The Raven #28: Chomsky on Haiti

Issue of The Raven from winter 1994, containing a decent article on the restoration of democracy in Haiti by Noam Chomsky. Much of the rest of the content is poor and reproduced for reference only.

Submitted by Steven. on June 3, 2014


  • Editorial Notes
  • Haiti: Democracy Restored - Noam Chomsky
  • Capitalism, Science and Emergent Community - Denis Pym
  • A Meditation on Anarchist Ethics - Murray Bookchin
  • Remarkable Authors: Admirable Books - Nicolas Walter [on recent Freedom anthologies of Alex Comfort and Herbert Read]
  • Three Criticisms of Nicolas Walter’s Review: Jan Weryho / Tony Gibson / Dachine Rainer
  • Anarchists and Utopia - Tony Gibson
  • Tolstoy and Anarchism - Brian Morris
  • Ourselves and Black Rose Books, Montréal - Freedom Press
  • Donations
Raven-28.pdf (3.96 MB)

Democracy restored - Noam Chomsky

November 1994 article by Noam Chomsky on the restoration of democracy and the effective US intervention in Haiti.

Submitted by Steven. on June 3, 2014

1. The Anniversary Celebration

On September 30, the third anniversary of the military coup that
overthrew the elected government of Haiti in 1991, jubilant crowds
marched peacefully to celebrate the restoration of democracy,
encouraged by the official U.S. declaration that the right of peaceful
demonstration would be protected by the 20,000 troops who had entered
Haiti on September 19 under an agreement between former President
Jimmy Carter and General Raoul Cedras. That was, in fact, one of the
major goals of the U.S. intervention to restore democracy, the press
reported. The demonstrators were attacked, beaten bloody, and
scattered by armed gunmen. "The bodies of dead Haitians keep piling
up," one Western diplomat said, just as they had the day before when a
grenade exploded at a celebration of the return of the elected mayor
of Port-au-Prince. U.S. officials complained "that Haitian police
could no longer be trusted to enforce law and order," the press
reported, "but would not say if US forces would assume
responsibility." "It would be very difficult to rely on the police to
provide security given the fact they haven't provided any security so
far," U.S. Embassy spokesman Stanley Schrager said, apparently
surprised that the U.S.-trained police are acting as they have always
done in the past.

U.S. combat troops were in the streets in force, but not to protect
the demonstrators. "Instead," John Kifner reported in the New
York Times,
"the tanks, armored vehicles and even two
firetrucks were deployed along Avenue John Brown leading to the
wealthy suburb of Petionville, as if they were trying to protect the
homes of Haiti's affluent, light-skinned elite should the poor of the
slums and shantytowns try to charge uphill." "The only conceivable
reason for this deployment appeared to be to protect commercial
establishments and prevent any crowds from going up the hill toward
the homes of the elite."

U.S. military spokesman Colonel Willey "said the troops were
positioned to form `a cordon so Haitian police could work on the inner
perimeter'." And work they did. Haitian police joined with the
paramilitary (FRAPH) gangs attacking the demonstrators, using their
trucks for "loading up the armed men in civilian clothes by the Fraph
headquarters" and then helping to scatter the demonstrators,
"exchanging high-fives with the gunmen or giving them rides in their
pickup trucks."

A U.S. military convoy did approach the site of the first attack on
the demonstrators, where "at least eight bodies" were counted by
journalists. But, Kifner continued, they "quickly drove off, as did
others that followed," making it clear that U.S. forces "would not
provide protection to the marchers" so that terror could proceed
unhampered. U.S. forces "were nowhere near the announced route of the
march, from the Basilica of Notre Dame where a requiem mass was
celebrated for the more than 3000 people whom human rights groups say
were killed during military rule, to the city cemetery." The troops
are following White House orders. Explaining the continuing atrocities
under U.S. military occupation, commanding General Henry Shelton
informed the press that he had been instructed by his superiors in
Washington that "it is not our policy to intervene in law-and-order
matters per se; that is a Haitian matter." The problem, he said, is
that Haitian police are "not trained in riot control." The "level of
civility that is here," he explained, "is provided by the police and
the military, which is under the control of General Cedras." And by
the inheritors of the Tontons Macoutes, who are to be controlled by
the Haitian police with whom they exchange high-fives as they perform
their common tasks.

FRAPH members interviewed by Wall Street Journal
correspondents Helene Cooper and Jose de Cordoba said they had no
problems with the Americans troops. While the attacks on the
demonstrators are underway, one said, "U.S. soldiers riding by on
their `Humvee' armored vehicles wave cheerfully to FRAPH members, who
wave back." At the September 30 anniversary march, the WSJ
report continues, "those Humvees, along with tanks and other armored
vehicles, staged a massive show of `presence' with the intention of
containing the pro-Aristide demonstration to downtown, and addressing
what appears to be the U.S.'s principal fear: that mobs of President
Aristide's supporters will go on a rampage against wealthy Haitians
and supporters of the military regime." Back in Washington, Deputy
Defense Secretary John Deutch "said US troops would use force to stop
violence only when their own safety was assured," though it seems that
exceptions will be allowed if "wealthy Haitians and supporters of the
military regime" might be endangered by "pro-Aristide mobs."1

The Times reacted in its lead editorial on the day of
Kifner's front-page story about the deployment of troops and its
motives. It addressed one problem only: the danger that Clinton might
"meddle in the nation's political affairs" by using the CIA to promote
Aristide. "If President Aristide is as popular as the Administration
believes, he does not need the C.I.A.'s propaganda help," the editors
observe. Perhaps they are thinking of the barrage of propaganda let
loose via the leading CIA specialist on Latin America, Brian Latell,
who contrasted the "murderer and psychopath" Aristide with the model
gentleman General Cedras, one of "the most promising group of Haitian
leaders to emerge since the Duvalier family," which is why Latell "saw
no evidence of oppressive rule" while Cedras's forces and their allies
were slaughtering, torturing, raping and rampaging. "The U.S. should
be wary about tying "its own interests, and the safety of its troops,
so closely to [Aristide's] cause," the editors added soberly.2

The Times editorial staff reflexively assumes that the
facts are what Washington declares them to be; the CIA is being used
to promote Aristide, a dubious form of interference in another
country's affairs, they warn. Others, less trusting, actually inquire.
Once again showing what a serious journalist can do, Alan Nairn took
the trouble to find out what Clinton's intelligence apparatus is
really up to. One of the more benign figures he unearthed is
Haitian-born Major Louis Kernisan, who served with the Defense
Intelligence Agency (DIA) in Haiti from 1989 through 1991 and is now
devising the plan to "professionalize" Haiti's police -- already
professionalized by the same professionals, in the very recent past.
Kernisan is much impressed by the impartial role of the army that has
terrorized Haiti since it was established under the 1915-34 U.S.
military occupation, and by the murderous section chiefs, disbanded by
Aristide in one of the moves that raised doubts about his democratic
credentials. Kernisan is part of an FBI unit set up to train the
security forces of Guatemala and El Salvador in 1986, with notable
success. He anticipates mass detentions and other techniques of
population control as the popular movements are reined in and the U.S.
restores to power "the same folks as before, the five families that
run the country, the military and the bourgeoisie." Construction of
yet another "showcase of democracy" seems well underway. But that is
the real world.3

