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Join Lavalas: "No ‘Death Plan’! Return Aristide!" - Represent Our Resistance - By Dr. Lenore J. Daniels, PhD - BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board

 
 
[I] can’t forget what has been done by the U.S. military and other foreign military who (sic) kidnapped me on the 28th of February.
-Jean Bertrand Aristide

The U.S. government is rarely “at home” in the world. Historically, its presence in what becomes known as the Americas has required a subdued pre-exiting indigenous population. A military has always aided in this effort. Blood must fertilize the soil. In the end, the “antagonists,” as the story is told by the U.S., ultimately recognize the homeland, a place where the free market flows, U.S. and Western corporations rule, and, the inhabitants, some donning uniforms and guns keep the natives at bay while other inhabitants serve at the hotels, resorts, restaurants, and factories. End of story. Mission Accomplished!

Sometimes this procuring of home sticks; sometimes, however, “antagonists” are not convinced and recognize that they have been mis-labeled and rise up to initiate a narrative of liberation from the true “antagonists.”

No narrative of any kind is permitted to depict the U.S. as “antagonists.”

Eight days after an earthquake struck Haiti on January 12, 2010, the U.S. returned to the land that has been difficult to procure as homeland. The natives have refused to see themselves as “antagonists” and have dared to give up their homeland to the U.S.

So the earthquake hit Haiti, and while Cuba, China, Venezuela, Mexico, France, Greece and other nations flew aid immediately to Haiti, the war strategists and corporate heads thought: opportunity! Pull the troops on their way to or from Iraq or Afghanistan or Pakistan or Yemen. Turn them in the direction of Haiti.

Over 230,000 dead and over 3 million in Haiti are still without housing, food and water, but the U.S. Marines are prowling around Haiti. They’re standing at the ready with guns and killing machines. What does an army do among hungry, starving, seriously injured people and people worried about the coming rains, infection and cholera? While the corporate media has done its part and pulled its troops of celebrity journalists and their cameras out of Haiti, people in the U.S. and around the world still remember Haiti and the earthquake.

The U.S. troops seem out of place - for now.

The number of Marines is still growing, according to independent journalist and filmmaker, Kevin Pina, reporting from Haiti for Flashpoints: Investigative News Magazine. On February 9, 2010, I had to call Pina to confirm his report about a press conference held on Sunday, February 7, 2010 in front of a monument celebrating the Haitian Constitution at Constitution Plaza in Cite Soleil because it appeared, days later, nowhere in print. The press conference and subsequent demonstration was called by Fenmi Lavalas, the democratically-elected president Jean Bertrand Aristide’s party, the People’s party, the largest political party in Haiti. Until today, Wednesday, February 10, 2010, with the publication of one or two articles, no one else had reported this story, except for Pina.

I don’t expect Anderson Cooper and his CNN crew to rush to Cite Soleil and stand breathless, taking in the words of Lavalas leaders, and watching the people, who know they are not “antagonist,” demand the return of Aristide. But I had expected the alternative and the Left press, supposedly committed to the struggles against anti-imperialism, in the U.S., to keep its eyes on those 20,000 U.S. troops controlling the airport and the port, determining when and what relief will leave the airport. This alone should alarm the Left.

Its meaning hasn’t escaped the Haitians. Since the coup in 2004 that removed Aristide, the UN troops have had a different relationship with the Haitian poor and working class, leaders and supporters of Aristide’s Lavalas Party. The UN provided a police state that terrorized and slaughtered those leaders and supporters of Lavalas. Now, the UN and U.S. troops are asked to provide relief!

Ashley Smith, writing in the Socialist Worker, recalls the 1970s and 1960s when the U.S., hiding behind dictator Baby Doc Duvalier, imposed the IMF’s “a structural adjustment program.” Haitians called it “the plan of death.”

Duvalier opened up the Haitian economy to heavily subsidized U.S. agricultural exports, especially rice, which undermined the ability of Haitian peasants to compete on the market. Dislocated peasants flooded into Port-au-Prince, swelling the population from 760,000 in the early 1980s to close to 3 million before the earthquake (“The ‘Shock Doctrine’ for Haiti”).

The U.S. death plan created 80, 000 sweatshop jobs, not enough, Smith continues for “hundreds of thousands” who were “reduced to desperate poverty in the sprawling shantytowns.”

But this is Haiti, the home of people very much at home with their land and their history. Haitians fought back. Out of poverty came the Lavalas movement, and it was Baby Doc who was flown out of Haiti. In 1990, Aristide became the first democratically-elected president who, writes Smith, “won two-thirds of the vote on a program to reverse the plan of death.”

