[permaculture] Fwd: Haiti: The Latest Anti-Disaster Capitalism News
permaculturecoop at gmail.com
Mon Feb 15 20:32:59 EST 2010
In the Shock Doctrine the last chapter is called Peoples Reconstruction...
we need to inform Her Majestic Klein that permaculture is one of those
peoples recontruction strategies... anyone got contacts with the court of
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Naomi Klein's Newsletter <newsletter at naomiklein.org>
Date: Tue, Feb 16, 2010 at 10:49 AM
Subject: Haiti: The Latest Anti-Disaster Capitalism News
To: nicholas at themediasociety.org
*In February's Newsletter:*
- Naomi's Latest Column for *The Nation*— "Haiti: A Creditor, Not a
- Video Dispatch from Haiti: The Politics of
- Activist Call Out: We Must Stand with Tim
- Don’t Miss—Naomi to Speak in Toronto about Climate
- Watch Naomi in Conversation with Raj Patel and Amy
- Looking For a Different Take on the Vancouver
Haiti: A Creditor, Not a Debtor
By Naomi Klein, The Nation <http://www.thenation.com/doc/20100301/klein>,
February 11, 2010 <http://www.thenation.com/doc/20100301/klein>
If we are to believe the G-7 finance ministers, Haiti is on its way to
getting something it has deserved for a very long time: full "forgiveness"
of its foreign debt <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8502567.stm>. In
Port-au-Prince, Haitian economist Camille Chalmers has been watching these
developments with cautious optimism. Debt cancellation is a good start, he
told Al Jazeera English, but "It's time to go much further. We have to talk
about reparations and restitution for the devastating consequences of debt."
In this telling, the whole idea that Haiti is a debtor needs to be
abandoned. Haiti, he argues, is a creditor—and it is we, in the West, who
are deeply in arrears.
Our debt to Haiti stems from four main sources: slavery, the US occupation,
dictatorship and climate change. These claims are not fantastical, nor are
they merely rhetorical. They rest on multiple violations of legal norms and
agreements. Here, far too briefly, are highlights of the Haiti case.
§ *The Slavery Debt*. When Haitians won their independence from France in
1804, they would have had every right to claim reparations from the powers
that had profited from three centuries of stolen labor. France, however, was
convinced that it was Haitians who had stolen the property of slave owners
by refusing to work for free. So in 1825, with a flotilla of war ships
stationed off the Haitian coast threatening to re-enslave the former colony,
King Charles X came to
90 million gold francs--ten times Haiti's annual revenue at the time. With
no way to refuse, and no way to pay, the young nation was shackled to a debt
that would take 122 years to pay off.
In 2003, Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, facing a crippling
economic embargo, announced that Haiti would sue the French government over
that long-ago heist. "Our argument," Aristide's former lawyer Ira Kurzban
told me, "was that the contract was an invalid agreement because it was
based on the threat of re-enslavement at a time when the international
community regarded slavery as an evil." The French government was
sufficiently concerned that it sent a mediator to Port-au-Prince to keep the
case out of court. In the end, however, its problem was eliminated: while
trial preparations were under way, Aristide was toppled from power. The
lawsuit disappeared, but for many Haitians the reparations claim lives on.
§ *The Dictatorship Debt*. From 1957 to 1986, Haiti was ruled by the
defiantly kleptocratic Duvalier regime. Unlike the French debt, the case
against the Duvaliers made it into several courts, which traced Haitian
funds to an elaborate network of Swiss bank
lavish properties. In 1988 Kurzban won a landmark suit against
Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier when a US District Court in Miami found that
the deposed ruler had "misappropriated more than $504,000,000 from public
Haitians, of course, are still waiting for their payback--but that was only
the beginning of their losses. For more than two decades, the country's
creditors insisted that Haitians honor the huge debts incurred by the
estimated at $844 million, much of it owed to institutions like the IMF and
the World Bank. In debt service alone, Haitians have paid out tens of
millions every year.
Was it legal for foreign lenders to collect on the Duvalier debts when so
much of it was never spent in Haiti? Very likely not. As Cephas Lumina, the
United Nations Independent Expert on foreign debt, put it to me, "the case
of Haiti is one of the best examples of odious debt in the world. On that
basis alone the debt should be unconditionally canceled."
