Current Debates: Haiti’s President says “Stop Sending Money”

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(Photo source access here)

3 Years after the devastating earthquake, Haiti’s President Michael Martelly has publicly asked donor countries and agencies to “stop sending money”, and instead start trying to fix the international relief system, which has essentially funded the creation of a permanent nation-wide emergency camp in Haiti, instead of rebuilding homes. Moreover, the small percentage of relief funds and efforts to actually successfully reach Haitian land have ultimately undermined the ability of the Haitian government to rebuild itself as an effective agency capable of addressing the needs of its own citizens. NPR released a brief and informative overview of the surrounding discussions this morning. Click HERE to both read the article and listen to the audio clip of their morning show’s coverage of the Haitian president’s request.

This is a complex case par excellence of the sort of biopolitical and necropolitical forces that have taken shape under late liberal forms of global governance that the readings covered in the preceding posts have been incrementally pointing us towards, more and more. The use of international aid to transformatively “rebuild” Haiti into what is now a perpetual state of exception, where “bare life” is very much the dominant mode of existence within Haiti’s borders, represents what I see as being an unusual and unprecedented culmination of the sort of disaster capitalism, politics of disposability, and neoliberal failure under apparently new forms of biopower surfacing via global networks today. What Haiti now constitutes, as a biopolitical space and place in the international matrices of biopower, seems deserving of some new and further anthropological theorizing.

Worth checking out is journalist Jonathan Katz. He has been a major contributor to the U.S. media’s coverage of the failures of relief in Haiti since the earthquake, and has published several books about how relief efforts themselves created the real disaster in Haiti. One blogger’s excellent interview with him can be found by following this link.

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