Tuesday, January 19, 2010

cruise ships in Haiti

It is appalling how the Haitian people have been treated, a week and still no food or water or shelter - a week?

Cruise ships are still calling on private beaches. From the Guardian
"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.
The decision to go ahead with the visit has divided passengers. The ships carry some food aid, and the cruise line has pledged to donate all proceeds from the visit to help stricken Haitians. But many passengers will stay aboard when they dock; one said he was "sickened".
"I just can't see myself sunning on the beach, playing in the water, eating a barbecue, and enjoying a cocktail while [in Port-au-Prince] there are tens of thousands of dead people being piled up on the streets, with the survivors stunned and looking for food and water," one passenger wrote on the Cruise Critic internet forum.
The Florida cruise company leases a picturesque wooded peninsula and its five pristine beaches from the government.
"In the end, Labadee is critical to Haiti's recovery; hundreds of people rely on Labadee for their livelihood," said John Weis, vice-president. "In our conversations with the UN special envoy of the government of Haiti, Leslie Voltaire, he notes that Haiti will benefit from the revenues that are generated from each call …
"We also have tremendous opportunities to use our ships as transport vessels for relief supplies and personnel to Haiti. Simply put, we cannot abandon Haiti now that they need us most."
Well there you go. You may even choose to believe those explanations. I think it is bullshit. They are trying to make profits - first, second and third. That's it.

Some of the comments in the original article are interesting. Both sides put in some good points.
"I only ask the question - what kind of morally bankrupt fat ass ignorant tourist would actually believe it's ok to to do this?
Surely the cruise company who pretends to be oh-so-concerned about the welfare of the Haitians could forgo their little beach-party just this once and instead donate whatever it is they claim to generate in revenue for the local population. Wankers."
"The cruise company could choose not to dock for a couple of weeks and still pay the Haitians who work for them - the Haitians wouldn't then loose financially and they could help their families if necessary. I can't imagine the Haitians are paid so much that it would make a big difference to the Cruise company.
Having said that, whether you're trying to force down a burger 60 miles or 600 miles from a disaster zone is a bit irrelevant really."
"I head out to Haiti this week, disaster response is my job. Now think about this before you get on your high moral horses. Let's just think about a supermarket that survives an earthquake ... should they give away their stock and end up bankrupt, or should they accept IOU's? Or should they stay closed 'out of respect'? No doubt for me - they should open and do business because people need to buy the things they are selling. And if they go out of business they add to the economic impact of the earthquake. Now shift to the recent floods in Cockermouth - did you hear the local people telling tourists to stay away 'out of respect'? Of course not, in fact traders worked desperately to get their businesses open for Christmas - they need the money. So what's the difference about a cruise ship in Haiti? How is it helping the people of Haiti to close down one of the few sources of income that hasn't been hit by the earthquake? I'm no fan of cruising, but it's business and it will bring revenue to Haiti and I'm sure most of the passengers will find a way to donate to the aid effort and whether their donation is generated by natural generosity or guilt will make not one jot of difference to the people it helps. There's no need for us to feel guilty about natural disasters per se, but we should feel guilty if we don't respond adequately to the plight of our fellow humans. Put away your bleeding hearts and put your hands in your pockets instead."
"How much of the revenues spent on the cruise go to the haitians? is it merely the guards salaries and a beach rental fee? or more than that?
Also, tourism isnt the answer to Haiti's economic problems. its more accurately part of its persistent servitude."
"This is only about distance isn't it; I mean people are only disgusted because the ship is physically close to people suffering. How far away is acceptable? The next island along? Florida? London?"
Any thoughts?

Hat tip Stuff white people do

1 comment:

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Marty,
Deosn't really surprise me. Not much different than Jamaica where people are herded from the airports onto buses and rushed through Kingston as fast as possible into the country side and remote private resorts where the priveleged can roam miles of private beach on either side, listen to reggae music, and smoke the local weed. Then come home to the states and marvel at how beautiful it all is. None of that money makes it to Kingston.