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From the streets of Athens: “The struggle of humanity against authority”

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On May 5th, Cinco de Mayo, 2010, 200,000 people took to the streets in Athens in a general strike.

Here are some details from the blog Occupied London on the current situation in Greece.

First, the background, then the May 5th update…

After the Greek Riots

A few bullets fired by a cop and a kid lying dead on the street. Cities burn for weeks. For the spectacle-hungry media machine, the story begins and ends here. All else, before and after, is void.

Follow the corporate media and the Greek revolt died a long, long time ago. What’s happening in Greece at the moment? What’s the revolt’s legacy, where did all that energy go? Why should you care, screams the media machine, haven’t you heard? The revolt has died. And, even more importantly, The King is dead!

Back on the ground, of course, the revolt is far from dead. Its legacy is very much alive, getting inscribed deeper day after day. The police, having ridden itself from the burden of neutrality, can openly cooperate with fascist thugs, who feel confident enough to throw molotov cocktails against demonstrators in solidarity with undocumented migrants (Athens, July 8). Undocumented migrants, in turn, are explicitly the aim of the most recent wave of state repression: “First we’ll go for the migrants, then for the anarchists”, as the minister of public order so eloquently put it. Even he seems to be unable to catch up with the events: the only December demonstrator still in prison is held (still without trial) precisely because he is an anarchist and therefore consists “a threat to democracy” (wording of the court of misdemeanours, Athens, July 8).

The greek state seems conscious in that it cannot take another revolt of the size of December’s – and determined in not allowing this to happen.

Under this wave of repression, solidarity links are more important than ever. Armed with the experience of December, with the certainty that the return to normality is not option. Armed with a belief in a more just world – and not much else. Democracy has chosen its enemies: The migrants, the anarchists, all the outsiders unable or unwilling to fall back in line.

Having reported on December’s revolt and its immediate aftermath, this blog will now go on to cover everyday life in Greece as it is today. Expect eye-witness reports from everyday struggles, from the demonstrations in Athens (mostly) and in other cities across the country. Reports on the hunger strike of Thodoros Iliopoulos, the last prisoner of the revolt.

Please don’t expect any “impartial” reports (as if these could ever exist). This is an anarchist take on the situation in the country. A democracy that wages war on migrants and anarchists; a democracy armed with fascist thugs, with molotov cocktails and hand grenades; a democracy producing the silent death of the concentration camp (a silence reproduced and amplified by the media machine) is a democracy worth fighting against. Let’s make some noise.

(below is the “about” section of this blog as it went live on December 8, 2008 – two days after Alexis’ assassination).

On the night of December 6th, police shot 15-year old Alexandros Grigoropoulos in cold blood in the Eksarhia district of Athens. Since that night, Athens and tens of other greek cities have been burning.

On the same night, up to 10,000 people took the streets of Athens on a spontaneous demonstration, burning and smashing banks, ministries and multinational shops. Ever since, tension has been increasingly escalating: universities are occupied, as are most of the high schools in the country. Barricades are being put up around Athens; clashes with the police are constant.

On Tuesday, 9.12, the funeral of Alexandros is taking place and a general strike is called for Wednesday the 10th – a day both sides are building up for.

The purpose of this blog is to provide up-to-date information on the Greek riots, directly from the streets. Authors are contributing from the Greek cities of Athens, Thessaloniki and Patras.

The updates will be irregular and as frequent as permitted, given the circumstances. The updates will be mostly text-based. Confirmed reports will be presented as such – and so will rumours. We are not journalists and we are not objective; we chose sides in the social war a while ago.

In memory of Alexandros Grigoropoulos.

The struggle of humanity against authority, as always, continues.

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May 6, 2010 update

The statement below was issued a few hours ago by the anarchist squat of Skaramanga and Patision in Athens.

The murderers “mourn” their victims

(Regarding today’s tragic death of 3 people)

The enormous strike demonstration which took place today, 5th of May turned into a social outflow of rage. At least 200,000 people of all ages took to the streets (employees and unemployed, in the public and private sector, locals and migrants) attempting, over many hours and in consecutive waves, to surround and to take over the Parliament. The forces of repression came out in full force, to play their familiar role – that is, of the protection of the political and financial authorities. The clashes were hours long and extensive. The political system and its institutions reached a nadir.

However, in the midst of all this, a tragic event that no words can possibly describe took place: 3 people died from infusions at the branch of Marfin Bank on Stadiou Avenue, which was set ablaze.

The state and the entire journalistic riff-raff, without any shame toward the dead or their close ones, spoke from the very first moment about some “murderer-hooded up youths”, trying to take advantage of the event, in order to calm the wave of social rage that had erupted and to recover their authority that had been torn apart; to impose once again a police occupation of the streets, to wipe out sources of social resistance and disobedience against state terrorism and capitalist barbarity. For this reason, during the last few hours the police forces have been marching through the center of Athens, they have conducted hundreds of detentions and they raided – with shootings and stun-grenades – the anarchist occupation “space of united multiform action” on Zaimi street and the “migrant haunt” on Tsamadou Street, causing extensive damage (both these places are in the Exarcheia neighbourhood of Athens). At the same time the threat of a violent police eviction is hanging over the rest of the self-organised spaces (occupations and haunts) after the Prime-ministerial speech which referred to soon-to-come raids for the arrest of the “murderers”.

The governors, governmental officials, their political personnel, the TV-mouthpieces and the salaried hack writers attempt in this way to purify their regime and the criminalise the anarchists and every unpatronised voice of struggle. As if there would ever be the slightest of chances that whoever attacked the bank (provided the official scenario stands) would possibly know there were people inside, and that they would torch it alight regardless.  They seem to confuse the people in struggle for themselves: them who without any hesitation hand over the entire society to the deepest pillage and enslaving, who order their praetorians to attack without hesitation and to aim and shoot to kill, them who have lead three people to suicide in the past week alone, due to financial debts. [NOTE: THIS IS AN IMPORTANT POINT. Politicos and corporate CEOs think everyone is like they are: willing to kill for an agenda…. Theirs is the lowest motive possible: avarice. They simply cannot imagine anyone risking their lives or livelihoods for an altruistic goal, such as peace or justice].

The truth is that the real murderer, the real instigator of today’s tragic death of 3 people is “mister” Vgenopoulos, who used the usual employers’ blackmailing (the threat of sacking) and forced his employees to work in the branches of his bank during a day of strike – and even in a branch like the one of Stadiou Avenue, where the strike’s demonstration would pass through. Such blackmailing is known only too well by anyone experiencing the terrorism of salaried slavery on an everyday level. We are awaiting to see what excuses Vgenopoulos will come up with for the relatives of the victims and for the society as a whole – this ultra-capitalist now hinted by some centers of power as the next prime minister in a future “national unity government” that could follow the expected, complete collapse of the political system.

If an unprecedented strike can ever be a murderer…

If an unprecedented demonstration, in an unprecedented crisis, can ever be a murderer…

If open social spaces that are alive and public can ever be murderers…

If the state can impose a curfew and attack demonstrators under the pretext of arresting murderers…

If Vgenopoulos can detain his employees inside a bank – that is, a primary social enemy and target for demonstrators…

…it is because authority, this serial murderer, wants to slaughter upon its birth a revolt which questions the supposed solution of an even harsher attack on society, of an even larger pillage by capital, of an even thirstier sucking of our blood.