Haitians were at home in the world. They had arrived again as they had in 1804 when they staged the first Black revolution and freed themselves from the French, English, and Spanish, and again in 1934 at the end of U.S. occupation of Haiti. (In 1915, under President Wilson, the U.S. Marines entered Port-au-Prince and the U.S. commenced a brutal 19-year occupation of the Haitian homeland).

But for the U.S. government, Haiti can never be forgiven not only for its revolution against the U.S. and Europe: Haitians made it very difficult for the U.S. to feel comfortable and thrive in Haiti and on the backs of the Haitian poor and working class. Haitians didn’t stand still to wait and see what the saviors to the North will do on and with their land and people.

U.S. war strategists never sleep.

First the Clinton and then the Bush Jr. administrations staged coups to remove Aristide (finally in 2004) with Clinton restoring Aristide and, as Smith writes, demanding a “stop [to] even modest” changes to the plan of death. Aristide, recognizing the “antagonists” in this attempt to secure the Haitian homeland, just couldn’t do as the current President Rene Preval [1] has - oversee, writes Smith, “the reimplementation of the American neoliberal plan.”

Aristide! Aristide! Aristide!
“President Preval, the people are suffering. The people cannot find water. The people are sleeping in the streets…
“Today, we see clearly. The corruption of the aid victimizes a population who find nothing to help them.
“President Preval, we elected you to return Aristide.

“Today, the moment has come to fulfill that promise so that Aristide can return to participate in reconstruction” (Long memory Productions).

The leaders of Lavalas ask: “if Obama can do it, then why can’t Preval?” That is, why can’t Preval stand side by side with Aristide - in Haiti if the U.S. president is able to call on the bipartisan assistance of Clinton and Bush?

While I suspect that this display of bipartisanship represents a re-grouping of three U.S. presidents on behalf of U.S. interests in Haiti, I also think this press conference was staged to call Preval out, to reveal his complicity with the U.S. and Western powers. Demonstrations followed the press conference. People denounced Preval and called for Aristide.

Thirty U.S. Marines appeared at the press conference, however. The soldiers ended up standing around not sure what to do, according to Pina. But I can picture these Marines, ready to defend U.S. interests - in Haiti, among the rubble, dead, dying, starving and those with strength enough to organize to shelter and to feed others. “They’re here as a deterrent,” Pina said on Flashpoints. “They have orders to shoot to kill.”

We have heard these words before, here in cities throughout the U.S., wherever people rose up to denounce war and anti-imperialism and racism.

“Amid this catastrophe, imperial powers and corporate vultures are circling, eyeing the profits to be made from reconstruction,” writes Smith. Here’s where you’d think the Left activists and anti-imperialists fighters in the U.S. would step up and stand with the Haitian people. But no.

Instead, the “corporate vultures” have given the microphone to those aligned with the agenda of American Empire.

Ashley Smith’s article documents these voices speaking on behalf of imperialism. In The Street (an investment website) appears an article titled, “An Opportunity to Heal Haiti” in which the author, Scott Rothbort, cheers the corporations who will benefit from the reconstruction efforts in Haiti. Three cheers for “General Electric, Caterpillar, Deere, Fluor, Jacobs Engineering” and others, including Johnson & Johnson and Emerson Electric who will reconstruct the neoliberal plan in that “economically backward country…subject to a high degree of corruption and a history of dictatorial leaders” (“An Opportunity to Heal Haiti”).

Yippee for U.S. capitalism!

James Dobbins, Smith continues, a former U.S. special envoy to Haiti under Bill Clinton, sees Haiti remade “along free market lines” while Nicholas Kristoff, New York Times columnist, seems to proposes a softer, gentler coup for Haiti. Yes, it’s humanitarian:

[T]he best strategy for Haiti: building garment factories. The idea (sweatshops!) may sound horrific to Americans. But it’s a strategy that has worked for other countries, such as Bangladesh, and Haitians in the slums would tell you that their most fervent wish is for jobs. A few dozen major shirt factories could be transformational for Haiti.

Garment factories! Leave it to Kristoff to think about the little people of Haiti and, in the process, try and appear less offensive than General Electric or Caterpillar! A good liberal!

This arraignment of people serving as garment workers benefits the same people who benefited from their enslavement and the enslavement of all Africans in the Americas and the genocide of the indigenous Indian population. Garment factories! How’s that working for the majority people of the world right now? As Smith points out, Hillary Clinton “convinced Préval to declare emergency powers, which have been largely delegated to the U.S.” So excited by the opportunity to finally cash in and grab Haiti, once and for all, Clinton (like her husband) is shouting for all to hear: “We have a plan. It was a legitimate plan, it was done in conjunction with other international donors, with the United Nations.” (Donors? Bill Clinton’s donors!).

