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Haiti Liberté solidarity statement to the PSL

Haiti Liberté

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In the last decade, U.S. imperialism has become more clever. In the years leading up to 2008, the “Democratic” wing of the U.S. ruling class nurtured, from the political nursery which is Harvard Law School, a Black man to become the U.S. president. In this way, the U.S. bourgeoisie tricked the U.S. population, particularly oppressed people, into thinking that they had a friend in the White House, a man who would oppose exploitation, oppression, and injustice.

In Haiti, we are familiar with this tactic. We call it the politics of “doublure,” meaning hiding one thing behind another. Today, it has become clear to everyone that Obama is as zealous and deadly a champion of U.S. imperialism as his predecessor, George W. Bush, ever was, and certainly more articulate and effective.

The PSL’s clear-eyed analysis, especially when many were mistaking their hopes for reality, is exactly what the U.S. working class needs, and that is why we at Haiti Liberté are glad that the PSL came into being and proud to call PSL militants our comrades. We in the Haitian struggle face many challenges and obstacles, but the PSL has always been quick and competent in offering solidarity and advice. Their revolutionary professionalism and internationalism are refreshing and indispensable.

On this 10th anniversary of PSL’s historic founding, we at Haiti Liberté salute all the PSL comrades and look forward to years of collaboration and revolutionary victories ahead.

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The US Keeps Trying, and Failing, to Deport a Former CIA Operative Back to Haiti

Emmanuel Constant Feature Photo
Feature photo | Emmanuel Constant, right, sits with his attorney Marie Pereira during a hearing at State Supreme Court in Brooklyn, N.Y. Jesse Ward | AP

Emmanuel “Toto” Constant was supposed to board an ICE deportation flight along with 100 other Haitian nationals in what is the third such flight the Trump administration has carried out to Haiti in the last several weeks.

by Raul Diego

Emmanuel “Toto” Constant exercised his insurance clause as soon as he was apprehended in the Spring of 1995 in New York by the extant Immigration and Naturalisation Service (INS), now a part of the Department of Homeland Security. The infamous leader of Haiti’s Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haiti (FRAPH) had to flee his home country after his CIA-backed militia massacred supporters of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in the Raboteau massacre.

Today, Constant was supposed to board an ICE deportation flight along with 100 other Haitian nationals in what is the third such flight the Trump administration has carried out to Haiti in the last several weeks. The Haitian government has called for a moratorium on deportations in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic after three passengers on an earlier flight tested positive for the virus.

The fact that Emmanuel Constant, who is currently serving time in a New York State prison for a 2008 conviction of mortgage fraud and grand larceny, was scheduled to be on Monday’s flight caused unfavorable reactions in some quarters. The Miami Herald carried a quote from Michigan Democrat, Andy Levin, denouncing the deportation: “The idea that the U.S. would deport Toto Constant back to Haiti under these circumstances is terrifying”, asserted Levin adding that Constant’s status as a war criminal in Haiti coupled with that nation’s corrupt court system represented “a huge problem in itself.”

Toto cashes his insurance policy

What’s clear from the notorious death squad leader’s history with the U.S. and its own court system is that many influential people in several of our alphabet agencies do not want Constant on trial in any courtroom.

The first time Constant’s ties to U.S. intelligence became a problem was the result of a lawsuit brought by New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) in the mid-nineties on behalf of a gang rape victim by Constant’s FRAPH forces. When CCR’s counsel subpoenaed documents relating to the FRAPH in possession of the CIA and DIA – both of which Constant had implicated after his first arrest –  the intel agencies admitted to being in possession of a single document, but reserved their right to withhold it from the proceedings on the grounds that it was “privileged.”

Emmanuel Constant

People protest outside of the New York home of Emmanuel ‘Toto” Constant, Aug. 9, 1997. Emile Wamsteker | AP

Eventually, the Department of Defense would cop to having possession of 60,000 pages regarding the creation of FRAPH, which nevertheless remain hidden in their vaults. Constant’s early revelations, such as his direct contact with Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) handlers and claims of U.S. encouragement to form the anti-Aristide mercenary brigade, bought him an early reprieve from his first close call with deportation.

ICE melts in Fire

Constant is being held at the ICE federal detention facility in Buffalo, NY, where he has been awaiting deportation after being released early from a 37-year sentence related to his fraud convictions in 2008. Some, including the National Network for Human Rights (RNDDH) and 15 Democratic Senators have raised concerns over the ongoing deportation flights. Rosy Auguste, from RNDDH, underlined the danger faced by the “large number” ICE deportees “who have never faced a judge and have been held indefinitely while facing only minor charges” going back to a country undergoing a “crisis of impunity”.

Beyond the controversy surrounding ICE’s very existence and its methods, the situation on the ground in Haiti at present is deteriorating quickly as the country’s fragile economic reality meets the global coronavirus shutdowns and the sinister free-market incentives that keep scarce healthcare supplies from reaching Haiti. While COVID-19 has pushed their hospitals to capacity and thousands try their luck across the border in the Dominican Republic, Haitian Prime Minister Joseph Jouthe revealed during a radio interview last Tuesday that supplies are being held up by air cargo companies serving the highest bidders.

Emmanuel Constant

Jouthe also exposed U.S. duplicity when he disclosed that American officials had assured him detainees on the ICE deportation flights had all been tested prior to boarding. Had the Haitian government accepted the information at face value, Haiti would have a much more serious outbreak on its hands.

As Haiti demands that ICE deportation flights be halted, the attempted deportation of Constant at this particular moment raises many questions. DHS tried to deport him once before in 2008 when it tried to keep Constant out of the courtroom and requested the federal judge on his case sentence the Haitian fugitive to time served. But, the judge balked and ordered the son of a Duvalier commander to stand trial for mortgage fraud.

Opaque intentions

Toto Constant modeled the FRAPH on the “Tonton Macoutes” paramilitary units that terrorized Haiti during the Francois Duvalier dictatorship. He asserts that the idea came directly from a DIA attache, and Constant’s first handler, Col. Patrick Collins, to do “intelligence” work in Haiti against pro-Aristide groups.

Constant’s relationship to the U.S. intelligence community was known in Haiti from the very beginning and was convicted by Haitian courts in absentia after the U.S. refused to extradite him when Haiti issued a warrant for his arrest.

Given that elements within Haiti’s present-day government still have ties to the same interests that backed Constant’s FRAPH and have managed to release other FRAPH mercenaries convicted for their roles in the massacre, as well as the persistent and deleterious presence of U.S. deep state entities in the country, the real motive behind Constant’s deportation remains elusive.

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From Monroe to Trump. US Sponsored Military Coups in Latin America

By Global Research New

Video: Syrian Armed Forces Teach ‘2nd Strongest NATO Army’ Painful Lesson in Idlib

By South Front,

Units of the Russian Military Police entered the town of Saraqib in eastern Idlib following the second liberation of the town from al-Qaeda terrorists and Turkish forces. According to the Russian military, the deployment took place at 5:00pm local time on March 2 and was intended to provide security and allow traffic through the M4 and M5 highways. In fact, the Russians came to put an end to Turkish attempts to capture the town and cut off the M5 highway in this area.

From Monroe to Trump. US Sponsored Military Coups in Latin America

By Elson Concepción Pérez,

The latest threat to Venezuela of a possible military intervention, the recent coup in Bolivia under the auspices of the Organization of American States (OAS), the tightening of the blockade of Cuba, destabilization in Nicaragua, and open interference in the internal affairs of countries in the region, where democratic governments have set the standards for development and sovereignty, do not come as a surprise.