…it is because the future of the revolt does not include politicians and bosses, police and mass media.

… it is because behind their much-advertised “only” solution, there is a solution that does not speak of development rates and unemployment but rather, it speaks of solidarity, self-organising and human relationships.

When asking who are the murderers of life, of freedom, of dignity, the ferments of authority and capital, they and their tuft hunters only need to take a look at their own selves. Today and every day.

HANDS OFF FREE SOCIAL SPACES

IT IS THE STATE AND THE CAPITALISTS WHO ARE THE MURDERERS, TERRORISTS AND CRIMINALS

EVERYONE TO THE STREETS

REVOLT

from the open assembly of the evening of 5/5/2010

______________________  China Rose’s Comment _____________________

No one involved in the general strike action wanted to kill bystanders. The purpose of anarchism is to take actions to save lives by fighting for social change.  The bank management knew that. They also knew that the bank should have been shut down, and that if their employees got hurt, anarchists would be blamed. Can anyone doubt that they are capable of deliberately putting their employees in harm’s way, of being willing to sacrifice their employees lives? Particularly for a political message? EMPLOYERS do this EVERY DAY. This is the nature of capitalism.

Two examples: Look at Massey Energy and BP in the US.

Massey Energy was cited for mine safety violations continuously. They sneered at the regulations, and refused to put safety controls in place. They didn’t give a DAMN about the lives of their faithful employees. Now, over 30 miners are dead, suffocated or burned to death underground.

BP operated an offshore drilling rig without adhering to safety standards or preparing for the possibility of an oil spill. When the rig blew up, their employees were blown to bits. People’s lives throughout the entire Gulf region have been ruined, along with a precious ecosystem and all its animals. The suffering caused by this massive oil spill is beyond measure.

These corporations — and ALL corporations — refuse to even protect their own employees. They are victimizing entire regions for ugly profit. Every day. They lie, cheat, connive, manipulate, steal and kill — for profit. They are the world’s greatest criminal syndicates, and banks enable them to thrive. Banks are parasites that feed off the work and sweat of everyday people. They will do anything to stop  journalists, whistleblowers or activists who are becoming too effective. They murder with impunity — regularly. That is what corporations DO. That’s what the state does.

The state’s job is to protect and defend corporations. They’ll dispatch police and military by the tens of thousands to enforce corporate rape and plunder. They’ll rob and kill their owns citizens to perpetuate corporate dominance and murder innocent people in other countries by the millions to expand their empires.

BANKS AND CORPORATIONS — and their GOVERNMENT FLUNKIES AND WHORES KILLED THOSE 3 BANK EMPLOYEES. They will continue to kill UNLESS STOPPED.

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Kaczinski: From Solidarity to Free Market Shock Doctrine or “Don’t confuse… shock… with broad public sympathy”

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Goodbye Kaczinski

Polish president Lech Kaczynski (1949–2010)—from Solidarity advisor to right-wing politician

By Marius Hauser
13 April 2010

The airplane crash near Smolensk in Russia April 10, which resulted in the death of Polish president Lech Kaczynski, has led to widespread consternation inside Poland. Along with Kaczynski, the accident claimed the lives of some 80 leading members of the country’s political and military elite. They were on their way to a memorial ceremony in Katyn, Russia, where 70 years earlier 22,000 Polish officers and intellectuals were murdered by Stalinist thugs.

It would be mistaken, however, in the manner of much of the Polish and international media, to confuse the widespread shock at the crash with broad public sympathy for the figure and politics of Lech Kaczynski. Kaczynski was one of the most unscrupulous representatives of the Polish ruling elite.

The former child film star and advisor to the Solidarity trade union was a leading architect of the restoration of the capitalist free market and so-called shock therapy that commenced in the early 1990s. As president, Kaczynski conducted a series of virulent attacks on the social and democratic rights of the population relying on the support of extreme right-wing parties. According to opinion polls, he had little chance of re-election in the presidential vote scheduled for this autumn.

Lech Kaczynski was elected president in October 2005 with the smallest number of votes ever recorded by a victorious candidate for the post. One quarter of the electorate voted for the conservative politician in the second ballot. Kaczynski was able to win the post with such a narrow base of support only because his predecessors had been so discredited.

The post-Stalinist Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) had undertaken an offensive against the Polish welfare state in its four years in government and was involved in numerous corruption affairs. The only serious rival to Kaczynski was the current Prime Minister Donald Tusk, who had announced his own plans for radical cuts and privatization.

In the September 2005 parliamentary elections, his Law and Justice (PiS) party emerged as the strongest parliamentary group and the following month Kaczynski won the presidential election. During the presidential campaign Kaczynski sought to mobilize the more backward layers of the Polish population with a mix of social demagogy, nationalism and calls for a fight against corruption.

Just nine months later he presided over the nomination of his twin brother Jaroslaw to the post of prime minister. The Kaczynski brothers then formed a coalition with two right-wing, overtly anti-Semitic parties, the League of Polish Families (LPR) and Samoobrona (Self-Defence of the Republic of Poland).

In the guise of a struggle against corruption, the Kaczynskis increased the repressive capabilities of the state. At the same time, they increased their own influence by increasing their personal powers and placing political cronies in key posts. One of the first official acts of the Kaczynski government was a change to the country’s broadcasting law allowing the twins direct access to national television and radio.

A key project of their government was the creation of the Central Anticorruption Bureau (CBA). The office unites the police, secret police and judicial authorities in an organization that has similar powers to the former Stalinist secret service. Under the direct control of the prime minister, the CBA has been used on a number of occasions by the Kaczynskis to neutralize political adversaries—including members of their own government.

Despite its populist demagogy, the PiS government went on to impose the austerity policies of the preceding government, making merely cosmetic changes. After a brief pause the policy of privatization of state assets was also continued. In the sphere of foreign policy, Lech Kaczynski essentially continued the course of his predecessor Alexander Kwasniewski (SDL), i.e., a strong orientation to American imperialism aimed at expanding the country’s room for maneuver within Europe. Lech Kaczynski’s own bumbling and utterly provincial manner typified the increasing isolation of the country.

In October 2007 the government led by his brother collapsed following fierce internal divisions and Lech began to work closely together with the new Prime Minister Donald Tusk, leader of the rabidly pro-free market Civic Platform (PO).

After nearly five years in office Kaczynski had managed to lose even his narrow base of support. Shortly before his death he was polling around just 20 percent.

In this respect Kaczynski has shared the fate of every Polish head of government and president in the post-Stalinist era, none of whom has ever served more than one term of office—with the exception of Kwasniewski. Since 1990 Polish society has been dominated by politicians who have their roots either in the former Stalinist regime or the opposition Solidarity movement. Both sets of politicians have sought to plunder the country’s resources through a mixture of privatizations and social cuts. When one group in power is sufficiently discredited in the eyes of the population, then the other group takes over. All of this has occurred under the direct jurisdiction of the European Union and its institutions.

