Campaign for Change
U.S. Plans Against Venezuela
Washington, Democracy & Haiti
U.S. & the Somalia Invasion
No New Nukes Victory
Korea, America & War
"Anti-Terrorism" Law Expansion
Rehabilitation of Bush
Honeywell Lock Out
The "Golden Rule"
Lawrence S. Wittner
Beyond Gay Marriage
GAY & LESBIAN COMMUNITY NOTES
Sense & Sentimentality
Savage Imperialism 3
How to Create Jobs
The Pick Up Artist
Bread and Puppet Theater
Zaps - 02/11
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Why Washington Won't Allow Democracy in Haiti
One area of U.S. foreign policy that the WikiLeaks cables help illuminate, which the major media has predictably ignored, is the occupation of Haiti. In 2004, the country's democratically elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was overthrown for the second time, through an effort led by the United States government. Officials in Haiti's constitutional government were jailed and thousands of its supporters were killed.
The Haitian coup, besides being a repeat of Aristide's overthrow in 1991, was also very similar to the attempted coup in Venezuela in 2002, which had Washington's fingerprints all over it. Some of the same people in Washington were even involved in both efforts. But the Venezuelan coup failed, partly because Latin American governments immediately and forcefully declared that they would not recognize the coup government.
In the case of Haiti, Washington learned from its mistakes in the Venezuelan coup and gathered support for an illegitimate government in advance. A UN resolution was passed just days after the coup and UN forces, headed by Brazil, were sent to the country. The mission, still headed by Brazil, has troops from a number of other Latin American governments that are left of center, including Bolivia, Argentina and Uruguay. They are also joined by Chile, Peru, and Guatemala.
Would these governments have sent troops to occupy Venezuela if that coup had succeeded? Clearly, they would not have considered such a move, yet the occupation of Haiti is no more justifiable. South America's progressive governments have challenged U.S. foreign policy in the region and the world, with some of them regularly using words like imperialism and empire as synonyms for Washington. They have built new institutions such as UNASUR to prevent these kinds of abuses from the North. Bolivia even expelled the U.S. ambassador in September of 2008 for interfering in its own internal affairs.
The participation of these governments in the occupation of Haiti is a serious political contradiction for them and it is getting worse.
The WikiLeaks cables illustrate how important the control of Haiti is to the United States. A long memo from the U.S. embassy in Port-au-Prince to the U.S. Secretary of State answers detailed questions about current Haitian President Rene Preval's political, personal, and family life, including such vital national security questions as "How many drinks can Preval consume before he shows signs of inebriation?" It also expresses one of Washington's main concerns: "His reflexive nationalism and his disinterest in managing bilateral relations in a broad diplomatic sense, will lead to periodic frictions as we move forward our bilateral agenda. Case in point, we believe that in terms of foreign policy, Preval is most interested in gaining increased assistance from any available resource. He is likely to be tempted to frame his relationship with Venezuela and Chavez-allies in the hemisphere in a way that he hopes will create a competitive atmosphere as far as who can provide the most to Haiti."
This is why they got rid of Aristide, who was much to the left of Preval and why we won't let him back in the country. This is why Washington funded the recent "elections" that excluded Haiti's largest political party, the equivalent of shutting out the Democrats and Republicans in the United States. And this is why MINUSTAH (the UN-backed military mission) is still occupying the country, more than six years after the coup, without any apparent mission other than replacing the hated Haitian army, which Aristide abolished as a repressive force.
People who do not understand U.S. foreign policy think that control over Haiti does not matter to Washington because it is poor and has no strategic minerals or resources. But that is not how Washington operates, as the WikiLeaks cables illustrate.
For the State Department and its allies, it is all a ruthless chess game, and the pawns matter. Left governments will be removed or prevented from taking power where it is possible to do so. The poorest countries—like Honduras—present the most opportune targets. A democratically-elected government in Haiti, due to its history, would inevitably be a left government and one that will not line up with Washington's foreign policy priorities for the region. Hence, democracy is not allowed.
Thousands of Haitians have been protesting the sham December 2010 elections, as well as MINUSTAH's role in causing the cholera epidemic, which has taken more than 2,300 lives. Judging from the rapid spread of the disease, there may have been gross criminal negligence, i.e., large-scale dumping of fecal waste into the Artibonite River. This mission costs over $500 million a year, when the UN can't even raise a third of that to fight the epidemic that the mission caused or to provide clean water for Haitians. Now the UN is asking for an increase to over $850 million for MINUSTAH.
It is time that the progressive governments of Latin America quit this occupation. It goes against their principles and the will of the Haitian people.
Mark Weisbrot is co-director and co-founder of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. He is co-author, with Dean Baker, of Social Security: The Phony Crisis, writes a weekly column for the Guardian (UK), and has written numerous articles on economic and foreign policy.
Z Magazine Archive
CUBAN 5 - From May 30 to June 5, supporters of the Cuban 5 will gather in Washington DC to raise awareness about the case and to demand a humanitarian solution that will allow the return of these men to their homeland.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike- A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides, music, exhibitors, and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; mailbikesnotbombs.org; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in NYC.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduate Center, Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16 in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; convention @adc. org http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5-day Seminar at the University of Havana, plus visits to a co-op and educational and medical institutions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.globaljustice center.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process in the U.S.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from across the continent to learn skills and build one big union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13, the 11th Annual Peacestock will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers, and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; email@example.com; http://www. peacestockvfp.org.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations, and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://yeacamp.org/.