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Thanks to Lowes Hardware for donating hack saws to my general surgeon, Dr. J, who's going to Haiti this weekend. My retired orthopedic surgeon, who left on a medical mission to the Dominican Republic in December, has done so many amputations in Haiti that he needs more hack saws. Dr. J is bringing him needed supplies. Fractures that could be treated in the U.S. are becoming infected in Haiti. Gangrene is setting in for many of the injured, requiring emergency amputations to save lives. Supplies and doctors are getting in overland from the Dominican Republic, but the need is overwhelming.

Child Recovers from Surgery at makeshift MSF facility.

Haiti donation links here.

Thank you to everyone who helped friend of our community, librarian Cliff Landis, meet his matching grant to Partners in Health.

$10,000 dollar donor Cliff Landis says "Thank you".

Your donations are lifesaving.

Again, thank you.

Haiti relief Wiki page

Shelter box - 79 and counting. Thank You.

Just 60 miles from the disaster a new pier was completed in December, 2009.

It was a great new day for tourism in Haiti. Bill Clinton was the Guest of Honor.

On the north coast of Hispaniola, surrounded by beautiful mountain slopes and exotic foliage, sits Labadee®, Royal Caribbean's private paradise. This exclusive destination offers pristine beaches, breathtaking scenery and spectacular water activities. We even have an amazing new Aqua Park for kids. Regardless of where you go, you'll find yourself embraced by the beautiful landscape. Labadee's native charm, along with its natural beauty, make this a destination not to be missed, and only Royal Caribbean can take you there.

The One Thing You Don't Want to Miss It's impossible to choose just one thing that's special about Labadee®. The sandy beach and coral reefs provide a perfect place to relax and have fun. Whether you're interested in kayaking, snorkeling, parasailing or you just want to lie on the beach and relax, you won't want to miss Labadee.

While ships couldn't anchor at Port au Prince's wrecked port,  2 cruise ships took advantage of the new facility at Labadee® opened in December.

When Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas docked in Haiti yesterday, history was made. First, it marked the inaugural passenger sailing of the vessel, the largest in the world with capacity for 6,300 cruisers. Second, it was the first visit hosted by the newly renovated port at Labadee, Haiti’s greatest hope for jumpstarting its fledgling tourist industry, representing an investment of 55 million dollars. Labadee has welcomed many Royal Caribbean ships over the years but until yesterday they did not dock and passengers were instead ferried in on launches.

Bill Clinton with Royal Caribbean Chairman Richard Fain (left)

For Haiti, Labadee is a big deal.  It is the largest source of income from tourism in the country and provides a few hundred jobs for its workers and the merchants who come to the resort to sell art, crafts and souvenirs.  In October, while on his third official visit to Haiti as the United Nation’s special envoy to the Caribbean nation, Bill Clinton got a sneak peak at Labadee’s new pier and upgraded facilities.  In a blog post about showing the president around, Royal Caribbean Chairman Richard Fain wrote: "Our project at Labadee is a perfect example of just how powerful an economic engine tourism really is.  President Clinton has been expressing similar comments publicly and we were encouraged by his efforts to bring economic and social progress to Haiti.  It was a special privilege to be able to demonstrate our example of success in this arena." With a new pier to allow an even greater flow of tourists from boats as large as the Oasis of the Seas, Labadee is set to take on an even greater prominence for the ailing Haitian economy.

200 low end jobs. No Haitians allowed except for workers.
A landing that only takes cruise ships.

Haiti was once the breadbasket of the Caribbean. 800,000 slaves produced half the sugar and coffee of Europe. After the slaves broke free, the French forced massive "reparations" for the lost "property". Still Haiti remained a breadbasket. The U.S. marines occupied Haiti from 1915 to 1934, forcing Haiti to allow foreign ownership of land. Still, Haiti remained a breadbasket. Papa Doc Duvalier abused Hatians with a corrupt dictatorship backed by America. Still Haiti remained a breadbasket.

In the 1980's the U.S. and the IMF brought neoliberal "free" trade to Haiti.

Haiti became a basket case.

