Plan Haiti Emerges


The US government, in cahoots with the illegal regime of Gerard Latortue and powerful elements within the Haitian Diaspora, are lobbying to impose punitive legislation on Haitians, paving the way for the entrenchment of neoliberal programs that are guaranteed to enrich the few and further impoverish the many.

The backdrop against which these plans are emerging is the continuing witch hunt that is terrorizing supporters of Aristide and members of the Lavalas party, forcing many into hiding, while indiscriminately murdering countless others. This persecution is systematic. The former death squad members, military, as well as the thousands of prisoners who have been freed, have scores to settle against the families of those who betrayed them in the past, who dared to raise their voices against the violence and repression of the former military regime. Accordingly, the leadership and base of democracy in Haiti must be rooted out and dismantled by whatever means possible if the recent coup is to stick. Recently, the National Lawyers Guild’s Tom Griffin provided an eyewitness account of horrific human rights abuses. Among numerous things, his delegation witnessed:

“[H]undreds of corpses being dumped by morgues in Haiti and…bodies coming in with plastic bags over their heads and hands tied behind their backs, piles of corpses burning in fields and pigs eating their flesh.”[1]

Two days after this disturbing report, Roger Noriega spoke to the American Enterprise Institute where he said, “Haitians deserve democracy – and a government that looks out for their interests.”[2] Later he said, “The Bush Administration believes that if we all do our part and do it right, Haiti will have the democracy it deserves.” Currently, everyone seems to be playing their part extremely well.

This is only the beginning of the road to democracy that Haiti “deserves”.

Some of the real motivations behind the recent US-led overthrow of President Aristide are emerging as US policymakers and their corporate henchmen hatch their plans to put Haiti in the fiscal vice grip of neoliberalism. According to Noriega, these plans would fall under the third of the “Principles of US Engagement in Haiti,” which will see the US government encouraging “the Government of Haiti to move forward, at the appropriate time, with restructuring and privatisation of some public sector enterprises.”

If anyone had doubts about whether or not Aristide was cow-towing enough to the United States and its imposition of neoliberal stratagem, one need only look at how quickly the interim government, in lockstep with the US and the Haitian Diaspora, are looking to fast-track this neoliberal stranglehold on the country now that he’s gone. Clearly, Aristide was seen as some sort of barrier to US-style neoliberalism, which cannot tolerate any barriers to its advances.

This appears to be taking shape around the proposed Hero Act legislation, introduced into the Senate in February of 2003 by Mike Dewine, and co-sponsored in the House by prominent Congressional Black Caucus members.[3] While the CBC are demanding an investigation into Aristide’s departure, they have yet to issue a statement concerning the new status of the Hero Act.[4]

During his recent trip to Haiti, Colin Powell plugged the Hero Act in an interview with elite-owned Radio Metropole: “We have the Hero Act before Congress now…We would like to see the Act passed and I will be examining and discussing it this week with our Congress.”[5]

This same day interim Prime Minister Gerard Latortue and Powell met, and in their post-meeting debriefing with the press, the Hero Act was again mentioned, this time by Latortue: “What we talked about in defense of the private sector’s interests is the Hero Act. The Hero Act is something we are discussing that favours, in fact, some of the activities of the private sector.”

“The Haitian-American Investment Bank” – PromoCapital – has recently been circulating propaganda, foregrounding a recent letter of Dewine’s, that calls on his “colleagues” for support of the Hero Act. In this letter, Dewine refers to the provisions in the Hero Act as “the same as those provided to the least developed countries in Africa through the African Growth and Opportunity Act [AGOA].” The emphasis of the Act, in Dewine’s words, is on “trade incentives”, “foreign direct investment” and “economic development”, which will culminate in “spill over effects for the rest of Haiti’s population.” We should briefly look to AGOA for indications as to the impact that similar legislation might have on Haiti.

“The main effect of AGOA,” as reported by Patrick Bond on Zmag in 2001, “is to link aid to economic reform, by which is meant the dismantling of state regulatory environment. There are no benefits, and the costs include clear manifestations of deepening structural adjustment and deregulation.” Indeed, many consider AGOA to be an ‘African NAFTA’. Widespread opposition to AGOA exists “because it is a capitalist policy whose aim is to undermine political sovereignty and economic choices of African states by imposing privatization, trade liberalization and other anti-working class policies.” [6]

The AGOA was seen as combining “the worst terms of both NAFTA and harsh IMF structural adjustment programs” while benefiting primarily “huge US corporations.”[7] Last year, Bill Fletcher of the Transafrica forum assessed AGOA’s impact: “AGOA has been a real mixed bag, but overall it’s a sham…Exports continue to be largely oil…AGOA doesn’t carry with it human, environmental and labor rights to protect people in areas where production is supposed to be taking place.” Quite simply, according to Fletcher elsewhere “The notion that AGOA has actually benefited African countries is a gross misrepresentation.” [8]

