your previous work on haiti is very appreciated, and znet pieces by reeves and fenton are helpful.
having said that, the dominant ap messages about the aristide government are permeating left sources very quickly. this month’s le monde diplomatique has a piece on the “sad bicentenary in haiti” which refers to the “more and more repressive power” under aristide, but politely doesn’t mention any role for the cia, ned, or state department in funding and supporting the opposition. nor, more tragically, is any reference made to the financial impact of the us/eu aid embargo or the years of structural adjustment. this is stunning for a journal with such a stellar record of detailing the recent horrors of imperialism.
in keeping, the icftu has just sent a delegation of investigators (including one from quebec) to port-au-prince to examine what they characterize as the recent growth of anti-union repression – including a number of arrests and detentions of trade unionists (see website at http://www.ftq.qc.ca/communiques/suite.asp?aid=2913) once again, in previous press releases and commentary on the icftu website, no mention is made of structural adjustment or the financial impact of the aid embargo – but there is dramatic reporting of the repressive character of the regime.
can we interpret this icftu-orit positioning as a hold-over from their cold war pasts?
kevin skerrett (Canada)
From Noam Chomsky
you’re dead right about the importance of what is omitted. to review very briefly, aristide’s election in 1990 elicited extreme hostility from washington, which supported the opposition to him. seven months later came a military coup that led to a shocking reign of terror. i happened to see a little of it, but there’s plenty of literature.
the coup leaders and the rich elites continued to be supported, not so tacitly, by bush and even more by clinton, both of whom even authorized texaco to provide desperately needed oil to the torturers and their rich supporters in violation of presidential directives — while the cia was solemnly testifying to congress that no oil was coming in, a ridiculous lie, as could be observed by even a casual visitor.
in 1994, clinton apparently decided that the population had been tortured enough, and decided to allow aristide to return — but on condition that he accept the policies of the us candidate in the 1990 election, who had received 14% of the vote.
these are the harsh neoliberal policies to which you rightly refer, which were a guarantee that the remaining shreds of the economy would be devastated. we now read that haiti cannot feed itself. actually haitian peasants were quite efficient, but could not compete with dumped us agribusiness exports from corporations that receive a large part of their income from government subsidies.
the few independent businesses in haiti were also mostly destroyed by us dumping, blocked by canada and mexico, but haiti was helpless, thanks to clinton’s policies. aristide disbanded the brutal army over strong us objections, but that left the devastated country with little in the way of security.
these are the events that are regularly described as a noble exercise of humanitarian intervention, restoring democracy, which somehow failed despite our benevolence, maybe because haitians have bad genes.
incidentally, the policies now being imposed on iraq are much the same, and in fact they trace back to the origins of western imperialism in the 18th century, with consequences that would be known to every school child in societies that valued their freedom.
bush subsequently barred desperately needed aid, with the assistance of equally cynical europeans. meanwhile the country descended into utter chaos, attributable in part to corruption and toleration of violence from every quarter, including the government, which has a lot to answer for.
whatever one thinks about what is happening now, or what should be done about it, it is sheer cowardice to suppress the crucial role of washington and its allies during recent years — not to speak of their shocking and disgraceful record ever since Haiti scandalized the civilized world 200 years ago by becoming “the first free country of free men,” as one anthropologist accurately described it. It has been brutally punished for this crime every since.