As with most parts of the developing world, the present-day concentration of urban poverty in Haiti, which led to millions of people living in the ramshackle slums that literally disintegrated during the earthquake, owe their origins to policies of economic liberalisation and privatisation begun in the mid-1980s.
Privatisation programmes imposed by the IMF, World Bank and other international lenders led to even greater control of the country's agricultural sector land by US and other multinational corporations. This process was epitomised by the shift in agriculture from local production to export oriented crops and to the break-down of Haiti's rural economy with the import of heavily subsidised American products - exemplified by "faux-cheap" American rice with which the locally produced rice could not compete.

Even aid programmes intended to help desperately poor Haitian women provided credit to buy cheap foreign products, further undermining the fragile agricultural economy in the name of progress.

One of the most fertile lands in the Western hemisphere suddenly became a net importer of many basic foodstuffs, leading to even more widespread poverty, malnutrition and an exodus of increasingly landless farmers to the cities in search of any kind of work. The growing unrest produced by this process was one of the factors that forced Baby Doc from power in this period.

Haiti doesn't need foreign owned tourist traps that give locals a few hundred low end jobs.

Haiti needs empowerment. Solar powered drip irrigation has improved the productivity and wealth of farmers in Benin. Haitians need food self-sufficiency, not tourist traps.

Sixty miles from Haiti's devastated earthquake zone, luxury liners dock at private beaches where passengers enjoy jetski rides, parasailing and rum cocktails delivered to their hammocks.

The 4,370-berth Independence of the Seas, owned by Royal Caribbean International, disembarked at the heavily guarded resort of Labadee on the north coast on Friday; a second cruise ship, the 3,100-passenger Navigator of the Seas is due to dock.

Adam Goldstein, President and CEO Royal Caribbean International writes in his blog:

I am proud of what our people and our ships are doing and below John Weis gives some very specific examples of great contributions being made by great Royal Caribbean people and their family members

The ships going back to Labadee, including Navigator of the Seas today, are obviously making a very valuable contribution to the relief effort by offloading supplies at Labadee. The media understand this and generally have written and spoken about the relief effort in positive terms. But in the last 24 hours, sparked by an article in the Guardian in the UK, a different and more critical view has emerged that questions how our guests can justify having a good time in Labadee when there is such misery less than 100 miles away.

My view is this — it isn’t better to replace a visit to Labadee (or for that matter, to stay on the ship while it’s docked in Labadee) with a visit to another destination for a vacation. Why? Because being on the island and generating economic activity for the straw market vendors, the hair-braiders and our 230 employees helps with relief while being somewhere else does not help. These 500 people are going to need to support a much larger network of family and friends, including many who are in (or are missing in) the earthquake zone. Also, the north is going to bear a good part of the burden of the agony of the south, and the more economic support there is to the north, the better able the north will be to bear this burden. People enjoying themselves is what we do. People enjoying themselves in Labadee helps with relief. We support our guests who choose to help in this way which is consistent with our nearly 30 year history in Haiti.

My question to Adam Goldstein is,

You have the capacity for large cruise ships at Labadee. Why aren't you allowing international relief ships to use your facility to unload doctors, relief workers, equipment and supplies?

Stung by criticisms of insensitivity, the American cruise ship company Royal Caribbean offered spare sun loungers to a makeshift hospital.

An American cruise company that is continuing to deliver tourists to a private beach less than 100 miles from Port-au-Prince yesterday said it would donate spare sun loungers and beach furniture to a makeshift hospital for victims of the earthquake.

A second ship with tourists arrived at Labadee beach yesterday on Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Seas as the cruise company sought to head off criticism that its decision to continue using the resort was insensitive.

Deck chairs.

When the Haitians needed hack saw blades, medicine and doctors and they were desperate for massive deliveries of food and water by aid ships they got deck chairs from a cruise ship.

Deck chairs.

Tourists enjoyed the world's longest zip line over water while doctors ran short of hack saws and hack saw blades 60 miles away.

Discounted tourist berths to Labadee are available now for cruises.

Royal Caribbean has indicated it will deliver food to Haiti on it's cruises but I have seen no reports that it plans to allow its facilities to be used by the international community to deliver emergency supplies.

Originally posted to FishOutofWater on Wed Jan 20, 2010 at 05:21 PM PST.

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