But even if Haiti does see full debt cancellation (a big if), that does not
extinguish its right to be compensated for illegal debts already collected.
§ *The Climate Debt*. Championed by several developing countries at the
climate summit in Copenhagen, the case for climate debt is
Wealthy countries that have so spectacularly failed to address the climate
crisis they caused owe a debt to the developing countries that have done
little to cause the crisis but are disproportionately facing its effects. In
short: the polluter pays. Haiti has a particularly compelling claim. Its
contribution to climate change has been negligible; Haiti's per capita CO2
emissions are just 1 percent of US emissions. Yet Haiti is among the hardest
hit countries—according to one
only Somalia is m ore vulnerable to climate change.
Haiti's vulnerability to climate change is not only—or even mostly—because
of geography. Yes, it faces increasingly heavy storms. But it is Haiti's
weak infrastructure that turns challenges into disasters and disasters into
full-fledged catastrophes. The earthquake, though not linked to climate
change, is a prime example. And this is where all those illegal debt
payments may yet extract their most devastating cost. Each payment to a
foreign creditor was money not spent on a road, a school, an electrical
line. And that same illegitimate debt empowered the IMF and World Bank to
attach onerous conditions to each new loan, requiring Haiti to deregulate
its economy and slash its public sector still further. Failure to comply was
met with a punishing aid embargo from 2001 to '04, the death knell to
Haiti's public sphere.
This history needs to be confronted now, because it threatens to repeat
itself. Haiti's creditors are already using the desperate need for
earthquake aid to push for a fivefold increase in garment-sector
some of the most exploitative jobs in the country. Haitians have no status
in these talks, because they are regarded as passive recipients of aid, not
full and dignified participants in a process of redress and restitution.
A reckoning with the debts the world owes to Haiti would radically change
this poisonous dynamic. This is where the real road to repair begins: by
recognizing the right of Haitians to reparations.
Video Dispatch from Haiti: The Politics of Reconstruction
The interview with economist Camille Chalmers was conducted by my partner
Avi Lewis for an in-depth report that aired last week on Al Jazeera English.
The piece, Haiti: The Politics of
offers a deeply compelling portrait of a people who are brimming with ideas
about how how to rebuild their country based on principles of sovereignty
and equity—far from the passive victims we have seen on so many other
networks. It was produced by my former colleague Andrea Schmidt, one of the
main researchers on *The Shock Doctrine*, and is crucial viewing for anyone
concerned with avoiding a disaster capitalism redux in Haiti. Watch the
For more news and analysis on developments in Haiti, visit Naomi’s
website<http://www.naomiklein.org>and the "No
Shock Doctrine for
Activist Call Out: We Must Stand with Tim DeChristopher
By Naomi Klein and Bill McKibben, Huffington
February 8, 2010
*The climate movement is at a turning point. Copenhagen failed to produce a
meaningful binding agreement. The Senate's proposed climate legislation
doesn't come close to solving the crisis and even that weak measure appears
stalled. Climate change denialists, meanwhile, are in a celebratory mood,
with far too many ill-informed citizens falling for their aggressive
*It's time for the movement that had so much momentum in the lead up to
Copenhagen to go on the offensive once again. We see the trial of Tim
DeChristopher as just such an opportunity. What follows is a joint statement
we helped draft, along with fellow author Terry Tempest Williams and
world-renowned climatologist Dr. James Hansen. If you agree, please help us
spread the word.*
The epic fight to ward off global warming and transform the energy system
that is at the core of our planet’s economy takes many forms: huge global
days of action, giant international conferences like the one that just
failed in Copenhagen, small gestures in the homes of countless people.
But there are a few signal moments, and one comes next month, when the
federal government puts Tim DeChristopher on trial in Salt Lake City.
Tim—“Bidder 70”– pulled off one of the most creative protests against our
runaway energy policy in years: he bid for the oil and gas leases on several
parcels of federal land even though he had no money to pay for them, thus
upending the auction. The government calls that “violating the Federal
Onshore Oil and Gas Leasing Reform Act” and thinks he should spend ten years
in jail for the crime; we call it a noble act, a profound gesture made on
behalf of all of us and of the future.