The US-Taliban ‘Peace Deal’? Imperial State Criminality and Terrorism, Dr. Aafia Siddiqui and “Restorative Justice”

By Junaid S. Ahmad,

The US/NATO war and occupation of Afghanistan offers a glaring case of what US Senator Fulbright (yes, the one who started the Fulbright program of scholarships and exchanges) called the ‘arrogance of power’ (of his country), his book being of the same title. The wealthiest and most powerful nation in the history of the world, with a war machine on steroids, invading and occupying for nearly two decades one of the poorest countries on the planet – and one which had already undergone two decades of uninterrupted internecine war in the prior two decades.

Keep It Simple and Question: Propaganda, Technology, and Coronavirus COVID-19

By Edward Curtin,

Two of the major problems the world faces – world destruction with nuclear weapons and the poisoning of the earth’s ecology and atmosphere – are the result of the marriage of science and technique that has given birth to the technological “babies” (Little Boy and Fat Man) that were used by the U.S. to massacre hundreds of thousands of Japanese and now threaten to incinerate everyone, and the chemical and toxic inventions that have despoiled the earth, air, and water and continue to kill people worldwide through America’s endless war-making and industrial applications.

Turkey in Syria: Down a Blind Alley in an Unwinnable War?

By Tony Cartalucci,

Turkey had been making some promising steps in the right direction since Washington’s disastrous proxy regime-change war in Syria began unraveling – yet it still maintains a problematic position inside Syrian territory, backing what are unequivocally terrorists and obstructing Syria’s sovereign right to recover and restore order within its own borders.

The latest and most dangerous manifestation of this untenable policy is the increasingly frequent and fierce clashes between Turkish forces occupying Syrian territory and Syrian forces themselves moving deeper into the northern Syrian governorate of Idlib.

Neoliberal Globalization Is Pushing Humanity “Towards the Edge”

By Shane Quinn,

There have been a number of harmful consequences as a result of the neoliberal era, which emerged in the late 1970s, taking off during the tenures of Ronald Reagan (US president, 1981-1989) and Margaret Thatcher (British prime minister, 1979-1990). There has been an explosion of private power, splintering of societies, destabilization of the financial system, and so on.

Neoliberal globalization has been an important factor too in political parties shifting further to the right, and succumbing to the power of increasingly dominant multinational corporations. This is most notable in America where the Republican Party (or organization) has moved so far off the spectrum that traditional republicans from previous decades would hardly recognize it today.

Why Are Stocks Crashing?

By Mike Whitney,

Uncertainty. It’s impossible for investors to gauge the economic impact of the rapidly-spreading coronavirus or its effect on stock prices. Investors buy stocks with the expectation that their investment will grow over time. In periods of crisis, when the environment becomes unfamiliar and opaque, expectations are crushed under the weigh of uncertainty. When expectations dampen, investors sell.

Posted in USA, Brazil, CUBA, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Peru, Puerto Rico, South America, VenezuelaComments Off on From Monroe to Trump. US Sponsored Military Coups in Latin America

Where is the Reporting on PetroCaribe?

by MARK SCHULLER

Photograph Source: Colin Crowley – CC BY 2.0

January 12 marks ten years since Haiti’s deadly earthquake. Usually, Haiti appears in international news when there’s a scandal, a disaster, violence. There was a flurry of coverage in October when daily protests, begun with a nine-week general strike – in Haitian Creole, peyi lòk – met with government repression, including the death of three journalists. The mobilization has been ongoing since July 2018, leading to a partial report naming high-ranking government officials of mismanagement of PetroCaribe funds published at the end of May 2019.

Most articles are without context, many led by images of burning tires that, to foreign capitalist press, represents violence. The first independent Black nation, Haiti has always suffered under white supremacist and racist ideology. Other mobilizations such as Yellow Vests in France can engage the same tactic, but in the minds of imperialist countries’ media and leaders, white activists are “mobilizing” while Black ones “commit violence.”

Suddenly, after a few individual stories, Haiti disappeared again from the international press. It’s almost as if Haiti is no longer here. But the ghost of “violence” still haunts people who saw or heard the news.

But Haiti is here. And it will be here. And Haitian people are still pushing back against the State that serves the interests of dominant classes and imperialist countries, the “Core Group.”[1]

People are not only marching in the streets, they are also thinking, analyzing, denouncing, posing solutions, dreaming of another Haiti, another relationship with the world system. We write this series of articles to amplify the voices of people who are analyzing the current situation and are trying to find the path to another Haiti. In this series of articles, we try to diversify people’s voices, analyses, realities, and demands.

This short introductory test begins to situate where the PetroCaribe mobilization originated. Consult the article that the Kolektif Anakawona wrote for more details.

PetroChallengers represent several segments of society, including youth and Diaspora actors. Middle-class residents of Delmas, a suburb of Port-au-Prince, or the Diaspora became involved. However, the movement is a people’s struggle. The movement is not without its contradictions, with politicians positioning themselves as “leaders.” Some are named in the PetroCaribe scandal. Some of the wealthiest bourgeois in the country attempt to weaponize this momentum.

The meeting that concluded on June 19 with some Organization of American States (OAS) representatives highlighted that the dominant countries in the region, certainly the U.S., still support President Jovenel Moïse for the moment. Moïse was elected during a round of elections canceled because of corruption spanning 2015-17. OAS and Core Group rushed to accept the election results. In the second round, with a 21% voter turnout, Moïse was finally elected.

Moïse is the heir apparent to President Michel Martelly, who came to power in 2011 with the strong hand of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, when her husband former U.S. President Bill Clinton was at the same time UN Special Envoy, President of the Clinton Foundation, and co-President of the Interim Haiti Reconstruction Commission (IHRC). Martelly, who was elected with a single Deputy (equivalent to U.S. Representative) from his party Parti Haitien Tèt Kale (Haitian Party of Baldheads, PHTK), consolidated his power thanks to the Clintons’ intervention. Martelly managed the large flows of money for Haiti reconstruction and humanitarian aid, under the control of the IHRC for a while and the UN mission, MINUSTAH.

This context is important to remember. Without this context, the PetroCaribe scandal plays into the hands of Trump, who called the country that did away with slavery a “shithole.” Most foreign capitalist media speak about “corruption in Haiti” as a product of the Haitian state and people on their own, wherein Haiti can’t manage or govern. It’s the same racist discourse Haiti has faced for a long time, which justified a “humanitarian occupation” or the “Republic of NGOs.”

Secondly, most of the $4.2 billion in PetroCaribe funds was done under the control of the Clintons, the “King and Queen of Haiti.” The Clintons’ disaster capitalism in Haiti played a role in Trump’s election in Florida.[2]

Finally, Washington is attempting a coup d’état in Venezuela to replace President Nicolas Maduro with Juan Guaidó, close to right-wing networks. President Hugo Chavez created PetroCaribe in 2005. It is a project of solidarity between peoples, another alternative for development. Haiti received PetroCaribe funds in 2008, after 4 hurricanes had stricken. Haiti had tried to maintain the delicate balance of friendly relations with the U.S. and its allies on the one hand, Venezuela and its allies on the other.

The PetroCaribe scandal underscores not only the contradictions of the neocolonial PHTK state but the hypocrisy of U.S. foreign policy. At the same time that the U.S. is calling to respect Haiti’s presidential elections it is pushing the reverse in Venezuela. The two countries’ destinies are intertwined. Since 2017, the U.S. imposed an embargo on Venezuela, freezing assets. Consequently, PetroCaribe’s gas subsidies had to stop. Two serious impacts of the embargo were the rise in gas prices and the collapse of the value of Haiti’s currency, the gourde: on January 11, 2018, it was less than 65 gourdes to the dollar, but today it is more than 93.

