Despite US Diplomatic Cables stating that the situation in Haiti was ‘calm’, the US deployed 22,000 troops in Haiti following the earthquake of 2010, leading to widespread condemnation. As a result of the backlash towards this decision, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton embarked on a campaign of subverting global media in order to ‘get the narrative right’.
Cable leaks revealed that the UN and the US Embassy in Haiti advised that no serious security risk was present in Haiti, raising question marks over the US administration’s decision to embark on such a vast military campaign in the Caribbean nation. French Cooperation Minister Alain Joyandet denounced the move, saying that aid efforts should be “about helping Haiti, not about occupying Haiti.”
The cables demonstrate Clinton’s attempts to filter-out so called ‘irresponsible journalism’ by demanding a response to negative press coverage in US allied nations. Countries around the world scrutinized their respective media organisations and reported back to the US in response to Clinton requesting ‘what action [they] have taken’.
For example, a January 20 cable from Doha tells how a hard-hitting Al Jazeera English segment described the relief effort’s militarization and compared the US-run airport to a “mini-Green zone.” This report resulted in a phone call “during the early morning hours of January 18″ from the US Embassy in Doha to Tony Burman, Al Jazeera English’s managing director.
Many cables reported widely positive coverage in their countries. But instances of negativity toward the United States, no matter how small, were flagged and dealt with. In Colombia, for example, “the only negative coverage” was from a newspaper cartoonist who drew “a colonial soldier planting a U.S. flag on the island of Haiti,” the Bogota Embassy reported on January 26. “Post will meet with the cartoonist this week to discuss this cartoon with him and provide information refuting its inference, as well as engage with El Espectador’s editor to express our strong concerns.”
Caracas reported back to the US to say that they had pressured a Venezuelan broadcaster called ‘Vive’ to redact some content that criticized the US response in Haiti. However, when the media outlet refused to refute the main accusation, they were sent a ‘diplomatic note of protest’. The irony of accusing the Venezuelan ruling party (GBRV) of ‘blasting out propaganda’ whilst themselves monitoring and regulating international press releases was apparently lost on the US Embassy at the time.
Wikileaks Decrypted | Haiti Earthquake Cables