The real world is described succinctly by "a US official with
extensive experience of Haiti," quoted in the Boston Globe.
"Aristide -- slum priest, grass-roots activist, exponent of Liberation
Theology -- `represents everything that CIA, DOD and FBI think they
have been trying to protect this country against for the past 50
years'," he said. They have not misunderstand their instructions from
the executive branch, and the interests it represents.4

It is hard to imagine that Washington will permit such crass
display of the class and power interests of the intervention, and its
intent to subvert and eliminate any thought of democracy. Cosmetic
changes will surely be needed, if only for the benefit of the
doctrinal institutions, which have to have some peg, however fragile,
on which to hang the official tales about "idealism," "good works,"
"benevolent intentions," and the rest of the familiar ritual. Allowing
FRAPH and the rest of the attache-Macoute system to function freely
will pose an eventual threat to the occupying forces themselves,
though they have been given ample time to go underground with their
weapons and organizational structure intact.

2. Dilemmas of Power

The continuing state terror under the eyes of the U.S. military
forces reveals the "riskiness of having the Pentagon rely on Haiti's
police," Times correspondent Steven Greenhouse reported.
The solution, the Administration believes, "is pressing prominent
Aristide allies to warn people against provoking street violence" and
urging that Parliament get down to serious business, beginning with
the primary task: "to pass an amnesty for the military -- as promised
in the Carter agreement." That seems the most direct and reasonable
way to deal with the difficulties caused by those who are provoking
FRAPH and its police allies.

But there is a problem. Aristide continues to be slippery and
evasive, despite the tutelage he has received in Washington. While
some officials challenge "the conventional wisdom of Aristide as a
doctrinaire monomaniac," the Boston Globe reports, he "is
nonetheless showing some of his old ambiguity now": while calling for
"nonviolence and reconciliation,...he has also been lukewarm to the
idea of a blanket amnesty," still not unambiguously joining
Washington, the media, and political commentators generally in
accepting the principle of complete impunity for murder, torture,
rape, and other atrocities. Untrustworthy as always, Aristide seems to
be hesitant about defying the plea of the major human rights
organizations, the United Nations, the South African Judge who is
chief prosecutor for the UN war-crimes tribunal for the former
Yugoslavia and his Australian deputy, and others who do not rise to
such heights of Christian mercy as U.S. elites, and who warn of the
consequences for international human rights law if the criminals are
informed that they can do their work with impunity.5

Recall that they were so informed in Haiti, from the start. Cedras,
police chief Francois, and the rest were informed with great clarity
that they could continue their work of decimating the popular
organizations, secure in the knowledge that when the time came for
them to hand the work over to others, they would either be flown out
on an American jet with what remained of the country's wealth in their
pockets, like Somoza and Duvalier, or allowed to stay on in the rich
suburbs enjoying the fruits of their labors and awaiting the next
opportunity, which may not be too long delayed. Given such unambiguous
assurances from on high, there never was the slightest reason for them
to call a halt to the terrorist onslaught against the disobedient
population -- one of the many truisms that would be featured in a free
and independent press.

The gangsters in charge know the routine as well as their
Washington helpers. Guatemala, in many ways the model of successful
counterinsurgency, is a case in point. Here, "democracy" was
officially restored by a combination of Nazi-style violence with U.S.
support, combined with softer measures, minimal services organized by
the conquerors: if you want your sick child to live, come to us, and
maybe we'll help; work for us, and you have even better prospects. As
the U.S. arranged to displace the generals in Haiti, "free elections"
were held once again in Guatemala, which Washington has been nurturing
as a "showcase" for free market democracy for 40 years. The winner was
Rios Montt, a gentleman who would receive a welcome reception from
Himmler and Beria, as he did from Ronald Reagan and the State
Department, who hailed him as a man "totally committed to democracy"
while he was presiding over the slaughter of tens of thousands of
people in the highlands, levelling some 400 villages. In the recent
elections, Rios Montt's party received about 1/3 of the vote, enabling
it to control the legislature along with the other right-wing
pro-business party. About 80% of the population stayed away, including
the indigenous people he targeted for destruction and the poor
generally, who seem not to appreciate the freedoms we have won for
them. Cedras and Francois may well have drawn the obvious conclusions,
even if commentators here did not.

It's easy to appreciate the dilemmas faced by policy-makers and
respectable intellectuals. It is, indeed, "risky" to rely on the chief
instruments of terror to stop terror, but hard to see what the
alternative is when faced with irrational and criminal adversaries:
those who provoke violence by peacefully calling for democracy and
freedom, and those who respond to the provocation. It is also a
challenging task to reconcile truths of logic with what is taking
place before our eyes. Thus "the objective of the Haiti
certainly an honorable one," Anthony Lewis declares, from the outer
limits of tolerable dissent. And this Certain Truth must somehow be
reconciled with the sight of U.S. forces deployed to protect the
wealthy and privileged while the usual victims bleed in the streets
and the usual torturers maintain "the level of civility." Furthermore,
how are we to comprehend the remarkable fact that the U.S. is carrying
out the same policies it has pursued without change for 200 years in
Haiti, as it has elsewhere within the reach of its power? It's all
very mysterious. One can see why the situation is regularly described
as "confusing," posing extraordinary dilemmas.6

There were other difficult tasks as the troops landed, and at the
time of writing (early October), they have been handled with no little
success. Three central doctrines have to be defended: First, the
Clinton Administration was appalled by the terror in Haiti. Second, it
had become clear by "last spring" that "draconian economic sanctions
would fail" so that stronger steps were needed to achieve the goal
(Taylor Branch). And third, that goal is "to create conditions
favorable to constitutional democracy" (Branch). The third doctrine is
too deeply entrenched to be open to discussion, so let us keep to the
first two, which at least seem to have a factual flavor.