Faced with U.S. maneuvering in Venezuela, President Jovenel Moïse was forced to pick a side. No surprise, the former director of Agritrans, who received funding from the U.S., chose to cut Haiti’s historic ties with Venezuela[3] in the OAS meeting on January 2019. June 27, right after the last OAS meeting, President Moïse gave a final gift to the Core Group, authorizing a new UN mission. A previous mission, MINUSTAH, lasted over 13 years and was responsible for bringing cholera and a wave of unpunished sexual assaults.

But in this game, President Moïse forgot the Haitian people. On July 6 of last year, during the Brazil match in the World Cup, he applied the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) policy to increase gas prices. The people barricaded the streets all over the country. Haiti was locked down for the following two days, which shocked and scared the bourgeoisie and imperialist powers.

But the people weren’t done speaking. In a campaign on Twitter, August 2018, a challenge was launched: “where is the money from PetroCaribe”? Kòt kòb PetwoKaribe a?

And every symbolic date, like October 17, the assassination of country founder Dessalines; November 18, the last battle in Haitian independence; February 7, when the people uprooted the Duvalier dictatorship, the mobilization got stronger.

Without this mobilization in the streets, the Superior Appeals Court wouldn’t have published these reports.

Where did the mobilization come from and in what context? We will get to this question shortly…

Like Marx wrote in the 18th Brumaire, people can make history but within historical conditions they cannot create.

Note: most links are to articles written in Haiti, which can be accessed via Google Translate, etc.

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Washington’s Consensus on Neofascist Coups in Latin America

by; PAUL STREET

A clash between pro-Zelaya protesters and the Honduran military. Photograph Source: Roberto Breve – CC BY-SA 2.0

However much they war on the domestic political front, Washington’s Democrats and Republicans are on the same page when it comes to the imperial war on democracy and social justice in Latin America.

No Partisan Warfare on Honduras (2009)

In 2009 and 2010 Republicans were in a partisan tizzy over everything Barack Obama and Democratic Party, from health insurance reform to economic stimulus, bank bailouts, auto bailouts, and climate policy. The “Tea Party” rebellion arose, replete with a heavy dose of white herrenvolk racism.

But the Teapublicans offered no complaint when Obama’s Secretary of State Hilary Clinton aided and abetted a right-wing business and military coup that overthrew Honduras’ democratically elected left-populist president Manuel Zelaya in the spring of 2009.  Washington’s two major parties were united in opposition to Zelaya’s alignment of Honduras with Venezuela, Brazil and Bolivia in attacking poverty and inequality and redirecting Latin American regional development away from U.S. control [1]. Democrats and Republicans agreed that the independent and egalitarian Latin American trend needed to be checked.

The Honduran coup and the Obama administration’s critical role in supporting it was just peachy keen as the GOP was concerned. Never mind that the regime-change in Honduras produced bloody repression and increased misery in that desperately poor country.

No Impeachment for Backing a Venezuelan Coup Attempt (January 2019)

Flash forward ten years.  The Obama-backed right-wing coup in Honduras helped fuel Central American migrant streams that the demented fascist oligarch Donald Trump railed against during his successful and Nativist presidential campaign. “Donito Assolini” has been mired in partisan turmoil since the beginning of his cancerous, white-nationalist presidency. The two major parties and their constituents disagree sharply over whether the tiny-fingered, tangerine-tinted, Twitter-tantruming tyrant Trump should be impeached and removed for trying to trade arms to Ukraine in exchange for political dirt on the ludicrous right-wing Democratic-presidential clown-car candidate Joe Biden. Washington and the U.S. electorate are torn by fanatical partisan polarization. Nine in ten Democrats think Trump committed an impeachable offense regarding Ukraine but just 18.5% of Republicans, less than one in five, agree.

Impeachment is nearly certain [2] in the U.S. House of Representatives since the House is controlled by Democrats.  Removal is unlikely in the U.S. Senate because the upper chamber of Congress is run by Republicans, who will argue that Trump’s abuse of power does not rise to the level required for defenestration. The neofascistic “heartland” Trumpenvolk is ready to respond to removal and perhaps even to impeachment with armed attacks, encouraged by a malignantly narcissistic and authoritarian president who has “warned” of (threatened to spark) “Civil War….If the Democrats are successful in removing the President from office.”

Trump’s well-documented and ham-fisted attempt to bribe and extort political assistance from Ukraine is worthy of impeachment and removal.  But by focusing narrowly on Biden-Burisma-Gate, the Democrats are essentially exonerating Trump on numerous other graver, impeachment- and removal-worthy offenses including the separation of migrant children from their parents at the southern U.S. border, the detention of tens of thousands of migrant children and families in for profit concentration camps, the instruction for the U.S. Border Patrol to violate the law, the breach of international asylum law, the declaration of a fake national emergency to criminally divert taxpayer funds to the building of a widely hated Nativist Wall, the acceleration of Ecocide (the biggest issue of our or any time), and – of special relevance to this essay and current events in Bolivia (see below) – the eager support Trump granted an attempted right-wing coup to overthrow the democratically elected left-populist (Chavista-socialist) Maduro government in Venezuela last Winter.  Regarding the last transgression, here is a thoroughly reasonable Article of Impeachment, one of many drafted by the activist group Roots Action:

“In his conduct while President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of President of the United States …On the evening of January 22, 2019, following years of damaging U.S. sanctions against Venezuela, which followed an unsuccessful 2002 U.S.-supported coup attempt, Vice President Pence called Juan Guaidó and told him that the United States would support him if he were to seize power in Venezuela. The next day, January 23, Guaidó attempted to do so. That same day, President Trump issued a statement recognizing Guaidó as the President of Venezuela, despite the fact that Venezuela had an elected president and that Guaidó had no legitimate claim to the presidency. On January 24, 2019, the Trump-Pence administration attempted unsuccessfully to persuade the Organization of American States to recognize Guaidó as president…In the above and related actions and decisions, President Donald J. Trump and Vice President Michael Richard Pence…are guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office.”

Sadly, it is unthinkable that the Democratic Party establishment would give a second thought to impeaching Trump for his support of a criminal right-wing putsch in Venezuela.  That’s because top Democrats are on board with Republicans in believing that independent and socialist-leaning governments representing the interests of poor and working-class Latin Americans need to make way for regimes more compliant to the commands of Washington and Western financial institutions and corporations.

Bolivia Right Now: “We Can’t Botch This Like We Did Venezuela”

Few Democrats beyond a handful of progressive outliers like Bernie Sanders have had the basic human and democratic decency to denounce the vicious racist and neofascist coup that removed Bolivia’s democratically elected socialist and Indigenous president Evo Morales from power eleven days ago. Anyone with Internet access can see graphic footage of a massacre in which peaceful Indigenous protesters in Cochabamba were murdered by snipers in military helicopters defending a “transitional government” headed by an evangelical neofascist who has tweeted the following: “I dream of a Bolivia free of indigenous satanic rituals, the city is not for the Indians send them to the high plains or to the Chaco!”

True to his own racist, neofascistic, and oligarchic colors, Trump grotesquely hailed the gruesome Bolivian coup for bringing the world “one step closer to a completely free, prosperous, and democratic Western hemisphere.”

Where have the Ukraine-Russia- and impeachment-obsessed Democrats been on the Trump-backed fascist-racist Bolivian coup? Missing in action, for the most part, beyond the progressive margins occupied by Sanders et al. “Since Morales’ forced resignation,” the left commentator Jacob Sugerman notes, “the response of leading Democrats and presidential hopefuls has been one of almost total silence, even among the party’s putative progressives. Liberal Rep. Chris Murphy (D-CT) chillingly tweeted that “the U.S. needs to support a civilian-led transition of power at a perilous moment. We can’t botch this like we did Venezuela.’’ A hideous statement given the fact that the United States recently backed yet another failed right-wing coup in Venezuela, as it did in 2002!

