US Military's method of providing Haiti 'relief'

Evening News
program date: 
Fri, 01/22/2010

While most countries around the world have focused on sending search and rescue teams and doctors to Haiti, the US government’s response to the disaster has been to send military troops to secure the airport and nearby areas.


Signal FM was the only radio station that remained on the air through last week’s massive earthquake in Haiti.  The station has been broadcasting live 24 hours a day for the last ten days, trying to help survivors find each other, and providing what was virtually the only means of communication in the days after the quake.


Over the weekend, an African non-governmental organization set up a text-messaging system in which Haitians can text 4636 with their location and need, and the information is then mapped on a website where aid volunteers can respond directly to the needs.


The site was immediately flooded with messages like “Need food and water for 300 children”, “80 badly injured orphans buried under building”, with exact locations mapped for relief workers to be able to find the caller.


Portland non-profits Mercy Corps and Medical Teams International have joined hundreds of other groups providing food, water and medical support.


Such efforts by Haitian people and their supporters around the world are a sharp contrast to the US military’s plan of action in Haiti.

When the earthquake hit, President Obama was slow to move, saying he would send military troops quote “in a few days”.  And when the US did move in, their focus was not on search and rescue efforts, but on securing the airport to control the flow of aid.  Five medical planes from Doctors without Borders were turned away from the US military-controlled airport, and had to bring in mobile hospitals and supplies by land from the Dominican Republic, over badly-damaged roads.


The US Coast Guard was the first of the armed forces to arrive.  I asked Coast Guard spokesperson Jacqueline Young about the Coast Guard’s focus in the relief effort.


But while the Coast Guard focuses on evacuating US citizens and transporting Haitians to Guantanamo Bay, an estimated 20,000 Haitians a day are dying from a lack of medical care.  Resentment is growing against the US military’s response to the disaster.  This, coupled with the military’s sordid history in the region, has led some people to blame the US military not only for its response to the earthquake, but for the earthquake itself.


Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez accused the US of using a “tectonic weapon” to cause the earthquake.  He didn’t say the source of the weapon, but Venezuelan media have connected the claim to the High-Frequency Active Auroral Research Program, or HAARP.  Astrophysicist Dennis Papadopoulos dismissed this claim as laughable.


Dr. Papadopoulos said that an FM radio station like KBOO has 10 times more power than the HAARP antenna array, but no one would try to argue that a radio station could cause an earthquake.  He says such claims are based on a total lack of understanding of the science involved.

So while it’s unlikely that the HAARP antenna system played a role in the Haitian earthquake, there are other military maneuvers that have raised real concerns among analysts in the region.

US military branches were involved in a training exercise on January 11th, the day before the earthquake, off the coast of Miami, which was based on the scenario of providing disaster relief to Haiti using communications technology.


When the earthquake hit the next day, the military immediately ‘went live’ with the scenarios they had been playing out just one day before.  The military insisted that the timing of the exercise was just a coincidence.


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