[Marxism] Stan Goff: ABC of Opportunism "Progressive" Latin American Leaders Support the Coup in Haiti

Mike Friedman mikedf at mail.amnh.org
Sun Aug 1 08:08:25 MDT 2004

ABC of Opportunism "Progressive" Latin American Leaders Support the Coup in 


After a coup d'etat planned, coordinated, and executed by the most 
reactionary elements in Haiti, with the substantial material support of the 
governments of the United  States and its ever-obedient Dominican Republic, 
the proud nation of Haiti is again under foreign military occupation. The 
shameful fact, however, is that this time the occupation is being 
carried  out by not only by the French, whose savage imperial history there 
is well known, and by the Canadians (perennial handmaidens of the US), but 
by Argentina, Brazil, and Chile--three nations who have themselves been 
victimized by the covert operations  establishment of the United 
States,  and governments who are making the now-specious claim that they 
are "progressive."

The Haitian people and their  popular organizations are utterly astonished 
by this grotesque betrayal and unabashed political opportunism.  More than 
one Haitian with whom I spoke while there for three weeks in June posed the 
question: How will these allegedly leftist governments respond when and if 
we attack them?

This was not a rhetorical question.

Almost everyone with whom I spoke said explicitly that they would welcome 
such an attack as a needed catalyst to initiate another general uprising. 
The  spectrum of opinion on this question ranged from those who merely 
asserted that attacking occupiers was a right, to those who said it will 
become a patriotic duty. In the interest of full disclosure,  I did not 
speak with the macouto-bourgeois faction in Port-au-Prince who had been on 
the payroll of the US Embassy, via the International Republican Institute 
and the National Endowment for Democracy.

In fact, I spoke with few urban dwellers at all. On this trip, it seemed 
appropriate -- given  the demagogy about democracy with which we are 
constantly assailed  -- to go where the Haitian majority lives: the 
countryside. I encountered not a single peasant (at least in the Central 
Plateau)  who accepted Latortue or anyone else in the de facto 
government  appointed by the United States. They regard  them not even with 
fear, but with derision as fools. What might  surprise those unfamiliar 
with Haiti was how well many peasants understand the paradox of these Latin 
American occupiers. Almost all had heard of the landless peasants' movement 
in Brazil, and wondered if these kinds of formations in Latin America might 
not rise up against their own governments for participating in  the 
consolidation of the coup d'etat in Haiti.

The timing of this coup d'etat--Haitians believe, and I agree--on the 
bicentennial of the Haitian Revolution constitutes an intentional 
humiliation of Haiti, shepherded as it was by Roger Noriega, former aide to 
arch-racist Jesse Helms.  That intent festers with every passing day in the 
sullen and  smoldering determination that this will not stand.

The people of Argentina, Brazil,  and Chile (A,B, & C) should perhaps grasp 
the ABC of American  covert operations better than their ostensible 
leaders. Lending  the US a hand in one imperial enterprise will not protect 
them  from the predations of the US. In fact, it only strengthens the  hand 
of the US foreign policy establishment to commit the same  crimes against 
them when it's expedient. That applies to the liberal US establishment -- 
now out of power -- that wants to  increment its domination through 
financial structures, but it  applies even more immediately to the 
black-shirted reactionaries of this administration who, if we look closely, 
are an aging replication of the self-same clique that brought us the 
Iran-Contra-Cocaine scandal -- men who left thousands of Latin American 
bodies in  their wakes.

Has Argentina's Kirchner forgotten the US's supportive role during the 
Dirty War? Has Chile's Lagos  forgotten 1973 and the CIA attack on Chilean 
popular sovereignty?  And has Brazil's de Silva developed amnesia with 
regard to Goulart's ouster at the hands of the same CIA in 1964?

How is it, then, that these nations, of all nations, can send their 
militaries to prop up  the transparent coup d'etat against yet another 
democratically elected government? How have they become obliged, in the 
face of their own histories of struggle against US plotters and 
assassins,  to support this racist subjugation of a fellow Latin American 

Driving through Gonaives, I saw pimply-faced youth in Canadian uniforms 
waving from atop their armored personnel carriers in the apparent 
expectation that they will be received with accolades -- a la the Chalabi 
hallucination of cheering crowds in Iraq -- only to be met with  hostility 
and contempt from the street. The flags of A,B, & C snapped in the wind 
from behind barricades at Toussaint L'Overture Airport in Port-au-Prince, 
but the post-pubescent lads from those countries will soon be pushed out 
into Haiti's genpop, and it  is inevitable that some will be attacked.

How will these governments  -- all claiming to be progressive -- explain 
themselves to their own general populations then? The United Nations 
imprimatur will be cold comfort indeed for the families of the fallen and a 
puny poultice for the political wounds resulting not from the actions  of 
an external Right, like the manufactured crisis that culminated  in the 
kidnapping of Aristide in Haiti, but from the home grown Left in A, B, & C 

This acquiescence -- no, collaboration -- with the diktat of the US will 
not loosen the parasitic grip of the Imperial Center on a single Latin 
American, nor will it  ameliorate that Center's intent to continue 
exploiting the entire  region until it is used up and dead. This pious 
fantasy that cooperation will be rewarded has been the downfall of many a 
leader, including Aristide who was taken from his home after calling for 
"peaceful mobilization" even in the faced of murderous paramilitaries.

It looks more and more, at least to this writer, like there are only three 
Latin American leaders left with a spine -- Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez, and 
Manuel Marulanda. With the commitment of troops to the coup 
against  Haitian popular sovereignty, Kirchner, de Silva, and Lagos have 
displayed a craven disregard for their own people and for their own 
histories. They now stand objectively as allies of Jesse Helms -- a man who 
praised D'Abuisson's death squads, and who never relented in his commitment 
to American Apartheid.

May they all admit this terrible error and quit Haiti now, or may history 
mark them with shame.


Stan Goff is the author of "Hideous Dream: A Soldier's Memoir of the US 
Invasion of Haiti" (Soft Skull Press, 2000) and of the upcoming book "Full 
Spectrum Disorder" (Soft Skull Press, 2003).

He is a member of the BRING THEM HOME NOW! coordinating committee, a 
retired Special Forces master sergeant, and the father of an active duty 
soldier.  Email for BRING THEM HOME NOW! is bthn at mfso.org.

Goff can be reached at: sherrynstan at igc.org

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