Haiti's other catastrophe

It’s not often that Haiti comes up in the news, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to draw attention to the “aid” it has already been receiving up until this point.  Following the 2004 coup in Haiti, the UN established a mission in Haiti called MINUSTAH.  The US component of MINUSTAH is the Department of State’s CIVPOL program, which sends contractors over to train up a national police force.  If this sounds kind of similar to what’s being done in Afghanistan, it’s probably because one of the same companies, DynCorp, was given the contract to do it.  Unfortunately, the results have been very similar as well:

– Tuesday, 26 October, Fort National, Port-au-Prince. Individuals reported to be members of the police burst into a house and kill at least seven people;

– Wednesday, 27 October, Carrefour Péan, Port-au-Prince. Four young men are killed in the street in broad daylight by individuals wearing black uniforms and balaclavas. Witnesses identify their vehicles as police patrol cars.

– Martissant, October. A 13-year-old street child is arrested near the National Theatre by the naval police. At the police station, he is questioned about the hiding places being used by the “chimères” (armed groups said to be supporters of former President Aristide) are hiding and brutally beaten by police while handcuffed and blindfolded.

– Martissant, 20 October. A man is arrested in front of witnesses by individuals wearing black uniforms and balaclavas. They put a plastic bag over his head before brutally beating him. He is being detained at a police station in the capital.

These abuses continued all the way through 2008, when they were awarded with a contract to expand their mission.  They proceeded to do so right over some nearby homes:

According to Cite Soleil mayor Charles Joseph and a DynCorp foreman at the site, funding for the base expansion is provided by the State Department’s U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), a very unorthodox use of development aid.

Lawyer Evel Fanfan, the president of the Association of University Graduates Motivatd For A Haiti With Rights (AUMOHD), says that about 155 buildings would be razed if the base expansion goes forward.

“They started working without saying a word to the people living there,” Fanfan said. “The authorities have not told them what is being done, if they will be relocated, how much they will be compensated or even if they will be compensated.”

Most of the buildings targetted are homes, but one is a church.

“They have begun to build a wall around the area to be razed,” explained Eddy Michel, 37, an assistant to Pastor Isaac Lebon who heads the Christian Church of the Apostle’s Foundation, which serves some 300 parishioners. “They have already built a 10-foot high L-shaped wall, which cuts us off from the road. Once they complete the rest of the wall, the remaining ‘L’, we will be completely enclosed and we fear the destruction will begin.”

I’m still waiting to see what happens with the new aid being sent after the earthquake, but President Obama has named a new USAID administrator who appears to be handling things well.


No contractors for the relief effort at least:

The deployed soldiers were coming from the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and more forces from the 3,500-strong 2nd brigade would be heading out on Friday.

“Things are in motion,” Tallman added. “We’re getting folks there as fast as we can to provide humanitarian assistance.”

It was still unclear if the entire brigade would be deployed, he said.

The military had ordered the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier to Haiti along with a hospital ship, destroyers, several Coast Guard cutters and transport planes as part of a major operation to bolster relief efforts after Tuesday’s massive quake.

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Posted by dm - January 14, 2010 at 4:14 am

Categories: Privatization   Tags:

There is no adult supervision at the Pentagon

I couldn’t have asked for better timing to start blogging about military contractors.  Sen. Claire McCaskill’s subcommittee on contractor oversight  held a new set of hearings that have provided the best statistics about currently deployed contractors yet.  Jeremy Scahill has written an excellent summary of their findings:

At present, there are 104,000 Department of Defense contractors in Afghanistan. According to a report this week from the Congressional Research Service, as a result of the coming surge of 30,000 troops in Afghanistan, there may be up to 56,000 additional contractors deployed. But here is another group of contractors that often goes unmentioned: 3,600 State Department contractors and 14,000 USAID contractors. That means that the current total US force in Afghanistan is approximately 189,000 personnel (68,000 US troops and 121,000 contractors). And remember, that’s right now. And that, according to McCaskill, is a conservative estimate. A year from now, we will likely see more than 220,000 US-funded personnel on the ground in Afghanistan.

It’s no longer so much a matter of contractors providing support to the military as it is the other way around.  It naturally follows that when you want to ask about how contractors should be used, you should consult gigantic mercenary corporations which is precisely what happened the following day at hearings held by the Commission on Wartime Contracting, including Blackwater/Xe, which has conclusively proven that it can do absolutely anything it wants.  Their VP’s testimony was absolutely surreal:

Of course, corruption or abuse by Afghans participating in the training and mentorship program is unacceptable.  Even the simple appearance of impropriety at any level can irreparably undermine the integrity of the training and mentoring efforts as well as the trainees’ trust, which is critical for a successful program.  Xe immediately dismisses from training any participant found to be engaging in improper conduct.

This is, of course, the program to train paramilitaries upon which the effort to win hearts and minds rests.  That effort appears to have metastasized into Pakistan, where it is not going over particularly well:

ISLAMABAD: The lawyers’ fraternity held nationwide protests against the notorious presence and activities of Blackwater in the country on Saturday.

Wildly protesting lawyers managed to reach at the Gate No-4 of the Sihala Police College, and tried to force their way in. Raising slogans, they demanded immediate ouster of the notorious organization from the premises.

On the occasion, they announced that if the notorious organization is failed to vacate the premises by 05th Jan, they would stage a strong protest in front of the Parliament House. The lawyers’ said that the Blackwater was a notorious organization, which has been quite active in Iraq and lambasted the fact that they were enjoying ‘diplomatic immunity’ simply by using fake vehicle registration plates of the USA embassy.

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Posted by dm - December 21, 2009 at 10:16 pm

Categories: Privatization   Tags:

Goldman Sachs = Scum

This video rules.

Karmabanque was a hedge fund founded by Keiser which sought to profit from any decline in equity-value of companies who are susceptible to boycott from environmental groups. The hedge fund’s progress was followed monthly in the Ecologist Magazine, edited by Zac Goldsmith. Its targets included Coca-Cola and McDonalds. The Karmabanque hedge fund project was designed to simultaneously short-sell companies while funnelling profits from this activity into environmental and ethical-business pressure groups which further act to drive the price down. Describing the project, Keiser states “The Internet allows people, activists, from all over the world to gather, or swarm, and hit a company where it hurts most — in their stock price.”

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Posted by Tars Tarkas - October 26, 2009 at 8:07 pm

Categories: Culture Wars, Politicians and Pundits, Privatization, Wingnut Web   Tags: , ,

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