Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Baron Samedi Takes Charge in Haiti

Baron Samedi is a Voodoo spirit in Haiti in charge of death. Despite years of Christian missionary efforts to include the Roman Catholic Church, the best to be said is that god-fearing Haitians are apparent on Sundays and during the day. At night many revert to their historical African roots and practice voodoo; they dance to voodoo drums around bon-fires and indulge in blood sacrifices on animals, sometimes accompanying this with wild sexual behavior.

Baron Samedi is pictured as a skeleton dressed in a tall silk hat and tuxedo. Sometimes he has a cigar in his mouth and a glass of rum in hand; his nostrils are filled with cotton as the Haitians prepare their dead for burial – he is the guardian of the grave yards. His job is to insure the dead are buried in the ground to prevent that the unburied be turned into mindless zombies. This may explain what happened to the mindless followers of the Sarah Palin wing of the Republican party.

Haiti was hit recently by a devastating earthquake that destroyed or damaged one third of the structures, to include schools, hospitals and port facilities. Estimates of the number of dead range from 50,000 to a 200,000. You will probably never know the exact number killed; doubt the inept Haitian government ever knew how many Haitians live in the country. What is left of the defunct government is holed up, cringing, at the main airport at Port-au-Prince.

Haiti is the chronic sick man of the Caribbean. Other third-world nations in the area manage to take care of their citizens without dependence on endless charity from other nations. For whatever reason, the USA has taken on paternal responsibly for the enfeebled nation. It periodically invades and occupies the country in stabilization operations. A French minister wanted to know whether current US operation is aid or occupation.

The Monroe Doctrine could explain the reason for this fixation until Jimmy Carter with Republican Senator Luger's help pulled out of the Panama Canal. That move finished off what was left of the Doctrine. One reason is that the US wants to keep the Haitians in Haiti to prevent mass illegal immigration to the US mainland. This project has not worked that well, as we just learned the US suspended the deportation of 30,000 illegal Haitians from the US a few days ago. The most important reason, however, is to protect US investments and interests.

Before the earthquake, the country was stabilized by a large UN presence – that has been derailed. Thirty seven members of the UN delegation have been killed to include the top three members. Three hundred and thirty have been reported missing as of this writing. There are also a reported 10,000 non-governmental do-gooder organizations that worked there uncoordinated. Many are religious organizations there to save souls as well as administer to the impoverished country. Expect this number to grow in the ensuing frenzy.

Ex Presidents Bill Clinton and GWBush have been designated by President Obama to head fund raising to aid rescue and long-term reconstruction. GWB is a curious choice as he fell flat on his face during Katrina as much of New Orleans remains unrestored from flooding and wind damage. As far as Bill's record for fund raising for a tsunami, large sums of the money, though distributed, still remain in non-governmental organizational bank accounts. And of the 6.2 billion pledged an estimated 3.5 billion was never delivered.

Haiti overall is a savage country; nothing ever seems to work: there is no military organization, the police are corrupt, and the education system is dysfunctional. Fifty percent of the people make a dollar a day and another 35% make two dollars a day. They have no enforced building code, hence the damage to concrete buildings built with no rebar or with just minimum amounts. Urban planning is just a fairy tale. Bill Clinton argues that the UN, with the cooperation of the local government, were just doing fine before the earthquake... hmm, are you going to believe our disbarred lawyer Bill or your own eyes? After 5 days the authorities cannot organize themselves sufficiently to pick up dead bodies rotting in the streets.

Apparently large amounts of aid are piling up at the airport, because roads are impassable. As I witnessed Americans recently returned to the US at Homestead AFB by the USAF with stacks of luggage, I wondered how they got out but aid cannot get in. My sense: it is not the roads that are a problem, but the lack of security from the mobs when aid workers deliver food. This is especially true after two Dominican aid workers were shot while they tried to deliver food to the starving mob.

Humanitarian aid is not an endless proposition. The food and water has to replenished daily and someone has to pay for it. The USA with two wars, a broken infrastructure, massive unemployment and the most expensive heath care system in the world, has higher priorities. Let Hillary call on OAS and ask the African and European Unions and our Asiatic pals to do their share.

The US TV coverage of the horror is constant and is driving private sympathetic contributions. This coverage, as in the starvation of children in Somali years ago like Haiti now, also prompted a US intervention; and, that was a big mistake in Somali. Obama and his cohorts are assuring the Haitian people the US will not only come to their immediate aid, but also to support long term rebuilding. From where is the money to come?

There is a pathetic irony when the US Army general reports to the American people on how many bottles of water and meals-on-wheels he delivered in the last 24 hours. Makes you cringe. Is the Army going to issue Delivery Boy medals now?

Whether Obama likes it or not, ultimately, this long term commitment will be viewed by a majority of Americans as a narrow black solidarity policy and, like his support of the black professor over the white cop in Boston, it will backfire. His party has recently lost the governorships of Virginia and New Jersey and now the senator from Mass. It is not just due to the bungling of the health care bill.

Baron Samedi in an interview with THE VOODOO NEWS in Port-au-Prince, when asked his view of post-earthquake Haiti replied: LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL. Colonel Robert E Bartos USA Ret


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