Masters of disaster bring cholera to Haiti and polio to Syria November 1, 2013Posted by rogerhollander in Haiti, Hillary Clinton, Imperialism, Israel, Gaza & Middle East.
Tags: Ban Ki-moon, Bill Clinton, cholera epidemic, haiti, haiti cholera, haiti polio, hillary clinton, michael collins, polio epidemic, roger hollander, Syria, un rescue, United Nations, who
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Roger’s note: you will observe that the Clintons are key players in both of the disasters chronicled here. Full disclosure: they are not my favorite couple. Hubby as president with his so-called welfare reform paved the way for today’s ongoing destruction of the social safety net, and his foreign policy, like that of the Missus in her role as Secretary of State, was oriented toward protecting U.S. corporate interests abroad at the cost of the social, economic and environmental welfare of the peoples of the various nations involved. Both Clintons are already there or at least on the way to being multi millionaires, while third world suffering increases abroad and at home. And these are the Democratic Party’s leadership, the so-called good guys. Hillary for President.
OpEdNews Op Eds 11/1/2013 at 03:54:20
Haiti and Syria are victims of their rescuers. The two nations are now sites of major disease outbreaks. Cholera in Haiti and polio in Syria didn’t just happen. Through negligence, those who claim to rescue the people imported the disease entities and fostered the conditions for wider outbreaks.
680,000 cases of cholera in Haiti since UN rescue mission
The 7.0 Mw earthquake that devastated Haiti on January 12, 2010 collapsed an already fragile society and infrastructure. The United States and major European powers sprung into action. Bill Clinton was the front man for the relief effort. The United Nations provided the vehicle to deliver much of the aid. Welcome to the new Haiti said former president Clinton boasting of the relief effort that would transform the near failed state. Within ten months, the vaunted relief efforts lead to a major outbreak of cholera.
The source of the outbreak was identified quickly. UN enlisted troops from Nepal set up camp and began their work. Someone forgot to screen the troops for cholera, a known problem in Nepal. Prior to these arrival of these peacekeepers, Haiti had never experienced a cholera outbreak. The recent suit for compensatory relief from the UN describes the situation elegantly:
“In or around October 2010, human waste from the base seeped into and contaminated the Meille Tributary with cholera. From the Meille Tributary, the contaminated waters flowed into the [320 km long]Artibonite River, resulting in explosive and massive outbreaks of cholera along the river and eventually throughout the entire country.” Haitian citizen class action suit versus the UN, Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, Oct 9, 2013
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon responded that the suit was “not receivable” in an attempt to fabricate sovereign immunity for the UN (See Inner City Press, Feb 21, 2013 and Oct 10). Ki-Moon’s initial gambit was to deny any UN role in the outbreak. When it became abundantly clear that the UN’s failure to screen outside forces for infectious diseases caused the outbreak, the secretary switched to fictitious legalisms at odds with international law.
The bottom line is simple. The UN’s negligence caused the cholera outbreak. It is massive. The Centers for Disease Control reported that: “As of October 17, 2013, 684,085 cases and 8,361 deaths have been reported since the cholera epidemic began in Haiti. Among the cases reported, 380,846 (55.4%) were hospitalized.” CDC, Oct 30.
Polio comes to Syria
The World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed multiple reports of an outbreak of wild poliovirus 1 in Syria. The disease is showing up among the very young. WHO went on to warn of a regional outbreak absent coordinated efforts to beat back the disease. Due to, “frequent population movements across the region and subnational immunity gaps in key areas, the risk of further international spread of wild poliovirus type 1 across the region is considered to be high.” WHO, Oct 29
Since the domestic political conflict turned violent in Syria in 2011, the Syrian Arab Army has fought domestic and foreign fighters funded and armed by the Gulf oil oligarchs and the U.S. and its NATO allies. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took the lead on U.S. support for the rebels through her insistance that Assad must go. Clinton traveled the world announcing her command that the elected president of Syria leave the country.
This effort at regime change by the same crew that sought to rescue Haiti is apparently doing an encore in war torn Syria.
A senior WHO official announced that Pakistan was the likely source of the Syrian poliovirus outbreak. Taliban controlled areas of Pakistan refuse to cooperate with vaccination programs. One reason for the reluctance was a U.S. organized fake vaccination drive to gather intelligence in the hunt for Osama bin Laden. Pakistan is a known source of foreign fighters in the Syria rebel cause.
DNA testing will confirm the Pakistan speculation. Regardless of the source, however, the conditions created by the attack on Syria by the largely foreign fighter manned brigades created the basis for an outbreak of poliovirus and other infectious diseases.
A legion of fools
Imagine that a friend or acquaintance with an opinion on just about everything that turned out to be wrong on a consistent basis. His actions made any situation worse than it was before he got involved.
Now, imagine that your friend or acquaintance was multiplied by a factor of ten and controlled the most powerful nation on earth.
Instead of an annoying individual with poor judgment, someone whom you could ignore without much effort, the carriers of consistent bad judgment, mistakes, and suffering are everywhere. Whatever these powerful fools touch turns to utter disaster.
Some rescue; some rescuers.
Clintons’ Pet Project for Privatized ‘Aid’ to Haiti Stealing Workers’ Wages: Report October 17, 2013Posted by rogerhollander in Haiti, Hillary Clinton.
Tags: Bill Clinton, caracol industrial, clinton foundation, garment industry, haiti, haiti reconstruction, hillary clinton, labor, labour, privatization, roger hollander, sarah lazare, workers rights
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Roger’s note: Ah, the Clintons, the couple I love (to hate), major destroyers of what little was left of liberal progressiveness in the Democratic Party. Here they are in Haiti with their bloodsucking “private” capitalistic venture in Haiti, which is the home to one of the poorest peoples in the world, helping to make them even poorer.