The first doctrine was elaborated by senior White House officials,
who informed the press that there is "nothing more moving" than
"watching people being beaten," so that "Mr. Clinton and his aides had
come to view such violence as both morally repugnant and politically
unsustainable." "Four or five nights of it on television would have
undone us politically," a senior Administration official informed the
press. These problems led to a "level of concern within the great that senior officials from several agencies
meet twice a day to plot their public-relations strategy, White House
officials said."7

The dilemmas faced by the Administration are clarifed by comparison
with other current examples, say Colombia, where vast atrocities
render ridiculous any thought of democracy; mere survival is enough of
a problem for those who dare to raise their heads. But these
atrocities are "politically sustainable." The press does not report
the facts made public by the leading human rights organizations,
Church groups, and others. The atrocities are not even "morally
repugnant," or so a rational observer would conclude. About half of
U.S. military aid for the hemisphere now goes to the state terrorists
in Colombia, increasing under Clinton; and the man who presided over
the worst terror in recent years took office as Secretary-General of
the OAS just before U.S. troops landed in Haiti, having achieved this
post thanks to a White House power play that was accompanied by much
public praise for his achievements.8

Let us turn to the second Truth, the failure of the draconian
economic sanctions that was evident by last spring. As known to
readers of this journal at least, the facts are radically different.
As of last spring, there had been no draconian economic sanctions. The
Bush administration let it be known at once that the OAS sanctions
announced in October 1991, shortly after the coup, were to be
toothless. A few weeks later (Feb. 4), Bush undermined the sanctions
more explicitly, granting an "exemption" to U.S. enterprises. Trade
continued at a substantial level through 1992, then increasing by 50%
under Clinton, including purchases by the Federal government and a
sharp increase in imports of food exports from Haiti. The facts were
not totally supressed in the mainstream. The Bush exemption of
February 1992 was reported. In the New York Times, under
the headline "U.S. Plans to Sharpen Focus of Its Sanctions Against
Haiti," correspondent Barbara Crossette explained that the
Administration would permit these violations of the embargo so as "to
punish anti-democratic forces and ease the plight of workers who lost
jobs because of the ban on trade." This "fine tuning" is Washington's
"latest move" in its efforts to find "more effective ways to hasten
the collapse of what the Administration calls an illegal Government in
Haiti." Oddly, the "fine tuning" was welcomed by the "anti-democratic
forces" who were punished by it, and bitterly denounced by the
beneficiaries of our charitable impulses. Again, a bit "confusing."

Occasional later references did not entirely relieve the confusion.
Thus the Christian Science Monitor explained that "the
Bush and Clinton administrations believed these [U.S.-owned] companies
were so vital to Haiti that they allowed them to continue operating
during the embargo." While the vision of our benevolence brings tears
to the eyes, nevertheless duller minds might wonder why only
U.S.-owned enterprises have the curious property of being so
beneficial to the suffering people of Haiti, and why the reactions are
so inconsistent with Administration intent.9

Elsewhere too, one could find some hints that the embargo was less
than "draconian." In fact, as of last spring, it was "fine tuned" so
as to leave the rich and their military associates pretty much
untouched, though the undesirables suffered. It was only in late May
1994 that the Clinton Administration even took formal steps to
implement sanctions, always excluding the most privileged.10

As the troops landed on Monday September 19, the task of
maintaining the crucial doctrine became still more challenging. On
Sunday, the AP wires began running reports about the military
intervention that every news desk in the country could see were of
major significance, perhaps the most important of the week. Beginning
Sunday, John Solomon reported leaks from an inquiry initiated by the
U.S. attorney's office a few days before the invasion. The documents
released to AP revealed that sanctions had never been seriously
applied at all. It is possible that the inquiry was launched in
preparation for the intervention, under the same general rubric that
led the press to highlight the murder of orphans, narcotrafficking,
and other atrocities that had previously remained at the margins or

According to documents provided to AP, the judicial inquiry focused
on the most important evasion of the embargo, known to everyone
watching Haiti: the import of oil. The three companies involved are
Shell, Exxon, and Texaco. The first two were able to pretend that
subsidiaries elsewhere were violating the embargo, leaving poor
Washington helpless. But Texaco lacked that pretext, and was therefore
bound by the Bush administration executive order of October 1991
banning its Haitian activities. The Office of Foreign Assets Control
began monitoring Texaco's violation of the order immediately, noting
that Texaco was providing both fuel and hard currency to the military
junta. On May 18, 1992, OFAC issued an order for Texaco to "cease and
desist." On the same day, Texaco executives spoke to Secretary of
Treasury Nicholas Brady and OFAC Director Richard Newcomb, who met
with them the following day. Both Brady and Newcomb were informed that
Texaco planned to evade the executive order by creating a "blind
trust" that would technically be responsible for the shipments; Deputy
Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger received the same information.
Texaco asked OFAC for a ruling on this evasion. No response was
received for 11 months, when OFAC advised the company that the device
was illegal. By then, the operation was proceeding. Until at least
mid-1993, OFAC alleges, Texaco stations "illegally bought and
distributed numerous tanker shipments of fuel from the junta either
directly or through the blind trust." A 1993 OFAC document reports at
least 26 tanker shipments, 160 violations, and millions of dollars
paid to the junta by Texaco.

Newcomb informed his senior staff that he had been directed to drag
his feet by Secretary of Treasury Brady. "Brady told me to go slow on
Texaco," Newcomb is quoted as saying in notes of a mid-1992 meeting.
Surely Texaco executives were apprised. "After three years and two
administrations," AP continues, "Newcomb has yet to impose a fine or
refer the matter to the U.S. attorney's office for possible
prosecution," though in September 1993 he "put Texaco on notice that
the government intends to fine the company." "Little has happened in
the year since," the report continues.

In a July 1993 memo, after Aristide had been pressured to accept
the Governor's Island compromise that Cedras violated, OFAC policy
chief John Roth wrote: "Perhaps the selective and political side to
FAC's `strong enforcement' of the sanctions...can be squared with some
cosmic (but not widely known) foreign or domestic policy objectives
vis-a-vis Haiti or Texaco." Perhaps.

The illegal operations continued at least until the May 1994
Clinton administration decision to join in sanctions -- making sure
that plenty of loopholes remained, including the oddly porous
Dominican border. Nothing was done. The Clinton administration
certainly knew about the matter a year ago. "We expect a vigorous
lobbying effort by Texaco to quash FAC's penalty action," Treasury
Secreatary Lloyd Bentsen was advised in an October 1, 1993 memo, which
added that "Texaco has already contacted the State Department in an
effort to have State persuade FAC to drop the matter," as it evidently
did. "There has been no activity in the case for nearly a year" after
this notification, Solomon reported.

In response to the AP story on Sunday September 18, Treasury
Secretary Bentsen ordered an investigation, which, if it takes place,
is likely to focus on the Bush years. Senator Donald Riegle and
Representative Henry Gonzalez, who chair the banking committees,
"expressed outrage at OFAC's conduct described in the documents and
indicated their panels will review the case" as well, also looking
into the role of banks in helping Texaco fund the junta. "I think it's
outrageous," Rep. Gonzales stated: "It's a joke if it is decided to
announce a policy and then it isn't enforced."

In brief, as the U.S. troops landed, if not before, no news desk or
editorial office could have failed to be aware of what had been
concealed for the three years of slaughter and terror: the sanctions
were "a joke." How much of a joke, they perhaps had not known until
September 18. In a free press, all of this would have been featured,
along with the obvious conclusions: neither the Bush nor Clinton
administration had any serious intent of terminating the terror and
restoring democracy. Investigative reporters would have gotten to work
to smoke out the rest of the story (for example, the still-unreported
trade). And columnists would have explained what it all means.

