Saturday, February 12, 2005
Gangsters for Freedom: The World is Our Turf!
From Haiti to Iraq: The Pirate's Brand of Democracy
Feb. 12, '05
The U.S. is determined to “make the pursuit of freedom the organizing principle of the 21st century,” said Condoleezza Rice on the Paris leg of her worldwide debut as Secretary of State. The real nature of this pirate-imposed brand of “democracy,” designed to bestow absolute freedom of action to U.S. corporations, is evident in Iraq and Haiti.
After attempting to straightjacket future Iraqi governments with laws that would have allowed 100 percent foreign ownership of key state assets – in direct contradiction of the Iraqi constitution – and placing exiles in nominal power, the U.S. reluctantly agreed to hold elections. Yet the Americans continue to harden at least 12 “enduring bases” as if they have no intention of leaving, no matter what Iraq’s future government says.
In Haiti, the U.S. organized and financed the overthrow of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s democratically elected government on February 29 of last year, then forced him into exile.
Secretary of State Colin Powell devised what may be the lamest excuse in history for gross violations of international law: “He was democratically elected but he (Aristide) did not democratically govern well” – a wholly new and bizarre standard for national sovereignty and self-determination.
In both Haiti and Iraq, many thousands have been slaughtered in pursuit of Condoleezza Rice’s “organizing principle” – a policy that the Bush men fantasize will prevail for the remainder of the century. They are delusional and increasingly desperate, but you wouldn’t know it from consuming the American corporate media, which is as oblivious (or hostile) to the opinions of mankind as are the rulers in Washington. The dead of Haiti and Iraq lie uncounted except, of course, by Haitians and Iraqis whose opinions and actions will ultimately unravel the imperial project – early, rather than later, in this century.
As with Iraq’s recent election-at-gunpoint, foreign-occupied Haiti is scheduled to hold municipal elections in October and choose a national legislature and president a month later. In anticipation, the American-picked regime of Gerard Latortue – formerly of Boca Raton, Florida – is busily arresting, hunting and killing activists of Aristide’s party, Fanmi Lavalas, the overwhelming choice of the country’s poor majority. Latortue’s police, now made up mostly of ex-members of the army that Aristide disbanded in 1995, share a common background and murderous mission with the gangster bands that kill at will in much of the countryside. Lending legitimacy to the macabre arrangement are the Brazilian-led “peacekeepers” of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti, MINUSTAH, who reject “any responsibility in the killing of people who have been taken into custody by UN soldiers and handed over to the national police,” according to the Haitian Press Agency (AHP).
Clearly, there is no right to freedom of assembly – or even the right to life – in Haiti since the regime change so shamefully facilitated by Colin Powell. (See , “Godfather Colin Powell, the Gangster of Haiti,” March 4, 2004.) Therefore, it became necessary to hold an extraordinary meeting of Haitian Lavalas activists and allies in Washington, DC, this past weekend, to “gather different parts of the force fighting here and elsewhere for Haiti to win back its national dignity and the return of democracy to Haiti” – a democracy that was stolen by the United States.
Heritage of struggle
The Kongre Bwa Kayiman 2005 – Congress of Crocodile Woods 2005, in the Haitian Creole language, in honor of the first gathering of maroon chiefs to plot strategy against the French in 1791 – brought together Haitians from the United States and elsewhere, American Haiti support organizations, and fearless activists who continue to operate inside Haiti. Organized by the Fondasyon (Foundation) Mapou, September 30th Foundation, Haiti Action Committee, Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network, and the Haitian Initiative for Democracy, and hosted by Trinity University, the event sought to “define strategies of resistance, which can allow us to reinforce in Haiti and the Diaspora the mobilization for the return of democracy and the recovery of national sovereignty.”