“We’re sending a message that Haiti is open for business again,” Hillary Clinton declared upon the announcement of the opening. What she mean was “open for exploitation.”
‘This calls into question the sustainability and effectiveness of relying on the garment industry to lead Haiti’s reconstruction’
Haiti’s Caracol Industrial Park—the U.S. State Department and Clinton Foundation pet project to deliver aid and reconstruction to earthquake-ravaged Haiti in the form of private investment—is systematically stealing its garment workers’ wages, paying them 34 percent less than minimum wage set by federal law, a breaking report from the Worker Rights Consortium reveals.
Critics charge that poverty wages illustrate the deep flaws with corporate models of so-called aid. “The failure of the Caracol Industrial Park to comply with minimum wage laws is a stain on the U.S.’s post-earthquake investments in Haiti and calls into question the sustainability and effectiveness of relying on the garment industry to lead Haiti’s reconstruction,” said Jake Johnston of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in an interview with Common Dreams.
Caracol is just one of five garment factories profiled in this damning report, released publicly on Wednesday, which finds that “the majority of Haitian garment workers are being denied nearly a third of the wages they are legally due as a result of the factories’ theft of their income.” This is due to systematic employer cheating on piece-work and overtime, as well as failure to pay employees for hours worked.
WRC charges that the wage theft at these 5 factories is “typical” across the country’s garment industry, leading to the suppression of national wages at deep poverty levels. As a result, workers have trouble affording food, shelter, and medical care, the report finds.
Through a series of in-depth interviews, as well as review of pay records, researchers discovered that the problem of wage theft throughout the country’s garment industry is “egregious” at Northern Haiti’s Caracol Industrial Park, which sits at the center of U.S. ‘reconstruction’ efforts and is slated to employ an estimated 20,000 people.
Financers included the Inter-American Development Bank, the U.S. State Department, and the Clinton Foundation, who invested a total of $224 million with promises to uphold high labor standards. Its anchor tenant is the Korean S&H Global factory, which sells garments to Walmart, Target, Kohl’s, and Old Navy, according to the report.
The largest post-earthquake U.S. investment in Haiti, Caracol’s backers have championed it as a model for privatized reconstruction. In a July press release, the U.S. State Department champions the park as a chance to “spur economic growth and bring jobs to Haiti’s underserved regions.”
Then-U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former U.S. President Bill Clinton attended Caracol’s opening ceremony a year ago. “We’re sending a message that Haiti is open for business again,” Hillary Clinton declared upon the announcement of the opening.
The Clinton Foundation did not immediately respond to a request from Common Dreams for an interview.
Tags: Bill Clinton, clintons, haiti, hillary clinton, imperialism, roger hollander, sae-a-korea, sean penn, U.S. imperialism, walmart
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Published on Tuesday, October 23, 2012 by Common Dreams
Re-imagining the “Taiwan of the Caribbean,” again
The Clintons are in Haiti to inaugurate the new $300 million industrial facility touted as “transformative” for the quake-ravaged country, but many wonder if this is simply the next round of imperialism in a country that has been plagued (literally) by outside intervention for too long.
The Clinton’s travel to Haiti to celebrate the opening of a new $300 million sweatshop. (Photo by Associated Press)
The Caracol Industrial Park, which is hailed as “the centerpiece of the U.S. effort to help the country recover from the 2010 earthquake,” according to Trenton Daniel for the Associated Press, is slated to be built on a remote 617-acre site of farmland, mangroves and coral reefs in the northern part of the country.
Critics of the project believe that the industrial park does little more than replicate failed efforts from the past and will benefit outsiders more than Haitians. Writing for Haiti Liberte, Mona Péralte notes, (translated) “this park is a direct illustration of the role of imperialism in the country namely for exploit [if it] come cheaply, if not restore slavery.”
Alex Dupuy, a Haiti-born sociologist at Wesleyan University, adds, “this is not a strategy that is meant to provide Haiti with any measure of sustainable development […] The only reason those industries come to Haiti is because the country has the lowest wages in the region.”
Workers are already protesting the wages offered by the park’s anchor tenant, the South Korean apparel company and Walmart supplier, Sae-A Trading Co. Ltd. Etant Dupain writing on the Let Haiti Live website, notes:
Before the official inauguration, several thousand employees have been working in the Caracol park for the last three months at a wage of 150 gourdes ($3.75 US) a day. Since October 1st, the new minimum wage law has gone into effect, with the government setting the minimum at 300 gourdes a day. Despite this, the managers of the factory operating at Caracol aren’t respecting the new official minimum wage.
Sae-A’s Haiti representative, Daniel Cho, told AP that the employees “will be paid almost $5 for eight hours of work.”
In an effort to attract other tenants to the park, the project’s architects are offering duty-free status and a 15-year tax holiday. Dupuy says that because of these tax breaks, “outside investors will have more to gain than Haitians,” from this project.
The Clintons and their celebrity supporters (Sean Penn, Ben Stiller, fashion designer Donna Karan and British business magnate Richard Branson were all in tow) were in Caracol on Monday to celebrate the opening. Government officials have been lauding the Caracol project as panacea for Haiti’s debilitating economic woes. “We had learned that supporting long-term prosperity in Haiti meant more than providing aid,” Secretary Clinton told a roomful of investors. “So we shifted our assistance to investments to address some of the biggest challenges facing this country: creating jobs and sustainable economic growth.”
Backers of the complex estimate that the park has the potential to generate up to 65,000 total jobs; Sae-A Korea, who already employs 400 people, agreed to create 20,000 permanent jobs within six years and build 5,000 employee houses on site.
The project—which was in the works before the earthquake—became a top priority for the Obama administration after the disaster. Washington has since invested $124 million in the project, making it the U.S.’s biggest single investment in the aftermath of the quake. According to the Associated Press, “it is certain to shape the legacy of the Clintons.”