Kaczynski played a central role in the restoration of capitalism. After completing his law studies in 1977, he established contact with the “Committee for the Defense of Workers” (KOR). From that time he stood on the right wing of the opposition trade union movement. In 1980 he was one of the advisors to Solidarity and worked closely with its leader Lech Walesa to suppress political demands within the trade union and subordinate the movement to the Catholic Church.

In 1989 Kaczynski was a representative at the so-called “round table,” which organized the restoration of capitalism. The chief task of the round table was to divide power and influence between the new rising layers in Solidarity and the former Stalinist elite, while preparing shock therapy for the population at large. As senator, then member of parliament and eventually co-coordinator for the security and secret services, Kaczynski was directly involved in imposing this “therapy.” The consequences for the population were dramatic and led to a humiliating defeat for the Solidarity-led government in 1993.

At this point Kaczynski withdrew from public politics. It was only after the discrediting of the subsequent post-Stalinist regime after four years in power and the election of a revamped Solidarity (AWS) government in 1997 that Kaczynski returned to the political stage. He took over as Justice Minister from June 2000 until the fall of the government in July 2001. Following a wave of controversial restructuring measures, dismissals and privatizations, the AWS was so unpopular it failed to win enough votes to be represented in the new parliament. At that time Kaczynski’s remodeled PiS also only won 9.6 percent of the vote.

Kaczynski then concentrated on politics in Poland’s capital city and was elected mayor of Warsaw in November 2002. In office he made clear his contempt for democratic rights, in June 2005, for example, banning a gay rights march. At the same time, he allowed neo-Nazis to stage a counter-demonstration. Despite the ban, the gay rights forces assembled and were brutally attacked by the neo-Nazis. Kaczynski later criticized the police because they had protected the assembled gays and their supporters from the attacks launched by the fascists.

Other policy hobby-horses included his demand for the introduction of the death penalty and his proposal that homeless people should be penned in container slums outside of the city limits, so as not to spoil the view for tourists and the city’s well off.

Contrary to statements by leading members of the German Greens, Lech Kaczynski did not “represent the interests of his country,” nor had he “devoted his life to the freedom of Poland and the freedom of Europe” (German chancellor Angela Merkel). He was a representative of the Polish ruling elite and sought to establish authoritarian forms of rule based on reactionary Polish chauvinism.

Chris Hedges on Americans’ Yearning for Fascism

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Hedges: Is America Yearning for Fascism? | News & Politics | AlterNet.

This article first appeared on TruthDig.

The language of violence always presages violence. I watched it in war after war from Latin America to the Balkans. The impoverishment of a working class and the snuffing out of hope and opportunity always produce angry mobs ready to kill and be killed. A bankrupt, liberal elite, which proves ineffectual against the rich and the criminal, always gets swept aside, in times of economic collapse, before thugs and demagogues emerge to play to the passions of the crowd. I have seen this drama. I know each act. I know how it ends. I have heard it in other tongues in other lands. I recognize the same stock characters, the buffoons, charlatans and fools, the same confused crowds and the same impotent and despised liberal class that deserves the hatred it engenders.

“We are ruled not by two parties but one party,” Cynthia McKinney, who ran for president on the Green Party ticket, told me. “It is the party of money and war. Our country has been hijacked. And we have to take the country away from those who have hijacked it. The only question now is whose revolution gets funded.”

The Democrats and their liberal apologists are so oblivious to the profound personal and economic despair sweeping through this country that they think offering unemployed people the right to keep their unemployed children on their nonexistent health care policies is a step forward. They think that passing a jobs bill that will give tax credits to corporations is a rational response to an unemployment rate that is, in real terms, close to 20 percent. They think that making ordinary Americans, one in eight of whom depends on food stamps to eat, fork over trillions in taxpayer dollars to pay for the crimes of Wall Street and war is acceptable. They think that the refusal to save the estimated 2.4 million people who will be forced out of their homes by foreclosure this year is justified by the bloodless language of fiscal austerity. The message is clear. Laws do not apply to the power elite. Our government does not work. And the longer we stand by and do nothing, the longer we refuse to embrace and recognize the legitimate rage of the working class, the faster we will see our anemic democracy die.

The unraveling of America mirrors the unraveling of Yugoslavia. The Balkan war was not caused by ancient ethnic hatreds. It was caused by the economic collapse of Yugoslavia. The petty criminals and goons who took power harnessed the anger and despair of the unemployed and the desperate. They singled out convenient scapegoats from ethnic Croats to Muslims to Albanians to Gypsies. They set in motion movements that unleashed a feeding frenzy leading to war and self-immolation. There is little difference between the ludicrous would-be poet Radovan Karadzic, who was a figure of ridicule in Sarajevo before the war, and the moronic Glenn Beck or Sarah Palin. There is little difference between the Oath Keepers and the Serbian militias. We can laugh at these people, but they are not the fools. We are.

The longer we appeal to the Democrats, who are servants of corporate interests, the more stupid and ineffectual we become. Sixty-one percent of Americans believe the country is in decline, according to a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, and they are right. Only 25 percent of those polled said the government can be trusted to protect the interests of the American people. If we do not embrace this outrage and distrust as our own it will be expressed through a terrifying right-wing backlash.

“It is time for us to stop talking about right and left,” McKinney told me. “The old political paradigm that serves the interests of the people who put us in this predicament will not be the paradigm that gets us out of this. I am a child of the South. Janet Napolitano tells me I need to be afraid of people who are labeled white supremacists but I was raised around white supremacists. I am not afraid of white supremacists. I am concerned about my own government. The Patriot Act did not come from the white supremacists, it came from the White House and Congress. Citizens United did not come from white supremacists, it came from the Supreme Court. Our problem is a problem of governance. I am willing to reach across traditional barriers that have been skillfully constructed by people who benefit from the way the system is organized.”

We are bound to a party that has betrayed every principle we claim to espouse, from universal health care to an end to our permanent war economy, to a demand for quality and affordable public education, to a concern for the jobs of the working class. And the hatred expressed within right-wing movements for the college-educated elite, who created or at least did nothing to halt the financial debacle, is not misplaced. Our educated elite, wallowing in self-righteousness, wasted its time in the boutique activism of political correctness as tens of millions of workers lost their jobs. The shouting of racist and bigoted words at black and gay members of Congress, the spitting on a black member of the House, the tossing of bricks through the windows of legislators’ offices, are part of the language of rebellion. It is as much a revolt against the educated elite as it is against the government. The blame lies with us. We created the monster.

When someone like Palin posts a map with cross hairs on the districts of Democrats, when she says “Don’t Retreat, Instead — RELOAD!” there are desperate people cleaning their weapons who listen. When Christian fascists stand in the pulpits of megachurches and denounce Barack Obama as the Antichrist, there are messianic believers who listen. When a Republican lawmaker shouts “baby killer” at Michigan Democrat Bart Stupak, there are violent extremists who see the mission of saving the unborn as a sacred duty. They have little left to lose. We made sure of that. And the violence they inflict is an expression of the violence they endure.