“The Western Media Can Barely Conceal Their Adulation”

The “liberal media” hasn’t been much better. “For all the supposed threat Trump represents and the enthusiasm sparked by his possible impeachment,” Fairness and Accuracy in Media (FAIR) reports. “Western media continue to march lockstep behind his administration’s coups in Latin America. Bolivia has a new US-backed puppet leader,” FAIR notes after surveying the “liberal” U.S. and European press, “and the Western media can hardly conceal their adulation” (emphasis added). The New York Times, the Guardian, and other leading Western papers portray to the coup regime as merely “conservative,” downplaying its fascist essence and the horrific violence it is employing while purveying the coup regime’s false claim that Morales corruptly stole his re-election last October 25th.

While the major television networks have kept millions of U.S. eyeballs glued to the House Democrats’ often compelling Biden-Burisma impeachment drama (“Insane in the Ukraine”), a U.S.- backed fascist coup regime in the Americas – in Bolivia – is massacring people in plain sight with bipartisan U.S. approval. What percentage of US-Americans know about this atrocity? (probably less than 0.3%). Like so many other hideous crimes at home and abroad, the neofascist coup and repression are not considered newsworthy on US television. The Indigenous Bolivians being shot through the skull by fascist forces in military helicopters are classic examples of what Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman called “officially unworthy victims” in U.S. mass media. They are insidiously invisible to all but a few U.S.-Americans.

“Two Wings of the Same Bird of Prey”

It is all so very neo-Cold War.  While the “liberal” U.S. media and political class claims to care passionately about liberty and democracy in Eastern Europe (though never explains what right Washington has to meddle in the political and military affairs of Eastern Europe, on the historically explosive western border of nuclear-armed Russia), it couldn’t care less about freedom, democracy and social justice in its own hemisphere, where Latin Americans are expected to take direction for Washington and its allies among the most reactionary sections of the Latin American ruling class — or face bloody repression.

This is not merely a matter of bad information and oversight or distraction by impeachment.  It’s about the imperialist Democratic Party’s longstanding opposition to true national independence, social justice, and democracy in Latin America (and in other “Third World” locations) since the Woodrow Wilson presidency and before.  As far as Latin American independence and social justice fighters have long been concerned have long been concerned, the Democrats and Republicans are very much as Upton Sinclair described them in the original Appeal to Reason version of The Jungle: “two wings of the same bird of prey.” For all their partisan tumult in the imperial “homeland” today, Sinclair’s metaphor still fits U.S. policy towards Latin America and indeed the rest of the world – Ukraine included[3]

Endnotes.

1. The fake-progressive corporate imperialist Barack Obama summarized part of the bipartisan U.S. foreign policy establishment consensus in his nauseating, stealthily right-wing 2006 campaign book The Audacity of Hope. There Obama ripped “left-leaning populists” like “Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez” for daring to think that developing nations “should resist America’s efforts to expand its hegemony” and for trying to “follow their own path to development.”  Such supposedly dysfunctional “reject[ion] [of] the ideals of free markets and liberal democracy” will only worsen the situation of the global poor, Obama claimed (p. 315), ignoring a preponderance of evidence of showing that the imposition of the “free market” corporate-neoliberal “Washington Consensus” had deepened poverty across the world for decades.

2. The United States Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland is helping end doubt about the likelihood of Trump’s impeachment as I am writing this essay on the morning of Wednesday, November 20th, 2019. Sondland is testifying to the House that Trump conditioned arms shipments to Ukraine on Ukraine’s new president publicly announcing an investigation into Biden and the Ukrainian gas company Burisma in the spring and summer of this year. Sondland is also noting numerous efforts by the Trump administration to criminally obstruct the House impeachment inquiry.

3. Trump is being impeached (though probably not removed) for interjecting his personal political interests into U.S. imperial policy in Eastern Europe. But, with all due respect for Trump’s strange and suspicious attraction to Vladimir Putin, the two major U.S. political parties share the brazen imperial notion that the Superpower United States has some special God- and/or history-ordained global-exceptionalist entitlement to be centrally involved in political and military affairs on nuclear-armed Russia’s volatile western border, on nuclear-armed China’s borders, in the super-volatile Middle East, and indeed in practically every part of the planet.

Posted in USA, Bolivia, Brazil, CUBA, Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador, Haiti, HondurasComments Off on Washington’s Consensus on Neofascist Coups in Latin America

Why Has Haiti Risen Up Once Again?

A man holds up his fist as demonstrators march through the streets of Port-au-Prince, on November 23, 2018, demanding the resignation of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse.
A man holds up his fist as demonstrators march through the streets of Port-au-Prince, on November 23, 2018, demanding the resignation of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse.

BYAshley Smith

The Haitian masses have mobilized a new wave of protest against the corrupt government of President Jovenel Moïse.

It began with demonstrations last summer in July and August, re-emerged in November and December, and exploded again in the first two weeks of February when hundreds of thousands marched in all the major cities of the country, from the capital of Port-au-Prince to the northern city of Cap-Haïtien.

The demonstrators demanded an investigation into what happened to billions of dollars of funds from Venezuela, an end to austerity measures and price increases for basic goods, and the resignation of Moïse and his prime minister, Jean-Henry Céant.

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The government predictably responded with a combination of concessions and repression. It rescinded the price increases and promised investigations into corruption, but neither Moïse nor Céant agreed to step down.

At the same time, the police and army, backed up by the UN forces nominally in Haiti to ensure “peace,” cracked down on the protests, killing 26 people and injuring 77 since February 7.

Taking the long view of this crisis, the uprising is the latest example of revolt against the strategies pursued by Great Empires since Haiti’s birth as an independent nation state more than two centuries ago.

In the more recent past, American imperialism’s imposition of neoliberal structural adjustment programs on Haiti in the 1980s, followed by two U.S.-backed coups against former President Jean Bertrand Aristide, undermined the project of social reform to address the country’s deep social inequality.

Now those grievances are again bursting out into the open.

***

The slave revolution led by Toussaint L’Ouverture succeeded in driving out Haiti’s French masters in 1804 and fending off Britain and Spain, and yet imperialism would not leave Haiti alone.

Though the world’s imperial powers couldn’t directly colonize Haiti, they could compel the free Black republic to pay an enormous price for its liberation, isolating it from the world economy and, in the case of France, forcing Haiti to pay $21 billion in today’s dollars for the loss of “its” slaves.

These powers also meddled in Haitian politics, backing different factions of the ruling class that has exploited and oppressed the country’s peasantry and small working class for the last two centuries.

The U.S. repeatedly invaded the country to back up its handpicked autocrats, occupying from 1915 to 1934 and creating a domestic military force with the sole purpose of repressing the Haitian masses.

During the Cold War, the U.S. supported the brutal regime of François “Papa Doc” Duvalier as an ally against Castro’s Cuba. He ruled the country through terror enforced by his own paramilitary force, the Ton Ton Macoutes.

After Papa Doc’s death in 1971, the U.S. backed his son and anointed successor Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier. This father-son dictatorship killed between 30,000 and 60,000 people in order to cement its rule over the course of nearly 30 years.

Under the influence of Washington in the 1980s, Baby Doc implemented a neoliberal economic program with the aim of turning the country into a giant export processing zone based on exploitation of workers drawn out of the peasant majority and into the cities.