At least 3,000 Haitians have been murdered by ex-military marauders and Latortue’s police and 100,000 forced into hiding since the February 29 “coup-napping,” as Mario Dupuy puts it. Dupuy is the Communications Secretary of Haiti’s Constitutional Government – the Aristide government still recognized by much of the world. “A humanitarian catastrophe is going to arrive in two to three years,” Dupuy told the gathering at Trinity College. Because of the reign of terror, the Haitian peasantry’s modes of production have been disrupted. Normally, some seeds are saved from each crop to plant for the next cycle. “But with the massive internal displacement, forcing people to hide in the big cities…the first thing we notice is that the peasants have been forced to eat the produce that would otherwise be used for seeds.” Dupuy believes “there is an imminent risk that we’ll have a situation similar to what we saw in Ethiopia. There will be a huge influx in refugees.”
The refugee crisis will be both internal to Haiti and external, forcing legions of Haitians to take to the high seas, as occurred in the early Nineties after a previous coup against President Aristide, hugely contributing to President Bill Clinton’s decision to oust the military and bring Aristide out of U.S. exile in 1994. Clinton saw no alternative, since the military and the tiny elite it served had no social base sufficient to rule the country without resort to terror. The same applies to the Latortue regime, today. Thus, as the regime moves reluctantly toward elections in the Fall, to be overseen by the United Nations and the Organization of American States (OAS), it attempts to co-opt the more “bourgeois” elements of Fanmi Lavalas. “They felt it was necessary to take control of the communications of the people, the Lavalas party,” said Dupuy. “They think they have the right to determine the leadership of the Family Lavalas party.”
The regime is caught in a hopeless contradiction – from which it should not be rescued by naïve elements among African Americans who wish to “help” Haitians by supporting direct aid to the Latortue government. As Dupuy pointed out: “From March 2004 to now the U.S. gave the Haitian government $230 million. Much of this aid ended up on the market in the Dominican Republic,” including aid in the wake of Hurricane Jeanne. “Not one school or hospital was built in the country, despite $230 million over 11 months."
During Aristide’s tenure, an average of 37 schools were built every year. Latortue heads a regime of piranhas. “That’s why Lavalas still has the support of the people,” said Dupuy.
Elections in the midst of slaughter
Unlike in Iraq, where the resistance daily brings the fight directly to the occupiers and their minions, the Haitian resistance in slums like Cite Soleil and Bel Air resembles that of African Americans in the old South confronting the depredations of the Ku Klux Klan – “an armed resistance of necessity, but not coordinated,” said one participant in the Washington conference.
Aristide’s MLK-Ghandi creed of nonviolence remains dominant among the Haitian masses, who are also too poor to afford the ordinance of war. However, also unlike Iraq, where Sunnis, Shia and Kurds pursue different paths to national or ethnic independence – with the latter two groups participating more or less enthusiastically in the recent election – the clear majority of Haitians have proven repeatedly that they support Aristide and Lavalas. Without their participation, there can be no credible election – just a joust among mini-parties.
Lavalas leadership announced on February 1 that they would boycott the elections, calling “the interim government a regime of terror” engaged in “massacring supporters of President Aristide in the populist districts,” according to AHP. "How can one speak of elections when our senior officials and activists are imprisoned and our supporters persecuted across the country," asked Felito Doran, the former Lavalas Deputy from Pétion-Ville.
A report from the Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA) says the threatened Lavalas boycott “is a direct result of the suppression carried out against party supporters by paramilitary factions and gang leaders who get their marching orders from the Latortue government.” The report documents “new evidence… that Latortue and his rogue justice minister, Bernard Gousse, are engaged in an all-out-war against Haiti’s poor, who make up the vast majority of the population and who overwhelmingly support Aristide.”
Meanwhile, Canada, a frontline state in the imperial phalanx against Haiti, along with France and the United States, prepares schemes to establish a protectorate in Haiti – that is, to protect the citizens of the first Black republic in the world (and the second republic in the Western Hemisphere) from enjoying the rights of self-determination and sovereignty. (See , “Haiti: Colin Powell’s Crime in Progress, December 7, 2004.)
