Resource Curse: Oil in Haiti?

24 Feb 2010

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F. William Engdal, economist and author of "Full Spectrum Dominance: Totalitarian Democracy in the New World Order" has recently written about the possibility of a massive oil find in Haiti and how this might connect to United States (US) strategy in the Caribbean. 

Engdal says, if you look at a geophysical map of Haiti, it jumps out that Haiti and ‘Porto Prince Haiti’ lies right along the convergence of three tectonic plates.

Generally where there is such a convergence of tectonic plates, there is a great amount of geophysical motion and energy, which indicates oil and other mineral deposits.

Engdal argues that up until now there has been very little talk about petroleum in Haiti, but not because there hasn't been interest.

Two years ago, just north of Haiti, offshore Cuba, there was a supergiant oil discovery with several billion barrels of 'believed reserves of oil' that the Russians are helping the Cubans to exploit.

Engdal’s own sense, from talking with geophysicists, is that Haiti is probably one of the most undeveloped treasures of mineral wealth on the planet.

And, it has not been developed because the question for US and Britain since World War II (WW2) - the question of oil reserves around the world - has not been an economic question or a business question of developing new oil fields for the profit of Exxon Mobil, Chevron and so on -- but has been a geopolitical question.

According to Engdal, Haiti's oil has not been exploited because the world is swimming in oil and US oil multinationals and the US government - that works intimately with them around the world - wants to prevent anyone else developing the oil resources of Haiti.

He hypothesizes that the US is extremely unhappy about the discovery in Cuba and would like to keep the Haitian oil off the world market for as long as possible.

Haiti, for the US, is a stone's throw away. The US could develop the Haitian oil industry anytime it has need to, but keeps Haitian oil off the development market as a strategic denial of those resources, Engdal contends.

Haiti’s current government, too, has a hand in all this. The Preval government that was put into power since Aristide was ousted in 2004 has been intimately tied to the five families - known as the little mafia - that run Haiti. These five families are like the oligarchs in Russia after the collapse of communism, literally controlling the economy of Haiti like their own plantation.

The question is: Who would control Haiti’s oil resources and for what purpose? If those five families are in control and Preval is doing their bidding, then by all accounts it wouldn’t matter because the quality of life of ordinary Haitians would not be affected. However, if the oil resources could be developed in a way that it benefits the overall economy and the Haitian people, then that would be a different question.

It is a question of who controls the politics in Haiti, contends Engdal.

Presently there are 13,000 US troops in Haiti. That's quite a lot of military for a place where the need is for humanitarian support, he says.

Moreover, it is unclear at this stage what the US agenda for Haiti is, but the military presence and the fact that George W Bush was appointed along with Bill Clinton as UN envoy, does give one grounds for pause, concludes Engdal. 

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