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Author Topic: HAITI AND THE YUPPIE SILENCE  (Read 11051 times)
Posts: 1531

« on: March 03, 2004, 08:05:28 PM »

Haiti, Is That One of the Tahitian Islands?

The Yuppie Silence


The "progressive" community in America has always and will continue to flabbergast my perception of know-all. As one who commonly identifies with the monolithic-activist-culture, furthermore a proud son of Haiti (albeit Diaspora) striving to fulfill the prodigal Caribbean prophecy, an anomaly has manifested itself on the crown of this dualistic self-perception; grant me the luxury of expounding as to why.

The issue du jour

The ongoing coup d'etat in Haiti is more or less a semi-torrid rehearsal of the Bush administration's Grand Imperialist Strategy; an anabolic fetus to Reagan's Caribbean Basin Initiative (the precursor to NAFTA, FTAA etc.), with a twist of indirect-interventionist militarism. Aristide has fled the country, allegedly...Correction, Aristide was sternly relieved (sic) from his Constructional post and the baton is in passing. The most up-to-date "FRAPH" (violent blow) one-upped 650 million USD in withheld aid, multiple embargoes and Neo-Liberal sanctions, Yanqui sponsored political destabilization (terrorism) by Group 184 & The Democratic Convergence and the vile hijacking of 1991, in potentially obliterating popular sovereignty in Haiti, permanently.

Let us for once (including myself), as "lefties," refrain from 10,000 word odes to statistical analysis: The Bush Administration publicly advocated that a democratically elected leader step down; a hijacking of guard attributable to internal rebel pressure. The extent of this advocacy has yet to de revealed in full, but based on the bloody evolution of U$ hemispheric policy, one has reason to believe that the operation was, from start to finish, a military offensive. As the astute foreign policy paralegal that he is, would Secretary Powell allow us the privilege of forecasting a parallel anchored in this precedent?

"President Bush speaks from the Oval Office: Throughout my term, I have addressed the nation on matters that I believed to be of national importance. This time I come to you with a heavy heart. Unidentified rebels have taken siege of the Breckenridge Ski Resort in the Rocky Mountainous region of the country. Prior to these illegal actions, I had requested aid from our international allies. To my dismay, they have not responded. Today I announce that I am resigning my post in hopes of preventing blood shed. In the case of the war in Iraq, the war on 'terrer' (pronounced tear-were), thousands of lives were lost. I listened to my advisors, perhaps foolishly But, there is a saying in Tennessee, and I think they have it in Texas Fool me once (pause), sh-sh-sh-shame on me (stutter). Fool me twice"

A bit dramatized yes, but point exhibited. The same argumentation could be used to prove why Nazi Germany had better reason to attack the U$ (ala Pearl Harbor), as a form of preventative warfare, motivated by the theory of encirclement, than we in our manifold of Cold War counter-insurgencies!

Haiti could be looked at as the ideal battleground for U$ proxy-class warfare -- Andy Apaid and his "eight-percenter" oligarchs in cohorts with Guy Phillipe and his column of Uncle Tom thugs, versus the starving Black Proletariat. If the above parties were the only characters in play, various Third World truisms would reign above all. Actually, the pseudo-inbred French descendants (the Haitian elite), and the Black majority are not even the protagonists at center stage; instead the U$ government and public opinion, the world's superpowers. Through a deliberate assault on the labor movement in the early 1900's, the corporate privatization of the press, tripled with the American Left's penchant for self-destruction, public opinion rarely reflects a populist perspective. This being said, one can call witness to several exceptions and variations to rule.

As to my confusion, the dilemma, the anomaly

In my brief 26 years, I've observed demonstrations that defy this anti-populist judgment of public opinion. It seems as though the activist movement is uninterruptedly fickle in how it pursues varying injustices. One can safely point to a few that are synonymous with Folk music, rallying, protesting, leafleting and so on: Tibet, East Timor, Chiapas, Iraq. Dare I say that if there were an omniscient pathology fueling the Circadian rhythm of secular humanitarians, it would be collectively named after these causes! Are the pressures instigating support for the "famous four" valid in their potency? Unquestionably. Is there a correlation between celebrity endorsement and the popularity of an examined issue? Unequivocally.

Brothers like Zack De La Rocha, Bono, Tom Morello, Serj Taniken, Chuck D., have all exploited their status as celebrities to bring about awareness to numerous examples of social injustice. Actions such as theirs are invaluable in such downtrodden times. They epitomize the essence of art, of the artist. They make "the revolution irresistible" (Toni Cambi). The inherent quandary arises when we as activists posture as bovine simpletons, endorsing solely, strictly and religiously the movements associated with Pop Culture.

