US Govt and Big Oil Attempt to Block Aid to Haiti

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WikiLeaks cables reveal history of US succumbing to pressure from oil companies’ to block aid to Haiti.

In 2006, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced that Haiti would be added to his Petrocaribe program, in which Caribbean and Central American nations can pay for oil with goods and get cut-rate financing if oil prices rise above $40 a barrel.  This amounts to around 60% savings on oil.  Chavez agreed to also provide Haiti aid in education and health.

Oil giants Exxon & Chevron, fearful that these insanely cheap oil prices would undermine their billion dollar profits in the region pressured then-President George W. Bush to discourage the deal that would save Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, $100 million per year!  This amounts to around 10% of the Haitian government’s budget that they use for things like hurricane relief, schools and hospitals.

“We in the United States, in our workplaces, in our homes, in our community groups, were raising money for Haiti. We sent money for earthquake victims, we sent money for hurricane relief, with our churches, go on missions to Haiti to build, to help build the country” Says  Dan Coughlin, Democracy Now Haiti Corespondent. “But what we realize, in these cables is that the main obstacle to development in Haiti today is Washington.”

What’s strange is that the US opposition didn’t stop with oil.  One cable in particular talked about the Cubans wanting to replace two million light bulbs throughout Port-au-Prince at a cost of $4 million, but that that would save Haiti around $70 million annually in electricity costs, yet the U.S. embassy was opposed to it also.

George W. Bush with Vicente Fox

It grew to become simply political opposition, not based on any health or safety concerns.  One of the cable actually referred to Chavez’ deal as “very good for the country [Haiti].”

Janet Sanderson, Bush’s then-ambassador and present deputy assistant secretary of state very arrogantly states in one of the cables, “You all don’t understand how important our opposition to Venezuela is. Don’t do this deal.”  She goes on to say that Venezuela and Cuba “appear to be taking advantage of Haiti’s electricity gap” to further their influence in the region.

The US Govt goes as far as encouraging Mexico to offer a similar program under then-President Vicente Fox.  The program, called “Plan de Puebla” would offer about half the aid that Chavez did.  The released cables stated that the purpose of this deal was to “counter the Petrocaribe deal.”  This arrangement never materialized.

To the chagrin of the United States, Haiti eventually accept the deal from Venezuela.  In a matter of years, electricity production skyrockets in most of the country.

“Hospitals, schools, factories and homes have electrical power that they didn’t have under 50 years of U.S. development aid” says Coughlin.  “All of a sudden, in two or three years, Venezuela and Cuban technicians come in, patch a few power stations together, three of them, bring in the oil supply, a steady oil supply that benefits Haiti, and sure enough, there’s electrical power.”

This isn’t the first time that America has stuck it’s nose in Haiti’s affairs.  The US has a long history of exploiting the island nation.

Source: Sickly Cat


One Comment on "US Govt and Big Oil Attempt to Block Aid to Haiti"

  1. JCB3 Jun 15, 2011 · 9:24 am

    The amount of information we DON’T know scares me!

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