What in fact happened was rather different: solemn reiteration of
the established truths about our noble goals and the failure of the
draconian sanctions, coupled with warnings about intervening in
conflicts that are none of our business. According to a data-base
search, the AP story was reported on Tuesday, Sept. 20, by one journal
in the country: Platt's Oilgram News, which reported
Texaco's denials. The next day, the Wall Street Journal
ran a brief item by an unidentified staff reporter at the bottom of an
inside page, reporting Bentsen's order for an investigation and a few
of the facts. Similar reports, mostly short and on inside pages,
appeared in local papers, but not the national press. All of this will
have to come out sooner or later -- perhaps, after the Haiti operation
goes irremediably sour and the time comes for the excuses and evasions
to be trotted out, Somalia-style. But when it mattered, the Free Press
did its job in admirable fashion, once again.

As any serious commentator would also have observed, there is
nothing new about the special treatment granted Texaco (we put aside
the evasions about its competitors). One similar occasion took place
just 50 years ago, when the Western democracies were seeking to
undermine the Spanish Republic, which was then under attack by
Franco's fascist forces. The reason was their concern that the popular
revolution that was one component of this three-sided struggle might
spread; such concerns were put to rest shortly after by their
associate in Moscow, who crushed the revolution by violence, fearing
any manifestation of socialism and freedom even more than his Western
colleagues. Franklin Delano Roosevelt's "neutrality" stand was
carefully crafted to deprive the Republic of arms and oil. His
administration pressured suppliers (including foreign ones) to refrain
from shipping materials, including shipments contracted earlier. FDR
himself bitterly denounced one businessman who insisted on his legal
right to continue shipments of airplanes and parts to the Republic.
Though "perfectly legal," his act was "thoroughly unpatriotic," FDR
declared, apologizing for his emotional outburst but adding that "I
feel quite deeply about it." Meanwhile, his government was never able
to discover that Texaco, then headed by a fascist sympathizer, was
violating its contracts with the Republic, diverting tankers already
at sea to Franco, whom it continued to supply -- in "secret," except
to small left journals which, somehow, were able to discover the facts
about the illegal shipments hidden from the Roosevelt Administration
and the press.11

In January 1994 testimony to Congress, reported here in July, the
Director of the CIA had predicted that Haiti "probably will be out of
fuel and power very shortly." "Our intelligence efforts are focused on
detecting attempts to circumvent the embargo and monitoring its
impact." Not only was the CIA "unable" to discover the "oil boom" that
was occasionally reported by the press, but it was also unable to
discover that the U.S. government, at the highest level, was fully
aware that the CIA testimony to Congress was a complete falsehood, and
had indeed tacitly authorized the violations of the embargo that the
CIA couldn't discover. Or, so we are supposed to believe, as we are
now supposed to believe that the CIA is busily at work organizing
support for Aristide.

3. Democracy and Capitalism

Whether Aristide is allowed to return in some fashion is anyone's
guess at the time of writing. If he is, it will be under conditions
designed to discredit him and further demoralize those who hoped that
democracy might be tolerated in Haiti. To evaluate what lies ahead, we
should look carefully at the plans for the security forces and the

The military and police forces were established during Woodrow
Wilson's invasion as an instrument to control the population, and have
been kept in power by U.S. aid and training for that purpose since.
That is to continue. As discussed here in July, the head of the OAS/UN
mission through December 1993, Ian Martin, reported in Foreign
that negotiations had stalled because of Washington's
insistence on maintaining the power of the security forces, rejecting
Aristide's plea to reduce them along lines that had proven successful
in Costa Rica, the one partial exception to the array of horror
chambers that Washington has maintained in the region. The Haitian
military, Martin observed, recognized that the U.S. was its friend and
protector, unlike the U.N., France, and Canada. The generals continued
their resistance to a diplomatic settlement, trusting that "the United
States, despite its rhetoric of democracy, was ambivalent about that
power shift" to popular elements represented by Aristide. They were
proven right. As the matter is now rephrased, "At first, Father
Aristide resisted having so many former soldiers in the police force,
but Administration officials said they persuaded him to accept them,"
so the New York Times reported on the eve of the
invasion. This was one of the successes of the educational program
designed for the "doctrinaire monomaniac."12

The plans for the economy are detailed in a plan submitted to the
Paris Club of international donors at the World Bank in August,
published by Alan Nairn in Multinational Monitor
(July-August), with accompanying interviews. The Aristide government
is to keep to a standard "structural adjustment" package, with foreign
funds devoted primarily to debt repayment and the needs of the
business sectors, and with an "open foreign investment policy." The
judicial system and other aspects of government are to be geared to
"economic efficiency." The plan states that "The renovated state must
focus on an economic strategy centered on the energy and initiative of
Civil Society, especially the private sector, both national and

The Haiti desk officer of the World Bank, Axel Peuker, describes
the plan as beneficial to the "more open, enlightened, business class"
and foreign investors. The structural adjustment plan "is not going to
hurt the poor to the extent it has in other countries," he said,
because subsidies for basic goods and other such interferences with
capitalist democracy scarcely exist there anyway, so not too much will
be cut. The Minister in charge of rural development and agrarian
reform in the Aristide government was not even notified about the plan
designed for this largely peasant society, destined to be returned to
the track from which it veered after the unfortunate December 1990
election, a tragedy that will not happen again, if Washington is

We may note, in passing, some of the features of contemporary
Newspeak. "Economic efficiency" means profits for the few, crucially
the foreign few, whatever the effect on the many. The concept
"economic health" is a technical notion designed to measure
profitability for investors, while excluding the health of the economy
as far as the population is concerned. Thus the economy can be
wonderfully healthy while the people are starving. "Civil Society" of
course includes all sorts of nice things, but "especially" the private
business sector, including foreign investors, who belong to the part
of Haitian Civil Society on which the "renovated state" must focus.
Democracy means that outsiders design plans without even troubling to
inform the government that is to execute them.

The concept of "democracy" is also illustrated by the standard
interpretation of the provision of the Haitian Constitution that
provides for the elected President to serve a single five-year term.
In his address to the nation to rally support for the intervention,
President Clinton assured his audience that Aristide had proven
himself to be a true democrat. "Tonight," Clinton said, "I can
announce that President Aristide has pledged to step down when his
term ends in accordance with the Constitution" and to transfer power
to a successor. That conclusion, however, goes well beyond the
Constitution, which says nothing about how to calculate the
President's term when he has spent three years in exile while civil
society is being decimated. One interpretation is that if reinstated,
he should pick up where he left off, so that Aristide's term has
almost 4 and a half years to run. Another interpretation is that his
period in exile is part of his term as elected President. People with
some lingering taste for democracy will presumably tend towards the
first interpretation. Without any exception that I can discover, U.S.
commentators adopted Clinton's anti-democratic interpretation. We have
to go north of the border to read the obvious comment about "the three
years of stolen democracy": "By deducting them from, rather than
adding them to, Aristide's suspended presidency, a key political
objective will be achieved," namely, "a partial legitimization of the
1991 coup d'etat against Aristide" (Dave Todd, Southam News).13
The task of civilizing the troublesome priest has not been easy, and
there is disagreement as to whether it has been accomplished, or
whether he might still revert to his old ways, speaking up for the
rights of poor and suffering people, even expressing elementary truths
about the oppression of the poor by the rich (inciting "class
warfare") and the role of the U.S. in his country's history
("anti-Americanism"). Close U.S. advisors claim to see much progress.
Former Ambassador Robert White, who has consistently supported the
elected government in Haiti, said: "I think the best thing that has
happened to Aristide and his administration-in-exile is that they have
had a crash course in democracy and capitalism, and come to understand
that too much revolution scares away investors. Small countries can't
afford too much social experimentation."14

