Monday, April 14, 2008
Is Starvation Contagious?
Is Starvation Contagious?
Few people, much less their governments, appear to be concerned about what
is happening in Haiti, next to Cuba our nearest neighbour and, in historical
terms, the people who paved the way for our freedom from slavery and
implemented for the first time anywhere in the world, the idea of universal
Yet, today, while Haiti suffocates in poverty, hunger and dirt, her
neighbours in the Caribbean, with the exception of Cuba, pass by on the other
side of the road where Haiti lies in pain and anguish, ignoring the
brutalisation of the poorest people in this hemisphere by the richest nations
in the world.
Four years ago the Americans and Canadians with the backing of the French,
decapitated Haitian human rights, kidnapping her President and instituting
fascist rule by a combination of some of the greediest businessmen in the world
and the murderous thugs they hired in an attempt to depose the overwhelmingly
popular president of the Haitians, Jean Bertrand Aristide.
Mr Bush and Mr Colin Powell and a mixed gaggle of French and Canadian
politicians had decided that freedom and independence were too good for the
black people of Haiti. Lest you think I am being racist there is abundant
evidence that the conspiracy against Haiti was inspired by racial hatred and
I have gone into this before and I will not return to it today. Suffice it
to say that the US, Canada and France, acting on behalf of the so-called
‘civilised world’, decided on the basis of lies that, as in the case of
Iraq, a free and independent people had no business being free and independent
when their freedom and independence was seen to threaten the economic interest
of the richest people in Haiti and, by extension, the wealthiest countries in
Today, and especially for the last few weeks, the starving people in Haiti
have been trying to get the world to listen to their anguish and misery. Along
with some other poor people in other countries the Haitians have been driven to
desperation and the edge of starvation by the rapidly increasing price of food.
Unlike all the others the Haitians are over the edge, they are starving,
refugees in their own proud country, many forced to eat dirt to survive,
Only the Cubans, the Venezuelans and the Vietnamese appear to care about
what is happening in Haiti. The rest of us are too concerned with ‘wealth
management’ and the prospects of foreign investors with bursting wallets
floating down from the sky to make us all rich.
But if one listens to people on the Jamaican street it is obvious that we
too are in the early stages of the same curse of the globalisation which makes
Haitians expendable and assesses their value at well under the price of one
Jamaican patty per day.
So, the Haitians have taken to the streets and more than half a dozen
starvelings have already been shot dead by the armed forces of civilisation, by
the satraps and surrogates of George Bush and his Canadian and French
The World Food Programme has appealed to the world for help for the
Haitians. So has the Vietnamese representative on the UN Security Council.
Venezuela has given Haiti money and supplied them with cheap oil. Cuba, among
other things, is training nearly 500 Haitians to be doctors, about half in Cuba
and the rest in Haiti.
The Golding government, like its predecessors, pays no attention to our
suffering neighbour languishing and dying because of the explicit actions and
strategies of the United States of America and its President, George Bush.
Which is why after Aristide, Haitians died like flies because of hurricanes
and rainstorms: their local democracy and their early warning systems had been
destroyed by the criminal gangsters who Bush put in charge of 8 million
Haitians. And when the situation became too noisome even for Bush and the
Republican party, Haitians were allowed to vote but not allowed to vote for the
man they wanted, so they voted for a surrogate. This meant that the Haitian
elite friends of Bush, the Chalabis of our hemisphere, were back in charge and
the primacy of the light-skinned minority re-established, just as it was in the
eighteenth century, before the American, French and Haitian revolutions.
It is possible that Haiti may not even be Bush's worst crime. In Haiti he
destroyed nearly 300 years of History and the Rights of Man. In Iraq he
obliterated much of the record of the last 8,000 years of civilisation and set
the people at each other’s throats
Many Haitians were killed by the American-paid assassins who inherited
military power from the American and Canadian Marines. More were murdered
because they were community leaders and allies of Aristide. Even more died from
unnatural disasters precipitated by the decapitation of democracy. And many,
many more will die from the effects of eating dirt for the greater glory of
George Bush and because they have had enough of Bush’s modern version of
I told you so
Just to be tiresome I want to remind you of a column published in this paper
on Sunday, December 10, 2000, my 240th column for this paper. It was published
just as the Republican party was prepping the US Supreme Court to appoint
George Bush President of the US.
I wrote, inter alia
"The approaching triumph of Greenspan/Ayn Rand capitalism may just be slowed
down by the latest developments in the US economy, but that is not cooling down
the ardour of the “Cognitive Elite” to gain a handle on the whole business
of corporate control of the economies and governance of the world. The
Americans a few days ago, chastised Haiti for electoral defects which, compared
to Florida, were child’s play and did not really affect anything very much
more than the letter of the law.
“… George Bush, if he is appointed President, will use his time to
destroy the integrity of the country he rules, starting with the Supreme Court.
Then he can start on dealing with the rest of us. That’s his job, and as the
American Press has made plain, nothing needs to be known about him and his
multifarious incapacities because Big Brother in the giant corporations will
tell him what to do.
We are all in a for a very rough ride."
That was published before Bush became president, before Enron, before 9/1,
before the invasion of Iraq and before the rape of Haiti.
Today when the world faces climatic, ecological and economic meltdown we in
Jamaica are as far away from reality as ever.
We persist in our suicidal pursuit of unsustainable development-by-gimmick,
heading for disaster like the Haitians but of our own free will, unlike the
powerless Haitians. We are determined to grow sugar cane until it destroys our
society, watching helplessly and cluelessly as food prices rise out of our
reach and unwilling to even try to save ourselves by growing more food and
putting idle hands and idle lands to work, and unwilling to face the elemental
truths about this slave society.
We can’t afford rice or cooking oil, or bread or Lexuses.
Where, one wonders, is our Marie Antoinette to advise us to eat Johnnycake?
More than sixty years ago when we were faced with the (for us) less dire
crisis of the Second World War our British governors forced all landowners to
plant at least ten percent of their land in food crops. Sugar estates began to
produce food for the first time in 300 years and our unemployment and
malnutrition rates plummeted.
Today we face our unreality bravely, encouraging the most backward among us
to sing songs of hate against homosexuals, denying Amnesty’s findings about
our internecine violence although they are merely echoing what people like me
were writing forty years ago. We are going to grow food for cars while our
We know what’s wrong but resolutely refuse to face reality. In the
struggle for survival we say, along with George Bush, every man for himself and
let the devil take the hindmost.
The title of my 2000 column I quoted earlier could serve as our epitaph.
“Democracy? Enough already!”
I told you so.
Copyright ©2008 John Maxwell