$5,000,000,000 contract plus/Haiti, Part I

sherrynstan at igc.org sherrynstan at igc.org
Tue Dec 18 07:53:47 MST 2001

marxism at lists.panix.com wrote:
> > This would support your theory of advanced planning for the
> Afghanistan adventure.

i doubt it:


les schaffer

Stan replies: Thanks for the web site.  I'll send it along to Jordan.  This
was not the core of my argument that Afghanistan was in the works.  While I
don't want to get tangled up in this, my main point is that there quite simply
wasn't time to plan, coordinate, and initiate operations in the time it
ostensibly took.  The plans were already on the books, and the operation was
in motion.  The highly permissive operation that took place in Haiti in 1994
was originally scheduled for 1993, when Rwanda and Somalia happened, putting
it on hold.  It was easier, closer to home, and had fewer moving parts.
Nonetheless, it still took us 6 months of intensive preparation in 1994 to
launch that operation, while Afghanistan was launched in a month.  And the
Pakistanis were warned in July 2001 that something was afoot for Afghanistan
before winter set in.

On a different subject...

The coup attempt in Haiti was the second such operation in the last three
months, this one much bolder than the coordinated attacks on Port-au-Prince
police stations.  Info can be found in the English section of Haiti Progres,
www.haiti-progres.com, that details the evolution.  The burnings of homes and
offices that happened after this latest attempt is being protrayed as vengeful
and irrational--a longstanding racist characterization of Haiti for US
consumption.  In fact, the masses went for exactly the right people.  They
KNOW who was behind it.  It's obvious that Aristide has nothing to lose now by
calling on the masses for a revolutionary dechoukage, but his recent wavering
and conciliation doesn't promise much.  BTW, the talk on the coup-makers
radios (most of whom escaped back into the Dominican Republic, a US vassal
state) was Kreol, *English* and *Spanish*.  This reeks of the CIA-Macoute
nexus.  Here's a piece I did in February for background:

A journal of Aristide’s inauguration
January 16-February 9, 2001

Stan Goff

In Port-au-Prince I spend three days, January 16-18, at Hotel Ife.  If I
believed in zombies—that favored American obsession about Haiti—I will have
found them here in the doddering, light-skinned matriarch and her
stunned-looking, slow-motion staff.  Like every place in the Caribbean, but
especially here, there seems to be a perpetual stalemate in the battle with
decay.  Water damage stains the ceilings.  The wiring is precariously exposed.
A little spider has found a haven in the corner of the windowsill, where no
dust-rag, no broom ever quite reaches.  Electricity is rationed, available
only from 5:30 PM to 4:00 AM.  Street noises invade throughout the night.
Motorcycles, evangelists with loudspeakers, little brass bands, roosters even
here in the comparative affluence of Petionville.  My walls are painted a
nauseating green.

The street is my refuge.  The inept pretensions of Haiti’s third-string
bourgeoisie, here in the streets at least, are diffused, swallowed up by the
frenetic culture of survival that animates these byways, the chaos of the pure
market, of truly primitive accumulation.  Here is a cornucopia of commodities,
fruits, breads, soaps, cigarettes, plastic shoes, cheap watches, steaming
food, sold right on the sidewalk out of bowls and baskets.  Here are trash,
skiddish animals foraging in filth, and a wild-west intermixing of foot and
vehicle traffic.  Pure utility without the sophisticated façade we associate
with the chimera of “development.”

No set prices anywhere.  Every exchange alternates between belligerence,
laughter, feigned pain at an insult—an appearance of extreme interpersonal
tension to the blan, but this is a game that animates the entire culture, this
ribbing and debating, these loud voices with the plosive cadences.  A rough
culture with a lot of ritual combat.

The streets of Petionville, the most affluent section of the capital, are
named after heroes of the Revolution for Independence.  But the names are
selective; Chavannes, Petion, Rigaud, Oge.  Mulattos all.  The only exception
is L’Overture, the ex-slave general who led the first stage of the Revolution,
when slavery was abolished.  Toussaint L’Overture was black.  But like
Aristide today, he was a conciliator.  He never desired nor demanded
independence.  So the color-obsessed capital elite rehabilitated him into the
good black.

