[A-List] US imperialism, Haiti
sherrynstan at igc.org
Mon Dec 9 15:17:38 MST 2002
Title: U.S. policy toward Haiti promotes economic instability
Source: The Progressive
Date: November 6, 2002
Author: Kim Ives
The dramatic landing of 235 Haitian refugees on Key Biscayne, Fla., on Oct.
29 threw a spotlight on the scandalous policy of indefinite detention,
the Bush administration reserves solely for Haitian asylum seekers.
Less well understood, however, is how U.S. policy toward Haiti, both
political and economic, is responsible for the refugee crisis.
The Bush administration is contributing to misery in Haiti by blocking the
disbursement of some $500 million in international development aid and
because it doesn't like the Haitian president. "We have very serious
about the leadership of Jean Bertrand Aristide," said Roger Noriega, U.S.
representative to the Organization of American States (OAS) and former
of staff of archconservative Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C. Whatever Noriega's
problems with him are, Aristide was unquestionably elected president by a
democratic majority in 2000, unlike George W. Bush.
Noriega denies any U.S. aid embargo. "We have given over $120 million worth
of assistance to Haiti in the last two years," he says. But aid has not
to the Haitian government but to nongovernmental organizations that are
working at cross-purposes with the Haitian government.
Meanwhile, over the past eight years, Washington has funneled some $70
million to create, fund and organize an opposition to President Aristide.
Bush administration officials will not release aid until this opposition
wrested power, or at least a power-sharing arrangement, from Aristide's
Lavalas Party. This is Washington's version of a democratic struggle.
Secretary of State Colin Powell was more forthcoming than Noriega. "We have
to hold the Haitian government to appropriate standards of democracy and
representative government, and we have held up some of the aid trying to
achieve that purpose," Powell said.
On top of that, Washington, working with the World Bank and International
Monetary Fund (IMF), has led Haiti into economic disaster. "Raise more cash
crops" like coffee, sugar and cocoa, it told Haiti. But there is a
glut of such products since the IMF and the World Bank gave the same advice
to many exporters. A boon to U.S. and European food multinationals, this
spelled ruin for millions of peasants who have had to leave the land,
flooding into the cities in search of survival. There, U.S. businesses set
assembly factories to capitalize on the cheap labor. But far too few jobs
available and tens of thousands of Haitians have sought to follow the flow
wealth north to the United States by sea.
Three decades ago, Haiti exported sugar, coffee, cotton and cocoa, and
produced almost enough rice, beans, plantains and pork to feed its
population, despite the parasitism of the Duvalier dictatorship. Today,
must import the vast majority of its food. The country has become dependent
on U.S. food and loans, which set it up for the kind of political extortion
Haiti is experiencing today.
Aristide bears his share of the blame for the crisis. He pledged to pursue
nationalist policies when enthusiastically first elected in 1990, prompting
reverse migration of hopeful Haitians. But then the administration of
President Bush tolerated (many analysts say fomented) a bloody three-year
coup, during which Aristide was brought to Washington and re-educated.
he has chosen to accept U.S.-dictated neoliberal reforms, embrace former
Duvalierists, crack down on unions, sign sovereignty-smashing treaties and
sell off Haitian territory for U.S. free-trade zones in an attempt to
reassure Washington of his pliancy.
This about-face has not placated the Bush hawks one iota, but only deepened
the vicious circle of displacement, impoverishment, corruption and
that is compelling Haitians to take to the seas.
Kim Ives is a filmmaker and a journalist with Haiti Progres, a newsweekly
based in New York, which is published in French, Creole and English, and
distributed in Haiti and its diaspora. He can be reached at
pmproj at progressive.org.
Is the US criminal justice system a weapon of mass destruction?
Money for reparations, not for war!
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