These movements are not yet full-blown fascist movements. They do not openly call for the extermination of ethnic or religious groups. They do not openly advocate violence. But, as I was told by Fritz Stern, a scholar of fascism who has written about the origins of Nazism, “In Germany there was a yearning for fascism before fascism was invented.” It is the yearning that we now see, and it is dangerous. If we do not immediately reincorporate the unemployed and the poor back into the economy, giving them jobs and relief from crippling debt, then the nascent racism and violence that are leaping up around the edges of American society will become a full-blown conflagration.

Left unchecked, the hatred for radical Islam will transform itself into a hatred for Muslims. The hatred for undocumented workers will become a hatred for Mexicans and Central Americans. The hatred for those not defined by this largely white movement as American patriots will become a hatred for African-Americans. The hatred for liberals will morph into a hatred for all democratic institutions, from universities to government agencies to the press. Our continued impotence and cowardice, our refusal to articulate this anger and stand up in open defiance to the Democrats and the Republicans, will see us swept aside for an age of terror and blood.

Chris Hedges, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, is a senior fellow at the Nation Institute. He writes a regular column for TruthDig every Monday. His latest book is Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle.

© 2010 Truthdig All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/146226/

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NO SHOCK DOCTRINE for HAITI! The US owes Haiti Billions of $$$ in Reparations

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Haiti: A Creditor, Not a Debtor

By Naomi Klein, The Nation, February 11, 2010

If we are to believe the G-7 finance ministers, Haiti is on its way to getting something it has deserved for a very long time: full “forgiveness” of its foreign debt. In Port-au-Prince, Haitian economist Camille Chalmers has been watching these developments with cautious optimism. Debt cancellation is a good start, he told Al Jazeera English, but “It’s time to go much further. We have to talk about reparations and restitution for the devastating consequences of debt.” In this telling, the whole idea that Haiti is a debtor needs to be abandoned. Haiti, he argues, is a creditor—and it is we, in the West, who are deeply in arrears.

Our debt to Haiti stems from four main sources: slavery, the US occupation, dictatorship and climate change. These claims are not fantastical, nor are they merely rhetorical. They rest on multiple violations of legal norms and agreements. Here, far too briefly, are highlights of the Haiti case.

§ The Slavery Debt. When Haitians won their independence from France in 1804, they would have had every right to claim reparations from the powers that had profited from three centuries of stolen labor. France, however, was convinced that it was Haitians who had stolen the property of slave owners by refusing to work for free. So in 1825, with a flotilla of war ships stationed off the Haitian coast threatening to re-enslave the former colony, King Charles X came to collect: 90 million gold francs–ten times Haiti’s annual revenue at the time. With no way to refuse, and no way to pay, the young nation was shackled to a debt that would take 122 years to pay off.

In 2003, Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, facing a crippling economic embargo, announced that Haiti would sue the French government over that long-ago heist. “Our argument,” Aristide’s former lawyer Ira Kurzban told me, “was that the contract was an invalid agreement because it was based on the threat of re-enslavement at a time when the international community regarded slavery as an evil.” The French government was sufficiently concerned that it sent a mediator to Port-au-Prince to keep the case out of court. In the end, however, its problem was eliminated: while trial preparations were under way, Aristide was toppled from power. The lawsuit disappeared, but for many Haitians the reparations claim lives on.

§ The Dictatorship Debt. From 1957 to 1986, Haiti was ruled by the defiantly kleptocratic Duvalier regime. Unlike the French debt, the case against the Duvaliers made it into several courts, which traced Haitian funds to an elaborate network of Swiss bank accounts and lavish properties. In 1988 Kurzban won a landmark suit against Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier when a US District Court in Miami found that the deposed ruler had “misappropriated more than $504,000,000 from public monies.”

Haitians, of course, are still waiting for their payback–but that was only the beginning of their losses. For more than two decades, the country’s creditors insisted that Haitians honor the huge debts incurred by the Duvaliers, estimated at $844 million, much of it owed to institutions like the IMF and the World Bank. In debt service alone, Haitians have paid out tens of millions every year.

Was it legal for foreign lenders to collect on the Duvalier debts when so much of it was never spent in Haiti? Very likely not. As Cephas Lumina, the United Nations Independent Expert on foreign debt, put it to me, “the case of Haiti is one of the best examples of odious debt in the world. On that basis alone the debt should be unconditionally canceled.”

But even if Haiti does see full debt cancellation (a big if), that does not extinguish its right to be compensated for illegal debts already collected.

§ The Climate Debt. Championed by several developing countries at the climate summit in Copenhagen, the case for climate debt is straightforward. Wealthy countries that have so spectacularly failed to address the climate crisis they caused owe a debt to the developing countries that have done little to cause the crisis but are disproportionately facing its effects. In short: the polluter pays. Haiti has a particularly compelling claim. Its contribution to climate change has been negligible; Haiti’s per capita CO2 emissions are just 1 percent of US emissions. Yet Haiti is among the hardest hit countries—according to one index, only Somalia is more vulnerable to climate change.

Haiti’s vulnerability to climate change is not only—or even mostly—because of geography. Yes, it faces increasingly heavy storms. But it is Haiti’s weak infrastructure that turns challenges into disasters and disasters into full-fledged catastrophes. The earthquake, though not linked to climate change, is a prime example. And this is where all those illegal debt payments may yet extract their most devastating cost. Each payment to a foreign creditor was money not spent on a road, a school, an electrical line. And that same illegitimate debt empowered the IMF and World Bank to attach onerous conditions to each new loan, requiring Haiti to deregulate its economy and slash its public sector still further. Failure to comply was met with a punishing aid embargo from 2001 to ’04, the death knell to Haiti’s public sphere.

This history needs to be confronted now, because it threatens to repeat itself. Haiti’s creditors are already using the desperate need for earthquake aid to push for a fivefold increase in garment-sector production, some of the most exploitative jobs in the country. Haitians have no status in these talks, because they are regarded as passive recipients of aid, not full and dignified participants in a process of redress and restitution.

A reckoning with the debts the world owes to Haiti would radically change this poisonous dynamic. This is where the real road to repair begins: by recognizing the right of Haitians to reparations.

[And we’re not even mentioning HAARP here…]

Haiti: The Politics of Rebuilding

See also: “Asking Bush and Clinton to ‘Help Haiti’ is Cruel Mockery”

and

US Toxic Waste Poisons Haiti: Clinton, The Dems & Duvalier Dump on Haiti

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Put On the Freakin’ Magic Glasses!!!

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Magic Glasses

Thanks to KevinCow @ Something Awful

Oh, and if you haven’t already done so, don’t forget to watch John Carpenter’s funky masterpiece, “They Live

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Steve Lendman on Disaster Capitalism in Haiti

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Disaster Capitalism Headed to Haiti – by Stephen Lendman

In her book, “The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism,” Naomi Klein explores the myth of free market democracy, explaining how neoliberalism dominates the world with America its main exponent exploiting security threats, terror attacks, economic meltdowns, competing ideologies, tectonic political or economic shifts, and natural disasters to impose its will everywhere.