It's not clear whether these remarks are tongue-in-cheek, but
taking them literally, they are on target. Aristide has been given a
crash course in "democracy and capitalism," as the terms are
understood under prevailing doctrine. "Democracy" means that you do
what you're told and serve the powerful and rich, in silence -- or
better, politely expressing your gratitude for the opportunity.
"Capitalism" means the same. The "social experimentation" that went
too far is the programs that were highly praised by the Inter-American
Development Bank and other international funding agencies, and that
Axel Peuker of the World Bank describes today as a "rather
conservative approach, financial and otherwise" -- but too much for
the Haitian rich, U.S. investors, Washington, and respectable opinion
in the United States.

The reasons why this conservative approach went too far are
expressed with clarity in a July 1994 position paper of 1400 priests
and nuns in Haiti and the surviving Haitian human rights groups. "The
constant factor in that brief period" of democracy "cannot be
doubted," they write: "it is, unquestionably, the emergence of the
people of Haiti on the political scene of its country." The technical
term for this atrocity among Western liberal elites is "Crisis of
Democracy," a threat that must be confronted forthrightly if
"democracy" is to be saved. The terror in Haiti, and the crash course
in democracy and capitalism organized for Aristide in Washington, have
been designed to drive such subversive thoughts out of people's heads,
for good.

Not everyone agrees that Aristide has learned his lessons. "He is a
radical Roman Catholic priest who has fought with his church" -- much
as anti-fascist priests opposed their church under Mussolini and
Hitler -- "and often spewed anti-American statements," the Wall
Street Journal
reports. "His stubbornness and independence
continue to drive U.S. officials to distraction." They expect better
behavior from the lower orders. Senator Phil Gramm condemns Aristide
as an "anti-American Marxist demagogue." Particularly outrageous was
his reticence about thanking his rescuers as they proceeded to restore
the power of the army and the wealthy, perhaps allowing him to sit in
a box for a few months to observe the process. New records may have
been broken for supercilious arrogance and racism as the press
reported the suffering that Washington had endured at his hands. In
the New York Times, Maureen Dowd described "the strain of
trying for three years to restore Father Aristide to power even as he
often openly griped about American policy" and failed to say "Thank
you" with proper humility to "his benefactors" ("The Mouse That Roared
Squeaks Back"). Congress mocked "the priest's desire to return on his
own terms rather than those dictated by Washington," she reported. "He
wants to stay up here" and enjoy "the good life," Senator Larry
Pressler said, echoing the concerns of President Clinton, reported by
"those close to him," about "whether Father Aristide had begun to
enjoy his life as a celebrity exile." Meanwhile liberal
Representatives were "furiously demanding he show more gratitude,"
that he "get real" (James Traficant). He should learn some manners,
David Obey added: "The proper response from Aristide is not to second
guess and nitpick. The proper response is two words, `Thank you'."
Aristide has still not learned his place. He has not learned that his
job is to shuffle quietly with a friendly smile while thanking Massa
for his kindness.

Aristide's disgraceful behavior reinforced the fears expressed a
few days earlier by political correspondent Elaine Sciolino, who
worried that he might not "be the kind of leader who will make the
Administration proud when he rides in on the backs of American
soldiers" and who might even "turn on his liberators." In its efforts
to change the radical priest "From Robespierre to Gandhi," the Clinton
Administration -- all dedicated Gandhians, like the New York
-- is " his public statements that stress
love rather than vengeance," and his call to "let free enterprise and
privatization reign." "To help prepare Father Aristide for his return,
Administration officials have tried to force feed him large doses of
economics and theories of public administration." While some feel that
"he has really grown," others are concerned that he might regress to
what he was -- when he was praised for the remarkable successes of his
brief administration in cutting back corruption and state terror,
reducing the bloated bureaucracy, organizing a reasonable tax system
and setting the country's financial affairs in order, while still
trying to respond to the initiatives of the "remarkably advanced"
array of grass-roots organizations (Lavalas) that gave the large
majority of the population a "considerable voice in local affairs" and
even in national politics (IADB, Americas Watch).15

It is in this precise sense that Aristide "failed politically when
he was in there," as explained by the Clinton's special envoy Lawrence
Pezzullo, replaced after his lying to Congress became too
embarrassing; the outspoken advocacy of mass slaughter by Carter's
envoy to Nicaragua was never an embarrassment, nor was his record of
trying to ensure that Nicaragua's murderous National Guard would stay
in power (that, after all, was a crucial part of the task of
"restoring democracy" in Haiti too). Pezzullo made these remarks while
reporting his "growing frustration" with the stubborn Aristide, who
"was unwilling to make political compromises to broaden his political
base" beyond the huge majority of the population. He even refused "to
work with Parliament," Pezzullo observed with horror -- that is, with
the Parliament that was able to stay almost entirely in the hands of
the "enlightened" sectors of Civil Society, since the authentic civil
society still lacked the resources to challenge the traditional system
of oppression and violence (always cheerfully backed by Washington).
"It was precisely Father Aristide's estrangement from the elected
Parliament, coupled with his chilly relationship with business leaders
and the military, that led to his overthrow," Pezzullo explained.
Obviously, a bad character, though one could hardly expect more in a
country "with no democratic traditions" -- only with a vibrant and
lively civil society that had, unexpectedly, constructed the
foundations of a functioning democracy in which the rabble could
actually take part in managing their own affairs.16

Aristide's unwillingness to "broaden the political base" has become
a kind of mantra, on a par with "Wilsonian idealism." Like many other
mindless propaganda slogans, the phrase conceals a grain of truth.
Aristide has been unwilling to shift power to the "enlightened"
sectors of foreign and domestic Civil Society and their security
forces. He still keeps his allegiance to the general population and
their organizations -- who could teach some lessons to their kindly
tutors about what was meant by "democracy" in days when the term was
still taken seriously. It is intriguing to watch the process at work.
Consider Peter Hakim, Washington director of the Inter-American
dialogue, well-informed about the hemisphere and far from a ranting
ideologue. While Aristide was elected by a two-thirds majority, Hakim
observes, "in most Latin American countries, movement from
authoritarianism to democracy tends to reflect a more broadly based
consensus than is currently the case in Haiti." It is true enough that
from the southern cone to Central America and the Caribbean, the
consensus is "broadly based" in the sense that sustained terror and
degradation, much of it organized right where Hakim speaks, has taught
people to abandon hope for freedom and democracy, and to accept the
rule of private power, domestic and foreign. It hasn't been easy;
witness the case of Guatemala, just now attaining the proper broad
consensus after many years of education. Hakim also surely knows the
nature of the "consensus" at home, revealed by the belief of half the
population that the political system is so rotten that both parties
should be disbanded. And he knows full well what efforts are made to
broaden government to include authentic representatives of the
overwhelming majority of the population in Latin America, or by its
traditional master.17