According to the COHA report, the $45-50 million cost of the October and November elections “will be covered in (small) part by the government and in large part by contributions from international donors.” Three guesses on who those donors will be, and who will actually be running the show?
Under the pretense that elemental human rights exist in Haiti, U.S. immigration authorities appear to have begun wholesale arrests and deportations of Haitians, in November. In addition to the ancient imperatives of all-American racism, the roundups are doubtless designed to increase pressure on Diaspora Haitians, who can better be dealt with under the tender mercies of Latortue and his thugs. A protester at a Fort Lauderdale rally in late January told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: “They stop Haitians on the street, in the malls, where they work, everywhere. I guess we're easy to be spotted, because we're black. They take them and send them back to Haiti.”
The Bush men are heating the same pressure cooker that forced Clinton to take action against the Haitian military junta in 1994. Only this time, poor Haitians have been allowed to taste nearly a decade of democracy and participate in valiant steps toward self-development under Aristide. A national transformation has already occurred, one that cannot be “guided” by the unholy troika of the U.S., Canada and France.
A different world
In ways that the Bush Pirates could never have contemplated, the hemisphere and world have also been transformed, especially since the invasion of Iraq. Although Brazil and Chile have acted shamefully in sending their soldiers to Haiti under UN auspices – an occupation they rationalize as a means of keeping even more homicidal U.S. soldiers out of the country – it is not without great domestic political cost. The mildly socialist Brazilian and Chilean heads of state heard the sentiments of their own base constituencies at the recent World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil, where thousands of delegates demanded:
The return to office of President Aristide
An end to the occupation of Haiti
Cessation of illegal arrests by UN forces in Haiti
Freedom for political prisoners
Non-recognition of the Latortue regime
Asylum for politically persecuted Haitians
U.S. hands off Latin America and the Caribbean
Solidarity with Venezuela and Cuba
The hands-down star of Porto Alegre was Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez – like Aristide, also the victim of U.S.-sponsored kidnapping in 2002, but freed and restored to power by popular demand. Chavez affirmed that Aristide remains the President of Haiti. “There is no solution in Haiti without Aristide," said Chavez. “The solution is not in the hands of the United Nations or a group of presidents. It must be taken by the people of Haiti."
Derided as eccentric and worse by the U.S. corporate media – the same treatment they gave Aristide – Chavez, in words and actions, points the way toward consolidation of sovereign national power and solidarity among the peoples of the South. And he does not bite his tongue. "The most negative force in the world today is the government of the United States," he told the World Social Forum. "Look at Vietnam, look at Iraq and Cuba resisting, and now look at Venezuela…. When imperialism feels weak, it resorts to brute force.”
He brought down the house. Chavez’s vision also includes the oppressed in the United States:
“We must start talking again about equality. The U.S. government talks about freedom and liberty, but never about equality… They are not interested in equality. This is a distorted concept of liberty. The U.S. people, with whom we share dreams and ideals, must free themselves... A country of heroes, dreamers, and fighters, the people of Martin Luther King, and Cesar Chavez.”
Fifteen thousand Cuban doctors care for the poor in Venezuela. Since March of 2003, Cubans have treated 17 million Venezuelans, most of whom had never had access to medical care. In return, Venezuela ships 53,000 barrels of oil a day to Cuba, one-third of the country’s total consumption – a model for South-South cooperation in the 21st century, and a partnership that will surely be joined in some form by a free Haiti.
535 Cuban medical volunteers continue to practice in Haiti, despite the virulently reactionary nature of the Latortue regime. There is no alternative, certainly not from the United States, Canada or France. “It is estimated that over the last 5 years, Cuban doctors have treated over 5 million Haitians,” according to Radio Havana. “And with 90 per cent of the country's mere 2000 doctors operating in the capital of Port-au-Prince, the Cubans have been providing the bulk of services in the rest of the country.”
