Sunday, January 08, 2006

Chiapas, New Orleans and Haiti

Today was a big news day with regard to the three biggest issues on my blog.

Chiapas: "Mexico lost a fighter we're going to miss, and she left us with a hole in our hearts."

Comandante Ramona of the EZLN died yesterday, cutting short Subcomandante Marcos' tour of Mexico as part of the "Other Campaign." Ramona is one of the most famous comandante's. She has been sick for some time, and apparently she became extremely ill yesterday, and died on the way to San Cristobal for treatment. She first became famous for her trip across Mexico as a representative of the EZLN while the government was trying to portray the Zapatistas as a violent and frightening organization. The trip allowed her to get better treatment for her nagging kidney problems and also made the government look foolish for portraying the 5 foot Ramona as a menace to Mexican society. This irony prompted chants of "Ramona es Chingona" as she made her way across the country.

New Orleans: Stakes is high in Lower Ninth Ward

The city of New Orleans has escalated its fight to condemn the Lower Ninth Ward neighborhood that had been devastated by the flood. Despite a court injunction against demolitions until January 6th, the city brought in bulldozers to start the job early on the 5th. The Common Ground Collective along with other local activists and lawyers forced the city to back down for the day, as lawyers argued for an extension on the injunction. I have been unable to find out the outcome of that judicial process. Common Ground's Brandon Darby reports that "In response, the City has announced that they will be closing access to the Lower Ninth Ward to everyone but residents and contractors." Common Ground is moving some operations into the Lower Ninth Ward (from the Upper Ninth Ward) so that "human rights observers" can be present to witness the city's actions. I am surprised not to find any news on this from the Times-Picayune.

The Big News is in Haiti

Two big stories are coming out of Haiti. A couple of days ago, the AP announced that it was cutting off association with a freelance reporter who had been their source of information on Haiti because it was revealed that the reporter was employed by the CIA affiliated National Endowment for Democracy. This group has been heavily involved in the intellectual and policy support for the coup and dictatorship that overthrew the first democratically elected president of Haiti (twice) Jean Bertrand Aristide. This relationship helps underline why international reporting on Haiti is of such a poor quality and skewed analysis. Now I wonder if the BBC and other news groups will take a more critical look at their own reporting in light of this information. Probably Not, unless we are loud enough to make them.

Second. The bigger story today is that the head of the United Nations' mission in Haiti Gen Urano Teixeira Da Matta Bacellar was found dead in his Port-Au-Prince hotel room of an apparent suicide. This raises a big question. Assuming this was indeed a suicide, why did it happen? It seems to me that this is awfully similar to the suicides of New Orleans' police officials in the aftermath of Katrina (though in addition to being at the top of a corrupt and violent police force in an out-of-control situations, the New Orleanians had lost about everything that they had owned).

As the Haitian Information Project has been reporting, the UN forces have been involved in repeated arbitrary extrajudicial murder and human rights abuses in Haiti. They have played a supportive role to the police despite brazen murders and massacres that should have immediately called into question the credibility of the police force as a legitimate representative of law and order. I wonder if this man as so ashamed of his role in the subjugation of the Haitian people and the brutal suppression of democracy by the UN that he took his own life.

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

Simon, I will contact you with some horrific things going on on the Gulf Coast. Forced evictions, land lords illegally cutting utilities, massive homelessness. and no one gives a damn. Aren't these bushes people? I guess it doesn't matter anymore. Not that they are the SA, but Hitler got read of the SA when he came to power. Apparently our current monarch has no use for southerners. Thanks for the mention of the show. And watch the typos.