The mulattos of the Revolution never wanted to throw off the French, the blan.
They wanted to replace them and grow rich on the sweat of the former slaves.
Indeed, many themselves owned slaves before the Revolution.  To this day they
contemptuously call the black peasant the gwo zoteey, the big toes.

Conspicuous among the names unlisted among the Petionville streets is
Dessalines.  After the French duped L’Overture and sent him to die in a putrid
cell, Dessalines led the bloody march to independence.

Class memory is long in Haiti, and Dessalines was feared by the privileged
mulattos.  He had the personal power to mobilize the masses.  In one
engagement, at Crete Pierrot in 1802, he rallied 900 ex-slave soldiers and
civilians to reject surrender and break out of an encirclement of 16,000
French soldiers, a feat of arms astounding by any measure in any war in

After Napolean’s legions were vanquished, the mulattos claimed the land based
on the property deeds of their white fathers.  Dessalines asked them what the
former slaves who led the Revolution would get.  The mulattos were champing at
the bit to begin a vigorous and lucrative trade with France and the rest of

Dessalines, who had seen French perfidy and brutality reassert itself at every
opportunity, shed his shirt to show them the mass of lash scars covering his
coal-black back, and told them with no equivocation, he was done with the

The mulattos foresaw their anticipated fortunes dwindle to naught.

The United States, only just independent itself, fattening on the plunder of
indigenous land and the labor of slaves, was alarmed as well.  These rebel
slaves to the south had just smashed the myth of white supremacy by outwitting
and out-generaling three European nations, awakening the American
slave-holder’s latent terror of black insurrection.

While Dessalines massacred the French in Cap Haitien, winning infamy among
white historians, the mulattos plotted.  They assassinated Dessalines in 1806
and forbade his name to be spoken for 40 years.  Their subsequent repression
of the mass of former rebels was ferocious.  This ferocity was motivated by
the one true constant of almost 200 years of Haitian ruling class
history—dread of the masses.  Dessalines had to go because he could mobilize
the masses.

It would be a mistake, however, to generalize from Dessalines’ confrontation
with the mulattos to a description of Haiti’s current social antagonisms as a
color problem.  The black grandons of the north are as avaricious and cynical
as the whitest compradeur, and just as terrified of popular rebellion.  The
color line has blurred, but the class lines are still razor sharp.

Haiti’s struggle is a class struggle, pure if not simple.  Color is just part
of the context, the psychology.  Look at the Bush cabinet, if you think
reactionaries are afraid of melanin.

In my walks down these streets named after Dessalines’ nemeses, I find an
internet café of all things.  Here is a place I can check email, surf a bit on
the web, stay connected with my family who I have deserted yet again.

January 19, 2001.  A fellow Haiti-phile has forwarded me an article by email
about the confirmation hearings of Colin Powell.  The hearings are, of course,
a love-fest.  Powell wears white denial as his personal armor—the almost-Black
Knight.  No one dares speak the forbidden—My Lai, Panama, Iraq.  No one can
acknowledge—on pain of political suicide—that this man is a brilliant hack, a
well-groomed ticket puncher who will order the annihilation of thousands of
innocents, but whose real talent is hiding the bodies.  The obsequious,
lily-white Senators ask him about Haiti, this almost-a-negro and a West Indian
to boot, and he doesn’t hesitate.  He puts Haiti firmly in its place.

The reactionary wing of the Republican Party will settle for nothing less than
Aristide’s political neutralization.  Aristide needs to look at the history of
the war on Iraq, at the Rambouillet Agreement.  The demands will escalate
until they are simply impossible to meet.  They will ask for the keys, for the
surrender of sovereignty.