As a result, wars are waged, social services cut, public ones privatized, and freedom sacrificed when people are too distracted, cowed or in duress to object. Disaster capitalism is triumphant everywhere from post-Soviet Russia to post-apartheid South Africa, occupied Iraq and Afghanistan, Honduras before and after the US-instigated coup, post-tsunami Sri Lanka and Aceh, Indonesia, New Orleans post-Katrina, and now heading to Haiti full-throttle after its greatest ever catastrophe. The same scheme always repeats, exploiting people for profits, the prevailing neoliberal idea that “there is no alternative” so grab all you can.

On Her web site, Klein headlines a “Haiti Disaster Capitalism Alert: Stop Them Before They Shock Again,” then quotes the extremist Heritage Foundation saying:

“In addition to providing immediate humanitarian assistance, the US response to the tragic Haiti earthquake offers opportunities to re-shape Haiti’s long-dysfunctional government and economy as well as to improve the public image of the United States in the region.”

Heritage notes “Things to Remember While Helping Haiti,” itemized briefly below:

— be bold and decisive;

— mobilize US civilian and military capabilities “for short-term rescue and relief and long-term recovery and reform;”

— US military forces should play an active role interdicting “cocaine to Haiti and Dominican Republic from the Venezuelan coast and counter ongoing efforts of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to destabilize the island of Hispaniola;”

— US Coast Guard vessels should stop Haitians from trying “to enter the US illegally;”

— Congress should authorize “assistance, trade and reconstruction efforts;” and

— US diplomacy should “counter the negative propaganda certain to emanate from the Castro-Chavez camp (to) demonstrate that the US’s involvement in the Caribbean remains a powerful force for good in the Americas and around the globe.”

Heritage is an imperial tool advocating predation, exploitation, and Haitian redevelopment for profit, not for desperate people to repair their lives. It disdains democratic freedoms, social justice, and envisions a global economy “where freedom, opportunity, prosperity, and civil society flourish” solely for the privileged, the chosen few, not the disadvantaged or greater majority.

It’s for free market plunder, regulatory freedom, tax cuts for the rich, exploiting the majority, corporate handouts, and militarized control for enforcement. It supports the Bilderberg idea of a global classless society – a New World Order with rulers and serfs, no middle class, no unions, no democracy, no equity or justice, just empowered oligarchs, freed to do as they please under a universal legal system benefitting them.

For the moment, their focus is Haiti, ripe for plunder, like the second tsunami that hit coastal Sri Lankans. The December 2004 one took 250,000 lives and left 2.5 million homeless throughout the region. Klein explained the aftermath at Arugam Bay, “a fishing and faded resort village” on Sri Lanka’s east coast that was showcased to “build back better.” Not for villagers, for developers, hoteliers, and other business interests to exploit. After the disaster, they had a blank slate for what the tourist industry long wanted – “a pristine beach (on prime real estate), scrubbed clean of all the messy signs of people working, a vacation Eden. It was the same up and down the coast once rubble was cleared….paradise” given the profit potential.

New rules forbade coastal homes, so a buffer zone was imposed to insure it. Beaches were off-limits. Displaced Sri Lankans were shoved into grim barracks, and “menacing, machine-gun-wielding soldiers” patrolled to keep them there.

Tourist operators, however, were welcomed and encouraged to build on oceanfront land – to transform the former fishing village into a “high-end boutique tourism destination (with) five-star resorts, luxury chalets, (and even a) floatplane pier and helipad.”

It was to be a model for transforming around 30 similar zones into a South Asian Riviera to let Sri Lanka reenter the world economy as one of the last remaining uncolonized places globalization hadn’t touched. High-end tourism was the ticket – to provide a luxury destination for the rich once a few changes were made. Government land was opened to private buyers. Labor laws were relaxed or eliminated. Modern infrastructure would be built, and public opposition suppressed to let plans proceed unimpeded.

The same scheme followed Hurricane Mitch in October 1998 when Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua were hardest hit. In Sri Lanka, Washington took the Mitch model to the next level – beyond individuals to corporate control over reconstruction. Business ran everything. Affected people were shut out. Klein called it a new type corporate coup mother nature made possible. Now again in Haiti with an idea of what’s coming.

Powerful business interests constructed a blueprint from housing to hotels to highways and other needed infrastructure. Disaster relief went for development. Victims got nothing and were consigned to permanent shantytowns like the kinds in most Global South cities and Global North inner ones. Aceh and other affected areas adopted the same model.

A year after the tsunami, the NGO Action Aid surveyed the results in five Asian countries and found the same pattern – residents barred from rebuilding and living in militarized camps, while developers were given generous incentives. Lost was their way of life forever.

The same scheme played out in New Orleans with unfettered capitalism given free reign. With considerable Bush administration help, mother nature gave corporate predators a golden opportunity for plunder. Prevailing wage rates for federally funded or assisted construction projects were suspended. So were environmental regulations in an already polluted area, enough to be designated a superfund site or toxic waste dump. Instead, redevelopment was planned.

As a previous article explained, New Orleans had ample warning but was unprepared. The city is shaped like a bowl, lies below sea level, and its Gulf coast is vulnerable. As a result, the inevitable happened, affecting the city’s least advantaged – the majority black population targeted for removal and needing only an excuse to do it. The storm wiped out public housing and erased communities, letting developers build upscale condos and other high-profit projects on choice city land.

It was right out of the Chicago School’s play book, what economist Milton Friedman articulated in his 1962 book, “Capitalism and Freedom.” His thesis:

“only a crisis – actual or perceived – produces real change. When a crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around…our basic function (is) to develop alternatives to existing policies (and be ready to roll them out when the) impossible becomes the politically inevitable.”

Friedman believed that government’s sole function is “to protect our freedom from (outside) enemies (and) our fellow-citizens. (It’s to) preserve law and order (as well as) enforce private contracts, (safeguard private property and) foster competitive markets.”

Everything else in public hands is socialism, an ideology he called blasphemous. He said markets work best unfettered of rules, regulations, onerous taxes, trade barriers, “entrenched interests” and human interference, and the best government is practically none – the wild west because, in his view, anything government does business does better so let it. Ideas about democracy, social justice, and a caring society were verboten because they interfere with free-wheeling capitalism.

He said public wealth should be in private hands, profit accumulation unrestrained, corporate taxes abolished, and social services curtailed or ended. He believed “economic freedom is an end to itself (and) an indispensable means toward (achieving) political freedom.” He opposed the minimum wage, unions, market interference, an egalitarian society, and called Social Security “the biggest Ponzi scheme on earth.” He supported a flat tax favoring the rich, and believed everyone should have to rely on their own resources to get by.

In a word, Friedmanomics preaches unrestrained market fundamentalism. “Free to choose,” he said with no regard for human needs and rights. For him and his followers, economic freedom is the be-all-and-end-all under limited government, the marketplace being the master.

Applied to New Orleans, it meant permanent changes, including removing public housing, developing upscale properties in its place, privatizing schools, and destroying a way of life for thousands of disadvantaged blacks expelled from their communities and not allowed back.

Klein called Friedman’s thesis “the shock doctrine.” Applied to Russia, Eastern Europe and other developing states, it was shock therapy. For affected people, it was economic and social disaster under Friedman’s prescription for mass-privatizations, deregulation, unrestricted free market predation, deep social spending cuts, and harsh crackdowns against resisters. It’s disaster capitalism, business is booming, and Haitians will soon feel its full fury under military occupation.