***

These plans for sweatshop development failed, triggering a mass movement called Lavalas that drove Baby Doc from the country and eventually led to elections in 1991 won by liberation theologist and leader of the struggle Jean-Bertrand Aristide. He and his party, Fanmi Lavalas, hoped to implement a program of social-democratic reforms to alleviate the country’s desperate poverty.

But the U.S. and Haiti’s ruling class united against him, with the military staging a coup that drove Aristide into exile. After protests within Haiti and internationally, the U.S. returned Aristide to power, but on the condition that he agree to implement Washington’s neoliberal program, count years lost to the coup as part of his term, and agree to step down in 1996.

While Aristide succeeded in abolishing the despised Haitian Army and did resist some of Washington’s neoliberal dictates, he implemented other parts of them, and so did his successor and ally René Préval, who governed until Aristide won re-election in 2001.

Back in office, he continued to advocate redistribution of wealth and demand reparations from France for the debt imposed on Haiti after the revolution, but he was unable to implement many reforms, and many in his government became corrupt, leading to mass disillusionment with his rule.

The Haitian ruling class and the right took advantage of this to stage a campaign of destabilization. Then, in 2004 with the country reeling, the U.S. kidnapped Aristide and forced him into exile.

After this second coup, Washington and its allies deployed UN forces to occupy the country from 2004 until 2017, when they were replaced with a smaller force assigned supposedly to ensure the rule of law.

When new elections were held in 2006, Préval again won, but he at best implemented neoliberalism with a human face, failing to enact any significant reforms in the interests of the masses.

As a result, the country’s workers, the urban poor and peasants have suffered ever-worsening poverty.

The World Bank estimates that 59 percent of the nation’s 10.5 million people live below the official poverty line of $2.41 a day, while a shocking 24 percent survive in extreme poverty defined as less than $1.23 a day. And with such poverty comes hunger so pervasive that USAID estimates half the population is undernourished.

Then in 2010, a devastating earthquake struck, flattening whole sections of Port au Prince, where housing had been built with next to no regulation, in accordance with neoliberal doctrine. The Haitian government estimated that the quake killed 300,000 people, while other analysts put the total at about 100,000. More than 1.3 million people were displaced, and close to 40,000 were still living in camps as of 18 months ago.

On top of that, three hurricanes — Thomas in 2010, Sandy in 2012, and Matthew in 2016 — swept through the country, destroying villages, farmlands and whole sections of cities with devastating floods. Matthew was the worst — it killed 546 people, displaced 175,500 and pushed 806,000 into extreme food insecurity.

***

The social conditions wrought by imperialism and the Haitian ruling class turned a series of natural disasters into a social catastrophe. The U.S. and other international donors disbursed $10 billion in foreign assistance and promised, in the words of Bill Clinton, to “build back better.”

Instead, they betrayed the country and its people. The biggest scandal centered on the Red Cross, which raised half a billion dollars from appeals and claimed to have built homes for 130,000 people after the earthquake. But as an investigation by ProPublica and NPR proved, only six permanent homes were built.

Aid largely bypassed the Haitian state and ended up in the coffers of international NGOs, most based in Washington and other imperial cities.

As a result, the Haitian state was incapacitated, and private services provided by international and local agencies proliferated to such an extent that Haiti has been called “The Republic of NGOs.”

The development that did happen merely laid out the red carpet for the predatory tourist industry and established new sweatshop complexes. Even much of that failed to materialize. And the UN, which had promised to provide disaster relief, behaved as its critics predicted: like an occupying army repressing protests by a desperate population.

Worst of all, UN troops introduced cholera into the country for the first time, a fact the UN denied until 2016. The ensuing epidemic killed 10,000 people and only recently subsided.

***

Abandoned, betrayed and disillusioned, the Haitian masses largely sat out a series of elections that brought American-backed neoliberal puppets to power.

Michel Martelly, a former Kompa singer nicknamed “Sweet Micky,” narrowly won an election riddled with controversy, ruled as a neoliberal technocrat and restored the dreaded Haitian Army with the sole purpose of domestic repression.

He handpicked his successor Moïse, a businessman whose most recent enterprise is a failed export-oriented banana plantation. Moïse won the presidency in 2016 with only 18 percent of voters participating in the election.

Martelly and Moïse proved themselves venal rulers who plundered the state coffers for their own enrichment. They saw an opportunity in Venezuela’s PetroCaribe Alliance.

Flush with money from high oil prices at the time, Hugo Chávez launched it in 2005 to promote a regional reformist strategy of state-led capitalist development as an alternative to Washington’s neoliberal consensus. Venezuela sold oil to 12 Caribbean countries at 60 percent of the market rate, with the remaining 40 percent paid for by long-term, low-interest loans.

To the consternation of the U.S., Haiti joined PetroCaribe in 2007. Then-President Préval promised to use the $4 billion in credit to build hospitals, schools and roads. However, the corrupt governments led by Martelly and Moïse gobbled up more than $2 billion of the funds for themselves and their cronies.

The scandal became public when “a Haitian Senate commission published [in 2018] a 650-page investigative report on the Petrocaribe program,” according to the New York Times. “It implicated much of Haiti’s political class in inflating government contracts, funneling money to ghost companies and a host of other financial improprieties.”

After oil prices collapsed, Venezuela entered a crisis of its own, which was further compounded by U.S. sanctions. The crisis brought the PetroCaribe program to a close and left Haiti billions of dollars in debt to Venezuela.

Desperate for funds, the Haitian state turned to the IMF last year for a $96 million loan, which unsurprisingly came with neoliberal strings attached. It required Haiti to cut its fuel subsidy and sell it at prevailing market prices, immediately jacking up gas prices by 50 percent.

Predictably, this inflamed an already rising inflation rate with prices increasing by double-digit percentages each year since 2014, putting all kinds of basic necessities out of reach for many households.

***

Desperate and enraged, the people of Haiti want answers, and they have been flooding into the streets in repeated waves of protest since last summer.

In February, protests shut down most of the country’s cities, and marchers converged on Moïse’s house in the elite suburb of Pétion-Ville. After a guard beat a woman protester, the crowd pelted his property with stones.

Protesters are calling for the president and prime minister to resign, an end to austerity measures, and an investigation into the theft of the PetroCaribe funds.

With the backing of the U.S. and UN, the Haitian state responded with brutality, deploying the police and army against the February demonstrations. Moïse refused to resign. “I, Jovenel Moïse, head of state, will not give the country up to armed gangs and drug traffickers,” he declared.

He and Céant did offer to trim their perks, promised further investigations into the misspending of the PetroCaribe funds, increased the minimum wage and lowered prices of basic goods. But who would trust this utterly corrupt regime either to investigate itself for its crimes or enact reforms in the interests of its people?

The rising against the government has precipitated an even deeper crisis in Haitian society, as imports of food, distribution of water and shipments of fuel have been interrupted.

Disgracefully, Novum Energy, which has a contract to supply fuel to the country, stopped its tankers from unloading 60,000 barrels of gas and 260,000 barrels of diesel because the government was behind in payments, thereby exacerbating shortages of fuel.

***

While the protests have subsided for now, the Haitian masses face big challenges ahead. Various reformists have attempted to position themselves as a credible alternative, but their strategy, blazed by Aristide and his party Fanmi Lavalas, hit the inevitable contradictions of trying to run capitalism with a human face under the thumb of American imperialism.

Ominously, the Haitian right is also re-emerging and putting itself forward as an alternative to the corrupt neoliberal rulers. Baby Doc’s son Nicolas Duvalier is even rumored to be considering a run for the presidency in the next election.