For many local Haitians, there are flashbacks to the baseball factories built in the 1970s and 1980s under the regime of Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier. AP writer Daniel notes:
Those jobs prompted thousands of farmers to leave their fields for the capital, and agricultural areas suffered from neglect. Shantytowns like Cite Soleil emerged to house the new workers. The factories got tax breaks but there was no income to offset Duvalier’s alleged plundering of state coffers. Haiti was supposed to become the “Taiwan of the Caribbean” but instead suffered through economic collapse brought on by political instability.
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Bill Clinton’s $80 Million Payday, or Why Politicians Don’t Care That Much About Reelection August 4, 2012Posted by rogerhollander in Democracy, Economic Crisis.
Tags: Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, bribes, commodities futures, corey booker, deregulation, derivitives, Economic Crisis, hillary clinton, matt stoller, presidency, roger hollander
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Tuesday, May 22, 2012
“There was a kind of inflection point during the five-year period between 1997 and 2003 — the late Clinton and/or early Bush administration — when all the rules just went away. You went from a period, a regime, where people did have at least some concern about going to jail, to a point where everything is legal, and derivatives couldn’t be regulated at all and nobody went to jail for anything. And looking back I would say that this period definitely started under Clinton. You absolutely cannot blame this on George W. Bush.” – Charles Ferguson of Inside Job
“I never had any money until I got out of the White House, you know, but I’ve done reasonably well since then.” Bill Clinton
On December 21, 2000, President Bill Clinton signed a bill called the Commodities Futures Modernization Act. This law ensured that derivatives could not be regulated, setting the stage for the financial crisis. Just two months later, on February 5, 2001, Clinton received $125,000 from Morgan Stanley, in the form of a payment for a speech Clinton gave for the company in New York City. A few weeks later, Credit Suisse also hired Clinton for a speech, at a $125,000 speaking fee, also in New York. It turns out, Bill Clinton could make a lot of money, for not very much work.
Today, Clinton is worth something on the order of $80 million (probably much more, but we don’t really know), and these speeches have become a lucrative and consistent revenue stream for his family. Clinton spends his time offering policy advice, writing books, stumping for political candidates, and running a global foundation. He’s now a vegan. He makes money from books. But the speaking fee money stream keeps coming in, year after year, in larger and larger amounts.
Most activists and political operatives are under a delusion about American politics, which goes as follows. Politicians will do *anything* to get reelected, and they will pander, beg, borrow, lie, cheat and steal, just to stay in office. It’s all about their job.
This is 100% wrong. The dirty secret of American politics is that, for most politicians, getting elected is just not that important. What matters is post-election employment. It’s all about staying in the elite political class, which means being respected in a dense network of corporate-funded think tanks, high-powered law firms, banks, defense contractors, prestigious universities, and corporations. If you run a campaign based on populist themes, that’s a threat to your post-election employment prospects. This is why rising Democratic star and Newark Mayor Corey Booker reacted so strongly against criticism of private equity – he’s looking out for a potential client after his political career is over, or perhaps, during interludes between offices. Running as a vague populist is manageable, as long as you’re lying to voters. If you actually go after powerful interests while in office, then you better win, because if you don’t, you’ll have basically nowhere to go. And if you lose, but you were a team player, then you’ll have plenty of money and opportunity. The most lucrative scenario is to win and be a team player, which is what Bill and Hillary Clinton did. The Clinton’s are the best at the political game – it’s not a coincidence that deregulation accelerated in the late 1990s, as Clinton and his whole team began thinking about their post-Presidential prospects.
Corruption used to be more overt. Lyndon Johnson made money while in office, by illicitly garnering lucrative FCC licenses. It was the first neoliberal President, Jimmy Carter, who began the post-career payoff trend in the Democratic Party. In 1978, Archer Daniels Midland CEO Dwayne Andreas convinced Carter to back ethanol subsidies. After Carter lost to Reagan, he faced financial problems, as his peanut warehouse had been mismanaged and was going bankrupt. AMD stepped in, overpaying for the property. But Carter wasn’t nearly as skilled as Clinton, because he didn’t stay in the club.
Over the course of the next ten years after his Presidency, Clinton brought in roughly $8-10 million a year in speaking fees. In 2004, Clinton got $250,000 from Citigroup and $150,000 from Deutsche Bank. Goldman paid him $300,000 for two speeches, one in Paris. As the bubble peaked, in 2006, Clinton got $150,000 paydays each from Citigroup (twice), Lehman Brothers, the Mortgage Bankers Association, and the National Association of Realtors. In 2007, it was Goldman again, twice, Lehman, Citigroup, and Merrill Lynch. He didn’t just reap speaking fee cash from the financial services sector – corporate titans like Oracle and outsourcing specialist Cisco paid up, as did many Israel-focused groups, Middle Eastern interests, and universities. Does this explain the finance-friendly, oil-friendly and Israel First-friendly policies pursued by the State Department under Hillary Clinton? Who knows? But if you could legally deliver millions in cash to the husband of a high-level political official, it wouldn’t hurt your policy goals.
Speaking fee money isn’t just money, it is easy money. In one appearance, for one hour, Clinton can make $125,000 to $500,000. At an hourly rate, that’s between $250 million to $1 billion annually. It isn’t the case that Clinton is a billionaire, but it is the case that Clinton can, whenever he wants, make money as quickly and as easily as a billionaire. He is awash in cash, and cash is useful. Cash finances his lifestyle. Cash helped backstop his wife’s Presidential campaign when it was on the ropes.