Haiti – Beleaguered, Occupied, and Stricken by a Disaster of Biblical Proportions

Since the 19th century, America dominated Haiti. Before the quake, a proxy paramilitary Blue Helmet force occupied the country, dispatched not for peacekeeping but iron-grip control. Worse still, it was the first time ever that UN forces supported a coup d’etat government, the one Washington installed after US Marines kidnapped President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, forcibly exiled him to Africa, and ended the political, economic and social reforms he instituted – in areas of health, education, justice and human rights. Ever since, conditions for Haitians have been nightmarish, and now the quake and further misery ahead from the Pentagon’s iron fist and greater than ever exploitation.

Obama’s top priority is control, underway immediately after the Pentagon took over the Port-au-Prince airport, reopened it after its brief closure, and set up a temporary air traffic control center. Military personnel now decide what gets in or out, what’s delivered, how fast, and according to unconfirmed reports, they slowed arriving search and rescue equipment, supplies, and personnel, except for what other countries managed to send in types and amounts way short of what’s needed. As a result, trapped Haitians perished, whereas a concentrated, sustained airlift, including heavy earthmoving and other equipment, might have saved hundreds or thousands more lives.

The 1948 – 49 Berlin airlift showed how. For nearly 11 months, western allies delivered what rose to a daily average of 5,500 tons, providing vital supplies for the city’s two million people. Today, the Pentagon has far greater capabilities. If ordered, massive amounts of virtually everything could be expedited, including heavy earthmoving equipment and teams of experts for every imaginable need. The result would have been vast numbers more lives saved, now perished because little was done to help, except for heroic volunteers providing food, water, and medical care, and Haitians who dug out survivors with small implements and their bare hands.

On January 15, Reuters reported that the Port-au-Prince 9,000-foot runway escaped serious damage and could handle big cargo planes easily. Immediately, food, water, medicine, rescue crews, and other specialists began arriving from Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, China, and elsewhere, but very little from America, including vitally needed heavy equipment. Haiti has very little of what’s needed.

Instead, the Pentagon sent in thousands of Marines and 82nd Airborne Division paratroopers (a 10,000 force contingent once in place), armed killers, not humanitarian personnel and regular supplies to sustain them. Larger numbers may follow to be supplemented by UN Blue Helmets and Haitian National Police under Pentagon command. A long-term commitment for militarized control is planned, not humanitarian relief, reminiscent of the 20-year 1915 – 1934 period when US Marines occupied and ravaged Haiti.

Throughout the country, the lives of nine million people are at stake. Of immediate concern, are the three million in Port-au-Prince and surroundings, devastated by the quake and unable to sustain themselves without substantial outside help.

Central also is Haiti’s government, now crippled, including one report saying the senate building collapsed with most of the lawmakers inside. It’s not clear who’s alive or dead in either National Assembly chamber, the cabinet, or other government posts. It hardly matters, however, under US military control leaving President Rene Preval and Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive mere figureheads.

Once full control is established, the immediate shock subsides, and the media lose interest, reconstruction will be implemented for profit, not poor Haitians left on their own in communities like Cite Soleil and Bel Air or permanently displaced for what developers have in mind.

Efforts will focus on upscale areas and facilities for the Pentagon, US officials and selected bureaucrats. Before the quake, the Preval government was weak, ineffective, and uncaring about Haiti’s vast needs. He effectively ceded power to Washington, the UN, and the large imperial-chosen NGO presence in the country.

In addition, Aristide’s Fanmi Lavalas party was banned from the scheduled February 2010 parliamentary elections (now cancelled or postponed), and was earlier excluded from the 2009 April and June process to fill 12 open senate seats, resulting in a turnout below 10%, and mocking a true democratic process.

Now, millions of Haitians hang by a thread. As one of them put it, “tout ayiti kraze,” the whole country is no more. The government is inoperative. Port-au-Prince is in shambles. People are struggling to survive, 100,000 or more likely dead, a toll sure to rise as disease and depravation claim more. Those in poor communities are on their own. Rescuers are concentrating on high-profile, well-off areas, but without earthmoving equipment can do little to save victims. The problem – Washington obstructionism and indifference to human suffering and need.

On January 15, Al Jazeera reported that aid agencies are struggling under difficult conditions and inadequate supplies, let alone how to distribute them throughout the capital. As a result, frustration is growing with little help, no shelter, decaying bodies still unburied, the threat of disease, and the stench of death everywhere with no power, phones, clean water, food, and everything millions need.

Sebastian Walker, Al Jazeera’s Port-au-Prince correspondent said:

“A lot of people have simply grown tired of waiting for those emergency workers to get to them. Thousands of people are streaming out of the city towards the provinces to try to find supplies of food and water, supplies that are running out in the city.”

On January 16, Al Jazeera headlined “Haiti: UP to 200,000 feared dead.” About 50,000 bodies have been collected, according to Haiti’s interior minister, Paul Antoine Bien-Aime, and he anticipates “between 100,000 and 200,000 dead in total, although we will never know the exact number,” nor how many more will expire in the weeks and months ahead, unnoticed and unreported.

On January 17, Al Jazeera headlined, “Aid teams struggle to help Haitians….amid difficulties in distributing relief supplies to those who need it most.

Sebastian Walker said delivering supplies stacking up at the airport has been extremely problematic:

“This comes down to the complex issue of who is in charge here. The US military has a great deal of control over the number of flights that are landing here. We heard that a UN flight carrying aid equipment had to be diverted because the US was landing its own aircraft there. The question of just who makes the decision over how to distribute the aid seems to be what is holding up the supplies.”

The Pentagon decides, of course, and that’s the problem. Obama also urges “patience,” saying “many difficult days (are) ahead,” without explaining his obstructionist uncaring role.

The result is reports like this:

— from Canada’s CBC As It Happens broadcast interview with an ICRC spokesperson saying he spent the morning of January 15 touring one of the hardest hit areas, and “In three hours, I didn’t see a single rescue team;”

— a same day BBC interview with an American Red Cross spokesperson complained about aid delivery – that arriving planes carried people, not supplies, and amounts at the airpot weren’t being delivered;

– the Canada Haiti Action Network calls Port-au-Prince a city largely without aid because areas most in need aren’t getting it; further, in nicer neighborhoods, dogs and extraction units arrived, but 90% of them are just sitting around, perhaps because of no earthmoving equipment to reach victims;

— another report said a French plane carrying a field hospital was turned away, then later allowed in; meanwhile, Israel got carte blanche for its own field hospital, able to handle 500 casualties daily, so it begs the question – why praise Israel for (selectively) helping Haitians when it murders Palestinians daily, keeps the West Bank isolated and locked down, Gaza under siege, and denies critically ill residents exit permission for treatment unavailable from Strip facilities, leaving them to perish; and

— various reports say US forces are preventing flights from landing; prioritized are landing US troops, repatriating American nationals, and perhaps starving poor Haitians to death; dozens of French citizens and dual Haitian-French nationals couldn’t leave when their scheduled flight to Guadeloupe couldn’t land; an angry French Secretary of State for Cooperation, Alain Joyandet, told reporters that he “made an official complaint to the Americans through the US embassy.”

