[Marxism] What's going on in Haiti? From Znet

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Sat Feb 14 08:26:06 MST 2004

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(Some US foreign Latin-Caribbean spetzes see Aristide, now under
attack from gthe violent, U.S.-encouraged far-right, as a "beardless
Castro"  I wish that was the only difference! But it is time to expose
the truth and defend Haiti against U.S.-sponsored indirect aggression.
In that fundamental sense, the protests called by the International
Action Center have been on the right track. The following article from
Znet is a contribution to this effort.
Fred Feldman

by Anthony Fenton
February 13, 2004

Judging by the corporate media’s recent coverage of the crisis in
Haiti, one might be led to believe that they are “aiding and abetting”
an attempted coup d’etat aimed at the democratically elected Jean
Bertand Aristide. On a daily basis, mainstream international media is
churning out stories provided mainly by the Associated Press and
Reuters that have little basis in fact.

On Feb. 10th, the Globe and Mail, Canada’s main national daily,
reprinted an AP article that relied on Haiti’s elite-owned Radio
Vision 2000. [1] This article contrasted the recent “violent uprising”
in Gonaives, Haiti’s fourth-largest city, with the 1986 uprising that
saw the overthrow of the oppressive Duvalier dictatorship. The
inevitable conclusion that the Canadian readership is steered toward
is that Aristide is, or could be, a dictator, who may or may not
deserve what he is about to get. This is hardly the kind of context
that will compel citizens to lend support to the embattled Haitians.

The Globe’s paul Knox has been reporting from Haiti since Feb. 11th,
and has submitted two stories thus far, neither of which have strayed
from the “disinformation loop” which sees the recycling of dubious
elite-spawned information by the corporate press corps. [see Pina] The
same context as above is given credence - that Aristide faces a
legitimate opposition that has every right to support his violent
overthrow. Knox quotes Charles Baker, a wealthy factory owner who
says: “We are all fighting for the same thing. Aristide has to
 resign.” [2]

Canada’s other national daily, the National Post [also considered the
more ‘right wing’ of the two dailies] has no problem running headlines
like the one featured on February 13th website: “Rock-throwing
Aristide militants force opponents to cancel protest march.” [3]
Nowhere in the article is President Aristide’s press release
mentioned, which condemned the obstruction of the protest, and called
for the constitutional right of peaceful demonstration to be adhered

Interestingly, the corporate media has neglected to mention that the
“opposition” to which they refer and repeatedly give legitimacy to,
only represents a meagre 8 per cent of registered voters in Haiti,
according to a US poll conducted in 2000. According to the Council on
Hemispheric Affairs [COHA], “their only policy goal seems to be
reconstituting the army and the implementation of rigorous structural
adjustment programs.” [4] As corporate journalists rely on the
opposition for little more than inflammatory soundbites, information
that would otherwise be sought to lend their efforts credibility is
repeatedly overlooked.

US Congresswoman Maxine Waters issued a press release Feb. 11th, on
the heels of her recent visit to Haiti, that called on the Bush
administration to join her in condemning the “so-called opposition”
and, specifically, Andre Apaid Jr., who is a “Duvalier supporter”
that, along with his Group of 184, is “attempting to instigate a
bloodbath in Haiti and then blame the government for the resulting
disaster in the belief that the U.S. will aid the so-called protestors
against President Aristide.” [5]

She also took aim at the World Bank and IMF and their “continuing
embargo” , which amounts to hundreds of millions of desperately needed
funds. Rep. Waters outlined the following positive measures that
Aristide has initiated:

“Under his leadership, the Haitian government has made major
investments in agriculture, public transportation and
The government [recently] doubled the minimum wage from
36 to 70 gourdes per day, despite strong opposition from the business
President Aristide has also made health care and education
national priorities. More schools were built in Haiti between 1994 and
2000 than between 1804 and 1994. The government expanded school lunch
and school bus programs and provides a 70% subsidy for schoolbooks and

Rep. Waters made clear assertions on Aristide’s behalf that are
otherwise absent from Bush administration commentary and corporate
media deceptions regarding Haiti. Waters completed her statement with
an important appeal, which called on the corporate media to
“discontinue the practice of repeating rumours and innuendos,” whereby
they function as “international megaphones for the opposition. They
lie shamelessly on a daily basis.”

