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Let the Haitians In

Posted on Jan 26, 2010

By Amy Goodman

  Jean Montrevil was shackled, imprisoned, about to be sent to Haiti. It was Jan. 6, days before the earthquake that would devastate Haiti, the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. Montrevil came to the U.S. with a green card in 1986 at the age of 17. Twenty years ago, still a teenager, he was convicted of possession of cocaine and sent to prison for 11 years. Upon release, he married a U.S. citizen; he has four U.S.-citizen children, owns a business, pays taxes and is a legal, permanent resident. He is a well-respected Haitian New York community activist. But because of his earlier conviction, he was on an immigration supervision program, requiring him to check in with an immigration official every two weeks. On Dec. 30, during his routine visit, he was immediately detained and told he would be deported to Haiti. A fellow detainee bound for Haiti had a fever. That man’s illness halted the flight, and then the earthquake struck.

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  The devastating toll of the Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti continues to mount. Most efforts to rescue people from the rubble have ended. More than 150,000 people have been buried, some in makeshift graves near the ruins of the homes where they died, but many in unmarked, mass graves at Titanyen, the site of massacres during previous dictatorships and coups. More than 1 million people are homeless out of Haiti’s population of 9 million. The stench of decaying bodies is still pervasive in the capital city of Port-au-Prince as well as in outlying towns, which, two weeks out, have seen little outside help. It was painful to see the mass of aid stockpiled at the airport. The Haitians need it now. For example, I saw pallets with thousands of bottles of Aquafina water there. Hopeful when a truck arrived to load up, I asked where it was headed. “To the U.S. Embassy,” I was told. 

  One of the principal sources of national income in Haiti is the flow of remittances from the Haitian diaspora, whose cash, wired to family members back in Haiti, amounts to one-third of Haiti’s gross national product. For years, after four major hurricanes and massive flooding, the Haitian community has simply been asking to be treated like Nicaraguans, Hondurans and Salvadorans in similar circumstances, to receive Temporary Protected Status (TPS). TPS allows people to stay in the U.S., and legally work, during times of armed conflict or natural disaster, and is a critical element of any humane policy. Finally, following frantic grass-roots lobbying after the earthquake, the U.S. government extended TPS to Haitians.

  But TPS is not enough. Haitians need to be allowed into the United States, legally, compassionately and immediately. I visited hospitals and clinics in Port-au-Prince, with thousands of people waiting for care, and amputations happening with ibuprofen or Motrin, if patients were lucky. Ira Kurzban, a Miami-based attorney who represented Haiti for years, says the U.S. must let in those immediately who need medical care, that far too few of the injured have been brought to the U.S. In addition, he told me, the U.S. should bring many more people from Haiti, including all those people who had approved petitions by family members. It’s about 70,000 people. These people have been approved, but are essentially in a multiyear waiting line to move to the U.S. Kurzban compared the historical willingness and ability of the U.S. to accept Cuban refugees with what he calls a policy of “containment” with Haiti, preventing people from leaving and blocking the shores with the Coast Guard. The first thing I saw when flying in to Port-au-Prince days after the earthquake were the Coast Guard cutters. They weren’t bringing aid in, or carrying people out. They were preventing Haitians from leaving.

  National Nurses United, the largest nurses union in the U.S., has 12,000 registered nurses willing to travel to Haiti to help, but they say they can’t get assistance from the Obama administration. So they called filmmaker Michael Moore. He told me this week: “This is pretty pathetic if you’re having to call me. I mean, you are the largest nurses union ... and you can’t get a call in to the White House?” The NNU is seeking individual sponsors through its Web site.


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  Grass-roots and church groups in New York City demanded freedom for Jean Montrevil, and he was released. It is that kind of solidarity that is now needed by millions of Haitians, here and in Haiti, suffering the greatest catastrophe in their history.
  Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column.
  Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!,” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 800 stations in North America. She is the author of “Breaking the Sound Barrier,” recently released in paperback and now a New York Times best-seller.

  © 2010 Amy Goodman

  Distributed by King Features Syndicate

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By ofersince72, January 31, 2010 at 1:47 pm Link to this comment

Don’t quite understand what you are saying

Scott Williams…... any way….what surplus’?

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By Xntrk, January 28, 2010 at 12:41 pm Link to this comment

For those of you interested in the true story of what is happening in Haiti Go to and thumb thru the articles posted during the past few days. Supporting some of my comments about Racism and fear affecting rescue operations, I strongly recommend ‘Bujum Hunting in the Caribbean’, first printed in the Jamaican Observer.