Meanwhile, the Haitian left, which struggled to position itself as a force independent of Aristide’s reformism, is trying to rebuild itself amid the new wave of protests.

One thing is for sure: the U.S. is part of the problem — perhaps the most important part — facing the Haitian people. The Trump administration has proven itself utterly hypocritical. It backed the current venal regime to the hilt and betrayed promises to Haitians in the U.S. in a blatantly racist fashion.

Trump’s double standards are brazen. On the one hand, his administration denounces Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela on wildly exaggerated claims, while the U.S. plots a coup to overthrow him. On the other, it supports Moïse’s brutal and corrupt rule in Haiti and thus only calls for new elections — which it will rig in favor of neoliberal candidates, as a face-saving solution.

Why? Because Moïse and his ilk are useful puppets for Washington’s imperial ambitions, including against Venezuela. Moïse’s government, for example, joined the U.S. and 17 other countries in the Organization of American States in passing a resolution refusing to recognize Maduro’s government.

Trump has also betrayed promises to Haitians in the U.S. and on its border in Mexico. During the 2016 campaign, he promised Haitians that he wanted to be “your greatest champion” — but in office, he has proved himself their greatest enemy. Infamously, in a meeting in the Oval Office, he complained about immigrants coming from “shithole countries” like Haiti.

Trump rescinded Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Haitians, which had allowed 59,000 to stay in the country since the earthquake.

That led to an exodus of Haitians crossing into Canada in the hopes of finding safe haven there. While the courts have put a stay on that order, those with TPS still face an uncertain future.

Moreover, amid the spiraling crisis in Haiti, thousands have left the country for Latin America, and many of those have attempted to enter the U.S. through Mexico only to be denied entry at the border.

Haitians have become the target of anti-migrant xenophobia and racism throughout the region, most horrifically in the Dominican Republic, which deported 120,000 Haitians last year.

***

Haiti and its people are thus caught in an organic crisis precipitated by imperialism, neoliberal capitalism, and the failure and collapse of reformism within the country and region.

Nevertheless, the Haitian masses have yet again demonstrated their determination to fight for democracy and equality. Their resistance offers the country’s left the opportunity to rebuild and lead a new wave of struggle.

Amid this crisis, activists in the U.S. must defend the right of Haitians to determine their own fate, including overthrowing and replacing the current corrupt neoliberal government. And we must oppose the U.S., its imperialist allies and the UN from interfering in their fight for liberation.

Instead, the U.S. and France should be forced to pay reparations to Haiti for the debt trap in which they ensnared the country, and for the neoliberal program they imposed on it, so that the people have the resources to rebuild society in their own interests.

And we must agitate for the indefinite extension of TPS for any Haitians requesting it — and open U.S. borders for Haitians and all other migrants seeking safe haven. We should see the Haitian struggle as part of our revolutionary struggle for a new internationalist socialist society that puts people and the environment before profit.

Posted in HaitiComments Off on Why Has Haiti Risen Up Once Again?

Haiti Enters its 5th Week of Protests Against President

Protesters march during a demonstration called by artists to demand the resignation of Jovenel Moise, in the streets of Port-au-Prince.

by Dr. Jack Rasmus

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Demonstrations were held in cities and towns a day after tens of thousands of people marched peacefully in the capital.

Haiti’s President Jovenel Moise is facing the fifth week of protests calling for his resignation as several roads were blocked Monday across the country, after leaders from the opposition announced they will not give up until the president’s departure.

RELATED:  Thousands of People Join Peaceful Protest Called by Artists in Haiti

Demonstrations were held in cities and towns a day after tens of thousands of people marched peacefully in the capital Port-au-Prince in a protest planned by artists.

Other sectors of the society including business groups, religious leaders and human rights organizations joined the protests urging for Moise to step down amid outrage over the situation in a country marked by high indices of hunger, poverty, unemployment, gang wars, crime, rape of women and children, the closure of schools and hospitals countrywide, and the shortages of fuel and food.

“I think it’s time that everyone understands that things cannot continue like this anymore,” businessman Anthony Bennett who participated in the march told reporters. “Everybody is just hoping to get a visa to run away. …The Haitian population has had enough.”

Police fired tear gas at a group of people in downtown Port-au-Prince. Patrickson Monteau who leads the protests in the zone was among the people targeted by the security forces. 

He said nothing will be accepted but Moise’s resignation, adding he was encouraged by Sunday’s mass demonstration to which even the bourgeoisie participated.

“That gave us even more confidence,” Monteau said, adding that “there’s a lot of misery in Haiti … the people are fed up with this situation.”

The country’s former premier Evans Paul who is close to Moise told Monday the Associated Press that the government is expecting to meet with leaders from the civil society and the opposition, which firmly has rejected Moise’s call for unity and dialogue.

Over the past four weeks, Haiti has experienced a situation of tension marked by violent demonstrations and police repressions in response to fuel shortages and government corruption amidst long-term poverty.

The lack of gasoline has weighed even heavier on citizens and residents of the highly impoverished country as hunger and insecurity grow.  

Since February, Haiti has been the scene of massive and deadly protests by demonstrators demanding the resignation of Moise and his administration amid major corruption allegations. 

When the country was already dealing with a tense economic crisis and high inflation, a report was published accusing President Moise and dozens of officials of having embezzled US$2 billion from Petrocaribe, the cut-price-oil aid program that Venezuela offered to several Caribbean countries, among them Haiti. 

The funds were meant to finance infrastructure development along with health, education and social programs across the impoverished nation. The president has since refused to step down and Congress has been three-times unable to push forward his resignation.

The Carribean country of 11 million people has been struggling for decades to overcome extreme poverty along with widespread corruption.

These last ten years were particularly harsh for Haiti, which went through one of the world’s deadliest earthquakes in 2010, an epidemic of cholera, brought in accidentally by United Nations peacekeepers, and Hurricane Matthew in October 2016.

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Can Haitians Help “Make Canada Better”?

 

This year, an unprecedented event took place on Canada Day, in Ottawa. A group of Canadians answered a fellow citizen’s challenge to host the first ever “Make Canada Better – Speaker’s Corner”. The challenge went up on Facebook and Twitter, on June 16, 2019. It called for speakers to come to Ottawa on July 1st and “tell the truth about Apartheid in 2019 foreign-occupied Haiti”. It, in fact, listed three specific rendez-vous:

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  • July 1, 2019: Ottawa, Canada
  • July 4, 2019: Washington, DC, USA
  • July 14, 2019: Paris, France

As I explained to dozens of participants and curious listeners, who walked past the U.S. Embassy, on Sussex Drive, this Monday July 1, 2019, inspiration for these events came from a dear friend, the late Dr. Patrick Élie. The Biochemistry Professor, who passed away in February 2016, once went on a cross-Canada tour during which he spoke passionately about the urgent need for a radical change in Canadian policy towards Haiti.

Dr. Élie, who once served in the government of democratically-elected Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was often asked by attendees of his lectures: “what should well-meaning Canadians do to help Haiti?“. Invariably, he answered: “be a good citizen of your own country“.

Indeed, anyone who would have attended Patrick Élie’s lectures or who watched one of the well-researched documentaries about recent Haitian history, would quickly grasp the profound message conveyed in that sentence. A good Canadian citizen is one who exercises rights and fulfills duties that help make Canada a force for good in the world.

For nearly two decades now, a group of Canadians have tried to stir Canadian policy towards Haiti in a better direction. Unfortunately, the objective facts point to no major success thus far.

As illustrated by Canadian-French and American flags-adorned wooden crosses they trail on bent backs at multiple street demonstrations, impoverished Haitians consistently denounce Canada, the U.S. and France for the primary role they say these countries are playing in supporting a Neo-Tonton Macoute regime in Haiti.

