Damming the Flood: Haiti and the Politics of Containment

  • “This riveting and deeply informed account should be carefully read by those who recognize that Haiti's tragic history is a microcosm of imperial savagery and heroic resistance.”
  • “A detailed account of the 'democratic containment' of Haiti's radical politics in the past two decades … an outstanding book.”
  • “An excellent book … the first accurate analysis of recent Haitian history, and of its history in the making.”
  • “Damming the Flood is a brilliant, politically sophisticated and morally infuriating work on a shameful piece of very recent history that the US press has either distorted or ignored. It is the most important and devastating book I’ve read on American betrayal of democracy in one of the most tormented nations in the world.”
  • “The book is a masterpiece. As someone who lived through those years, Damming the Flood is not only incredibly accurate and well sourced but the analysis is also flawless.”
  • “This is a book about the latest crime that the world’s most powerful nation committed against one of the world’s poorest. I like this book for its scholarship, its measured tone, and its good writing. But I am grateful for it above all because at long last it presents another side of a story that has been reported, almost universally, with stunning tendentiousness and in apparent ignorance of the lives and opinions of most Haitians. This book goes a long way to setting the record straight … It ought to be required reading for every historian of the Americas and for every student of political science.”

    Long before a devastating earthquake hit in January 2010, Haiti was one of the most impoverished and oppressed countries in the world. However, in the late 1980s a remarkable popular mobilization known as Lavalas (“the flood”) sought to liberate the island from decades of US-backed dictatorial rule. Damming the Flood analyzes how and why the Lavalas governments led by President Jean-Bertrand Aristide were overthrown, in 1991 and again in 2004, by the enemies of democracy in Haiti and abroad.

    The elaborate campaign to suppress Lavalas was perhaps the most successful act of imperial sabotage since the end of the Cold War. It has left the people of Haiti at the mercy of some of the most rapacious political and economic forces on the planet.

    Updated with a substantial new afterword that addresses the international response to the earthquake, Damming the Flood is both an invaluable account of recent Haitian history and an illuminating analysis of twenty-first-century imperialism.

    This new edition provides an additional chapter which updates us with the events in Haiti after and around the earthquake. These fateful events don't alter the conclusions Hallward arrived at in the first edition; if anything they're re-enforced and proved right. The speed at which a humanitarian tragedy was turned into an opportunity to further deepen military occupation, allowing the US take over the island, proves that Haiti has not lost its appeal for the “Humanitarian Interventionists” in any way. Also, the widespread acceptance of the occupation as a positive action by most of the world's media shows that popular perception has come to accept that it is natural to keep Haitians at gun point, even in the most extraordinary and tragic circumstances. Lastly, it sadly proves through the series of logistical blunders, such as the primacy of military over humanitarian aid, the state of neglect in which the victims were abandoned for weeks before they saw any meaningful help (with the exception of understaffed Cuban doctors), and by the fact that most aid which was promised by foreign donors (both agencies and governments) has not been delivered more than one year later, that Haitian people's lives are a very low priority on the international community's agenda. This year's anniversary of the earthquake was one of shame for all the self-proclaimed “friends” of Haiti.

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