Another Congresswoman, Barbara Lee, directly challenged Colin Powell
in a formal letter to him February 12th, after Powell had announced
that the US administration is “not interested in regime change” in
Haiti. Said Lee: “It appears that the US is aiding and abetting the
attempt to violently topple the Aristide government. With all due
respect, this looks like “regime change”
Our actions – or inaction –
may be making things worse.” [6]

In a press conference Wednesday, Aristide called for peace and a
democratic resolution to the unrest ongoing in Haiti. He once again
called on the opposition to rationally discuss things with his
government so that they can work toward an equitable resolution.

Now would seem to be a good opportunity for broad-based social justice
groups to galvanize around the critical issue of Haiti. Haitians are
desperately in need of popular international support if they are to
overcome the latest onslaught. With history as our guide, we should be
extremely wary when one side of the US administration’s mouth promotes
“democracy and freedom” and a “peaceful resolution” to the situation
in Haiti, while out of the other they support the interests of such
players as André Apaid Jr. The statements of some US representatives
are encouraging. Others are somewhat flaky.

In a conversation today with Congressman Gregory Meeks, his slippery
position was made quite clear. Meeks’s “primary concern is democracy”
and the promotion of democracy does not entail “taking sides”. This is
a familiar position that is being trumpeted, whereby the US supports
democracy but is not willing to actively support the democratically
elected leader. The Miami Herald made note today that the
Congressional Black Caucus, whose position is supported by Meeks, “is
calling for an end to the violence in Haiti but not repeating its
traditional support of Aristide.” [emphasis mine]

These are some dangerous indications, considering that Haitian towns
remain under illegal siege by former paramilitary members, who –
according to Pina – “Gathered in the Dominican and are now brandishing
brand new M16s.” Pina also made note that the Dominican Republic is
known to have recently received a shipment of 20,000 American made

Since a great deal of the current problems plaguing Haiti stem from
dire economic issues, we should now turn to these. In his 1997 book,
“Haiti in the New World Order”, Alex Dupuy sums up the US disposition
toward Haiti:

“For the foreign policy intelligentsia, the defense and promotion of
democracy and the free market serve as the “grander vision” underlying
U.S. policy objectives in the new world order
Democracy is not likely
to take hold unless its corollaries – a free market economy and a free
trade system – are also fostered.” [7]

The logic of the State Department, according to COHA, sees Aristide as
“little more than a ‘beardless Castro’”, who was despised by Jesse
Helms, a tradition that is being carried on by his “ideological heirs”
in the State Department, Roger Noriega and Otto Reich. We should
recall that this sort of attitude was prominent over a decade ago,
when Aristide was first elected President.

In 1991, Aristide was overthrown by the brutal paramilitary, led by
former CIA employees Emmanuel Constant and Raoul Cedras. The massive
influx of refugees fleeing Haiti from the brutal FRAPH paramilitary
regime, in addition to a groundswell of domestic support for Haiti,
forced Clinton to “restore democracy” to Haiti in 1994. Aristide,
having his way cleared by US troops, returned to Haiti recognized
internationally as its legitimate leader.

Aristide’s return was only made possible when he “embraced the Haitian
bourgeoisie and accepted a U.S. occupation and Washington’s neoliberal
agenda.” As Noam Chomsky has detailed, “The Aristide government [was]
to keep to a standard "structural adjustment" package, with foreign
funds devoted primarily to debt repayment and the needs of the
business sectors, and with an "open foreign investment policy." [8]

By then, the neoliberal agenda has become entrenched as part of the
New World Order, which was designed to respond to “the South’s plea
for justice, equity, and democracy in the global society.” This agenda
has led others such as Susan George to sum it up as such:

“Neo-liberalism has become the major world religion with its dogmatic
doctrine, its priesthood, its law-giving institutions and perhaps most
important of all, its hell for heathen and sinners who dare to contest
the revealed truth.” [9]

The World Bank predicted in 1996 that up to 70 per cent of Haitians
would be unlikely to survive bank-advocated free market measures in
Haiti. According to a 2002 Guardian article, by the end of the 1990’s
“Haiti’s rice production had halved and subsidized imports from the
U.S. accounted for over half of local rice sales.” [10] As Haiti
became the “star pupil” of IMF and World Bank, such policies
“devastated” local farmers.

Full article: http://www.greenleft.org.au


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