Haiti's problem isn't imperialism

Left-wingers around the world are claiming that the reason the earthquake did so much damage to Haiti is because "Western imperialism" kept the island poor and saddled with corrupt and incompetent rulers. Rather than cite the hundreds of news and blog entries than come up when searching the web for "Haiti" and "imperialism" let's just go to the Left's hero on the subject, Fidel Castro, who said last Friday,


Haiti is an embarrassment for our times, in a world in which most people still are victims of exploitation and abuse. Haiti is the perfect product of colonialism and imperialism ... of military intervention and having its natural resources looted.


The first thing to note is that Haiti has no natural resources, or anything else of value, to attract the attention of imperialists. Haiti won its independence from France in 1804, and during the two centuries since, no one has thought that the island was worth the effort to develop. As Roger Noriega, former Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs in the George W. Bush administration told talk show host Laura Ingraham Jan. 15, "you do not see capital rushing into Haiti-because corruption and an ineffective state make it extraordinarily difficult to do business there." He elaborated on Haiti's weak civil society and the need for the island to become "a global responsibility" in an essaywritten for the American Enterprise Institute.

In July, Haiti had its $1.2 billion foreign debt canceled by the IMF, World Bank and the U.S. government. Money loaned to Haiti is never used for productive purposes, but is stolen by the elites, thus making it impossible to pay back. The Left spins this by claiming that loans are an imperialistic tool of domination and it is "illegitimate" to demand repayment or collect any interest. And then they decry the lack of investment.

The Haitian government does not bother to keep statistics, but it is thought two-thirds of the people do not have formal jobs. Haiti's problem is not imperialism, but neglect. Indeed, any objective look around the world at isolated, "anti-imperialist" states from Cuba to Zimbabwe, Myanmar to North Korea, always finds impoverished despotism.

Haiti has been subject to military intervention over its history, but not to loot its resources, but to restore order and compel adherence to international obligations. This is why there was a UN peacekeeping force in Haiti before the earthquake, and why American troops had to take control of the airport and capital to protect and distribute relief aid. As one Haitian businessman told The Washington Post Jan. 18,"We're all scared. We need the United Nations and we need the United States Marines."