And these speaking fees aren’t the only money Clinton got, it’s just the easiest cash to find because of disclosure laws. Apparently, Clinton’s firm apparently had a paid $100k+ a month consulting relationship with MF Global, and Clinton and Tony Blair have teamed up to help hedge funds raise money. His daughter worked for a giant hedge fund and political ally (Avenue Capital). And Clinton has unusual relationships with billionaires and Dubai-based investors.
Bill and Hillary Clinton are the best at what they do, but they aren’t the only ones who do it. In fact, this is what politics is increasingly about, not elections, but staying in the club. Erskine Bowles, former White House Chief of Staff, lost two Senate elections. But he’s on the board of Facebook and Morgan Stanley, as well as authoring the highly influential Simpson-Bowles plan to gut Social Security and Medicare. Tom Daschle, who lost a Senate race in 2004, is a millionaire who in large part crafted Obama’s health care plan. Former Senator Judd Gregg is now at Goldman Sachs. Current Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel made $12 million in between his stint at the Clinton White House which ended in 2000 and his election to Congress in 2002. Former Congressman Harold Ford, now at Morgan Stanley, is routinely on TV making political claims. Larry Summers is on the board of the high-flying start-up Square. Meanwhile, Russ Feingold, a Senator who did go after Wall Street, is a professor in the Midwest. Eliot Spitzer is a struggling TV host and writer.
In other words, Barack Obama and his franchise are emulating the Clinton’s, and are speaking not to voters, but to potential post-election patrons. That’s what their policy goals are organized around. So when you hear someone talking about how politicians just want to be reelected, roll your eyes. When you hear an argument about the best message or policy framework to use for reelection, stop listening. That’s not what politicians really care about. Elections in many ways are just like regular season games in basketball – they are worth winning, but it’s not worth risking an injury. The reason Obama won’t prosecute bankers, or run anything but a very mild sort of populism, is because he’s not really talking to voters. He just wants to be slightly more appealing than Romney. He’s really talking to the people who made Bill and Hillary Clinton a very wealthy couple, his future prospective clients. We don’t call it bribery, but that’s what it is. Bill Clinton made a lot of money when he signed the bill deregulating derivatives and repealed Glass-Steagall. The payout just came later, in the form of speaking fees from elite banks and their allies.
Ironically, Clinton has come to express regret about deregulating derivatives. He has not given the money back.
The deep roots of the war on contraception February 15, 2012Posted by rogerhollander in Health, History, Religion, Right Wing, Women.
Tags: abortion, abortion rights, Barry Goldwater, Bill Clinton, birth control, catholic bishops, catholic church, conservatism, contraception, ellen chesler, fdr, George W. Bush, history, lbj, margaret sanger, planned parenthood, pro choice, reagan, religion, reproductive freedom, roger hollander, women's health
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The uproar over Obama’s decision stems from tensions between Democrats and Catholics that date back to FDR and LBJ
(Credit: Library of Congress/The White House)
Republicans for Planned Parenthood last week issued a call for nominations for the 2012 Barry Goldwater award, an annual prize awarded to a Republican legislator who has acted to protect women’s health and rights. Past recipients include Maine Senator Olympia Snowe, who this week endorsed President Obama’s solution for insuring full coverage of the cost of contraception without exceptions, even for employees of religiously affiliated institutions. And that may tell us all we need to know about why President Obama has the upper hand in a debate over insurance that congressional Tea Partiers have now widened to include anyone who seeks an exemption.
It’s a long time ago, but it is worth remembering that conservative avatar Goldwater was in his day an outspoken supporter of women’s reproductive freedom — a freethinker who voted his conscience over the protests of Catholic bishops and all others who tried to claim these matters as questions of conscientious liberty and not sensible social policy. With Goldwater on his side, Obama sees a clear opening for skeptics wary of the extremism that has captured Republican hopefuls in thrall to the fundamentalist base that controls the GOP presidential primary today. Holding firm on family planning — even if it means taking on the Catholic hierarchy and other naysayers by offering a technical fix that would have insurers cover costs instead of the churches themselves — is a calculated political strategy by the Obama campaign, not a blunder as it has been characterized by many high powered pundits, including progressives like Mark Shields of PBS and E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post.
Recent public opinion polling on the subject is worth reconsidering. For years, it has been perfectly clear that a substantial majority of Americans see the value of expanding access to contraception and reliable sex education as essential tools to prevent unwanted pregnancy and abortion and to help women balance the competing demands of work and family. But unlike a zealous minority on the other side, these moderates have not necessarily privileged these social concerns over important questions of economics or national security that mattered more to them at election time.
That’s what seems to be changing. With his now-famous “nope, zero” response last spring, President Obama simply shut down Republicans in Congress who wanted to defund family planning as part of a deal to reduce the federal deficit. The action elicited a sudden surge in his popularity, especially in the highly contested demographic of women voters between the ages of 30 and 49 who voted for him in 2008 but wound up frustrated by failed promises and disappointing economic policies. Campaign polling has since uncovered a big opening for Obama with this group because they are furious over Republican social extremism. An astonishing 80 percent of them disapproved of congressional efforts to defund Planned Parenthood last spring. Polling among Catholics in response to last week’s controversy shows identical patterns, with 57 percent overall supporting the Obama “compromise” to ensure full coverage of contraception, according to reporting by Joe Conason in The National Memo, and cross-tabs demonstrating much higher margins of support from Catholic women, Latinos, and independent Catholic voters — all prime Obama election targets.
If the numbers are so persuasive, why then have Republican conservatives strayed so far from the greater tolerance of the Goldwater age? Why have they allowed the family planning issue to tie their candidates up in knots in 2012? The answer is in just how outsized the influence of a minority viewpoint can be on a political party, so long as it represents the base of that party’s support.
A bit of history going all the way back to Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal is instructive. Back then, birth control was still illegal in this country, still defined as obscene under federal statutes that remained as a legacy of the Victorian era, even though many states had reformed local laws and were allowing physicians to prescribe contraception to married women with broadly defined “medical” reasons to plan and space their childbearing.
