Saturday, September 18, 2010

Role of the US military in Haiti after Quake

This is a video shot by Andre Liohn of the brutal beating of an unarmed man by the Haitian police who is not resisting arrest. US soldiers and UN police were present and did nothing to stop it. It is symbolic of how security concerns were prioritized over humanitarian concerns by the US military and the United Nations following the earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, 2010. As Liohn said to me in an interview, "People were desperate. They had no food, no water...nothing. So they had no choice really but to break into stores to find anything to survive. The US soldiers and the UN did nothing to protect them when the Haitian police killed and brutalized them for trying to survive."

The video of this incident is unedited save for slowing down the first part to allow for a short commentary by Sean Penn extolling the virtues of the US military during the earthquake. This re-edit (with Liohn's kind permission) is dedicated to the memory of the victims of July 6, 2005 in Cite Soleil, who fell prey to a United Nations mission that has acted as very little else than a proxy for US foreign policy interests in Haiti. The UN like the US military, also places security and stability as a priority over due process, social justice and human rights.

The following is Liohn's commentary of the event in this video:

"This video shows how the strongest army in the world, the same one, that uninvited entered Haiti to "delivery humanitarian help", was not able, to defend the Haitian people in moments they needed most."

Following Mr. Liohn's release of this video, Kevin Pina interviewed him on Flashpoints on Pacifica Radio.

During this interview, Liohn spoke of how humanitarian relief efforts were slowed and undermined by the US military in the first few critical weeks after they took control of the Toussaint Loverture airport. Liohn stated, "The landing of the thousands of US troops with everything they needed to house and feed them...and their large vehicles...took priority over the humanitarian concerns."

We may never know how many thousands died needlessly after the decision of the Obama administration to militarize relief efforts in Haiti and place security concerns above humanitarian assistance. What we do know is that the first few days and weeks were critical to those buried under rubble as civilian relief cargo planes, that included mobile hospitals and search and rescue teams, were turned away to allow the US military to fully deploy.

Listen to this interview with Andre Liohn on Flashpoints on Pacifica Radio.