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Haitian Blood is on our Hands


Will someone give us our priorities back? Who do you think needs taxpayer dollars most: an anti-choice Catholic health insurer, or the flood-stricken Haitian people? Just wondering.

The New York Times reported Sunday that the Bush administration has decided to team up with a private Catholic organization to promote a savings-account type health program that specifically excludes coverage for sterilization, artificial insemination, abortion and birth control. It’s all part of the administration’s $1 billion initiative to involve religious organizations in all types of federal social programs.

For the plan, which will begin enrolling federal workers in 31 Illinois counties in November, workers and our government will pay a Catholic insurer, OSF HEALTH. The OSF option “empowers” federal employees by giving them more “choices” Kay Coles James, the director of the White House Office of Personnel Management told the Times. James is a former spokeswoman for the National Right To Life Committee, and former dean of Pat Roberston’s Regent University.

Talk about massaging the message into meaninglessness. To reiterate, under the OSF plan you can’t get coverage for contraceptives. For federal workers in some states, like Illinois, the Catholic plan is the only savings-account plan available. This initiative isn’t about increasing choices, it’s about killing the principle of an entitlement to comprehensive coverage, and it’s about paying public cash for partisan collaborators. The people being “empowered” are those who’ll pull out all their troops to keep George W. Bush in office.

Meanwhile, if you want to talk about federal dollars, how many are going to emergency relief for Haiti? I know we’re smack bang in the middle of an election, but who’s responsible for that poor benighted country if not the cabal that destabilized the Haitian’s elected government, kidnapped its president, and pumped enough money and guns to violent conspirators until the place exploded?

It’s not just a hurricane and flooding that’s extracting a thousand-plus death toll in Haiti right now. It’s the utter collapse of that country’s already fragile infrastructure. The flood waters rose in Haiti into a deadly vacuum left by a US-backed insurgency, a vicious coup and its aftermath, which has seen scores of local officials slain and no one held accountable. Now who’s mobilizing to help?

So far, the US Embassy in Haiti says it has dispersed just $50,000. Under pressure, USAID has now announced they’re pledging $1.9 million for relief supplies and services. But heck, the government of Venezuela immediately offered $1 million to Haiti; the European Union $1.8 million. USAID has a two person team in country. 140 Uruguayan soldiers left this weekend to reinforce about 600 U.N. peacekeepers.

George talks a blue streak about American security. What about our neighbor’s security, Mr. President? Food security, health security…life security? You want to talk about conscience, morality, faith, empowerment and choices? Just as Kofi Annan said last week, those who like to lecture others about such things, have a responsibility to practice what they lecture.

This president sent in guns and marines to militarize Haiti. Now how about sending in enough investment to build a sewer system? How about $1 billion. That’s the amount the Bush team plan to hand out in patronage to reactionary US churches.

The director of the World Food Program’s Haiti operation, Guy Gavreau, said Friday that aid groups have so far been able to get food to only about 25,000 people in the hardest hit area, Gonaives – one-tenth of those who need it. Well over a thousand have died in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Jeanne and there are more storms coming.

Mostly Catholic, Haitians vote too, Mr. President, but they’re not moved by your shenanigans with public-worker health care. Haitian blood is on your hands, George Bush. For that matter, it’s on all of ours.

Or don’t we care, when it’s only blood the people there are pumping, not the black stuff?

Friends suggest that emergency relief can be sent via the World Food Program at the UN/ attn: Charles Vincent, director of the HAITI program: http://www.wfp.org or through Oxfam. Another reliable NGO, directed by Haitians, is recommended by a Haitian filmmaker who’s been in Gonaives for the last month: PRODEVA, based in Ennery. PRODEVA #76, Blv 15 Octubre, BP 15832, Petion-Ville tel: 510 7648 email: [email protected]

Laura Flanders is the host of “The Laura Flanders Show” on Air America Radio, and the editor of “The W Effect; Sexual Politics in the Age of Bush.” (Feminist Press, 2004.) Find out more at www.lauraflanders.com.

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