by Stuart J. Hooper, 21st Century Wire:
Haiti, an island nation located in the Caribbean Sea, was hit by a devastating earthquake in 2010 – but this is only one obstacle facing this country.
Sophie & Co speaks with Haitian human rights lawyer Ezili Danto about the systematic dismantling and destruction of the Haitian economy and society, leaving it dependent on a collection of hand-picked NGOs, USAID contractors and wealthy Clinton Foundation donors. The recent Oxfam child sex scandal has caused critics to ask whether or not the West’s seemingly vast humanitarian efforts are helping or hindering this poverty-stricken country? Watch:
Sophie Shevardnadze: Ezili Danto, Haitian human rights lawyer, welcome. It’s really great to have you on our programme. Lots to talk about. The latest scandal in Haiti is over Oxfam employees engaging in sexual exploitation in the country. The Haitian government has suspended the work of the UK charity. Oxfam has apologised, started an investigation and fired those responsible – what more could they do right now?
Ezili Danto: Well, I think, Oxfam is just sort of a symptom of the problem because Haiti is under occupation. And these NGOs are there masturbating on this pain that has been imposed upon us because of imperialism. What else could they do? They could actually leave Haiti.
SS: Ok, we are going to go case by case. But because Oxfam is the latest case I would like to focus on them in the beginning. I mean, it only takes one scandal to ruin the reputation of a charity – accusations stick and people start thinking that the whole organisation is rotten. After the scandal broke out, Oxfam’s CEO said that everything the organisation tried to say or do just ‘fuelled the fire’ of public opinion – it’s like no matter what they say, it won’t come out right. Do they really deserve to be battered further?
ED: Yes, we’re talking about children, we’re talking about post-earthquake. I mean, look at the situation, Sophie, we’re talking about the 2010 catastrophic, apocalyptic earthquake that killed over 310 thousand Haitians, that made over 2 million Haitians homeless. And then you have this army of NGOs coming in, that’s where Oxfam comes in with a director who has been recycled in different other NGOs as a sexually immoral person. I mean, he was in Liberia and fired by a British NGO in 2004, and then he was recruited by Oxfam. It’s so nasty what he was doing – Caligula sex, bestiality, these orgies with people who had lost everything and were looking at these charity organisation as folks who had come to help them.
SS: As their saviors?
ED: Yes, as their saviors. And this is just not Oxfam. We had the UN doing the same thing. So you have a culture of foreigners coming in…
SS: We are going to talk about the UN further down in our interview. Only the UK division of Oxfam has been banned – other Oxfam workers are still in Haiti; does that mean that the country actually needs Oxfam here and just found a temporary scapegoat in the UK division?
ED: As I said, you know, we, Haitians, haven’t been hurt. This is not about Oxfam. This is about the underage children who were used by this NGO, who are now being blared about in headlines as prostitutes. What happens when you’re fifteen years old and your mother just died, five of your brothers just died? And instead of helping you with the donation dollars which is paying these men’s salary, that’s been given by citizens of the world who care about what happened, these men held orgy sex with animals with these children. What can happen to them? I’m a human rights lawyer who spent the last 24 years of my life since 1994 exposing that the charitable-industrial complex and the military industrial complex are about colonialism, that they are in Haiti as a smokescreen while the Western corporatocracy takes our resources out. You’re talking to a Haitian woman, you’re not talking to an NGO person…