This is an excerpt from Hallward’s lengthy article today “Securing Disaster in Haiti” quoting Haiti Liberté‘s Kim Ives, a journalist for Haiti Liberté:

“But it seems that to some, dignity and decency are no substitute for security. No amount of weapons will ever suffice to reassure those “fortunate few,” whose fortunes isolate them from the people they exploit. As far as the vast majority of people are concerned, “security is not the issue,” explains Ives.

“We see throughout Haiti the population organizing themselves into popular committees to clean up, to pull out the bodies from the rubble, to build refugee camps, to set up their security for the refugee camps. This is a population that is self-sufficient, and it has been self-sufficient for many years.”{28}

While the people who have lost what little they had have done their best to cope and regroup, the soldiers sent to “restore order” treat them as potential combatants. “It’s just the same way they reacted after Katrina,” concludes Ives. “The victims are what’s scary. They’re black people who, you know, had the only successful slave revolution in history. What could be more threatening?”

This article is well documented, footnoted, and lengthy. It also provides a view that is missing on our ‘Disaster of the Moment’ MSM, including that of Canada and Britain.

Yep, Obama’s 100% right: we MUST spend all our money securing the health and welfare of the wealthy in the many Black Majority Nations of the World. Obviously, like Michael Jackson and BHO both prove, enough money is all the ‘whitewash’ one needs!

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By salbers, January 28, 2010 at 6:42 am Link to this comment

There are hospital ships, both civilian and military flying flags of several countries that could be deployed to Haiti within a matter of days.  Just one ship on site would provide medical services for thousands at minimal cost.

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By P. Scott Williams, January 28, 2010 at 1:51 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

To all those saying our economy is too weak to take these brothers and sisters of ours in, I say that if Big O stops jacking around with the economy we’ll recover just fine. To those who say they’d rather not have more new people on “welfare,” well all I can say to that is that it shouldn’t exist in the first place; people should all pull their own weight, which these people can no doubt do as well as any other folks. And to those who say the earthquake was a secret US weapon gone wrong…you just might be a little wacky. Or maybe right, but I estimate the probability to be low.

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By paradise83, January 28, 2010 at 12:19 am Link to this comment

Why not just annexe Haiti and declare it a territory like Puerto Rico. Then Congress would have a say on how the Haitian conducts their affairs. Any money provided by Congress would be accountable to it and the Federal Government.
1)Abolish the local currency and replace it with US dollar notes.
2)make every Haitian family entitled to 300 dollars a month in dolar notes for the next five years from the stimulus money;
3)introduce a sales tax to generate revenue for the local government;
4) legislate that the government balances its budget at all times;
5) Build up a reserve account with the US Federal Reserve from the Haitian budget surplus to finance future rescostruction due to earhquakes or hurricanes;
6)Congress commit to financing the reconstruction of roads, port, hospitals and government offices;
7)open up the economy to foreign investment;
8)US to give Haiti most favoured nation status and unferttered access to its markets;
9) After ten years Haitians can decide in a referendum whether they wish to go it alone.

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By Big Z, January 27, 2010 at 9:18 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

What poppycock! We need less Haitian’s, not more in the US. Instead of helping, this proposal would just exacerbate the poverty, here and in Haiti.

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By Xntrk, January 27, 2010 at 5:26 pm Link to this comment

Gee, aim a dart at a few knee-jerk Conservative Bigots, and they may bleed - But, it sure don’t get their attention.

No! No! do not let any Haitian Refugees in. Not even those on the legal waiting list. At the same time invite as many Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Middle-Eastern, Israeli and Egyptian ‘Students’ as apply to take the places of US students in our Universities. Especially, invite all the Saudis who want to study hi-tech stuff like flying jet planes and taking weaponry courses.

When they leave, minds full of data funded by the US tax-payer, they can compete against our workers and steal any loose jobs that are laying around. If that doesn’t work, they can high-jack a couple of planes and fly them into our public buildings. All those flight lessons come in handy, Doncha know?

At the same time, any potential immigrant with no money, who is not a member of one of our Client-States [Or, are we in fact their Clients?], is totally unwelcome.

Yes! I am a Socialist. The root of that word comes from ‘society’ which is far more important to me than building more military bases on every rock we can claim - anytime… anywhere…

And if all you self-proclaimed Conservatives are so worried about your taxes supporting a ‘Negro immigrant’, when are you going to start complaining about the more 60% of your taxes that go to support all our Wars and Invasions and 3rd World Butchers who do what we tell them.