The AGOA makes stipulations that allow for effective US unilateral control over the conditions that are to be met by African countries. Of course, a different level of control will exist in the case of Haiti, as the Bush Administration is spearheading Haiti’s “reconstruction” – a familiar and loaded term that followers of US foreign and trade policy are well aware of. Noriega has already stated that the US will be facilitating the updating of Haiti’s Commercial Code “in order to create the right environment for growth and wealth creation.” [9] At the top of their latest circulation, PromoCapital pledges allegiance to the US State Department by quoting Roger Noriega’s AEI speech. A closer look at the “Haitian Diaspora” to which Noriega refers seems in order. Judging by some of the names on the list of PromoCapital shareholders and founders, this legislation has been 13 years in the making. At least nine of the seventy people named as PromoCapital shareholders and founders were known or suspected financial backers of the 1991 military coup, which overthrew President Aristide and proceeded to slaughter well over 3,000 people. These people had their assets blocked by the US Department of Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control under the Clinton Administration, until 1994. [10]

The Haitian military and FRAPH murderers were supported by some of these same people, and recent developments make it appear logical that they have once again supported a coup, with the intent to derail democracy once again in Haiti. This time around, the coup had to be planned differently so as to give these coup-backers turned “bankers” free reign to further pillage the country economically while terrorizing those people who dare to explore their democratic political consciousness. The triumvirate of Haiti’s elite, the illegitimate Latortue regime, and the Bush Administration could not have developed without a unified denial of the coup, along with a denial of human rights abuses and political persecution.

Besides the coup-backers, there are many other notable persons on the PromoCapital [11] list, such as Axan Abellard, a resident of Florida who was on the short list for PM in early March with eventual PM Gerard Latortue. Or Hans Tippenhauer, one of the most outspoken of the Group of 184 “leaders” during the build-up to the coup. Tippenhauer publicly referred to the “rebels” that were terrorizing Northern Haiti as “freedom fighters” long before Gerard Latortue similarly praised them [on March 20, 2004].[12] Also on the list are several powerful individuals who control a great deal of Haitian wealth, such as Dumas Simeus, Danielle Jean-Pierre, Albert Levy, Henri Deschamps, and many others. [13]

Before February 29th, the US did not publicly state its allegiance to the “democratic opposition” in Haiti. The relationship between the US lending institutions and “civil society” was never explored by the mainstream press, even though multiple lending institutions are either known or alleged to have had financial connections to the opposition. USAID in particular has already stated its support for PromoCapital’s “Haiti Reconstruction Fund”, and are clear that “The departure of President Aristide presents us now with an opportunity to rebuild and move forward.” [14] This position, in addition to the Latortue Regime’s having recently received the full endorsement of the Bush Regime, has evolved in the short span of six weeks, since the “resignation and willing departure” of President Aristide.

At this point, any notion of the Haitian people having the opportunity to decide for themselves how to proceed with and determine their own future, is being shoved down the memory hole by powerful interests with the power of steadfast denial. The Hero Act [15], being vigorously pursued by Haiti’s elite and the Bush and Boca Raton Regime’s, will likely be in place before the Haitian people even get to cast their next vote. Herein lies the crux of Plan Haiti: polarize or eliminate the existing democratic political opposition, while militarizing the country [with impunity] to prevent popular uprisings from emerging.

Any elections will be far from legitimate and will not, as Powell stated “put the country back on a constitutional footing.” Latortue discussed with Powell the groundrules of the future “democratic process”, which were agreed to by “the political parties [excluding Lavalas, and] the civil society groups…We have also agreed that no one in this government or in the former government will participate in the administration as long as they have not renounced the use of guns and corruption.” Latortue neglects to explain how “former officials” will be able to voice such a renunciation, given that they are largely in hiding from lynch squads who are doing the dirty work of Latortue and the Boca Raton regime, paving the way toward “a new beginning” and “a future of hope for the Haitian people.” [16]

As other details are emerging regarding the US’s role in training and funding the Haitian “rebels” in the Dominican Republic, and a rumoured US military occupation of Haiti’s strategic Mole St. Nicolas [situated one one side of the Windward Passage, facing Cuba] ,one has to wonder at what point any of this will be made public knowledge.[17] As of writing, the most painful and violent consequences of US destabilization campaigns are being felt by targeted Haitian citizens. These people are being targeted for persecution due to their pursuit of democracy and freedom, and due to their desire to fulfill their human right to self-determination. The United States understands history and knows how to make sure it repeats itself in Latin America and the Caribbean. If this proceeds unabated, the chances are good that never again will Haiti’s poorest be invited to the table of democracy, for no such table can exist while people are being forcefed harmful neoliberal programs while staring down the barrel of a gun.