For years I have battled a rising tide of anger, disbelief and RAGE. Oddly enough, these sentiments haven't been poised to attack the Dixiecrats of this era, rather aimed at the so-called activists. I wholeheartedly admit to a degree of selfishness pursuant to this discontent. By rite of heritage and blood, my foremost concern is that of the valiant men and women of Haiti.

At every juncture wherest I've taken to stage, in either a musical or oratorical capacity, the very mention of the word "Haiti" disconfigures otherwise stoic brows to shriveled temples of confusion. There may be a soul or two who are familiar with the Mariel Boat Lift, Abner Louima or the Crome Detention Center. On rare occasion, a timid comrade will approach me post set wishing to debate the guerilla strategies perfected by L'Overture and Desaillines. However, I can't possibly count the incidents of "Dude, I really feel for your people of Tahiti" Tahiti, this from a cadre ostensibly involved with progressive endeavors!

This phenomenon of intellectual ignorance could partly be blamed on the indoctrination of educational systems stateside; partly. The ideological commissars have done well in reducing Haiti's entire existence to a mere 12 syllables: The poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. If their wiles were flawless, we would all be imprisoned by the incessant humdrum of consumerism, oblivious to even the most fractional of societal abuses Please! How is that this planetary orb has often been wondered by macrocosmic manifestations of solidarity and humanitarianism; exhibitions in defiance of the power structure's mendacity and disdain, preceded by infinite microcosmic, grass-roots trials; how? As evidenced by the past and current showings of leftist complacency (for the most part) specific to the socio-economic plight of the Haitian Global Village, there is a lurking stimulus aside from the aforementioned ones.

Many countries in Latin America have a valid claim to being the beacon for Third World oppression, injustice etc. The progressives have sanctioned a milieu of struggles in a majority of the countries in query, and rightly so ­ But, and a gargantuan one at that, if there is a single nation in this hemisphere that has beheld the back of humanitarians, is Haiti. Trace the history of socio-political isolation and embargo opposite to the interests of the U$; you will find that Haiti is the elder of the village. Examine the savagery of dictatorial regimes since the Anglo-Saxon rape & pillage of the America's; you will find no parallel to the Duvalier junta (on a per-capita scale). Analyze the virulence of immigration statutes over the last 40 years, across the multi-cultural spectrum; you will note that Haitians outnumber every other group as far as indefinite detentions and cases of blind repatriation. Consider the bestiary of police / state acts of violence against migrant sectors; you will call Haitians to the echelon of the unfortunate selection. Recall the infamous 12 syllables of Haitian definition; the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere; and you will note the following:

The richest 1% of the population controls nearly half of all of Haiti's wealth.

Haiti has long ranked as the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and is the fourth poorest country in the world.

Haiti ranks 146 out of 173 on the Human Development Index.*

Life expectancy is 52 years for women and 48 for men*.

Adult literacy is about 50%.*

Unemployment is about 70%.*

85% of Haitians live on less than $1 US per day.*

Haiti ranks 38 out of 195 for under-five mortality rate.*

('Investigating the Effects of Withheld Humanitarian Aid,' a report of the Haiti Reborn/Quixote Center.)

Where is the public outcry; where in the hell has it been since 1804? Where are the hordes of white ideological college students, breathless and hoarse from a regiment of protest? Where are the "Hip-Art" B-Boys & Girls sporting a red shirt with 1804 plastered in blue front and back? Why aren't are the "Free-the-Haitian-Refugees-at-Crome-Detention-Center" banners at every antiwar rally? Aside from boring the reader, I could go on, endlessly.

Understanding our limited knowledge of human nature and assuming that the American left in this country is embarrassingly Anglo Saxon, let me cast out a hypothesis: It is exponentially easier to identify with causes whose victims resemble us in some ethno-cultural sense. Conversely, it is daunting realization indeed, admitting that those diametrically opposite in ethno-culture are seldom the recipients of our compassion. Not being informed about the downward journey of Haiti and its Global Village post 1804, doesn't make you a Negrophobe (if that were the case, African Americans would similarly suffer from this affliction, defying its very definition therewith). Denying the plausibility that we as the "high & mighty" activists be impervious to the pressures of the machine makes a sad case for the future of all disenfranchised peoples. The anomaly has been revealed. I still find it difficult to sympathize with the socio-economic woes of the Confederate flag-waving Dad's of NASCAR; perhaps its because they are inexplicably different than I?

Confused and bewildered I remain.