Various researchers have documented disturbing evidence that Europe-U.S-Canada continue to nurture an unofficial system of political, social and economic Apartheid in the U.N./U.S.-occupied nation of Haiti.

Similarly to the 1915-1934 occupation of Haiti by the U.S., most natives reject today’s fraudulently and violently-imposed “presidents”, “senators”, “ministers” who are seen as mere black-face-white-mask puppets of the Core Group of foreigners (mostly white) who hold effective control of the 27,750 Square Kilometers known as the Republic of Haiti. This is also consistent with the decisions reached at the scandalous January 31, 2003 Ottawa Initiative on Haiti Coup planning meeting.

So, what was the point of repeating a message that has been systematically ignored by Canadian foreign policy makers, since the February 29, 2004 coup?

The topic is, of course, close to heart as I am an African, a native of Haiti, a Canadian and a citizen of Planet Earth who aspires to a better world. The 30000 Haitian victims of cholera contagion (brought to the island by the illegally-deployed U.N. troops), are family. The millions who are merely surviving on the island under the foreign-imposed neo-Tonton Macoute regime are deserving of our genuine solidarity.

In the African-Canadian community, there is much disdain for the term “visible minority” which was rendered fashionable by (mostly white) decision makers. It is fair to say that, after decades of speeches, its use has not helped increase the presence of non-whites in the spheres of power in Canada, to any significant degree. Likewise, the omnipresent huge cross adorned by the Canadian flag that Haitian demonstrators carry has, so far, somehow, failed to attract the curiosity of Canadian mainstream journalists. Some uncomfortable realities seem to have the surprising property of becoming invisible in plain sight.

Nonetheless, this past Monday July 1, 2019, Jo, a Raging Granny who joined previous Canada Haiti Action Networkevents in 2004-2006, was present with us, in front of the U.S. Embassy to answer the challenge. So was Mimi, an elegant grey-haired musician who speaks fondly of her native Petit-Goave, where she would have spent her old days, were it not for the Neo-Tonton Macoute regime that our taxes are propping up in Haiti.

Two vans arrived from Montreal with peace and anti-imperialism activists, including Frantz André, Jenny-Laure Sully, Marie Dimanche, friends from the Algonguin Anishinabe Nation and many more comrades of various background and experiences.

Did we successfully, magically, make Canada better with our speeches, with the flyers we distributed about the embezzled Petro Caribe funds, with information on the ongoing crimes like the Massacre of La Saline, or on journalist Pétion Rospide who the regime assassinated on June 10, 2019?

Will Federal Party Leaders answer our call for a principled stand on Haiti, ahead of the October elections?

Will CBC reporters decide to finally elucidate the reason young Haitians carry that cross which shames us all, on their backs?

I am unable to answer these questions with any degree of confidence. However, I feel honoured to have stood by the wretched of the earth alongside Darlène, Kevin, Simone, Turenne, Raymond, Mimi, Jo, Marie, Jean-Claude, Frantz, Jenny-Laure, Pierre as well as dozens of old or new comrades, on this July 1st afternoon. Brother Patrick, we tried to be the best Canadian citizens that we could be.

Tomorrow is July 4th. I have been told that, if not in Washington, in New-York, our KOMOKODA comrades will carry the challenge to tell the truth about Haiti, as they have been doing every Thursday – for several years now. Your beloved brother, the tireless Dahoud André is at the front. Do rest in peace comrade Patrick!



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Canada Enables Corrupt Haitian President to Remain in Power

NOVANEWS

At the front of a protest against Haiti’s president last week a demonstrator carried a large wooden cross bearing the flags of Canada, France and the US. The Haiti Information Project tweeted that protesters “see these three nations as propping up the regime of President Jovenel Moïse. It is also recognition of their role in the 2004 coup.”

Almost entirely ignored by the Canadian media, Haitian protesters regularly criticize Canada. On dozens of occasions since Jean Bertrand Aristide’s government was overthrown in 2004 marchers have held signs criticizing Canadian policy or rallied in front of the Canadian Embassy in Port-au-Prince. For their part, Haiti Progrès and Haiti Liberténewspapers have described Canada as an “occupying force”, “coup supporter” or “imperialist” at least a hundred times.

In the face of months of popular protest, Canada remains hostile to the protesters who represent the impoverished majority. A recent corruption investigation by Haiti’s Superior Court of Auditors and Administrative Disputes has rekindled the movement to oust the Canadian-backed president. The report into the Petrocaribe Fund accuses Moïse’s companies of swindling $2 million of public money. Two billiondollars from a discounted oil program set up by Venezuela was pilfered under the presidency of Moïse’s mentor Michel Martelly.

Since last summer there have been numerous protests, including a weeklong general strike in February, demanding accountability for public funds. Port-au-Prince was again paralyzed during much of last week. In fact, the only reason Moïse — whose electoral legitimacy is paper thin — is hanging on is because of support from the so-called “Core Group” of “Friends of Haiti”.

Comprising the ambassadors of Canada, France, Brazil, Germany and the US, as well as representatives of Spain, EU and OAS, the “Core Group” released another statement effectively backing Moise. The brief declaration called for “a broad national debate, without preconditions”, which is a position Canadian officials have expressed repeatedly in recent weeks. (The contrast with Canada’s position regarding Venezuela’s president reveals a stunning hypocrisy.) But, the opposition has explicitly rejected negotiatingwith Moïse since it effectively amounts to abandoning protest and bargaining with a corrupt and illegitimate president few in Haiti back.

In another indication of the “Core Group’s” political orientation, their May 30 statement “condemned the acts of degradation committed against the Senate.” Early that day a handful of opposition senators dragged out some furniture and placed it on the lawn of Parliament in a bid to block the ratification of the interim prime minister. Canada’s Ambassador André Frenette also tweeted that “Canada condemns the acts of vandalism in the Senate this morning. This deplorable event goes against democratic principles.” But, Frenette and the “Core Group” didn’t tweet or release a statement about the recent murder of journalist Pétion Rospide, who’d been reporting on corruption and police violence. Nor did they mention the commission that found Moïse responsible for stealing public funds or the recent UN report confirming government involvement in a terrible massacre in the Port-au-Prince neighborhood of La Saline in mid-November. Recent Canadian and “Core Group” statements completely ignore Moise’s electoral illegitimacy and downplay the enormity of the corruption and violence against protesters.

Worse still, Canadian officials regularly promote and applaud a police force that has been responsible for many abuses. As I detailed in a November story headlined “Canada backs Haitian government, even as police force kills demonstrators”, Frenette attended a half dozen Haitian police events in his first year as ambassador. Canadian officials continue to attend police ceremonies, including one in March, and offer financial and technical support to the police. Much to the delight of the country’s über class-conscious elite, Ottawa has taken the lead in strengthening the repressive arm of the Haitian state since Aristide’s ouster.

On Wednesday Frenette tweeted, “one of the best parts of my job is attending medal ceremonies for Canadian police officers who are known for their excellent work with the UN police contingent in Haiti.” RCMP officer Serge Therriault leads the 1,200-person police component of the Mission des Nations unies pour l’appui à la Justice en Haïti (MINUJUSTH).

André Frenette

@AndreFFrenette

Une des meilleures parties de mon travail consiste à assister à des cérémonies de remise de médailles aux policiers canadiens reconnus pour leur excellent travail dans le contingent de police de l’ONU en Haïti. C’était le cas aujourd’hui et la majorité étaient des femmes! Bravo!!