The movement’s pioneer, Margaret Sanger, went to Washington during the Great Depression, anticipating that Franklin Roosevelt, whose wife Eleanor was her friend and neighbor in New York, would address the problem and incorporate a public subsidy of contraception for poor women into the safety net the New Deal was constructing. What Sanger failed to anticipate, however, was the force of the opposition this idea would continue to generate from the coalition of religious conservatives, including urban Catholics and rural fundamentalist Protestants who held Roosevelt Democrats captive, much as they have today captured the GOP. It was Catholic priests, and not the still slightly scandalous friend of the First Lady, who wound up having tea at the Roosevelt White House.
The U.S. government would not overcome moral and religious objections until the Supreme Court protected contraceptive use under the privacy doctrine created in 1965 under Griswold v. Connecticut. That freed President Lyndon Johnson to incorporate family planning programs into the country’s international development programs and into anti-poverty efforts at home. As a Democrat still especially dependent on Catholic votes, however, Johnson only agreed to act once he had the strong bipartisan support of his arch rival Barry Goldwater’s endorsement and also the intense loyalty and deft maneuvering of Republican moderates like Robert Packwood of Oregon in the Senate. Packwood, in turn, worked alongside Ohio’s Robert Taft, Jr. in the House and a newcomer from Texas by the name of George H. W. Bush. Bush would remain a staunch advocate of reproductive freedom for women until political considerations during the 1980 presidential elections, when he was on the ticket with Ronald Reagan, accounted for one of the most dramatic and cynical public policy reversals in modern American politics.
Reagan had supported California’s liberal policies on contraception and abortion as governor, and Bush as Richard Nixon’s Ambassador to the United Nations had helped shape the UN’s population programs. But Republican operatives in 1980 saw a potential fissure in the traditional New Deal coalition among Catholics uncomfortable with the new legitimacy given to abortion after Roe v. Wade and white southern Christians being lured away from the Democrats around the issue of affirmative action and other racial preferences. Opposition to abortion instantly became a GOP litmus test, and both presidential hopefuls officially changed stripes.
Fast forward to 1992 and the election of Bill Clinton as America’s first pro-choice president, coupled with the Supreme Court’s crafting of a compromise decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey that put some limits on access to abortion but essentially preserved the core privacy doctrine of Roe v. Wade. The perceived double threat of these political and judicial developments unleashed a new and even more powerful conservative backlash that took aim not only at abortion, but at contraception and sex education as well.
Exploiting inevitable tensions in the wake of profound social and economic changes occurring across the country as the result of altered gender roles and expectations — changes symbolized and made all the more palpable by Hillary Clinton’s activist role as First Lady — conservatives, with the support of powerful right-wing foundations and think tanks, poured millions of dollars into research and propaganda promoting family values and demonizing reproductive freedom, including emotional television ads that ran for years on major media outlets. A relentless stigmatizing of abortion, along with campaigns of intimidation and outright violence against Planned Parenthood and other providers, had a chilling effect on politicians generally shy of social controversy. And Bill Clinton’s vulnerability to charges of sexual misconduct left his administration and his party all the more defensive.
Since the welfare reform legislation of 1996, aptly labeled a “Personal Responsibility Act,” not only has access to abortion been curtailed, but funds for family planning programs at home and abroad have been capped. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been allocated to the teaching of sexual abstinence, rather than more comprehensive approaches to sex education. Just as tragically, U.S. programs addressing the crisis of HIV/AIDS — admirably expanded during the presidency of George W. Bush — were nonetheless made to counsel abstinence and oppose the use of condoms and other safe sex strategies, leaving women and young people all the more vulnerable to the ravages of the epidemic.
Empirically grounded studies over and over again undermined the efficacy of these approaches, which also flew in the face of mainstream American viewpoints and basic common sense. With Barack Obama’s election they have largely been revoked, enflaming the conservative base that put them in place and has lived off the salaries supported by government funding for faith-based social policy.
Even more disheartening to conservative true believers is the promise that the Affordable Care Act will vastly expand access to contraception by providing insurance coverage for oral contraceptives. This guarantee, endorsed by all mainstream health advocates, also includes emergency contraception, popularly known as the morning-after pill, that holds the promise of further reducing unwanted pregnancy and abortion and was meant to offer common ground in an abortion debate long defined by a clash of absolutes. The strong dose of ordinary hormones in emergency contraception act primarily by preventing fertilization, just like daily contraceptive pills, but in rare instances may also disable a fertilized egg from implanting by weakening the uterine lining that it needs for sustenance, causing opponents to vilify it as an abortifacient.
Supporting the Obama policy changes, on the other hand, is a new generation of progressive activists in reproductive health and rights organizations, energized by the intensity of the assaults against them, and now well-armed to educate and activate their own supporters by using traditional grassroots strategies and more sophisticated social networking. No institution has been more important in this effort than Planned Parenthood, with its vast networks of affiliates and supporters in every state, millions more supporters online, and a powerful national political and advocacy operation based in Washington D.C. that has been put to use to great effect in recent months.
The strength of the Planned Parenthood brand, coupled with the organization’s demonstrated ability to rally hundreds of thousands of supporters when it is attacked, has helped overcome traditional political reticence on reproductive justice issues. The Planned Parenthood Action Fund is already out with a strong new appeal warning politicians that women are watching. “Enough is enough. Back off on birth control,” is the new advocacy mantra.
Mindful of the numbers — and with the added ballast of what now amounts to a daily drumbeat of progressive television talk and comedy that delights in pillorying Republican prudery — Democrats are intensifying their resolve to take on this fight. Two things we can be sure of: Whoever emerges from the bloodbath of the GOP contest will try and backtrack from the birth control extremism of the primary. And Obama supporters, backed up by the advocacy community, will in turn stand ready to pounce on this inevitable flip-flopping.
