Sunday, August 31, 2008

Katrina redux

Hopefully hurricane Gustav will veer off at the last moment and spare the city of New Orleans a second catastrophic storm in just over three years. It would be a bit of good luck for a city that has had more than its fair share of misfortune. But US meteorologists are predicting that Gustav will make landfall Monday morning close to where Katrina hit in 2005, and the mayor of New Orleans has ordered a citywide evacuation calling the approaching hurricane “the storm of the century.”

New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, August 2005

In August of 2005 over 1,800 people were killed when the levee system of New Orleans failed and eighty percent of the city was flooded. In the days that followed the world witnessed the plight of the many survivors who were stranded on rooftops, bridges, and in the Superdome. There was even a video of prisoners, who had been abandoned in their jail, screaming for help and frantically waving from behind metal bars as flood waters threatened to drown them. Bodies were seen floating down streets and were left to decompose in the hot sun for days before any effort was made to retrieve them.

It was a Dante-like panorama of pain and of absolute disregard for human suffering on the part of the Federal government that few in the United States were accustomed to seeing. The America that could spend a billion dollars every week on its foreign wars was incapable of taking care of its own. Yet, not everyone was displeased with what had happened. For the Bush administration the hurricane was an opportunity of sorts. It was a disaster, just as 9/11 had been, that would wipe the slate clean and would allow them to experiment with ideas and policies that under normal circumstances wouldn’t have been tolerated. Blackwater (a paramilitary company based in North Carolina, and with strong ties to the administration) sent its soldiers of fortune, the same mercenaries that were being massively used in Iraq against the local population, to New Orleans with orders to shoot to kill any of its hungry and increasingly desperate citizens who dared to oppose them. The Blackwater soldiers were allowed into the city almost immediately after the storm ended, while Red Cross workers with medical and relief supplies were kept from entering the disaster area for days.

The Red Cross said that they were told by the government that they couldn’t come in because that would be a sign to the residents who had left that they could return and begin rebuilding. Which, of course, was the last thing that the Bush Administration wanted. Whole sections of the city, the predominantly black and poor ones, had to be cleared. Nothing short of a North American “ethnic cleansing” of the Big Easy would do. This is what the Neocons wanted and what they got. New Orleans lost a third of its population and to this day entire neighborhoods are uninhabitable. The Federal money that had been promised to help people rebuild their lives and homes never arrived.

In this way, the priorities of the oligarchy that rules America were clear. The foreign wars would continue, whatever the cost, while New Orleans, the birthplace of jazz and a integral part of America’s soul, would become just another test site for experiments in social control and corporate plunder.


25 comments:

Penetralia said...

Hi, John. It´s a schock, this article. I didn´t notice this. Oh, the press, dominated by agencies.
New Orleans it´s a very interesting city for us, brazilians, with its negro, french latin hertitage.
That´s also a brazilian writer called Oswald de Andrade that wrote about Brazil: "Here its the south that won". He was sympathetic with this mestizo stripe of the Usa...
Abraços!

John Hemingway said...

It happened, all of it, and even worse. It's sickening how those people were abandoned to their own fates. Now, with this new hurricane, this Federal government makes a big show of being concerned, because they don't want people to think about what they didn't do the last time around.
Abraços,
John

Penetralia said...

Hi, John. My cousin Joesse will get marry and move to Vancouver. Do you know somebody that speaks portuguese there to help her?
Abraços do Lúcio Jr.

John Hemingway said...

Well, I personally don't know anyone there who speaks portuguese, but my brother might. He lives there. I'll ask him if he knows anyone.

abs.
John

Penetralia said...

Hi, John. If can send some information about Vancouver´s brazilians for me, it will help.
Changing the subject, it´s always delicious to read your text in english and wait for read them in Peaze´s translations.
It´s like eat a bitter chocolate and wait for the milk chocolate after!
Abraços para o Luiz e para vc!

John Hemingway said...

Actually, it's Eliakim who does the translations now.
abs.
John

John Hemingway said...

Actually, it's Eliakim who does the translations now.
abs.
John

Níkolas said...

Hi John!
I've been watching the news about Gustav and it doesn't even seem to be truth. It's extremely unfair the way that poor city where the Blues started has been target of these natural desasters...
More ridiculous yet is the way the US Government pretends to be worried about this.
How have you been, John? I remember you posted you are in US for vacations, am I right?
And Lúcio, I'll ask some people I know if they now someone in Vancouver =)

Abraços! Níkolas

John Hemingway said...

