It’s business as usual for The Independence of the Seas, owned by Royal Caribbean International cruise lines, which has docked at Labadee Beach, sixty miles from the ruins of Haiti’s earthquake hell.
Who, in their right mind, would even want to go to 'a walled resort', where 'pristine beaches and breathtaking scenery' are patrolled by armed guards to protect clients from all that 'native charm' in the first place, particularly now when there’s the risk desperate people might break through the resort's 12ft high fences in search of food and fresh water…
... oh, wait. Fat white men with pockets full of viagra.
After all, according to Pat Robertson, that is what separates 'cursed' Haiti from the prosperous and clean Dominican Republic - resorts. 'Hundreds' of Haitians are employed by Royal Caribbean – apparently 230, but enough for the plural – but I guess a little thing like having your entire country ravished by an earthquake isn't covered by their employment benefits. The company can't suspend operation to Haiti and still afford to keep these 'hundreds' of people on the payroll until the country buries the tens of thousands of dead and starts to rebuild? Damn, they must not be charging their customers enough! But that is, of course, why there are any customers in the first place; cheap holidays.
Impoverished countries from the Caribbean to south-east Asia provide a huge cheap labour pool as well as land for holidaymakers to relax in style. The Haitian private beach of Ladabee is no different than other gated resorts, if perhaps a bit top-heavy on the armed guards. Cruise ships rely on poor countries – as well as conveniently grey legislation allowing American companies to sail under Panamanian and Liberian flags of convenience – to keep their standards of luxury affordable. After all, the economy isn’t what it used to be, even for the rich folks.
Oh, but Royal Caribbean is also transporting food for the Haitians, 40 pallets of rice, beans, powdered milk, water and canned food. That's nice. I can’t help but wonder, however, how much more food as well as medicine, and doctors and nurses and maybe even people like engineers and carpenters and electricians and plumbers with building supplies for shelters could they transport if they turfed out the fat white men with pockets full of viagra from those 4,370 berths to make room? Royal Caribbean owns 42 ships, surely one of them can be used for something other than floating rock-climbing walls, miniature golf, lounges and restaurants, casinos, swimming pools, solariums, loft suites and flow-riders and zip-lines and aqua-theatres, whatever the hell those are, even ice-skating rinks.
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