The Administration of George W. Bush, Powell explains, will tentatively accept
the grotesque capitulation of a wavering Aristide to reschedule the legitimate
elections of several of his own party members in response to a US/OAS campaign
of demagogy to discredit those elections.  It is a breathtaking betrayal by
Aristide.  Powell calls this acquiescent, nay, submissive posture “an
appropriate road map to get started,” but adds that the Administration can not
rule out additional demands.  No careful Clintonesque camouflage from this
administration.  The colonial relation will be naked and unashamed.
U.S. policy, the Secretary of State-designee explains, always has been and
always will be to keep Haitians from coming to the United States, and on their
knees at home.

My companion for this trip and a friend for the last four years, Harry Numa,
Secretary of the Pati Popile Nasyonal (PPN), the National Popular Party, is
very focused on the upcoming Haitian presidential inauguration of
Jean-Bertrand Aristide.  I have copied the post about Colin Powell and shared
it with him and other members.
“Is Colin Powell an Uncle Tom,” one asks me.  He and his comrades have just
exploded in a babble of outrage at the imperial arrogance of Powell’s remarks.
“Is he a token?”

“Uncle Tom was a phrase of contempt that Malcolm X used to differentiate the
house slave from the field slave,” I say.  “Powell has transcended that.  He
is no longer just the house slave.  He is now one of the masters.  He is a
brilliant bureaucrat.  Hardly a token.

“Many people regard an Uncle Tom to be someone who is witless, a fool who
sells out his own people.  Clarence Thomas is an Uncle Tom who is not terribly
intelligent.  Powell is no fool.  He is ruthless and very, very smart.  Powell
is more than an Uncle Tom.  Powell is evil.”

Heads nod.  This is a distinction easily grasped in Haiti, where foolishness
and villainy have shared a lot of spotlights.

“Aristide is a fool, or an opportunist, or both,” one explains.  “He has this
tremendous power, and he refuses to use it, even when people threaten him with
violence.” They believe Aristide is self-interested, potentially even
autocratic.  He may see himself as a kind of Haitian Pope.  Fanmi Lavalas, the
party of this ex-priest, is organized more like the church than a political
formation.  He remains, however, in many ways, a political naif.  He’s never
understood the dominant class’ terror of the people—now his own inescapable

They are referring to Aristide’s tolerance and capitulation before the
sometimes-violent provocation of something now referred to as “the
opposition.” So I need to understand clearly why the PPN, this growing, highly
conscious left political formation, organizing relentlessly among the gwo
zoteey, is defending Aristide.  And they are.  Critically, but doggedly.

As an American, steeped in the narrow rhetorical strategies of a politics of
personality—Gore, Bush, Buchanan, Nader—I am unaccustomed to people looking
beyond the talking heads and the so-called platforms to the social forces that
underwrite them.

Even as we are inaugurating our own de facto regime—the idiot prince, Dubya,
and the court of his father, the imanence grise—the Haitian “opposition” is
swearing Aristide will never sit.  February 7th is his inauguration, and they
have not only denounced it as “illegal and illegitimate,” they have formed
their own “parallel” government.  Some have claimed that “extra-Constitutional
means” will be employed if necessary.

Who is the “opposition,” whose latest handle is Convergence Democratique?
It’s always French.  The name.

“The dominant class speaks French,” Harry says.  “But all Haitians speak
Kreyol.  When the dominant class doesn’t want the people to know what it’s
doing, it speaks in French.”

Convergence is the latest in a line of “opposition” coalitions.  During their
failed attempt to buy the last election, fueled by American dollars from the
National Endowment for Democracy, the dominant formation was called Espace de
Concertacion.  The name changed, but many of the people are the same.  All
believe that in the shadows, behind the curtain of these “oppositions,” are
macoutes and the U.S. Embassy’s Political Section, aka the CIA.