The author of the plan is Oxford University professor Paul Collier. Collier wrote The Bottom Billion, a book widely read in development circles. In it, he advocates a neocolonial strategy for crisis-torn societies. He argues that to be effective, great powers and international bodies like the UN must intervene militarily and occupy failed states. After setting up shop, they then can impose development plans to reconstruct their economies.

A “useful idiot for imperialism” (“Jean Bricmont’s apt phrase”) Smith declares that Collier provides “intellectual justification for conquest and exploitation.”

Collier sees a way to make Haiti a comfortable homeland. With its poverty and “relatively unregulated labor market,” Collier claims, Haiti’s labor could compete with China. “Haitian labor is not only cheap, it is of good quality. Indeed, because the garments industry used to be much larger than it is currently, there is a substantial pool of experienced labor” (Smith).

Collier is also a friend of Bill. Together, the two, Smith adds, call for - surprise, surprise - investment in the tourist industry, re-development of the sweatshop industry in cities, export-oriented mango plantations in the countryside and construction of infrastructure to service this development. Each of these projects serves the interests of multinational corporations and the Haitian elite at the expense of the workers and peasants.

The new homeland of Haiti will look like every other land, including the U.S., where capitalism runs amok, creating more homeless and working poor and U.S. government bailouts and multimillion dollar bonuses for the corporate CEOs.

As Ezili Danto writes, “The US must STOP blocking Haitian relief: 80% of Haiti’s population lives OUTSIDE of Port au Prince: Haiti is not the Republic of Port au Prince where the internationals congregate,” the Haitians have a plan, too.

The Haitians have a plan for their homeland. Danto asks:

Where is the acknowlegement (sic) that the democratically elected president of Haiti along with Haitians, from all the professionals, already HAVE put together a plan for a private/public partnership to REBUILD Haiti, back when Haiti was free and that said information is outlined, as well as, what Haiti’s resources are to finance this rebuilding, in a book called “Investing In People: Lavalas White Book under the direction of Jean-Bertrand Aristide” (Investir Dans L’Humain).

But a day after Lavalas holds a press conference and the people demonstrate calling for Aristide, Bill Clinton arrives in Haiti.

He’s feeling a little more comfortable now as he declares to the cameras: he will get to the bottom of this “bottleneck” and solve the problem! Who doesn’t believe that “bottleneck” is the cure to eliminating Haitians not immediately killed by the earthquake?

Want to solve that “bottleneck,” Clinton, play back that Lavalas press conference! Leave the Haitians alone!

The Left must take a political stand with Lavalas and the people of Haiti against imperialism and its virile brand of racism before the cameras leave and the U.S. troops receive their orders to commence enforcing homeland security tactics in Haiti. By then, reports from Haiti will tell of the violence of “antagonists” and killings, necessary and just, killings of Lavalas leaders and supporters by the “protagonists” who were just trying to help these poor people. Don’t wait until that narrative plants you in front of your televisions to listen to the corporate PR, courtesy of the American Empire.

Aristide! Aristide! Aristide!

See:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eWqgOe0-0xA

Haiti and The ‘Devil’s Curse’ - The Truth About Haiti & Lies Of The Media PART 1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9Qki6TrI7M&feature=related

PART 2

Contact:

Hayti.net - Site Officel de Organization Politique Fanmi Lavalas

Haitiaction.net - Haiti Action Committee

Haitisolidarity.net - Haiti Solidarity Action Committee

Lakounewyork.com - Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees



[1] Kevin Pina reports that Preval has supplied his mayors with food aid. The mayors, in turn, have put the food up for sale (Flashpoints).

BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board member, Lenore Jean Daniels, PhD, has been a writer for over thirty years of commentary, resistance criticism and cultural theory, and short stories with a Marxist sensibility to the impact of cultural narrative violence and its antithesis, resistance narratives. With entrenched dedication to justice and equality, she has served as a coordinator of student and community resistance projects that encourage the Black Feminist idea of an equalitarian community and facilitator of student-teacher communities behind the walls of academia for the last twenty years. Dr. Daniels holds a PhD in Modern American Literatures, with a specialty in Cultural Theory (race, gender, class narratives) from Loyola University, Chicago. Click here to contact Dr. Daniels.

 
 

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February 18, 2010

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