You, who want to bitch about the pittance we spend on social services in this county, should fuckin’ a, at least find out where your tax dollars go.

Oh, and on the subject of over-population: What country is it that denies prenatal care and contraception to the poor. Yet we cheer the funding fertility treatment that provides some crazy - but good, god-fearing, idiot, with 8 kids she cannot support without even more help?

At the very least, take a few logic classes before opening your mouth to show off the vacancy between your ears.

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By Grasshopper, January 27, 2010 at 4:42 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

WE are all Haiti; the fate we allow all these poor folks to suffer is the one we can expect for ourselves; although it is hard to understand or contemplate that this event- an earthquake, was a man-made phenomena, the militarization ensuing, the blocking of Haiti by the US military, trapping folks in, the lack of folks to be able to actually do anything useful for ourselves or others, well, this seems to support the assertion; certainly 9-11-01 was a fake terrorist attack, the buildings were demolished by charges planted therein, not the attack of the airplanes;  it is hard to fathom that our government would kill so many black folks outright, yet on the other hand, we certainly don’t seem to be able to do much to help even the survivors to stay alive…

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By omop, January 27, 2010 at 3:08 pm Link to this comment

For the Israeli realisitc view on Haiti’s disaster check this link.

While many other views from South America suggest that the earthquake was
man - made in the USA.

So who you gonna believe? In any case its another outpost for the US military
thereby making the number of nations with an American military presence
around 146 or so.

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By johnnyfarout, January 27, 2010 at 10:09 am Link to this comment

Knee jerk progressivist thinking! If this 7pointwhatever earthquake hit LA or Santa Monica (“the home of the homeless”), I guess the Canadians would airlift in plenty of whatever it is they make and have on hand extra. Like healthcare, which is available to them on a, “come as you are”, basis. Of course, in our great wisdom, here in the USA, this is not the case. You show up at a hospital and wait in the emergency room, and all the admin people sigh that you have no insurance card, and worry and fret that now they are going to “go down the tubes”, because they will have to eat your costs, try to get you on Medicaid, or some catastrophic one time payout scheme, and then put you in the conga line of not enough hospital for all the people already, because the free market place of commerce and ideas dictates that only so many hospitals can be fiscally viable, in the population of everybody but whites. Damn all those abortions those pretty white girls get when they are raped and get laid all confused like they are because they were only told to “just say no”, and jeezu it doesn’t seem to work. So the Haitians are coming all banged up and we just have to say the truth: we don’t even take care of ourselves when we can’t afford it, so why do they even want to show up here and talk all funny like they do. Nobody will hire them or pay for their booboos. Christ on a stick we don’t even help ourselves unless there’s a profit in it! This is the natural way…the way god planned it… let’s do for the Haitians what we do all over the world…send them a drone. And then I read on a conspiracy site that this earthquake was caused by a US Navy triple double secret weapon that went off…oops, inadvertently too powerfully. Just like US to be bigger and better and badder than we even thought!

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By Howie Bledsoe, January 27, 2010 at 9:58 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Easy as pie.
Get the western corporate evil doers out of Haiti once nad for all.
Invest a little on reconstruction.
Get US troops out, they will consume valuable water, food and other resources, while bringing nothing to the masses. The only reason these people are looting is due to the poorly planned strategies of distributing what is already there, making them crazy with hunger.
Sending them to the states will only bring more tension to an already boiling social fiasco here at home.  Ol´Bubba aint gunna to too pleased when he is told that his welfare has run out, while some Haitian walks past him to claim a check.
Infrastructure, investment, and a cleaning up of the old politicians is whats in order here.

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By Doug, January 27, 2010 at 9:49 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If Amy can afford it and provide free meals and boarding to any Haitian, go ahead
but not on my taxpayer dollar. I already pay more than half my income in taxes
when you add sales taxes in almost everything I buy, I would rather help my
fellow Americans who are homeless or unemployed. Charity starts at home,
maybe this phrase does not appear in Goodman’s Democracy(!?) Now manifesto.
Haiti was a former French colony, let the Francáise take of them first.

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By salbers, January 27, 2010 at 8:19 am Link to this comment

As an ocean yachtsman and businessman, I have cruised the Haitian north coast.  I feel broad perspective about Haiti is needed for any hope at a long term solution.