Convergence is eclectic.  Pasteur Luc Mesadieu, a Protestant fundamentalist,
Gerard Pierre Charles, ex-communist turned chief bourgeois idealogue, Serge
Gilles, long-time representative for French political interests in Haiti,
Evans Paul, former mayor of Port-au-Prince whose party the FNCD Aristide cut
out of his cabinet in 1991, Victor Benoit, an ex radio personality and
perennial political lightweight with no clear positions, but who “shows up” at
every new “initiative,” Hubert de Roncerey, Baby Doc’s Minister of Social
Affairs who in that capacity acted as slave-trader for the Dominican cane
plantations, and fellow Duvalierist, Reynold George, a man widely believed
here to have been involved in drug trafficking.

This is to whom the “free” press of the United States refers when they cite
the Haitian “opposition.” Convergence plays them like a perch on light tackle.
The Haitian press, emulating the master, gives this 15- mini-party coalition’s
machinations plenty of air time and directly assists their legitimation.

Every faction of the Haitian dominant class, factions who are generally at war
with one another, is represented in Convergence.  Their one point of
agreement?  They are all opposed to Aristide.

There have been no smoking guns, but when they threatened violence, the level
of violence escalated.  When they threatened bombs, there were bombs.  Two
alleged coup-plotting cells have already fled this year to avoid arrest, one
to the Dominican Republic, the other to Ecuador.  In no case has the United
States political establishment or the obedient corporate press called for
investigations or expressed an iota of outrage.

But on January 9th, a small affiliate of Aristide’s Fanmi Lavalas party, the
Ti Komunite Leglis (TKL) had one chapter that made a veiled threat in response
to the announcement of Convergence that it would launch its “parallel
government,” They produced a list of “collaborators,” some of whose names were
patently ridiculous.  Fanmi Lavalas is largely, and regrettably, unstructured.
Loose cannons appear with some frequency.  But it was a threat, not terribly
specific, with no action taken.  It was a hotheaded and inappropriate reaction
to a very real campaign to reverse the popular will.  Still, the shit storm
followed from up North.

Republican Congressmen Benjamin Gillman (NY) and Peter Goss (FL) made
headlines with their joint denouncement.  “In speaking at the church of
St. Jean Bosco, the men issuing these threats clearly suggested to Haitians
that they were speaking for Mr. Jean-Bertrand Aristide
Instead of keeping
his promises to President Clinton [to reschedule elections of previously
elected Senators, and other capitulations], Mr. Aristide is condoning by his
silence thuggish acts of violence in his name.” Of course, there were no
“acts.” But facts have never been obstacles to Republicans.  And there was
deafening silence from Gillman, Goss, and all the rest, when weeks earlier
Evans Paul called for Haitian drivers to run down Fanmi Lavalas in the

Harry Numa: “These attacks on Aristide from Convergence and the reactionaries
will continue regardless of what concessions Aristide makes.  It is not
Aristide they hate, but his connection to the masses that they fear.  He was
elected with 92 percent of the vote.  This is a terrible power as they see

There it is again.  The one true constant.

Harry and many others wish Aristide would use his immense power to respond
decisively to the attacks, but they fear the worst.  Aristide could very well
be another Peron.  He began as a nationalist and a populist, but under
incessant pressure and with more than a little personal ambition, he is being
co-opted.  He will inevitably shift to the right.  Indeed, Aristide is already
offering an olive branch to Marc Bazin, former World Bank representative, the
U.S. supported candidate against Aristide in 1991, a member of the subsequent
coup regime’s cabinet, and the darling of the U.S. neoliberal establishment.

“Who cares how the Bush Administration will react if he mobilizes the
population against Convergence?” asks Numa.  “Convergence and the U.S. want
him out, whether he does or not
 because he can.  We have a saying in Haiti.
If you don’t say ‘Good morning’ to the devil, he will eat you.  If you do say
‘Good morning’ to the devil
 he will eat you.”

Lavalas itself is horizontal, lacking structure.  The handful of American
petit bourgeois radicals who know anything about Haiti at all see this as
somehow democratic, opposing hierarchy to democracy, an absurd polarity.
Aristide is alone, floating atop this sea of cliques, each with its little
head, and each of them competing for the favor of the great man.  The whole
organization is shot through with fractions and opportunism.  Harry predicts
that one day Lavalas will devolve into a blood-soaked tragedy.