Tim’s action drew national attention to the fact that the Bush
Administration spent its dying days in office handing out a last round of
favors to the oil and gas industry. After investigating irregularities in
the auction, the Obama Administration took many of the leases off the table,
with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar criticizing the process as “a headlong
rush.” And yet that same Administration is choosing to prosecute the young
man who blew the whistle on this corrupt process.
We cannot let this stand. When Tim disrupted the auction, he did so in the
fine tradition of non-violent civil disobedience that changed so many unjust
laws in this country’s past. Tim’s upcoming trial is an occasion to raise
the alarm once more about the peril our planet faces. The situation is still
fluid—the trial date has just been set, and local supporters are making
plans for how to mark the three-day proceedings. But they are asking people
around the country to flood into Salt Lake City in mid-March. If you come,
there will be ample opportunity for both legal protest and civil
disobedience. For example:
- Outside the courthouse, there will be a mock trial, with experts like
NASA’s Jim Hansen providing the facts that should be heard inside the
chambers. We don’t want Tim on trial—we want global warming on the stand.
- Demonstrators will be using the time-honored tactics of civil
disobedience to make their voices heard outside the courthouse in an effort
to prevent “business as usual”—it’s business as usual that’s wrecking the
- There will be evening concerts and gatherings, including a
“mini-summit” to share ideas on how the climate movement should proceed in
the years ahead. This is a people’s movement that draws power from around
the globe; for a few days its headquarters will be Salt Lake City.
You can get the most up-to-date news at climatetrial.com, including
schedules for non-violence training, and information about legal
representation. If you’re coming, bring not only your passion but also your
creativity—we need lots of art and music to help make the point that we
won’t sit idly by while the government tries to scare the environmental
movement into meek cooperation. This kind of trial is nothing but
intimidation—and the best answers to intimidation are joy and resolve.
That’s what we’ll need in Utah.
We know it’s short notice. Some of us won’t be able to make it to Utah
because we have other commitments or are limiting travel, and if you’re in
the same situation, climatetrial.com will also have details of solidarity
actions in other parts of the country. If you can contribute money to help
make the week’s events possible, click
But more than your money we need your body, your brains, and your heart. In
a landscape of little water, where redrock canyons rise upward like praying
hands, we can offer our solidarity to the wild: wild lands and wild hearts.
Tim DeChristopher deserves and needs our physical and spiritual support in
the name of a just and vibrant community.
Thank you for standing with us,
Terry Tempest Williams
Dr. James Hansen
Don’t Miss—Naomi to Speak in Toronto about Climate Debt
Naomi will deliver the inaugural David Lewis lecture on February 25 at
8:30pm at the Trinity-St. Paul's United Church in Toronto. She will speak on
the issue of climate debt.
This is the first in a series of lectures in honor of David Lewis
(1909–1981), a leading labour lawyer, life-long social democrat, a founder
of the NDP and its national leader from 1970 to 1975. The lecture series
will focus on issues that were important to David Lewis: social democracy,
organized labour, and income inequality.
This event is a fundraiser for the indispensable Canadian Centre For Policy
Alternatives. Tickets for Naomi's speech at this fundraiser may be purchased
Prior to the lecture, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives will be
hosting an evening reception at the Tranzac Club with gourmet hors
d'oeuvres, local beer and wines, entertainment and special guests. Purchase
tickets for the entire evening
Watch Naomi in Conversation with Raj Patel and Amy
On January 13th in New York, Amy Goodman moderated a discussion between
Naomi and Raj Patel (author of *The Value of Nothing*). They spoke at length
about recent events ranging from the Haitian earthquake to the global
economic crisis to the recent UN climate convention in Copenhagen. Watch the
lively discussion <http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/id/218527>.
Looking For a Different Take on the Vancouver Olympics?
Check out Vancouver Media Co-op <http://vancouver.mediacoop.ca/> for
up-to-the-minute reporting from the streets of the Vancouver Olympics.
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