UN Office of Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Report on Haiti Relief

On January 15, OCHA reported as follows:

“Logistics and the lack of transport remain the key constraints to the delivery of aid. Needs are still being identified as access becomes possible and as assessments begin to take place.

Displaced populations are currently scattered across multiple locations where there is open space. Temporary shelters urgently need to be established.

Fifteen sites have been identified for distribution of relief items. World Food Program reached 13,000 people today with food, jerry cans and water purification tablets.”

OCHA continued, saying:

“A total of (only) 180 tons of relief supplies have arrived in-country so far. Operations are heavily constrained due to the lack of fuel, transport, communications and handling capacity at the airport. Some flights are being re-routed through Santo Domingo airport (far from Port-au-Prince in the Dominican Republic) which is also becoming congested.”

In its latest January 16 report, OCHA repeated that airport logistics remain a challenge, the result of re-routed flights, congestion, lengthy offloading times, the lack of transport and fuel, no storage facility, and the airport “now packed with goods and teams” not being delivered.

Three million Haitians need help, but the World Food Program distributed high energy biscuits only to 50,000. Around 50,000 are getting hot meals.

Major health concerns include untreated trauma wounds, infections, infectious diseases, diarrhea, lack of safe drinking water and sanitation, and Haitians with pre-existing condition like HIV/AIDS, diabetes and cancer aren’t being treated.

Up to a million people need immediate shelter and non-food aid, including clean water, blankets, kitchen and hygiene kits, plastic sheeting and tents.

“As of 16 January it is estimated that fuel for humanitarian operations will only last 2 to 3 more days before operations will be forced to cease.”

There have only been 58 live rescues so far among the many thousands trapped beneath or behind rubble. OCHA launched a Flash Appeal for $575 million “to cover 3 million people severely affected for six months.”

Sixteen EU nations are providing aid but not enough. America is doing practically nothing.

One nation delivering heroic help is Cuba, but little about it is reported. Despite its own constraints, it’s operated in Haiti for years, and now has over 400 doctors and healthcare experts delivering free services. They work every day in 227 of the country’s 337 communes. In addition, Cuban medical schools trained over 400 Haitian doctors, now working to save lives during the country’s gravest crisis. It’s no small achievement that Cuba, blockaded and constrained, is responsible for nearly 1,000 doctors and healthcare providers, all of whom work tirelessly to save lives and rehabilitate the injured.

According to China’s Xinhua News Agency:

“Cuban aid workers have taken charge of (Haiti’s) De la Paz Hospital, since its doctors have not appeared after the quake,” perhaps because many perished, are wounded, or are trapped beneath or behind rubble themselves.

Cubans are working despite a lack of everything needed to provide care except for what its government managed to deliver. Dr. Carlos Alberto Garcia, coordinator of its medical brigade, said Cuban doctors, nurses and other health personnel are working non-stop, day and night. Operating rooms are open 18 hours a day.

Independent reports now say Washington is trying to block Cuban and Venezuelan aid workers by refusing them landing permission in Port-au-Prince. The Caribbean Community’s emergency aid mission is also blocked. On January 15, the US State Department confirmed that it signed two Memoranda of Understanding with the remnants of Haiti’s government putting Washington in charge of all inbound and outbound flights and aid offloading in the country.

For years, Cuba has sent doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers to countries in need worldwide, winning hearts and minds for its free highly professional services. It provides national healthcare for all its people, and now has about 25,000 doctors in 68 countries. In addition, over 1,800 doctors from 47 developing states graduate annually from Cuban medical schools, return home, and provide quality care for their people.

Major Media Misreporting

Ignoring Haiti’s long history as a de facto US colony, the major media report a sanitized version of today’s catastrophe. For example on January 14, The New York Times cynically editorialized: “Once again, the world weeps for Haiti.” This is the same paper that lied in a March 1, 2004 editorial after US Marines forcibly exiled Aristide, saying:

— he resigned;

— sending in Marines “was the right thing to do;” and

— they only arrived after “Mr. Aristide yielded power.”

It also blamed him for “contribut(ing) significantly to his own downfall (because of his) increasingly autocratic and lawless rule,” and accused him of manipulating the 2000 legislative elections and not “deliver(ing) the democracy he promised.”

In fact, other than a brief period after its liberating revolution (1791 – January 1, 2004), the only time Haiti was democratically governed was under Aristide and during Rene Preval’s first term. Aristide, in fact, was so beloved, he was overwhelmingly reelected in 2000 with a 92% majority and would be equally supported today if allowed to run. In fact, when he’s most needed and wanted, Washington won’t let him return.

In media coverage of Haiti’s disaster, the greater story is suppressed, the one that matters, that puts today’s tragedy in context:

— 500 years of repression; slavery under the Spanish, then French, and since the 19th century as a de facto US colony;

— deep poverty and human misery, the worst in the hemisphere;

— despotic rule, occupation, exploitation, starvation, disease and low life expectancy; and

— now now a disaster of biblical proportions getting Times headlines like:

“In Show of Support, Clinton Goes to Haiti”

Omitted was that it was for a brief airport photo op, America’s usual show of indifference to human suffering, in this case, the result of US imperialism, not as a benefactor the way The Times and other major media portray.

“Officials Strain to Distribute Aid to Haiti as Violence Rises”

In fact, Haitians have been remarkably calm, no thanks to Washington that’s slowing aid delivery, providing very little of its own, and offers little more than militarized occupation, armed killers, including Xe (formerly Blackwater Worldwide) mercenaries, notoriously savage brutes.

“Looting Flares Where Authority Breaks Down”

Looting? People are suffering, starving, dying, desperate because America sends fighters, not food; Marines, not medical aid; combat killers, not compassion, caring, and kindness; and diplomats, not doctors or human decency.

“Government Struggles to Exhume Itself”

Calling it “comparatively stable” ignores that Preval’s government is a proxy for US interests and no longer functioning. Pentagon killers are now in charge.

“Bush, Clinton and Obama Unite to Raise Money for Haiti”

After the December 2004 tsunami struck East Asia, the Bush administration spearheaded a similar campaign, raised over $1 billion, and used it for corporate development, not people needs. Obama backs a similar scheme (Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund) in a show of contemptible indifference to human misery and chose two co-conspirators for his plan.

The Bush administration engineered the February 2004 coup ousting Aristide, established police state rule, and immiserated nine million Haitians. For his part, Clinton kept an iron grip throughout his presidency instead of supporting Aristide’s political, economic and social reforms.

He’s now UN Special Envoy to Haiti heading an Obama administration neoliberal scheme featuring tourism, textile sweatshops, sweeping privatizations and deregulation for greater cheap labor exploitation at the expense of providing essential needs. He orchestrated a plan to turn northern Haiti into a tourist playground and got Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines to invest $55 million for a pier in Labadee where the company operates a private resort and has contributed the largest amount of tourist revenue to the country since 1986.

More still is planned, including a new international airport in the north, an expanded free trade zone, a new one in Port-au-Prince, now delayed, various infrastructure projects, and an alliance with George Soros’ Open Society Institute for a $50 million partnership with Haitian shipper Gregory Mevs to build a free-trade zone for clothing sweatshops.ff
In addition, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) has $258 million in commitments, including the Better Work Haiti and HOPE II projects, taking advantage of duty-free Haitian apparel exports to America to encourage greater sweatshop proliferation.