Both sides may well summon the spirit and words of Barry Goldwater, who cautioned against allowing faith-based extremism to gain control of the Republican Party. “Politics and governing demand compromise,” he told John Dean, who reports on the conversation in his 2006 book, “Conservatives Without Conscience.” “But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can’t and won’t compromise. I know. I’ve tried to deal with them.”
- Ellen Chesler is a Senior Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute and author of “Woman of Valor: Margaret Sanger and the Birth Control Movement in America.” More Ellen Chesler
Tags: baby doc, Bill Clinton, francois duvalier, haiti, imperialism, jean bertrand aristide, jean claude duvalier, jemima pierre, michael martelly, papa doc, roger hollander, U.S. imperialism
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by BAR editor and columnist Jemima Pierre, PhD
There they were, at the official ceremony: the living, breathing banes of Haiti’s existence. “Rubbing shoulders on stage, shaking hands and exchanging pleasantries were Haitian President Michel Martelly, former US President and UN Special Envoy, Bill Clinton, and, Jean Claude Duvalier,” the mass murderer and former dictator. The dictator is hoping for some kind of comeback, and the puppet president “will open up Haiti to permanent US occupation and economic exploitation while terrorizing Haitians who fight back.” Clinton oversees the whole process on behalf of imperialism.
“Duvalier has been allowed to roam Haiti’s streets, even dining at the finest restaurants with the likes of Sean Penn.”
Lost amidst the heart-wrenching stories and photographs of the “poor Haitians” living in squalor and misery circulating on the second anniversary of the 12 January 2010 earthquake, another set of images appeared. Few people noticed these other images – they received little attention in the mainstream media – but they offer an insight into the prospects for Haiti’s reconstruction and, indeed, into the prospects for Haiti’s political and economic future.
The images  were taken during the official commemoration ceremonies at the hillside ofTitanyen  [pdf], north of Port-au-Prince, where former dictators Jean Claude Duvalier and his father, Francois Duvalier, discarded the bodies of their political opponents. After the earthquake, it became the gravesite of thousands of unidentified earthquake victims. During the ceremonies, local delegates and international diplomats paid their respects to the Haitians that lost their lives and pledged to help those who lived. But the most striking image  that emerged during the ceremonies was that of an immoral triumvirate. Rubbing shoulders on stage, shaking hands and exchanging pleasantries were Haitian President Michel Martelly, former US President and UN Special Envoy, Bill Clinton, and, Jean Claude Duvalier. To understand the future of Haiti, we have to shift our focus from the “poor Haitians” who dominate Haiti coverage and understand the significance of these three figures to the shaping of US imperial designs on Haiti.
“President Martelly is the face – and backbone – of a resurgent Duvalierism.”
“Baby Doc” Duvalier returned to Haiti after twenty-five years in exile on 16 January 2010. His arrival was supposedly a surprise, though it is becoming clear that he was given the go-ahead by France and the United States. The Obama administration’s relative silence around the return of Duvalier needs to be contrasted with the noise it made while it forcefully  tried to prevent  the return of Jean Bertrand Aristide, Haiti’s first democratically elected President. The contrast smacks of duplicity. Let’s remember that under Duvalier (and his father, Francois) nearly 50,000  Haitians were killed, disappeared, and tortured by the reviled tonton macoutes , his private army. At the same time, Duvalier embezzled  hundreds of millions of dollars, most of which sponsored an exiled life of grandeur . Despite the calls for his arrest and prosecution by Haitian survivors, lawyers, and international human rights organizations, Duvalier has been allowed to roam Haiti’s streets, even dining at the finest restaurants with the likes of Sean Penn.
What does Duvalier symbolize? For Haiti’s elite, he represents a form of totalitarian nostalgia. There is a cultish aura that surrounds Duvalier, a reminder of the era of “macoutized bourgeoisie ,” as journalist Kim Ives has referred to it, when there was an alliance between the elite and the paramilitary forces of terror. But Duvalierism was also good for US politics and economics. In the 1960s, they needed Francois (“Papa Doc”) Duvalier to offset the rise of revolutionary communist Cuba. Under Jean Claude (“Baby Doc”), they were able to open up the Haitian markets and resources to US businesses, expand sweatshops, and lay the basis for the coming neoliberal economic policies.
“Duvalierism was good for US politics and economics.”
This is where the US-selected President Martelly and “Papa” Bill Clinton come in. As we’ve pointed out here  on Black Agenda Report, right-wing candidate Martelly was handpicked by the Obama administration to become Haiti’s president in a forced election marred by irregularities and low voter turn out. More importantly, he is the face – and backbone – of a resurgent Duvalierism. His Duvalier affinities are well known as is his animus  towards former President Aristide. He has historic ties with Duvalier loyalists, has called for “amnesty ” for Duvalier, and is now in the process of reestablishing the Haitian army. Moreover, his erratic and belligerent interactions with his constituency and political colleagues – and, in particularly, his threats against Haitian journalists – are early indications of his repressive tendencies.
But he is a good puppet. As Ezili Danto of the Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network reminds us: “Martelly is merely a tool to be used by those ‘more schooled in the patterns of privilege and domination’ than any self-serving Haiti politician could ever dream to be. Martelly is the valve that releases accumulated surface pressure while reinforcing the ‘violent Haitian’ narrative. Brilliant US/Euro move. A no brainer.” In the meantime, he will open up Haiti to permanent US occupation and economic exploitation while terrorizing Haitians who fight back. As the U.S. attempts to consolidate its military presence in the Western hemisphere, control of Haiti is important. For many, this is one of the reasons explaining Haiti’s currently military occupation by the UN-led criminal force, MINUSTAH, the largest UN military force in a country that is not at war. It is also the reason for the massive new US embassy in Haiti, the fourth largest US embassy in the world.