Notes:

[1] Listen to the interview or read the transcript at http://www.democracynow.org. Also, see the NLG’s summary report, April 11, 2004 at http://www.haiti-progres.com/eng04-14.html.

[2] See Noriega, Assistant secretary of State for Western Hemispheric Affair’s “Haiti at the Crossroads of Democracy,” ‘Remarks to the American Enterprise Institute: April 14, 2004. http://www.state.gov/p/wha/rls/31411pf.htm

[3] See “Haitian Economic Recovery Act Will Bring Jobs”, by Rep. John F. Conyers, Jr., February 28, 2003, and co-sponsored by Reps. Rangel, Meek, Lee, Waters, among others. See web page item #804 at http://www.haitipolicy.org.

[4] None of Rangle, Conyers, Lee or Waters were available for comment. A source from one of these offices asserted that the Hero Act was “bipartisan”, and added that the co-sponsorship of the legislation was in “the interest of job creation for Haitians”, plain and simple. This source would not speculate as to Senator Dewine’s support for the Latortue regime, which the CBC sees as illegal.

[5] See “Secretary of State Colin L. Powell’s Interview on Radio Metropole with Rothchild Francois, Jr.”, April 5, 2004 at: http://usinfo.state.gov [posted April 7, 2004]. For the Latortue-Powell press briefing see http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/31186pf.htm

[6] See Patrick Bond’s “Ghana’s hydro-class struggles,” May 21, 2001 at: http://www.zmag.org/sustainers/content/2001-05/23bond.htm

[7] See “US aims for ‘Latin Americanization’ of Africa” at http://www.greenleft.org/au/back/1998/312p21.htm

[8]http://www.transafricaforum.org/newsletter/news_july2_03_ustrade.htm l#top

[9] At the American Enterprise Institute”, April 14, 2004.

[10] For the list. For background on the economic sanctions.

[11] PromoCapital is a subsidiary of PromoBank, which was also on the list of “Blocked Entities” re: 1991 coup. For the complete list of PromoCapital “partners”, see http://www.dvercity.com/magazine_haiti.html. There are *many* important lists to be concerned with regarding Haiti, some of which can be heard daily on elite-owned Haitian radio as was told to us in Port au Prince by Prevat Precil, former General Director of the Ministry of Justice under President Aristide. At the time of our meeting, Precil was not yet being subjected to direct persecution. Last week, Precil was sacked by the Latortue regime and has since been forced to flee the country, presumably since he was added to a list. See the Haiti Report, which [especially] discusses “ministerial overhauls” and political persecution, as well as the urgent issue of human rights abuses: http://www.haitireborn.org/news/haitireport/

[12] Tippenhauer’s comments are cited in the Washington Post’s “U.S. Marines Fortify Haiti Embassy: Anti-Aristide Group Gives Talks More Time”, February 24, 2004. See “Haiti Leader Visits “freedom fighters“”, March 21, 2004.

[13] Deschamps, for example, has his hands in much of the media in Haiti, and has connections to USAID. Simeus is the Chairman of PromoCapital and runs the largest Haitian-American-owned business in Texas. Overall, the web of corporate connections that make up much of the PromoCapital shareholders and founders list, is extensive. I expect that further investigation will yield some considerable insight into the “modus operandi” of the planning and execution of the recent coup.

[14] USAID has withheld significant aid from Haiti in attempt to force privatization on them. The first order of business in a Haiti that is friendly to USAID ideology might be the long sought-after privatization of state-owned Teleco. For USAID’s policy position in this respect, see this report.

[15] A key provision of the Hero Act has not been discussed here, namely, the issue of the textile industry, which immediately raises questions of the Free Trade Zone along the Dominican Border, and the labour practices of the corporations operating there, such as the DR’s Grupo M, or the major US player, Levi’s [not to mention Canada's Gildan Activewear]. This will have to be the topic for a later discussion [in this new context], but for extensive background see: http://www.globalpolicy.org/socecon/trade/2003/0819haiti.htm, http://haitisupport.gn.apc.org/zonefranche.htm, http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/43a/447.html. See also the background as provided by World Bank affiliate International Finance Corporation.

[16] These last comments were Powell’s. oth his and Latortue’s comments can be found at http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/31186pf.htm

[17] Again, a topic for another discussion. See “US accused of training Haitian rebels in Dominican Republic“, March 30, 2004. On Mole St. Nicolas, several people [on all sides of the political spectrum] in Haiti told us that the US had already accupied it [as of March 23, 2004]. This might be explored in relation to Bush’s “Third Border Initiative” which emphasizes development and security.

Leave a comment