[Marxism] re: Lula and Haiti

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Tue Dec 7 08:54:58 MST 2004

The participation of Brazil in the occupation was bound to result in
differences between Washington and Brazil, unless the resistance to the
dictatorship was very weak.  It appears to be getting a little stronger,
although there also seems to be a real bloodbath taking place as well.
The Brazilian bourgeoisie has no particular interest in the subjugation
of Haiti, there was no chance that the Brazilian nation would agree to
pay a high price for it, and foreign policy has generally been Lula's
stronger point as president, reflecting in part the desire of the
bourgeoisie, including I think the army high command, to be more
assertive re Washington.  His predecessors were inching in similar
directions, but his greater popularity has enabled him to push this
It was clear that a difference was opening up when Brazilian diplomats
made contact with Aristide in South Africa, who Washington thinks should
be facing a firing squad in Haiti -- or even the United States.
I consider it excluded that Brazilian or Argentine officials "clear in
with Fidel" before taking foreing policy initiatives.  I don't think
they got a wink and a nod from Cuba before sending troops to Argentina.
And I don't think Cuba seeks or is willing to be in the position of
vetoing or okaying the foreign policy of these governments.  I don't
think that Cuba had a veto on the deployments to Haiti and I don't think
they would have dreamed of exercising one.  They stated their position
that Haiti should be massively aided and not occupied, and they have
acted accordingly in Haiti, where they still consider Aristide the
legitimate president.
The US and France decided early  on that a continuing occupation of
Haiti would be too much of a commitment.  That's why they encouraged
Brazil and Argentina to get in on the occupation instead.  Their main
purpose was established with the removal of the Aristide government and
the establishment of the rightist dictatorship with the rightist gangs
-- with links to both the US and France -- as its military force.
There's no particular question of a "lesser evil" for us here and
discussion of that is empty. The Argentines and Brazilians are there in
part because that was a "lesser evil" for the policy makers in
Washington and Paris.
While Powell may wish that Brazil and Argentina would take on a
counterinsurgency war in Haiti, I don't believe he really expects this
or, in a serious diplomatic way, is demanding it of the governments
concerned.  If the resistance grows stronger, the tendency will be for
the OAS to swing somewhat against Washington, and for the Caribbean
countries to become more aggressive in their opposition.  This is an
example of what happens when an imperialist power can't "muster enough
forces" to take on multiple projects directly.
The main problem the Haitians face is not to figure out whether Brazil
and Argentina (and China) are a lesser evil to Washington.  They have to
learn to reconquer their own sovereignty which can only be done by the
people themselves in alliance with the oppressed elsewhere.  If the
Aristide experience so far demonstrated anything, it was the results of
a suffering nation trying to reduce its suffering by relying on favors
from foreign occupiers sponsored by imperialism.  Brazilians, Argentine,
and Chinese troops are NOT going to help Haiti militarily to win its
freedom.  If they decide not to aggressively obstruct the struggle, that
is a positive. As for the occupation itself, it is only going to be a
greater or lesser element of the problem, not of the solution.
Does Brazil expect Washington to back it for a permanent seat on the
United Nations Security Council? I know that Lula is said to favor
de-criminalizing drugs, a good idea,  but I really doubt that he is a
user on THAT scale.  If we are talking about a veto-bearing seat, that
is unimaginable without huge defeats to US imperialism.  I don't think
they would necessarily even back Brazil if they could get it in a trade
for France.
The UN Security Council originally included one permanent semicolonial
member -- the more or less reliable, more or less puppet government of
Chiang Kai-shek. The presence of China on the Security Council turned
out to be just a big problem for Washington.  I don't think they are
inclined to accept that 
risk again in the case of Brazil, India, South Africa, Iran, Turkey, or
other imaginable contenders.  I can't believe that Lula seriously
expects this to happen anytime soon, or that it governed the decision to
go into Haiti.  I do think Brazil wants to establish itself in the
Americas as a power, and to be taken very seriously by Washington.  That
is a big enough challenge, without making deals on the dream of a
veto-bearing permanent seat on the council. Of course, he favors such a
seat for Brazil. 
 In a different world, Brazil would be clearly entitled.  But I think he
is more realistic than to base foreign policy on that.
Fred Feldman

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