According to TransAfrica’s founder Randall Robinson:

“That isn’t the kind of investment that Haiti needs. It needs capital investment. It needs investment so that it can be self-sufficient. It needs investment so that it can feed itself.” It also needs debt relief, not another $100 million the IMF just announced adding more to a $1.2 billion burden.

Above all, Haiti needs democratic governance freed from US control, military occupation, and the kind of oppression it’s endured for centuries so its people can breathe free.

It doesn’t need two past and a current US president allied with Haiti’s elites, ignoring economic justice, exploiting Haitian labor, ignoring overwhelming human desperation, militarizing the country, crushing resistance if it arises, and implementing a disaster capitalism agenda at the expense of essential human needs, rights and freedoms.

The only good new is that the Obama administration granted undocumented Haitians Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months. They can now work legally and send remittances to family members. It affects 30,000 ordered deported and all non-US citizens.

During the Bush administration and throughout Obama’s first year in office, repeated calls for it were refused. Now after 80 representatives and 18 senators, Republicans and Democrats, and the conference of Roman Catholic bishops sent appeals, Obama relented for Haitians in America as of January 12. New arrivals will be deported unlike Cubans under the 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act (as amended), a “wet foot/dry foot” policy under which those interdicted at sea are returned home, but others reaching shore are inspected for entry, then nearly always allowed to stay.

TPS aside, Haiti faces crushing burdens – deep poverty, vast unemployment, overwhelming human needs, severe repression, poor governance, Washington dominance, a burdensome debt, and much more before the January 12 quake. Now the disaster, militarization by the Pentagon, and disaster capitalism soon arriving besides what’s already profiteering. It’s been Haiti’s plight for generations, the poorest hemispheric nation in the area most under Washington’s iron grip and paying dearly for the privilege.

Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

Also visit his blog site and listen to the Lendman News Hour on RepublicBroadcasting.org Monday – Friday at 10AM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on world and national issues. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://republicbroadcasting.org/Lendman

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US Imperialist Hubris – Asking Bush & Clinton to “Help Haiti” is Cruel Mockery

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Bush, Clinton and the crimes of US imperialism in Haiti

18 January 2010

The Obama administration has announced that former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush will head the fundraising for relief efforts in the wake of the Haiti earthquake. In his radio speech Saturday, Obama declared: “These two leaders send an unmistakable message to the people of Haiti and the world. In a moment of need, the United States stands united.”

The message of the Clinton-Bush appointment is indeed significant, but hardly what the White House and the American media have suggested. In selecting his two immediate predecessors, those who have set US policy in the Caribbean since 1993, Obama demonstrates that the devastating human tragedy in Haiti will not bring any alteration in the rapacious role of US imperialism in that impoverished semi-colonial country.

For eight years apiece, Clinton and Bush were directly and deeply involved in a series of political machinations and military interventions that have played a major role in perpetuating the poverty, backwardness and repression in Haiti that have vastly compounded by the disaster that struck that country last Tuesday. Both men have the blood of Haitian workers and peasants on their hands.

Clinton took office in the immediate aftermath of the military coup which ousted Haiti’s first democratically elected president, the populist cleric Jean-Bertrand Aristide. That coup was backed by the administration of Bush’s father, who saw Aristide as an unwanted and potentially dangerous radical.

The new Democratic Party administration undertook a tactical shift in policy. Clinton imposed economic sanctions on the Haitian junta, which destroyed Haiti’s fledgling export industries, then dispatched the Marines to Haiti—for the third time in the 20th century—to compel Gen. Raoul Cedras, the junta leader, to depart. The US restored Aristide to the presidency, after he had given assurances that he would do nothing to challenge the domination of either Washington or the native Haitian elite, and that he would leave office in 1996 without seeking reelection.

After Aristide obediently left office on schedule, he was succeeded by René Préval, who served the first of his two terms as president from 1996 to 2001, carrying out the dictates of an International Monetary Fund “structural adjustment” program that slashed employment, cut public services, and ruined domestic rice farmers.

When Aristide’s Fanmi Lavalas party won a clear victory in May 2000 legislative elections, the Clinton administration and the Republican-controlled Congress refused to accept the election and cut off US aid. Aristide himself returned to the presidency after winning a landslide election victory in November 2000, only to face an implacable enemy in the incoming Bush administration.

For three years, Haiti was systematically starved by the US aid cutoff and measures taken by the Bush administration to block international aid and isolate the Aristide government. Finally, in February 2004, amid protests fomented by the Haitian ruling elite with covert American backing, the US military again intervened in the country, seizing Aristide and shipping him out of the country to exile.

The Marines turned over effective control of the country to a United Nations peacekeeping force, with Brazil providing the biggest troop contingent, propping up a series of unelected Haitian prime ministers until elections in 2006, from which candidates of Fanmi Lavalas were largely excluded. René Préval was elected president for the second time, in a term scheduled to end late this year. Once a supporter and professed political “twin” of Aristide, Préval has long since made his peace with both Washington and the Haitian ruling elite, and his second term has been characterized by slavish subservience to the economic prescriptions of Wall Street and the International Monetary Fund.

Throughout the Clinton and Bush administrations, US demands for adherence to IMF austerity policies were combined with a vicious program of repression against Haitians fleeing the country of their birth to seek refuge and a better life in the United States. In his first campaign for the presidency, in 1992, Clinton criticized the persecution and forced repatriation of Haitian refugees, only to reverse himself and continue those policies unaltered. For the next 17 years—and continuing with no change from Obama—hundreds of refugees have died in small boats seeking to evade the US Coast Guard blockade.

Most recently, Clinton has been the official UN envoy for Haiti, backing the corrupt Préval regime and seeking to develop Haiti as a base for a profitable US-run garment industry founded on near-starvation wages. Food riots swept the country in April 2008, but that did not stop Préval from blocking legislation that would have raised the minimum wage of $1.72 a day for workers in the garment factories.

As for George W. Bush, his selection as co-leader of a supposed humanitarian campaign is an insult to the people of both Haiti and the United States. His appointment by Obama is in keeping with the Democratic president’s unflagging efforts since his election, the result of popular hatred of Bush and his party, to rehabilitate the Republicans.

An unapologetic war criminal who is responsible for the slaughter of a million Iraqis, Bush’s signature domestic “achievement” was the abject failure of the US government either to prevent the devastation of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast in Hurricane Katrina, or to mount an effective relief and recovery effort afterwards.

This is the record of the two men whom Barack Obama has selected as the public face of the latest US initiative in Haiti. Bush and Clinton made a series of media appearances over the weekend, including interviews on all five Sunday television news programs, during which they emphasized the need to restore “stability” to Haiti, and the important role that the United States would have to play in that effort.

Bush and Clinton personify the pernicious and reactionary role that American imperialism has played in Haiti for the last century. It is no exaggeration to say that the policies of their administrations have caused as much death and devastation in that country as last Tuesday’s earthquake.

Patrick Martin