Rihanna and Mick Jagger party as gold-rush mood grips Havana

[Big predators with deep pockets and smiling faces are crowding in……. — Frontlines ed.]

By MICHAEL WEISSENSTEIN, Associated Press , October 18, 2015

Tourists sit in the popular O'Reilly 304 Bar in Old  Havana, Cuba, Oct. 13.  Cubans with money and foreign backers are furiously rehabbing old homes into micro-hotels complete with high-end restaurants and conference rooms for business meetings.

Tourists sit in the popular O’Reilly 304 Bar in Old Havana, Cuba, Oct. 13. Cubans with money and foreign backers are furiously rehabbing old homes into micro-hotels complete with high-end restaurants and conference rooms for business meetings. The Associated Press

HAVANA — By midnight, the basement of one of Havana’s hottest clubs is packed wall-to-wall for a private concert by one of Cuba’s biggest pop stars.

Squeezed among the usual crowd of sleek young Cubans and paunchy, prowling European tourists, the owner of one of New York’s hippest restaurants discusses his new Havana boutique hotel project. At the bar, a Swiss venture capitalist describes meeting with Communist Party officials about partnering on a marina complex. An Ohio woman who runs a bespoke guide service for wealthy Americans shows her clients iPhone photos of the private villa where they will have a waterfront paella dinner the next day.

The foreigners visiting Havana used to be Canadians and Europeans on cheap beach package tours and left-leaning Americans on dutiful rounds of organic farms and neighborhood health clinics. Ten months after the U.S. and Cuba declared the end of a half-century of official hostility, the mood in Havana has changed.

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Another predatory design in Nepal: Israeli “Aid” and the Fraudulent Claim of Humanitarian Credibility

Israel criticized for touting Nepal rescue while Gaza is still in ruins

by Ali Abunimah on Mon, 04/27/2015

Carrying the flag: A photo published by the Israeli army shows its personnel preparing to deploy to Nepal (via Twitter).

The director of Human Rights Watch has criticized Israel for touting its emergency aid efforts for earthquake-devastated Nepal while it continues to block reconstruction in Gaza.

“Easier to address a far away humanitarian disaster than the nearby one of Israel’s making in Gaza,” Kenneth Roth tweeted in reference to Israel’s announcement that it was flying 260 Israeli army medical and military personnel to Kathmandu.

“End the blockade!” Roth demanded. Earlier this month, 46 international aid agencies urged sanctions on Israel if it did not end the tight siege on Gaza that has prevented the rebuilding of a single home in the eight months since Israel’s devastating assault last summer.

“The blockade constitutes collective punishment; it is imposed in violation of [international humanitarian law] and, according to the UN, may entail the commission of war crimes,” the report, signed by Oxfam and Save the Children, among others, states.

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Haitian Lessons to Warn Nepalese: Beware Disaster Capitalists in Humanitarian Clothes

[As the horrifying death toll continues to fise to many thousands, amid the collapse of much of the home, business, and cultural structures in Nepal — the result of milleniums of colonial domination, oppression, and plunder — the enormous need for international rescue and reconstruction is a plaintive appeal to the good intentions of people everywhere.  But the aid will come with many conditions by the powers who bear gifts.  It is instructive to study the experience of the “aid” and “recovery” of Haiti from the devastating earthquake of 2010.  The US turned Haitian earthquake aid into neo-colonial, militarized occupation.  The struggles of people to control their own recovery has been an ongoing fight in Haiti, and now in Nepal.  The following except from a chapter in the important new book Good Intentions: Norms and Practices of Humanitarian Imperialism makes this Haitian experience hauntingly present in the streets of Kathmandu today.  —  Frontlines ed.]

US Imperialism and Disaster Capitalism in Haiti 

Keir Forgie, from Maximilian Forte’s new book: Good Intentions: Norms and Practices of Humanitarian Imperialism
 At 4:53 PM, on Monday, January 12, 2010, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake shocked Port-au-Prince, Haiti. It was the most devastating earthquake the country had experienced in over 200 years, with estimated infrastructure damage between $8 and $14 billion (Donlon, 2012, p. vii; Farmer, 2011, p. 54). This is particularly astounding considering that Haiti is recognized as the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, with 70% of individuals surviving on less than $2 US per day (Farmer, 2011, p. 60). The quake’s epicentre was located 15 miles southwest of Port-au-Prince, which is the most heavily populated area in all of Haiti (Donlon, 2012, p. vii). Approximately three million Haitians, one third of the country’s population, live in Port-au-Prince and every single individual was affected by the disaster: the Haitian government reported 230,000 deaths, 300,600 injured persons, and between 1.2 to 2 million displaced people (Donlon, 2012, p. vii). The country presented a “blank slate,” with all manner of political, economic, and social services in absolute ruin—an ideal circumstance to exercise the arms of the new (US) imperialism: notably, NGOs, the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), the militarization of humanitarian aid, and disaster capitalism.
US hegemonic globalization is the current world order—it is the new imperialism. The breadth of US influence across the globe in terms of politics, economics, and military are unparalleled across history, affording the nation the means to orchestrate geopolitics in its favor through coercion, masked by rhetorical altruism (Moselle, 2008, pp. 1, 8). However, the US is currently challenged by a state of economic decline and shifting international relations. In an effort to maintain its dominant position, the US must implement a number of novel strategies. As such, the “new imperialism” is distinguished by certain contemporary characteristics: notably, war in the pursuit of dwindling natural resources, the militarization of the social sciences, war corporatism, the romanticization of imperialism, and as a central focus to this paper, the framing of military interventions as “humanitarian,” legitimized through rhetoric of freedom, democracy, and the right to intervene. In truth, the militarization of humanitarian aid serves to facilitate the imposition of neoliberal economic policies through the exploitation of weakened states—a
strategy known as “disaster capitalism”.

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