Aristide is not alone in being a slow student. U.N. envoy Dante
Caputo resigned when the invasion was imminent, deploring the
unilateral U.S. initiatives that displaced the United Nations
entirely. "In effect," he said, "the total absence of consultation and
information from the United States Government makes me believe that
this country has in fact taken the unilateral decision of acting on
its own in the Haitian process," so that the U.N. no longer has any
role to play. Referring to Carter's grand achievement, Caputo said:
"they got a much weaker agreement with 60 military planes in the air
than we got at the negotiating table" in July 1993. Cedras scoffed at
that one, Caputo notes, and may well do the same this time, proceeding
to "build a political force with Haiti's ruling class, leaving most of
the country's current military and economic power base intact." Caputo
was too diplomatic to add that this contemptuous disregard for the
United Nations is standard operating procedure, and is only to be
expected of the world's most powerful state, which has no reason to
pay any attention to world opinion or international law, secure in the
knowledge that whatever happens, its intentions will be deemed
"certainly honorable" by its harshest critics among the respectable

4. Perspective

"Perspective" on what is taking place was provided in the New
York Times
by R. W. Apple, who reviewed the lessons of history.
"For two centuries," he wrote, "political opponents in Haiti have
routinely slaughtered each other. Backers of President Aristide,
followers of General Cedras and the former Tontons Macoute retain
their homicidal tendencies, to say nothing about their weapons" --
which the homicidal maniacs in the slums have cleverly concealed.
"Like the French in the 19th century, like the Marines who occupied
Haiti from 1915 to 1934, the American forces who are trying to impose
a new order will confront a complex and violent society with no
history of democracy."

One takes for granted that the vicious terror and racism of the
Wilson administration and its successors will be transmuted to sweet
charity as it reaches the educated classes, but it is a novelty to see
Napoleon's invasion, one of the most hideous crimes of an era not
known for its gentleness, portrayed in the same light. We might
understand this as another small contribution to the broader project
of revising the history of Western colonialism so as to justify the
next phase.

Apple's colleague David Broder, the renowned liberal columnist of
the Washington Post, added further reflections. "The real
danger is that US troops may be caught in an ongoing civil war between
heavily armed gangs bent on revenge or determined not to yield power."
On one side of this bitter conflict, we find the unarmed peasants and
slum-dwellers who dared to elect a populist President, "whose
commitment to democracy is unproven" -- or at least we find their
mutilated corpses. On the other side, trembling in fear, stand the
U.S.-armed and -trained military and police with the criminal gangs
they have organized in the familiar Duvalierist style, and their
backers and beneficiaries, the wealthy families who own the country
together with their U.S. associates. Truly a cosmic struggle.

U.S. forces in Haiti are not the first to confont challenges and
dilemmas of such severity. Similar problems were faced by the Soviet
troops entering Prague in 1968, trying to mediate between the
Stalinist security forces and the people calling for freedom and
democracy, two "heavily armed gangs determined not to yield power." Or
the U.S. forces who liberated Buchenwald, and faced "the real danger"
that the SS troops and the half-alive skeletons, each with their
"homicidal tendencies," might continue their "ongoing civil war."

In the light of the threats so graphically depicted by the
commentators in the national press, we can understand why "The first
major arms raid by American troops was for searching not for weapons
hidden by attaches, the armed thugs propping up Haiti's military
government, but for guns supposedly held by supporters of the man the
Americans had come to put back in office, President Jean-Bertrand
Aristide" (Kifner). The October 2 raid was based on information
unearthed by U.S. Army intelligence. Its source was "a well-known
attache," "regarded locally as a drug dealer and paramilitary leader,"
who directed U.S. forces to "a terrorist training camp stashed full of
weapons" -- which turned out to be a property owned by Katherine
Dunham, where the raiders seeking to disarm the terrorists surprised a
dance troupe practicing. Meanwhile the armed attaches who had broken
up the anniversary celebration "were still lounging around their
corner today by the Normandie Bar in the center of the city. No
American soldiers were in the area."

Lying behind the "comic aspects of the search," Kifner observes,
"lies a potentially serious problem for the American forces as they
feel out their political role here. The army's natural inclination is
to protect property and order," a difficult matter in "an
extraordinarily bifurcated country, where a tiny elite, whose wealth
is largely the product of exploitation and corruption, rules over
desperately poor masses" -- a situation not unrelated to policies and
actions of the current liberators. It's not too hard to imagine how
the problem will be resolved. Basing himself on his analysis of the
"ongoing civil war," Broder offers further advice. Clinton should heed
"the lesson of Vietnam," he continues: "you don't commit troops until
the country is committed to the mission" -- and you understand that no
question can conceivably be raised about "the mission" -- again, a
stance that does not lack distinguished models. Now that "Clinton has
followed the idealistic President Woodrow Wilson in sending American
forces to Haiti," we must recall that our last mission of mercy
"lasted 19 years." Disciplined intellectuals are not to recall the
facts about that "idealistic" intervention and its aftermath, though
Haitians remember them all too well.19

5. Restoring Civil Society

Both in Haiti and the U.S., those who matter understand what is
happening well enough. "Senior U.S. officials have initiated
large-scale business negotiations with some of the most powerful and
wealthy Haitian supporters of the military overthrow of President
Jean-Bertrand Aristide," Kenneth Freed reported in the Los
Angeles Times
as U.S. forces were "supposedly engineering a new
political environment to undermine the power of the same
anti-democratic elite." One case is General Shelton's arrangements
with Haiti's influential Mevs family "about leasing a large waterfront
plot for construction of fuel storage tanks and a pipeline." It only
makes sense, given that these leading coup backers had already built
"a huge new oil depot here to help the army defy the embargo," as the
New York Times had reported earlier.

Parallel arrangements are proceeding with the other wealthy
families that had financed fuel shipments, among other techniques to
benefit from the "sanctions." The "powerful Haitian clan" of the Mevs
"has positioned itself well to keep doing what it does best -- make
money," Jose de Cordoba reports in the Wall Street Journal.
The Mevs had met with Aristide in Washington to induce him to
"moderate his position and reach out to the tiny, mostly
anti-Aristide, Haitian middle class" -- an intriguing notion of
"middle," when we consider the proportion of those who own almost all
the nation's wealth. Inexplicably, the Mevs have been able "to build a
huge tank farm to store fuel" during the embargo, backed by "loans
guaranteed by Haiti's Central Bank"; a fairly typical example of "free
market" capitalism. They had "profited from their cozy ties to the
Duvalier dictatorships," and therefore found it easy to deal with the
U.S., and to adapt to the form of "broadly-based democracy" that they
see the Clintonites fashioning.

