Violence in Haiti – and Capability

Four days on, and most of the world’s attention is still focused on the earthquake-disaster in Haiti. You’ll get no complaint about that out of me, and in fact I’ve finally come up with some things to pass on here that you might find interesting. Keep in mind, though, that I try only to do so when it’s material you probably have not encountered through the English-language press. Often, as here, that means it offers an unconventional, even perverse perspective.

For instance: Brazil is another country ready to assist the Haitians in their hour of need, as you would expect. But in Brazil’s case it is the Ministry of Defense that is taking the lead, as the Dutch newspaper Trouw reports: Brazil sends weapons to Haiti. Weapons? For sure: because people are getting so desperate there by this point that there is the very real threat of a complete break-down of public order, so the place stands sorely in need of some guns that shoot rubber bullets, and other crowd-control armaments.

We can see that from yet another Dutch report, this time from the Algemeen Dagblad: Dutch [team] break off rescue-attempt after gunshots. A Dutch “rescue-brigade” of four ten-man teams (and their dogs) specialized in finding and rescuing people from rubble is finally in Port-au-Prince, but they had to stop their first efforts to rescue people under a collapsed bank after gunfire came ever-closer, and now coordinate with local UN officials for an armed escort. And by the way, it’s a Brazilian who is in command of all UN troops in the country, many of which are Brazilian.

Then there is a rather controversial opinion piece placed today in the Belgian newspaper La Libre Belgique: Are blacks incapable? It’s quite interesting that I can’t find the author’s name anywhere on that webpage, although it does seem he is of African origin himself, as he writes of his “brothers of color” and how they are sure to let him know how they don’t like what he is saying. His lede is brief: “Haitians’ liberty has served for nothing but bringing forth tyrannical regimes.” The situation there is catastrophic now – but it was catastrophic even before the earthquake struck. Much the same applies to the countries of Africa, he writes, still trapped in backwardness and poverty, as they have been for decades since the departure of the colonial authorities. (Also, their own silence now when it comes to offering help of their own to Haiti has been deafening.) The mysterious editorialist attributes this state-of-affairs to black culture, for while all human beings have the same capacity for intelligence, the more “emotional” black outlook on life looks always for a strongman to take charge, and ultimately does not care about the corruption and elites-creation that must ensue. As a result, “we must have the courage to affirm that our culture does not favor [economic] development, it is indeed antagonistic to development.”

A low blow during Haiti’s time of Calvary? Or strong words whose uttering is made all-the-more necessary by the emergency? It does seem that Haiti is fated to be a ward of the US and/or the international community, a basket-case in state form, for quite a long time to come. Anyway, it looks like La Libre does not do comments, so I don’t know how this guy’s “brothers of color” are supposed to check in with their anticipated objections. As for you, dear readers, you’re welcome to do so here by e-mail as always, and perhaps then I could pass along any suitable comments to La Libre.

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