Update: It appears that there has been major unrest in Haiti. I can’t find a damn thing about it on MSNBC’s home page now, but whatevs. From CNN, which has this as a main story:
As cases of cholera spread throughout Haiti, violent clashes erupted in the northern part of the country as angry demonstrators accused United Nations peacekeepers of starting the outbreak.
Burning tires and cars sent thick black smoke across Cap Haitien, where the government appeared to have lost control.
Protesters set a police station ablaze and commercial flights were suspended to Haiti’s second-largest city. At least one protester was killed by a peacekeeper acting in self-defense, the United Nations said.
Aid agencies appealed for calm and said the protests were hampering efforts to reach the sickened.
Aid workers have suspended clean water projects to slum areas, and canceled flights to deliver soap and other supplies to affected areas, a statement from aid agencies said.
Supplies in Cap Haitien are running out and the medical staff is overwhelmed as cholera mortality numbers climb, said Nigel Fisher, coordinator for humanitarian action for the U.N.
“We call upon all involved in these clearly orchestrated demonstrations to stop immediately so national and international partners can continue to save lives with our response to the cholera,” Fisher said.
“Every day we lose means hospitals go without supplies, patients go untreated and people remain ignorant of the danger they are facing. It is vital that everything possible is done to contain this outbreak in Cap Haitien while we still can — but this is very difficult in the current environment.”
The United Nations has denied the assertion that Nepalese peacekeepers were responsible for starting the cholera outbreak. U.N. statements said the protests may be politically motivated to create insecurity ahead of November 28 elections.
I do find it odd that this must be politically motivated for two reasons: 1) it can only be this since the protests are organized. Everyday Haitians can’t possibly organize themselves? 2) Why can’t it simply be that these Haitians are fucking terrified and don’t have any other way to voice their fears? What are they supposed to do? Write a blog post? Talk to the mayor of the city? Turn on their TVs for the latest in their 24-hour news cycle? Sign petitions?
I’m not saying that these protests aren’t politically motivated. But I think that reporting that as the only possible reason that these Haitians are protesting is to – in a classically colonial way – avoid addressing the fact that perhaps we are letting these people down. Even if we are doing the very best job possible, that doesn’t mean it is good enough right now. I fear that it is simply easier to blame something outside of ourselves.
I wish I knew if there was a way to view past homepages of sites like MSNBC. Because I would really, really like to know if over the last few weeks, as hundreds of Haitians have been dying from cholera, they ever posted a picture of the sick? Maybe they did. I don’t know.
But I’m not surprised to see this picture today (it is the first image to follow the Prince William/Kate Middleton picture in the previous post):
[The image is of a large crowd of Haitians running in what looks like a city street. There is a large black smoke cloud on the right side of the image. Some people look scared, some are yelling with their fists in the air. The caption reads: “Unrest spreads as cholera death toll in Haiti tops 1,000”.]
I will now quote the ENTIRE AP story that MSNBC has that goes along with this picture:
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Health officials say cholera has now killed more than 1,000 people in Haiti.
The country’s health ministry made the announcement on Tuesday, setting the official death toll at 1,034. The figures are dated Sunday and presented after two days of review.
Aid workers say official figures may understate the epidemic. While the ministry of health says more than 16,700 people have been hospitalized nationwide, Doctors Without Borders reports that its clinics alone have treated more than 12,000.
Demonstrations stoked by fear of the disease continue in northern Haiti. They are primarily targeting U.N. soldiers suspected of bringing the infection to Haiti.
The U.N. denies responsibility.
I am so weary of the way that the mainstream media in this country presents images of black people (here’s one example). It’s not clear what is happening in the image above except that people who look scared and possibly upset are running away from something or maybe to something. But when the image is paired with the subtitle “Unrest spreads”, then you can interpret it as the Haitians being unrestful. The blacks are rioting! There they go again! Well, they could be doing that. Probably. Maybe. Great reporting, MSNBC.