While still "nervous about Aristide," the enlightened business
sector is "counting on the Americans," the London Financial
reports. Reasonably enough. Unlike educated Americans, it
is not sufficient for them to chant ritual phrases; to pursue their
interests, they must attend to historical and institutional facts.
This "baronial class" of "several dozen families," generally
light-skinned, recognizes that the military forces coming to "restore
democracy" will prefer to deal with them -- our kind of folks, after
all, unlike the people rotting in the slums. It is "not surprising
that the US should do deals with powerful interests," as in the days
of the Duvalier family dictatorship when these interests gained their
power, benefiting from similar "deals" with the U.S. government and
foreign enterprise while the population sank deeper into misery. Why
should anything change, now that the traditional benefactors have

As for the Haitian military, they too expect to hold on to power,
Larry Rohter reports in the New York Times. Realistically
again. They too know their history, and are also aware that "There's
nothing in the [Carter-Cedras] agreement that details the future" of
the puppet government that they established (U.S. Embassy spokesman
Schrager). Schrager is referring to the Jonassaint government that the
U.S. now treats with as much respect as General Cedras -- though as
far as is known, Jonassaint has not yet been invited by Jimmy Carter
to teach his Sunday School class. Rohter asserts that "the Cedras camp
managed to mislead the United States and its allies for three months
and then defy them for nearly a year before reaching the accord with
the Carter delegation." Perhaps. They surely didn't mislead anyone
paying attention to what was going on in Haiti and Washington.21

Clinton's policies have generally been praised as successful, and
rightly so. They achieved what the U.S. has sought ever since the
disaster of the free election of December 1990. The previous status
quo has pretty much been restored, with one vital difference: civil
society has been devastated, and its leading figure has (it is hoped)
been trained to become more "pragmatic" and "realistic." The way is
clear towards restoring the power of the core sector of Civil Society:
foreign investors and "enlightened" elements of the Haitian business
community, those who are offended by the sight of mutilated corpses as
they are driven by in their limousines, preferring that the poor waste
away quietly, out of sight, while the remnants perhaps find a place in
assembly plants where they may even survive the regimen of democracy
and capitalism for a few years, if lucky.

The Clinton administration regularly complains that it has to walk
a "fine line." That's true. U.S. military doctrine is unusual, perhaps
unique, in holding that U.S. soldiers are not permitted to face any
threat. If someone makes a gesture they see as dangerous, they are to
call in massive force. Whatever one thinks of the doctrine, it at once
disqualifies the U.S. from participation in any operation involving
civilians. U.N. peacekeeping forces have radically different rules of
engagement, as must any civilized country that participates in
operations short of total war. There are cultural and historical
reasons for U.S. doctrine, traceable to the Biblical sources that
inspired our genocidal forebears and to a history of overwhelming
power, contingencies that are likely to bring forth the most ugly
features of any society.

It would not be very surprising, then, if the Haitian operations
become another catastrophe, like Somalia, in which case respectable
commentary will have to shift gear, though only slightly. It is not a
difficult chore to trot out the familiar phrases that will explain the
failure of our mission of benevolence in this failed society. Perhaps,
with luck, the worst will be avoided as U.S. forces reinstate one of
the two antagonists in the "ongoing civil war" between the two
"heavily armed gangs bent on revenge or determined not to yield power"
-- the one that was protected by the tanks and armored cars as the
other, with their "homicidal tendencies," sought to demonstrate for
democracy on September 30. Following the Guatemalan model, terror can
be followed by USAID projects funding FRAPH terrorists as they
construct alternatives to the social service sector that arose
democratically, and is therefore intolerable to U.S. elites. In my
July article on Haiti, I quoted (from the Washington Post)
the leader of a now-clandestine pro-Aristide group, who predicted that
"the Duvalierist system will continue, with or without the return of
Aristide." "The Duvialierists have many fine days ahead of them in
this country," another human rights worker said: "People are losing
their ability to make things happen here, and it will take many years
to reverse that under the best of circumstances." That is how a "broad
consensus" of the Pezzullo-Hakim type is established, as both of them
understand full well. That is the lesson of "capitalism and
democracy," as interpreted by U.S. elites, who despise democracy only
slightly more than free market discipline (for themselves).

6. A Parable for Our Times

The story of Haiti is far from over. Two hundred years of popular
struggles in Haiti teach us a great deal about the commitment to
freedom and justice and the depth of its roots. But as of today, Haiti
stands almost as a parable of the 500-year record which, if honesty
were imaginable, we would describe as a barbarian invasion in which a
savage fringe of Western Europe conquered most of the world.

When Columbus landed in Haiti in 1492, it seemed to him a paradise.
The extraordinary wealth of the island of Saint-Domingue, the richest
colony in the world, was one of the foundations of France's wealth and
power. Having won its freedom, Haiti faced the bitter revenge of the
great powers, the U.S. taking first place in seeking to crush the
upstarts who called for freedom for all people -- and forgetting the
1500 freed slaves from Haiti who had joined in the U.S. war of
independence. The reasons were understood very well by French diplomat
Talleyrand, who wrote to James Madison in 1805 that "The existence of
a Negro people in arms, occupying a country it has soiled by the most
criminal acts, is a horrible spectacle for all white nations,"
particularly one that based its "free market" economic development on
slavery to provide cheap cotton, and that was then engaged in
exterminating or expelling the indigenous population. Talleyrand was
formulating an early version of the "rotten apple theory" (in its
public version, the "domino theory"), which has played a leading role
in post-World War II history.

Haitian historian Patrick Bellegarde-Smith writes that "Haiti was
the first nation in the world to argue the case of universal freedom
for all humankind, revealing the limited definition of freedom adopted
by the French and American revolutions." Words worth pondering.

In 1915, as Woodrow Wilson was planning his "idealistic" operation
to ensure that U.S. banks and businesses would take over Haiti's
financial and natural resources, historian William MacCorkle was still
able to write that the island had "within its shores more natural
wealth than any other territory of similar size in the world."
Whatever the truth of that estimate, little remained after Wilson's
forces had done their work -- apart from profits for U.S. investors
and a tiny clique of Haitian collaborators. "The U.S. occupation was
supposed to ensure elite control of the Haitian peasantry and foreign
control of the Haitian elite," Bellegarde-Smith observes -- to ensure
control of Haiti by the central components of Haitian Civil Society,
in the proper hierarchic relation. The extreme racism of the occupiers
intensified the internal racism of Haitian society, and contributed in
other ways to what some call "Haitian fascism."