“Clinton practically dictates Haitian policy.”
And then there’s Bill Clinton. Clinton provides the “kind ” face of US control of Haiti. With his push to turn Haiti into a Western tourist paradise while Haitians become cheap sweatshop labor  for making Western goods, Clinton is the arbiter of a new phase of neoliberalism. Clinton practically dictates Haitian policy. In fact, in one of the more absurd and nepotistic twists of Haiti’s political history, Haiti’s Prime Minister, Gary Conille, is Clinton’s former chief of staff . Conille also has a long family  history with the Duvaliers: his father was a minister to Baby Doc. As @dominique_e recently said on twitter, everything is set to “kill Haiti with neoliberalism.”
Last week, Glen Ford remarked  that in the US media, “Haiti is most often spoken of as a tragedy – when it is actually the scene of horrific crimes, mainly perpetrated by the United States over the span of two centuries.” With the puppet, the dictator, and the president on the scene, it is hard to imaging a more sinister cohort guiding Haiti down the path of US exploitation.
Jemima Pierre can be reached at BAR1804@gmail.com .
Get Ready for the Obama/GOP Alliance November 25, 2009Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, Health, Iraq and Afghanistan, Right Wing.
Tags: Afghanistan, afghanistan troops, Afghanistan War, Bill Clinton, clinton presidency, congress, democrats, dick morris, glass-steagall, gop, health care, health care reform, healthcare, healthcare reform, jeff cohen, NAFTA, newt gingrich, Obama presidency, Obama White House, public option, Rahm Emanuel, republicans, roger hollander, telecom act
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With Obama pushing a huge troop escalation in Afghanistan, history may well repeat itself with a vengeance. And it’s not just the apt comparison to LBJ, who destroyed his presidency on the battlefields of Vietnam with an escalation that delivered power to Nixon and the GOP.
There’s another frightening parallel: Obama seems to be following in the footsteps of Bill Clinton, who accomplished perhaps his single biggest legislative “triumph” – NAFTA – thanks to an alliance with Republicans that overcame strong Democratic and grassroots opposition.
It was 16 years ago this month when Clinton assembled his coalition with the GOP to bulldoze public skepticism about the trade treaty and overpower a stop-NAFTA movement led by unions, environmentalists and consumer rights groups. How did Clinton win his majority in Congress? With the votes of almost 80 percent of GOP senators and nearly 70 percent of House Republicans. Democrats in the House voted against NAFTA by more than 3 to 2, with fierce opponents including the Democratic majority leader and majority whip.
To get a majority today in Congress on Afghanistan, the Obama White House is apparently bent on a strategy replicating the tragic farce that Clinton pulled off: Ignore the informed doubts of your own party while making common cause with extremist Republicans who never accepted your presidency in the first place.
“Deather” conspiracists are not new to the Grand Old Party. Clinton engendered a similar loathing on the right despite his centrist, corporate-friendly policies. When conservative Republican leaders like Newt Gingrich and Dick Armey delivered to Clinton (and corporate elites) the NAFTA victory, it didn’t slow down rightwing operatives who circulated wacky videos accusing Clinton death squads of murdering reporters and others.
For those who elected Obama, it’s important to remember the downward spiral that was accelerated by Clinton’s GOP alliance to pass NAFTA. It should set off alarm bells for us today on Afghanistan.
NAFTA was quickly followed by the debacle of Clinton healthcare “reform” largely drafted by giant insurance companies, which was followed by a stunning election defeat for Congressional Democrats in November 1994, as progressive and labor activists were lethargic while rightwing activists in overdrive put Gingrich into the Speaker’s chair.
A year later, advised by his chief political strategist Dick Morris (yes, the Obama-basher now at Fox), Clinton declared: “The era of big government is over.” In the coming years, Clinton proved that the era of big business was far from over – working with Republican leaders to grant corporate welfare to media conglomerates (1996 Telecom Act) and investment banks (1999 abolition of the Glass-Steagall Act).
Today, it’s crucial to ask where Obama is heading. From the stimulus to healthcare, he’s shown a Clinton-like willingness to roll over progressives in Congress on his way to corrupt legislation and frantic efforts to compromise for the votes of corporate Democrats or “moderate” Republicans. Meanwhile, the incredible shrinking “public option” has become a sick joke.
As he glides from retreats on civil liberties to health reform that appeases corporate interests to his Bush-like pledge this week to “finish the job” in Afghanistan, an Obama reliance on Congressional Republicans to fund his troop escalation could be the final straw in disorienting and demobilizing the progressive activists who elected him a year ago.
Throughout the centuries, no foreign power has been able to “finish the job” in Afghanistan, but President Obama thinks he’s a tough enough Commander-in-Chief to do it. Too bad he hasn’t demonstrated such toughness in the face of obstructionist Republicans and corporate lobbyists. For them, it’s been more like “compromiser-in-chief.”
When you start in the center (on, say, healthcare or Afghanistan) and readily move rightward several steps to appease rightwing politicians or lobbyists or Generals, by definition you are governing as a conservative.
It’s been a gradual descent from the elation and hope for real change many Americans felt on election night, November 2008. For some of us who’d scrutinized the Clinton White House in the early 1990s, the buzz was killed days after Obama’s election when he chose his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, a top Clinton strategist and architect of the alliance that pushed NAFTA through Congress.
If Obama stands tough on more troops to Afghanistan (as Clinton fought ferociously for NAFTA), only an unprecedented mobilization of progressives – including many who worked tirelessly to elect Obama – will be able to stop him. Trust me: The Republicans who yell and scream about Obama budget deficits when they’re obstructing public healthcare will become deficit doves in spending the estimated $1 million per year per new soldier (not to mention private contractors) headed off to Asia.
