Haiti: Disaster profiteering v. helping Haiti rebuild for Haitians

Naomi KleinNaomi Klein is the author of The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, about corporate profiteers who exploit the chaos of war, terrorist attacks, and natural disasters to push their own agenda of business profit . On January 13 she spoke at the  Ethical Culture Society in New York about the crisis in Haiti:

We have to be absolutely clear that this tragedy — which is part natural, part unnatural — must, under no circumstances, be used to, one, further indebt Haiti and, two, to push through unpopular corporatist policies in the interest of our corporations. This is not conspiracy theory. They have done it again and again. [Ref #1]

Democracy Now has a video and rush transcript of her talk:

As if to underscore Klein’s warning about the danger of allowing corporatist exploitation to become enmeshed with efforts to help Haiti and its people, Max Blumenthal — who visited Anchorage last September shortly after publication of his book Republican Gomorrah — appeared yesterday on the Thom Hartmann program discussing Haiti’s recent political history [Ref #2]:

Blumenthal described on his blog what he said on the show:

In 2004, when the national press corps failed to report the American hand in the coup that overthrew Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide, I embarked on a long and exhaustive investigative report on role of right-wing operatives in Washington and Haiti in toppling the government. My report, which I just discussed on the Thom Hartmann Show, is also the story of how lawmakers in Washington — including President Bill Clinton, who forced Aristide to sign free trade agreements that would destroy the rural economy as the condition for returning him to power — undermined Haiti’s capacity to support a viable governing structure. Not surprisingly, we are seeing the corporate sweatshop owners that Clinton and others had posited as the future stewards of Haiti’s economy fire their employees en masse and flee the country for safer environs instead of helping out. [Ref #3]

The report to which he refers was originally published at Salon.com in July 2004. [Ref #4]

Number Three in Bill Quigley’s list of “Ten Things the US Can and Should Do for Haiti”, is one crucial step toward rebuilding Haiti for Haitians — instead of as a feeding trough for corporate exploiters:

Three. Give Haiti grants as help, not loans. Haiti does not need any more debt. Make sure that the relief given helps Haiti rebuild its public sector so the country can provide its own citizens with basic public services. [Ref #5]

Yelé HaitiOne way we as individuals can help is to include the grassroots charity Yéle Haiti in your giving plans.  Yéle Haiti was founded in 2005 by Haitian-American musician Wylcef Jean.  Its purpose:

to restore pride and hope to the Haitian people through projects that will allow citizens to ultimately help themselves, such as the creation of scholarships, support for the arts, food distribution and emergency relief. [Ref #6]

Currently all funds donated are being directed toward the earthquake relief effort.  You can donate by:

  • texting Yele to 501501 (which donates $5 to the effort; amount will be added to your cell phone bill); or
  • donating directly at the Yéle Haiti website (for larger amounts)

As of this morning, MTV.com reports that Yéle Haiti so far has raised $2 million through mobile donations. [Ref #7]

It’s my payday today.  Yelé!

Wyclef Jean on Ground in Haiti
(Fox News… I know…)

Another good Haiti-based organization to support is the Lambi Fund of Haiti, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit founded in 1994 by 1994 by Haitians, Haitian-Americans, and North Americans which has as its organizational goal

to help strengthen civil society as a necessary foundation of democracy and development. The fund channels financial and other resources to community-based organizations that promote the social and economic empowerment of the Haitian people. [Ref #8]

The Lambi Fund’s earthquake relief effort is to help Haitian communities recover beyond the immediate response to the earthquake emergency:

The Lambi Fund of Haiti is not a first responder, but a second responder. Lambi Fund will be there to help Haiti rebuild long after the relief service providers leave.

If you want to give to a first responder group, we recommend the following: Doctors without Borders, International Red Cross, and Partners in Health.

As a second responder, here are our plans for helping communities recover, today and tomorrow:

  • We expect a tremendous outmigration from Port au Prince back to the rural villages. This will stretch the capacity of peasant organizations with which Lambi Fund partners. We will help members of peasant groups get food and essentials for their families to re-establish their lives.
  • Provide seeds, tools and equipment for peasant groups to plant more crops to feed local communities.
  • Rebuild grain mills, sugar cane mills, and other economic development community enterprises lost in the earthquake. These buildings are the centers of communities’ economic livelihoods.
  • Recapitalize micro–credit funds run by peasant organizations so that people can replenish and continue their small businesses.
  • Repair rainwater cisterns so people will have a supply of safe drinking water. [Ref #9]

Donations can be made by credit card or Paypal through the Lambi Fund of Haiti Earthquake Recovery page.


  1. 14 Jan 2010. “Naomi Klein Issues Haiti Disaster Capitalism Alert: Stop Them Before They Shock Again” (Democracy Now).
  2. 14 Jan 2010. “Max Blumenthal on Haiti’s political history” (Thom Hartmann Program, YouTube).
  3. 14 Jan 2010. “How Washington’s Plot Against Haiti Worsened The Earthquake Disaster” by Max Blumenthal (maxblumenthal.com).
  4. 16 Jul 2004. “The other regime change: Did the Bush administration allow a network of right-wing Republicans to foment a violent coup in Haiti?” by Max Blumenthal (Salon.com).
  5. 14 Jan 2010. “Ten Things the US Can and Should Do for Haiti” by Bill Quigley (Common Dreams).
  6. 14 Jan 2010. “Wyclef Jean helping through ‘Yéle Haiti'” by Jo Piazza (CNN).
  7. 15 Jan 2010. “Wyclef’s Yele Haiti Tops $2 Million In Text Donations: Americans’ charitable donations on track to set fund-raising records” by Gil Kaufman (MTV.com).
  8. “About The Lambi Fund of Haiti” (lambifund.org).
  9. “Lambi Fund of Haiti Earthquake Recovery” (lambifund.org).
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