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At the end of May Canada’s ambassador to the UN Marc-André Blanchard led a United Nations Economic and Social Council delegation to Haiti. Upon his return to New York he proposed creating a “robust” mission to continue MINUJUSTH’s work after its planned conclusion in mid-October. Canadian officials are leading the push to extend the 15-year old UN occupation that took over from the US, French and Canadian troops that overthrew Aristide’s government and was responsible for introducing cholera to the country, which has killed over 10,000.

While Haitians regularly challenge Canadian policy, few in this country raise objections. In response to US Congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s recent expression of solidarity with Haitian protesters, Jean Saint-Vil put out a call titled “OH CANADA, TIME TO BE WOKE LIKE ILHAN OMAR & MAXINE WATERS!” The Haitian Canadian activist wrote: “While, in Canada, the black population is taken for granted by major political parties who make no effort to adjust Canadian Foreign policies towards African nations, Haiti and other African-populated nations of the Caribbean, where the Euro-Americans topple democratically-elected leaders, help set up corrupt narco regimes that are friendly to corrupt Canadian mining companies that go wild, exploiting the most impoverished and blackest among us, destroying our environments in full impunity… In the US, some powerful voices have arisen to counter the mainstream covert and/or overt white supremacist agenda. Time for REAL CHANGE in Canada! The Wine & Cheese sessions must end! We eagerly await the statements of Canadian party leaders about the much needed change in Canadian Policy towards Haiti. You will have to deserve our votes, this time around folks!”

Unfortunately, Canadian foreign policymakers — the Liberal party in particular — have co-opted/pacified most prominent black voices on Haiti and other international issues. On Monday famed Haitian-Canadian novelist Dany Laferrière attended a reception at the ambassador’s residence in Port-au-Prince while the head of Montréal’s Maison d’Haïti, Marjorie Villefranche, says nary a word about Canadian imperialism in Haiti. A little discussed reason Paul Martin’s government appointed Michaëlle Jean Governor General in September 2005 was to dampen growing opposition to Canada’s coup policy among working class Haitian-Montrealers.

Outside the Haitian community Liberal-aligned groups have also offered little solidarity. A look at the Federation of Black Canadians website and statements uncovers nothing about Canada undermining a country that dealt a massive blow to slavery and white supremacy. (Members of the group’s steering committee recently found time, however, to meet with and then attend a gala put on by the anti-Palestinian Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs.)

A few months ago, Saint-Vil proposed creating a Canadian equivalent to the venerable Washington, D.C. based TransAfrica, which confronts US policy in Africa and the Caribbean. A look at Canadian policy from the Congo to Venezuela, Burkina Faso to Tanzania, suggests the need is great. Anyone seeking to amplify the voices from the streets of Port-au-Prince should support such an initiative.



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Haiti’s Huge Gold Reserve: ‘Haiti, Give Me Your Gold, Not Your Weak and Weary!’

Haiti is back in the news with popular revolts against political corruption. Ordinary Haitians are being frustrated every step of the way as they strive to enjoy a better quality of life as is their right.

The discovery of a huge US$20 billion gold reserve in Haiti is no panacea since gold mining has always been surrounded by intrigue, skullduggery, and, perhaps, international plunder and piracy.

Americans, Canadians, and politically well-connected present and past Haitian political leaders stand to reap vast profits from the apparent plundering of Haitian gold.

Haitian workers, meanwhile, are paid a measly US$6.25 a day for working in the muddy, gold-mining pits.

Political Background

The historical evolution of Haitian society has been one in which the ordinary people have been exploited, brutalised, and oppressed – starting from the turn of the 19th century up until 1990, with Haiti’s very long history of American political and military interventions, dictatorship, militarism, cronyism, and official corruption.

There was a period from 1957 to 1971 when Haiti was ruled by François ‘Papa Doc’ Duvalier. Political opponents were suppressed by the infamous paramilitary group, the Ton-Ton Macoutes.

Following his death in 1971, Jean Claude ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier took power.

The political economic climate of these repressive regimes was aimed at maintaining “business-friendly environment”.

Popular revolt, like we are seeing in Haiti today, led to the collapse of the oppressive Duvalier rule.

Following this, in 1990, a progressive Catholic priest, President Jean Bertrand Aristide, was elected, winning 67 per cent of the popular vote.

President Aristide attempted many populist reforms, then in September 1991, a military coup d’état removed him from office.

He was again re-elected president in 2001. Then in 2004, right-wing paramilitaries, aided and abetted by foreigners, violently removed him from power.

President Aristide was put on a plane and dumped in a remote area of Africa.

The Clinton Connection

Haitians were once again going through the back and forth of corrupt governments under which politicians, the ruling elites, and foreigners got wealth while the ordinary people suffered.

Then came the 2010 earthquake and the entry of the Clinton Foundation, ostensibly to help with reconstruction.

Over 200,000 people were killed and a further 300,000 reportedly injured. Many poor neighbourhoods were devastated.

The Clinton Foundation and the Red Cross raised an estimated US$1 billion, but no one can say what happened to this money.

As to the work of the Clinton Foundation, well, what about it?

Tony Rodham is the brother of Senator Hilary Clinton. It was his company, VCS Mining, that according to the Daily Mail, was given a ‘very lucrative gold-­mining contract’.

VCS Mining will pay one of the lowest royalty rates in the world. The Haitian government charged a rate of 2.5 per cent over a 25-year period, with renewal. In comparison, Peru charges a royalty rate of 12 per cent, while Ecuador charges between five and eight per cent for its royalty rate of gold mining.

Political Cronyism

VCS Mining is a Delaware-­registered company with a “foreign qualification service” designation, allowing it to work overseas. Its board members include former Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive along with former Clinton and Obama administration officials.

Georgianne Nienaber published a detail, well-sourced article, in Opednews, that reviewed leaked internal documents, showing VCS Mining’s connection to ‘cronyism and political corruption”.

“This is a complicated story fraught with intricate detail and begins with the fraudulent installation of a crooked Haitian president, a Korean trade deal, an industrial park facilitated by the Clinton Foundation,”and other unsavory elements, Georgianne Nienaber reports.

Nienaber quoted leaked emails that showed how a USAID-funded power plant, instead of supplying Haitian homes with electric power, was used to supply electric power to VCS Mining operations.

“It would be scandal enough if Tony Rodham and VCS Mining benefited from a gold mine permit in Haiti, but the potential electrical power lines for that gold lead straight to one of the biggest lies to come out of Haitian ‘reconstruction’,” the report stated.

“Meanwhile, there are severe environmental risks associated with gold mining. These risks include the possibility of cyanide spills poisoning the water-supply system.

The Future

Since gold mining will continue in Haiti, what then can be a reasonable expectation for the future?

At present, half of Haiti’s US$1 billion budget comes from foreign aid. Despite this, it is unclear if future gold-mining royalty payments will be placed in a National development fund.

Many nations do this. If this was done, it would certainly help to set aside money to further develop the country and to help the Haitian poor people.

The Haitian government must:

  • Seek better royalty terms for mineral mining;
  • Set up an independent, transparent national development fund to put some returns from gold exploration and mining towards improving the Haitian people’s lives, while;
  • Set up and maintain an effective, disaster-­management agency to help mitigate the possibility of a disaster.

Meanwhile, as Haitian gold continues to enrich a handful of people, the dislocated many, who sought refuge in America, are now being driven away by the Donald Trump administration.

In short, it is fine to say: ‘Haiti, give me your gold but not your weak and weary’.

This is the very, very, very sad, bitta truth!



Posted in HaitiComments Off on Haiti’s Huge Gold Reserve: ‘Haiti, Give Me Your Gold, Not Your Weak and Weary!’

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