Haiti has been the tragic joke of the Caribbean ever since the French left her to her fate.  Haiti is the poorest Caribbean country for good reasons: Grotesque over-population, incompetent and corrupt administration and exploitation. Her problems are so immense that from one perspective, the earthquake was a godsend in the same way that European cities destroyed by WWII were totally rebuilt into the thriving ones they are today.  Importing thousands of Haitians to the USA is not a good idea when facilitates in Haiti are what is needed. 

This earth now supports 4 billion people. Another 1 million humans are added every four days. Haiti is a microcosm of the earth with a birth rate far in excess of what the island can support. Most of the forests have been chopped down for firewood resulting in massive land erosion. Until the disastrous population policies of Haitian society are totally changed to zero population growth there is no hope for Haiti.

Massive corruption and incompetence make Haiti untenable to business. The truth is that Haiti is not capable of running her own affairs and should be reverted to a protectorate to effect a total overhaul. But it is inappropriate for the world community to invariably look to the USA every time a bailout is needed. Certainly France or the United Nations should belly up to the bar and accept responsibility for Haiti.  Rather than bringing masses of Haitians to the USA, the western powers should invade Haiti and take over her administration.  Solving Haiti’s problems IN HAITI is the appropriate approach. Haiti enjoys an extremely benign climate where little is needed in the way of housing or clothing to live in reasonable comfort.  This wonderful characteristic should be exploited by ministering to Haitians needs locally rather than moving masses of Haitians to other countries.  Haiti is a solvable problem if the coordinated commitment by other countries is deployed.  It needs to get done yesterday.

Conventional charity efforts alone will only serve to, once again, increase the massively unsustainable birth rate and set Haiti up for yet another inevitable future disaster as has been demonstrated so many times in the past.

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By paradise83, January 27, 2010 at 5:23 am Link to this comment

Why not just annexe Haiti and declare it a territory like Puerto Rico. Every Haitian would vote for it except possibly former president Aristide.

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By G.Anderson, January 26, 2010 at 11:35 pm Link to this comment

This country does let Haitians in, we also let immigrants legally into this country from hundreds of countries around the world, including many countries where there is civil unrest, and war.

We also let into this country millions of illegal immigrants, from countries all over the world, and we provide them relief and help without question.

However currently this country is in an economic meltown, with millions unemployed. 42 states have run out of money to pay unemployment benefits, and are having to borrow it from the federal government.

Millions are losing their homes, jobs, savings, retirement, etc.

There are 2 million 200 thousand people on welfare in Los Angeles country.

I think a better idea would be to forgive Haiti it’s 2 billion dollars in debt, and stop exploitation of Haiti by US corporations.

It’s good to help people in need, but first you have to understand what help is. Turning people into dependents of the state is not help. Unless your able to provide them with a way of supporting themselves and their families, that’s all this would amount to.

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By Carl, January 26, 2010 at 9:55 pm Link to this comment

This is the type of mindless and naive BS that kills the Dems and the progressives. Hasn’t this person been outside the USA. There a billion people on Earth that need immediate admission into the USA, or Japan, or Germany or Saudi Arabia. They are sick, starving, or crazy.

Go to an emergency room in any big city in the USA to find hundreds of people in need of immediate admission. Does she think this nation is full of millionaire movie stars? Why does truthdig publish this crap. Sometimes I think the editors are working for Fox News.

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By Xntrk, January 26, 2010 at 8:32 pm Link to this comment

There is no end to stories of tragedy in Haiti. Of course, we all ignore the real tragedy. More than 40 years after the assassination of MLK, Blacks, regardless of origin, or status, are unwelcome in this country. God forbid we welcome them now; it is no longer legal to put them in chains and auction them to the highest bidder.

Well, chains are legal, if they are part of a 20 or 30 year prison term.

Of course, we’ve been sanctified by the election of a half white President. No one dare call us ‘racist’ now! I see where BHO wants to cut all services but the Military. What a relief! I worried for years about El Salvadoran Commies invading during Ronnie’s Presidency. Let’s be sure the Southern Border is secure. those rotten lefties like Chavez and Evo and Fidel have such a lengthy record of invading their neighbors, that my neurosis would max out.

I survived peritonitis - barely - 40 years ago in the US. I can not imagine the suffering of thousands in Haiti with gangrene and peritonitis, receiving medical care on the level medicine during the Civil War. Maybe BHO should read up on Andersonville, it may give him some ideas for the next disaster.

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By pikawicca, January 26, 2010 at 8:10 pm Link to this comment

You’re nuts.  We cannot let in every victim of every natural disaster around the world.

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