APRIL 3/8: Conclusion: Understanding Un-‘Natural’ Disasters Anthropologically
Bellegarde-Smith, Patrick. 2011. A Man-Made Disaster: The Earthquake of January 12,
2010—A Haitian Perspective. Journal of Black Studies 42(2):264-275. (Look it up on
the York online system) CANT FIND
• The 7.0 earthquake of January 12, 2010, at 4:53 p.m. that lasted a mere 35 seconds recast Haitian
• The Goudougoudou, which killed perhaps 230,000 people, disrupted the lives of 1.3 million citizens,
one third of the country’s population
• Port-au-Prince is at once the Washington, D.C., and the New York City of Haiti, being the political,
financial, industrial, and cultural capital of the Republic
• But as the government, as a primary institution, grew increasingly weaker over the span of two
centuries, the private sector did as it pleased.
• Regulations be damned under extreme forms of capitalism.
• The purposeful weakening of the government becomes a critical part of this story
• More pointedly, foreign governments and a number of private groups sought to take advantage of the
disarming situation under the guise of providing charity, bringing to bear their particular agendas
• It is said that 75% of Canadian relief aid to Haiti went to Canadian firms in Canada for goods and
• Of each American dollar spent by the United States, 33% went to sustain the 30,000 or so military
troops that came to Haiti uninvited, and a mere 3%—some say less—to sustain the democratically
elected government of Haiti.
• The balance, about 64%, was given to about 11,000 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that
pockmark Haiti’s national territory of 10,750 square miles. 2
• Media stereotypes about Haiti are reflections of an American and European colonial discourse, present
from the very beginning in the late 18th century.
• media stereotype is a euphemism for racialist stereotyping.
• Part of a neocolonial discourse, stereotypes want the Haitian government to be corrupt and
• The United States had supported dictatorships with little internal support, against the legitimate efforts
to establish democracy in Haiti.--dictatorships were corrupt
• The very presence of 11,000 largely American NGOs—the highest such concentration in the world,
established to ostensibly help common citizens of Haiti—impedes the proper development of state
structures and the healthy evolution of national institutions and the growth of Haitian “agency” in the first
renders the Haitian government rather ineffectual and always at the mercy of its foreign benefactors.
• Haiti signed the deal with the american devil
• Satan may have been on the side of European colonialism and slavery, granting wealth to Great Britain,
France, Holland, and the United States and their elites
• the enslaved Africans in Haiti were praying to God for their deliverance, and Satan does not occur in the
religious and philosophical systems of Africa.No event or natural disaster is beyond the reach of
religion, or so it seems.
• In 2010, its columnists resorted oftentimes to cultural explanations for Haiti’s cultural inferiority.
• In 1957, the U.S. publication of record noted, “The highly emotional people, who have little but tribal
[sic] rule and superstition to guide their thinking, have been notoriously susceptible to demagogic
• “progress-resistant cultural influences. There is the influence of the voodoo [sic] religion . . . child
• “Haiti’s predicament is caused by a set of values, beliefs and attitudes, rooted in African culture and the
slavery experience that resist progress.”
• Culture matters, race doesn't • The United States did support French slave-owners and the French government in Haiti in the 18th
century; Haiti supported revolutionary movements in Latin America and could have been called the first
“terrorist state in world history.”
• The first foreign responders were not the Americans, but Cubans.
Cuba has had a substantial and welcomed medical presence in Haiti for more than a decade,
consisting of several hundred physicians.
• U.S. media refused to recognize the Cuban presence, misidentifying Cuban doctors as “Spanish” and
refusing to correct the error when told.
• But perhaps the most harrowing events surrounding the Goudougoudou were the many and repeated
efforts to spirit away Haitian children, by adoptions, kidnapping, and various subterfuge.
• It was a matter of saving Haitian children from their culture, religion, language, and history by Protestant
missionaries run amok, from foreigners who understood little about Haiti, other than what “God” had
• Civilizing Haiti was one element in the first U.S. Marine occupation of Haiti in 1915-1934. The case is
made clear in the abundant written record and the documentation of that era.
• During the first U.S. occupation of Haiti, the opposition to American design was often led by Vodu
priests and priestesses in the countryside.
• In the end, perhaps 50,000 Haitians perished fighting the invading army.
• Vodu was the popular movement of resistance within the context of an overall culture of resistance in
Haiti (Bellegarde-Smith, 2004, pp. 33-35).
• It is safe to assume that, from the standpoint of American and Canadian rescuers, these children were
both black and heathens
• Stealing babies to give them a better life
Policies leading to conversion, or to at least a modicum of civilization, were adopted by the United
States and Canada against Native Americans and First Nations, and by Australia against Aborigines.
• Whether coming from the secular or the religious, there had always been in the United States deep-
seated assumptions that some cultures are more valuable than others and that Haitian children and
adults must somehow be saved from a malevolent, delinquent, or otherwise wanting culture—their own.
The devil made them do it!
• The American government, which had sought to weaken Haitian governments in favor of the largely
foreign private sector and which had imposed on the country disastrous economic policies that
strengthened Haitian dependence, took advantage of the earthquake by forcing its agenda on Haiti.
• in neocolonial economic policy, poverty and dependency are the likely and predictable outcomes as
experienced by Haiti in the past 42 years.
• Haitian agriculture must be destroyed so that corporations can enjoy a cheap labor force
• today Haiti is governed by two pro-consuls, former President Bill Clinton and Haitian Prime Minister
Jean-Max Bellerive, and a joint Haitian-foreign commission, a trusteeship, a protectorate, a situation of
being sous-tutelle, as you wish.
• Assume haitians would riot for food bc black
• Before January 12, 2010, Haiti was in the process of reinventing itself politically. The “revolution” of
1946 and “election” of 1957 created the space where two middle-class-led governments could assume
power, those of Dumarsais Estimé, a député (congressman) from a rural village, and François and
• The overthrow of the Duvalier dynastic regime, starting with uprisings in the provinces, did eventually
lead to the election of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a populist Roman Catholic priest from the rural
village of Port-Salut in 1991. The hope of the peasantry in the country- side and the urban proletariat
was that it, too, would participate actively in politics lest the country be rendered ungovernable if they
were to be kept away from power.
• These sectors of the Haitian population may be rendered helpless by foreign intrusion in Haitian
• Haiti was reinventing itself socially by the hopeful integration of social classes and all Haitians into the
body politic as full