As Hugo Chavez declared in Porto Alegre:
”It is impossible, within the framework of the capitalist system to solve the grave problems of poverty of the majority of the world's population. We must transcend capitalism. But we cannot resort to state capitalism, which would be the same perversion of the Soviet Union. We must reclaim socialism as a thesis, a project and a path, but a new type of socialism, a humanist one which puts humans, and not machines or the state ahead of everything.”
The irrationality of capitalism at this stage in history, and the sheer rapaciousness of the Pirates in Washington, is forcing both progressive governments and otherwise conservative global elites to seek new frameworks and modes of trade that circumvent the United States and its plummeting dollar and fatal embrace. While Americans follow the bouncing ball of sham elections in foreign lands, the world draws a red line around the superpower, which is no longer welcome at meetings where future development is formulated. Brazil throws its economy open to China – anybody but the American devil they know too well – and forms strategic trade alliances with South Africa and India. The Chinese and Indians attempt to rationalize the mutual strengths of their exploding economies. Russia interlocks with the Chinese engine, and begins to de-couple itself from the dollar, which now costs much more than it is worth, in favor of the euro, according to no less conservative a source than the Financial Times of London.
It is in such an evolving world that a free Haiti will emerge – and an independent Iraq.
Unfit for empire
The Iraqi election – won by the Shi’ite clerical establishment, not by the Americans, who never wanted it to happen – is now framed as some kind of U.S. triumph. In reality, it was an event imposed on the U.S. by the Shia majority, in return for not joining the armed resistance. In this context, the election was a U.S. defeat, and more defeats are in store when a constitution is drawn up that bears no resemblance to the laws promulgated by the initial U.S.-picked Provisional Government. Condoleezza Rice and other Washington mouthpieces, sprinting desperately to get ahead of the curve of events, have adapted their language to the new relationship of forces in Iraq. The formula is to hold stage-managed elections, conducted against a backdrop of naked force and assassination, in which genuine nationalist forces are marginalized or liquidated. British-Pakistani writer Tariq Ali says it well:
”The aim is slowly to replace the traditional elites in the old satrapies with a new breed of neo-liberal politicians who have been trained and educated in the US. This is the primary function of the US money allocated to "democracy promotion." Loyalty can be purchased from politicians, parties and trades unions. And the result, it is hoped, is to create a new layer of janissary politicians who serve Washington.”
That’s the idea, anyway. But it is doomed in Iraq, and in Haiti, as well. In both countries, the mass political cultures are repulsed by the alternately fawning and grasping behavior of the tiny comprador classes, who cannot provide the Americans with a social base strong enough to govern in Washington’s behalf – and are, in fact, not even interested in real governance. The vital sectors are nationalist, whether on the Right, as is largely the case in Iraq, or on the Left, as in Haiti.
The great coup that the Bush men have pulled on themselves, is to alienate the whole of mankind. This feat of incompetence is inseparable from the heritage of Indian extermination and slavery, a history that yielded unprecedented riches to the white settlers and thrust them onto the world stage – armed with nothing but guns and a depraved indifference to anyone but themselves. Lacking any understanding of societies – including their own – they make enemies wherever they tread. The very process of opposing the Americans uplifts and transforms those whom the U.S. seeks to rule.
Haiti has had a very rough 200 years of independence. Yet the liberation struggle led by Jean-Bertrand Aristide, essentially a battle against compradors of the United States, has steeled a generation or two of Haitians, many of whom were represented at the Kongre Bwa Kayiman at Trinity College, in Washington. “They took a lot of risk in coming,” said principal conference organizer Eugenia Charles-Mathurin.
“The most important thing is their determination to see change,” said Ms. Charles-Mathurin. “They take the chance, because who else is going to do it? We still have the same approach as we did in 1804” when Haiti declared its independence. “The slave had to take chances to meet. It was a risk to attend the first Kongre Bwa Kayiman (Congress of Crocodile Woods) in 1791.” But 13 years later, Haiti had defeated the French, British and Spanish to achieve republican nationhood and an end to slavery.
It is a risk to rush into a brand new world. But that world appears, nevertheless. The crocodiles are bigger, but just as stupid.