In one of the many sanctimonious displays that are currently
defiling media and journals, New York Times correspondent
Larry Rohter writes that "The Haitian ruling classes have always
viewed their country's poor as less than human," something that makes
the struggle "hard to comprehend" for Americans ("Compromise is
American, Not Haitian"). He is right about the Haitian ruling classes,
and is also right to imply that the idealistic Americans -- "now back,
still aspiring to do good works" -- have not entirely shared the
attitudes of the Haitian ruling classes. The Wilson administration was
much more egalitarian, regarding all Haitians as less than human, not
just the poor. As for the historical willingness of U.S. power to
compromise, we need waste no words.22

Wilson's Marines disbanded Haiti's Parliament in 1918 when it
refused to ratify the U.S.-imposed Constitution, which permitted
purchase of Haitian lands by foreigners, and did not allow it to
reconvene for twelve years. The occupier's Constitution was "ratified"
in a Marine-run plebiscite that did not even approach the dignity of
fraud, another one of our contributions to this country with "no
history of democracy," where the current President's "commitment to
democracy is unproven."

The atrocities of the idealistic mission, including aerial bombing
of a Haitian city, finally reached home, eliciting public protest. A
1927 study of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom
recounted such U.S. atrocities as burning men and women alive, summary
execution of children, beating and torturing, machine-gunning of
civilians, daily shooting of cattle and burning of crops, houses,
mills, and so on. It came to be understood that atrocities are best
left to local clients, as other imperial powers had long realized.
Washington proceeded to create an army that "may have ended forever
the possibility of an agrarian revolt against the central authority,"
anthropologist Sidney Mintz observes, much as it did in the Dominican
Republic next door at the same time, and in much the same way. Haitian
anthropologist Michel-Rolph Trouillot describes the establishment of
"an army to fight the people" as the worst of the legacies of the
occupation, which "left the country with two poisoned gifts: a weaker
civil society and a solidified state apparatus." Current plans simply
continue the process, which has its counterparts through Latin
America, and is firmly founded in explicit doctrine.

Haitian historian Dantes Bellegarde describes the period from
mid-19th century to 1929 as one of ongoing peasant insurgency, finally
defeated by the occupying army, with its overwhelming force advantage.
In earlier years, insurgents could retreat into the interior beyond
the range of naval bombardment, but the methods of aerial bombardment
of civilians pioneered by Wilson, then extended by British
imperialists, "rendered that tactic obsolete," Bellergarde-Smith
observes. The much-lauded infrastructure projects, such as road
construction by forced labor, also served the purpose of
centralization of power and pacification.

Since then the U.S. has run Haiti without much interference. The
educational system, meanwhile, was taken over by other outsiders,
primarily the Catholic church and U.S. Protestant organisations, who
are not held responsible for the results, including some 80%
illiteracy by 1988. The United States trained and armed the security
forces, including the elite Leopard counterinsurgency units of the
Duvalier dictatorships. "Development projects" initiated and funded by
the U.S. accelerated the displacement of subsistence agriculture in
favor of export crops and the agribusiness industry. Haiti was
considered a fine place to invest, because a "skilled labor force with
excellent work attitudes is abundant and available and at remarkably
low cost" (Report of Haitian Assembly Industry Association to U.S.
corporations). Ample terror was available to eliminate such deviations
from free market principles as unions, minimal wage laws, and safety
regulations. As democracy is restored by Clinton's intervention,
Aristide's earlier proposal to increase the Haitian minimum wage has
become a "non-issue," World Bank official Axel Peuker observes, and
other social measures are "not on the agenda," he said, as we march
towards "democracy and capitalism."

Throughout this period "economic health" improved in the technical
sense, along with starvation, infant mortality, and other human
disasters, while real wages plummeted. By the early 1970s, people
began to flee, as hundreds of thousands had under Wilson's occupation,
and as they do en masse elsewhere in the Caribbean domains of U.S.
power -- for unknown reasons. The refugees were forcefully returned
under Carter, increasingly so under a Reagan-Duvalier agreement. The
recent record is familiar.

Meanwhile ecological destruction continues as a consequence of
development policies and prevailing systems of social control. Some
analysts predict that the remaining forest cover may disappear in a
few years, leading to erosion of the remaining fertile soils and
disappearance of the water supply. Within our lifetimes, the paradise
that Columbus found and that enriched Europe may become a desert,
virtually devoid of life.23

It's never too late to arrest that fate. If it comes about, the
powerful will have no difficulty absolving themselves of any
responsibility; those who have benefited from a good education can
write the script right now. If it comes about, we will have only
ourselves to blame.


1 Cooper, de
Cordoba, WSJ, Oct. 3; David Beard, AP, BG,
Oct. 3, 1994.

2 Kifner,
NYT, Oct. 1, 2; Diego Ribadeneira, BG, Oct.
2; editorial, NYT, Oct. 2, 1994. Latell, see Paul Farmer,
The Uses of Haiti (Common Courage 1994).

3 Nairn,
Oct. 3, 1994.

4 Paul
Quinn-Judge, BG, Sept. 8, 1994.

5 Greenhouse,
NYT, Oct. 2; Paul Quinn-Judge, BG, Oct. 2.
Reuters, "U.S. Haiti Role Criticized," NYT, Sept. 27, a
few buried lines; Peter Canellos, BG, Oct. 1, 1994.
"Guatemala: Ex-dictator will control Congress," Latinamerica
Sept. 1, 1994.

6 Lewis, Sept.
30, 1994.

7 Branch,
Op-ed, NYT, Sept. 25; Douglas Jehl, NYT,
Sept. 22, 1994.

8 See my
article in Z, May 1994.

9 Barbara
Crossette, NYT, Feb. 5, 1992. Laurent Belsie, CSM,
Sept. 27, 1994.

10 See my
article in Z, July 1994.

11 See my
"Objectivity and Liberal Scholarship," in American Power and the
New Mandarins
(Pantheon 1969), reprinted in part in James Peck,
ed., Chomsky Reader (Pantheon 1988).

12 Steven
Greenhouse, NYT, Sept. 19, 1994.

13 Clinton,
NYT, Sept. 16; Todd, Telegraph Journal, New
Brunswick, Sept. 17, 1994.

14 Randolph
Ryan, BG, Sept. 25, 1994.

15 Robert
Greenberger, WSJ, Sept. 22; Maureen Dowd, NYT,
Sept. 22; Sciolino, Sept. 18, 1994. IADB, Americas Watch, see my
article in Z, July, and sources cited.

15 Robert
Greenberger, et al., WSJ, Sept. 19; Pezzullo, op-ed,
Sept. 21, 1994.

17 Peter
Grier, "US tightens the Screws on Haitian Elite," CSM,
June 24, 1994.

18 Calvin
Sims, NYT, Sept. 22, 1994.

19 Apple,
NYT, Sept. 20; Broder, BG, Sept. 20; Kifner,
NYT, Oct. 3, 1994.

20 Freed,
LAT, Sept. 24; de Cordoba, WSJ, Sept. 16;
James Harding, FT, Sept. 27, 1994. See Z,

21 Rohter,
NYT, Sept. 22, 1994.

22 Rohter,
NYT, Sept. 25, 1994.

Bellegarde-Smith, Haiti: the Breached Citadel (Westview
1990); Farmer, op. cit.; my Year 501 (South
End 1993) and Z, July 1994. And sources cited.

HTML version taken from