felt were the most important to Haiti relief.

"The U.S. government response should be bold and decisive," read the post. "It must mobilize U.S. civilian and military capabilities for short-term rescue and relief and long-term recovery and reform. Congress should immediately begin work on a package of assistance, trade and reconstruction efforts needed to put Haiti on its feet and open the way for deep and lasting democratic reforms."

The post also called for the U.S. to interrupt the "nightly flights" of cocaine to Haiti and the Dominican Republic from the Venezuelan coast and to make sure that there isn't a "large-scale" movement by Haitians to escape their land and enter the U.S. illegally.

It's something that New York Councilman Charles Barron has seen one too many times.

"First of all, the American government, if you look at their history in Haiti, has always been about disaster capitalism," said Barron, who declared himself a fan of Naomi Klein's book.

In 1915, President Woodrow Wilson sent the marines to Haiti to protect American business interests, while the rest of the nation dealt with several government coups. Wilson eventually took over Haiti's national bank and transferred half a million dollars in Haitian money over to the U.S. for "safety" reasons. In 1994, the U.S. led an intervention to restore President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to power. He was eventually overthrown again with the help of George W. Bush administration.

"Yes, ['The Shock Doctrine'] is happening," said Barron. "That's why it's important for Black leaders to go to our Black nations to say, 'What are your needs? And 'we got your back.'" But a certain third-term politician doesn't want Barron to have any Haitian's back.