JG is the lead Emcee for the politically leftist Hip-Hop duet, Over The Counter Intelligence (JG & HavikenHayes), based in Fort Lauderdale Florida. They are most recognized through their support of various grassroots organizations throughout the country; most notably The Coalition of Immokalee Workers -- The Taco Bell Boycott. They are of the best known Indie-Hip Hop groups nationwide. JG has written songs, articles and editorials specific to the oppression of the Haitian Global Village, most importantly, the virulent immigration statues pertaining to Haitian Refugees. He has recently recorded a solo album entitled "Insurgent," which will be released this year via record label. JG & Over The Counter Intelligence will be performing at this year's Taco Bell Boycott, 3-5, Irvine, CA. He can be reached by email: jg_1804@hotmail.com
Reproduced with permission from the author
From: http://www.counterpunch.org/jg03032004.html
Posts: 1531

« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2004, 12:29:44 PM »

by Jeffrey Sachs; Financial Times; March 01, 2004  

The crisis in Haiti is another case of brazen US manipulation of a small, impoverished country with the truth unexplored by journalists. In the nearly universal media line on the Haitian revolt, President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was portrayed as an undemocratic leader who betrayed Haiti's democratic hopes and thereby lost the support of his erstwhile backers. He "stole" elections and intransigently refused to address opposition concerns. As a result he had to leave office, which he did at the insistence of the US and France. Unfortunately, this is a gravely distorted view.

President George Bush's foreign policy team came into office intent on toppling Mr Aristide, long reviled by powerful US conservatives such as former senator Jesse Helms who obsessively saw him as another Fidel Castro in the Caribbean. Such critics fulminated when President Bill Clinton restored Mr Aristide to power in 1994, and they succeeded in getting US troops withdrawn soon afterwards, well before the country could be stabilized. In terms of help to rebuild Haiti, the US Marines left behind about eight miles of paved roads and essentially nothing else. In the meantime, the so-called "opposition", a coterie of rich Haitians linked to the preceding Duvalier regime and former (and perhaps current) CIA operatives, worked Washington to lobby against Mr Aristide.

In 2000, Haiti held parliamentary and then presidential elections, unprecedented in their scope. Mr Aristide's party, Fanmi Lavalas, clearly won the election, although candidates who won a plurality rather than a majority, and who should have faced a second-round election, also gained seats. Objective observers declared the elections broadly successful, albeit flawed.

Mr Aristide won the presidential election later that year, in a contest the US media now reports was "boycotted by the opposition" and hence, not legitimate. This is a cruel joke to those who know Haiti, where Mr Aristide was swept in with an overwhelming mandate and the opposition, such as it was, ducked the elections. Duvalier thugs hardly constituted a winning ticket and as such, did not even try. Nor did they have to. Mr Aristide's foes in Haiti benefited from tight links with the incoming Bush team, which told Mr Aristide it would freeze all aid unless he agreed with the opposition over new elections for the contested Senate seats, among other demands. The wrangling led to the freezing of $500m in emergency humanitarian aid from the US, the World Bank, the Inter- American Development Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

The tragedy, or joke, is that Mr Aristide agreed to compromise, but the opposition simply balked; it was never the right time to hold elections, for example, because of "security" problems, they said. Whatever the pretext, the US maintained its aid freeze and the opposition maintained a veto over international aid. Cut off from bilateral and multilateral financing, Haiti's economy went into a tailspin.

All this is being replayed before our eyes. As Haiti slipped into deeper turmoil last month, Caribbean leaders called for a power-sharing compromise between Mr Aristide and the opposition. Once again, Mr Aristide agreed but the opposition merely demanded the president step down - reportedly rejecting even US Secretary of State Colin Powell's requests to compromise. But rather than defending Mr Aristide and dealing with opposition intransigence, the White House announced the president should step down.

The ease with which the US thereby brought down another Latin American democracy is stunning. What has been the CIA's role among the anti-Aristide rebels? How much US money went from US institutions and government agencies to help foment this uprising? Why did the White House abandon the Caribbean compromise proposal it endorsed just days before? These questions have not been asked. Then again, we live in an age when entire wars can be launched on phony pretences with few questions asked.

What should happen now is unlikely to pass. The United Nations should help restore Mr Aristide to power for his remaining two years in office, making clear that yesterday's events were an illegal power grab. Second, the US should call on the opposition, which is largely a US construct, to stop the violence immediately and unconditionally. Third, after years of literally starving the people of Haiti, the long-promised and long-frozen aid flows of $500m should start immediately. These steps would rescue a dying democracy and avert a possible bloodbath.

The writer is director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University

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