Ciao Nikolas,

I'm fine. I was in Southern California in August with my family.
Abs.
John

Níkolas said...

Cool, Someday I still intend to go to California. I guess Los Angeles is the city I most wanna go in USA. My greatest idols are there =)
Beachs in California are great, aren't they?

Abraços! Níkolas

Penetralia said...

Hi, John and Nikolas. The TV here said that Gustav was not so strong, but he fact affected the republican meeting.
If you could help me, Nikolas, seria muito bom. De onde você está escrevendo? I have an uncle that lives in goldensbridge, New York, but I never been there. There´s thousands of mineiros living in USA. I hope someday it become possible.
Bye, best wishes
Abraços!

Níkolas said...

Hi John and Lúcio!
Yet good it isn't that strong. People in New Orleans have suffered too much already.
Lúcio, I'm from São Paulo. I have a friend who was married with a French guy and they had lived in USA for a long time. I also know some friends who go to USA all the time.
I'll ask them and I tell you what they say.
Guys, I'm very happy because I'm planning my Scientific Research (Iniciação Científica, Lúcio, if it's wrong, correct me, please). I've chosen Linguistics area for my research and the teachers said that it's a great theme!

Abraços
Níkolas

John Hemingway said...

Nikolas, are you a graduate student?
cheers,
JOhn

Penetralia said...

Hi, Nikolas and John.

John: do you know there´s a brazilian that says he´s Jesus Christ himself?
Here´s his site:
http://www.inricristo.org.br/
It´s curious. If he´s right, what we will do?
Nikolas: there´s a discussion on linguistics on Caetano Veloso site and on my site, penetralia.
Bye, best wishes, Lúcio Jr.

John Hemingway said...

Well, if he is J.C. himself then at least the Brazilian government won't make him pay taxes (as the number 1 Christian);-)
abs.
John

Penetralia said...

Hi, John. I guess the brazilian govern will say: for Lula what´s for Lula and for God what´s for God...
Abraços do Lúcio Jr!

Penetralia said...

Hi, John. Keila Simpson, travestie´s brazilian leader, was at Jo Soares TV Talk Show yesterday night. It was a fascinating interview.
She said that Caetano did a song called "Three Travesties" and was ready to talk about the book Travesties in a show, but he doesn´t because Ronaldinho was at the audience!
Abraços do Lúcio Jr

John Hemingway said...

There you go! You see? I wasn't so wrong, was I?;-)

Abraços,
John

Níkolas said...

John: Thanks! =) Yes, I'm a graduate student, but I'm in the first year yet =) I'm also happy because if the government thinks this research's good, they will give me a schoolarship =)
Lúcio: Yeah, I'll take a look! I've heard Caetano has a huge knowledge about linguistics and literature.

Guys, about Inri Christ, that says he's the own JC... Well, if he's right I guess we will all go to heaven =) Because I saw him sometime ago in a tv show playing billiard (snook.. Which one is right?) and if J.C. plays hazard games... I'm not that sinner =)

Abraços, Níkolas.

John Hemingway said...

Jesus playing pool! Perhaps with a beer bottle in one hand and a group of feminine admirers waiting for him at a table to finish his game;-)

abs.,
John

Penetralia said...

Hi, John: Have you took a look on the site? In fact, Inri Cristo counts some beautifuls girls that follow him.
They´re singing a celestial version of Hotel California, have you seen?
Abraços do Lúcio Jr.

John Hemingway said...

Ciao Lùcio, I just had a look at I.C.'s website and the brazilian version of Hotel California. It's strange, John McCain chose a fundamentalist Christian as his running mate, someone who is actively preparing for the "Second Coming" of Christ. Yet, unbeknownst to Sarah Palin, Jesus Christ has already returned! He lives in Brazil and has at least three beautiful woman singing his praises on YouTube;-)

Abs.,
John

Penetralia said...

Hi,John. I did´nt notice this: Sarah Palin is waiting the second coming. So you must spread this good news on Canada.
Our Jesus was arrested in Belém do Pará in 1981 and, when the police took him, he claimed: "oh god, why I have to live everything again?"

PS: Your mother, Alice Thomas, was a Gerald Thomas´s relative?

Abraços do Lúcio Jr

etu1972 said...

Speaking of Katrina, cousin Betty Odenwald lives in Nawlins and left just in time with her comotose son before the storm hit. When I saw her at Uncle Ward's funeral last year she said her family has recovered from the storm's affects on their home.

Andrea

John Hemingway said...

Ciao Andrea,

I didn't know that we had relatives down there, but I'm glad that they're OK:-)

Un abraccio,
John