PPN’s harsh criticisms of Aristide aside, they defend him not because of some
personal quality and not based on his program, but because he was chosen by
Haiti’s majority, unlike Dubya, who seized power through a judicial coup
d’etat.  “The population selected him, and when he betrays them, the
population can reject him.  We are not defending Aristide.  We are defending
the people’s right to select their own leaders.  And we are defending our

Ben Dupuy, former Ambassador –at-Large for Aristide during the 1991-4 coup
period, says, “He will make mistakes.  He has made mistakes.  But the people
have the right to be wrong.”

They were incensed at the demagogic attacks on the Haitian elections by the
U.S., and our own tragi-comic electoral conundrum only reinforced the offense.

The PPN people I talk to admit that this fight among politicos—focused for the
time being against Aristide—is really a family feud, a tussle among the
bourgeoisie—the land-bourgeoisie, the trade-bourgeoisie, the
lumpen-bourgeoisie—that has been temporarily set aside to close ranks against
this man who has captured the imagination of the ominous many.  Aristide is
caving in to them on every front, but he can never escape their terminal fear
of his rapport with the great potentiality.

And the mighty Northern metropole is involved.  It’s to the hegemon these
plotters always turn in a pinch.  So this is not just an internal matter, not
just Haiti inventing itself.  With the Bush regime in, the old CIA covert
operations branch will be strengthened.  The macoute sector that they
conspired with to construct the FRAPH, the right-wing terrorists of the
Cedras-Francois era, will be strengthened with them.  After all, organizing is
based on existing relationships.

The options are not pretty for Convergence, but the threats are out there.
They have said they will not tolerate this “illegal” government of Aristide.
“They feel they can not afford to look like it’s all a bluff,” Harry says.
Haiti is a backward society, and machismo matters.  Reputations and rumors can
have the power of bombs and bullets.

There are a lot of variables.  The Police Nacionale d’Haiti (PNH) are not
cohesive in their political loyalties.  If they took sides at all in a fight,
they would be fragmented, and many would side with Aristide. Others,
aggressively recruited during the U.S. occupation by the CIA, might move
against.  But it’s a wild card.  So a coup might have to be privatized.  A
group of re-armed Fraphists perhaps, with the tacit approval of their old CIA
handlers.  Of course this kind of putsch is a very risky option.  Alleged
conspirators are already on the international lam.

Assassination of Aristide is also very risky.  Aristide’s assassination would
ignite a conflagration.  The only way this might work is if they could
convince the Dominicans to intervene.  Post-assassination turbulence creates
the fear that this instability will spill across the Dominican border, so the
Dominicans have their pretext to invade.  We have this discussion in the last
week of January, and this particular speculation will prove prescient.

Ah, the dilemmas of power!

Bush’s National Security Advisor, Condoleeza Rice, a fellow oil-person who
shares the Bush thirst for Caspian Sea petroleum, and who has promised a
Kissinger-like realpolitik, says this administration will only intervene with
direct military force when there is a clear and compelling interest for the
U.S. ruling class.  She advocates having our allies shoulder more of the load
in the periphery—a question of economy of force.  Allies like the Dominicans.

This is also consistent with the Powell Doctrine for the U.S. military.  Begin
with a measurable objective.  Apply overwhelming high-tech force and limit
American casualties to an absolute minimum.  Gain control over the press, and
give complacent America its morality play.

No, American invasion is surely no recipe for Haiti.  They can bomb the
existing infrastructure into an ash heap and it will leave 75 percent of the
country yawning.  Infrastructure?  What’s that?  The international press can
enter Haiti through its porous borders with near impunity.  And the last
occupation, beginning in 1994, in which I participated, is an indication of
what the next would be
 indeterminate, intimidating no one for more than a
moment, and a risk that our own soldiers—especially black soldiers—will see
more than they ought of our own government’s motives and methods.

[ end part I ]

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