A new report by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention shows additional links between the outburst of cholera in Haiti and the deployment of a Nepalese UN envoy. Since first detected, the disease has killed more than 5,500 people and affected more than 363,000 in an already struggling nation, coping with the aftermath of the shocking 2010 earthquake.
The study is the strongest argument yet that newly arrived Nepalese peacekeepers at a base near the town of Mirebalais brought with them the cholera, which spread through the waterways of the Artibonite region and elsewhere in the Caribbean country.
This revelation supports the views of Peter Hallward, who in an article in the Guardian earlier this year, raised suspicions on the UN connection to the epidemic. This incident is the latest in a number of catastrophic international interventions in the Caribbean island where, rather than helping with the development of the country, the UN has hindered the calls for democracy by the Haitian people and teamed up with Haiti's former and current colonial and neocolonial masters. As yet it has been reticent to accept any responsibility for this new calamity.
The basic political problem in Haiti, from colonial through post-colonial to neo-colonial times, has always been much the same: how can a tiny and precarious ruling class secure its property and privileges in the face of mass destitution and resentment? The Haitian elite owes its privileges to exclusion, exploitation and violence, and only quasi-monopoly control of violent power allows it to retain them.
For more background on Haiti’s recent history see Peter Hallward’s book Damming the Flood, which charts the systematic intrusions by Western powers in Haiti and the devastating effects on its political life. A fully updated edition was released in January 2011 with a lengthy new afterword examining the international response to the earthquake and its failures.
Visit the Guardian for the new report on the cholera outbreak in Haiti and Peter Hallward’s original article on its recent political history.