The only good news I can see: Maybe it will take a White House/GOP alliance over Afghanistan to wake up the base of liberal groups (like MoveOn) to take a closer and more critical look at President Obama’s policies.
Jeff Cohen is an associate professor of journalism and the director of the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College, founder of the media watch group FAIR, and former board member of Progressive Democrats of America. In 2002, he was a producer and pundit at MSNBC (overseen by NBC News). His latest book is Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in Corporate Media.
Tags: Bill Clinton, bipartisan, conservatives, democratic party, herbert calhoun, Nancy Pelosi, obama administation, president obama, progressive, progressive ideas, progressives, Republican Party, right wing, roger hollander, ronald reagan, single payer
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(Roger’s note: this article bemoans Barack Obama’s betrayal of his promise to generate genuine change; I for one do not feel betrayed becuase I never believed in him in the first place — full disclosure, I voted for Obama and do not regret it as McCain/Palin would have spelled disaster on a far greater scale. In positing Obama’s failure to confront the Republican Party, Calhoun does not go deep enough in his analysis. However, in showing how a progressive president congressional majorities cannot achieve a progressive agenda while at the same time Republican presidents achieve reactionary agendas with Democratic congresses, he does suggest the crux of the problem: the United States is for all intents and purposes a one-party quasi-dictatorship. Republicrat. Democratican. Call it what you will. It is not the Republicans that Obama lacks the guts or imagination to confront, rather the military and the corporate Behemoth, the military-industrial complex against which Dwight Eisenhower warned us in his historic farewell address.)
www.opednews.com, July 4, 2009
Given that Obama is up against ideologica opponents
that fight to the death and play dirty in defense of their own (almost always
bad) ideas, one wonders what Obama hopes to accomplish with his Rodney King like
“can’t we all just get along” approach to getting his progressive agenda
through. Does he really think he can finesse his way around this minefield of conservative
pit bulls (sacrificing those who voted for him in the process), with this sweet
talk of empty bipartisanism? Has he not learned that the republicans do not
“play the game of bipartisanism” fairly; that is, unless it means that they can
“flip” progressive ideas? They will eat the part of his body that Jessie Jackson
was going to cut off, for breakfast, and then laugh all the way to the next
election cycle, unless he gets busy using those same parts to push
through the meaty ideas of those who gave him a mandate.
This is serious business; time to cut deeply into and roll
back the regressive conservative agenda of the last twenty-four years, rather
than giving us (the ones who got him elected), the gravy and the crumbs trimmed
from around the edges (like the limp-wristed credit card protection bill. Please,
give me a frigging break?).
We want some “progressive meat,” not just the carcass of the
old Conservative centrist Bill Clinton programs and ideas. This pussyfooting
around the edges has got to stop and soon, or else this “Obama run train to
Washington” is going to be short-lived: derailed in the mid-term election.
Obama had better “start dancing with the one who brung him,” or else he is
headed to the “graveyard of one-term Presidency land” and lack of my vote is
going to be one of the many progressive nails in his coffin.
I would like to remind him that although I am a black man
who followed his career while he was a “community organizer” in the Altgeld
ghetto community in South Chicago, and who has reviewed both of his books on
Amazon.com, through the years, I am frankly still not all that impressed with
his results. I voted for him not because he is black, or edited the Harvard Law
Review; or just to see a black family in the White House, but because, I
thought he would put his foot on the accelerator and get progressive ideas
enacted quickly, and for no other reason. Unless he begins to show some
fighting spirit, some moxie, in the next election cycle I’ll vote against him and
all those limp-wristed Congressional democrats like Nancy Pelosi in a heartbeat,
and gladly send them all packing. Unless they get busy doing the business of
those who got them elected, their political capital is going to dry up like the
So far, even with a mandate and a filibuster proof Congress, all Obama has shown us is a lot of-
“TV style” totally devoid of progressive substance. I am frankly tired
of seeing him on the TV. -(And
don’t send me any more of those emails asking for more money and touting these
milquetoast centrist ideas: I am not a centrist; I am a progressive!). I’d
rather see you twisting a few Republicans arms in the back rooms, and a lot less
of this empty media show. In short, so far Obama looks like, acts like, and
quacks like a “good old Bill Clinton Republican,” “a good ol’ boy, pre-emptively
giving up his progressive bona fides behind the scenes.- And giving us lots of TV style smiles,
and sweet talk. -Lets have more
grimaces and a little rough talk; that way, we know you are working for our
Do we need to remind Obama that when the Republicans were in
office (with Bill Clinton’s help), even without a mandate and a filibuster
proof Congress, they aggressively pursued every one of their bad ideas? And got
most of them through a democratic Congress? To wit: All of them went to work on
the number one “global Republican project:” dismantling FDR New Deal social safety
net. Ronald Reagan, GWH Bush, the not too bright, GW Bush, Jr, and even with the
centrist Bill Clinton’s help, together, all but supplanted FDR’s programs with
the new existing playing field: the over-arching capitalist model of economic insecurity.
Now, that is what we have as the new playing field. That is the “given.” That
is the new ground zero.
So, Obama begins his presidency on Ronald Reagan’s playing
field, but with a bulletproof Congress. And what does he do? Forgets about the
big ideas and proceeds to preemptively capitulate on the number one progressive
idea, single payer healthcare system; gives us a weak-kneed credit card bill
instead; a watered down energy bill that even GW would be proud of, and more
importantly, has not shown us that he is willing to fight the republicans
toe-toe for any of the progressive programs that are important to the people
who elected him. -We are now wedded
to a worse version of the private Healthcare system than the one we already
have. What about the campaign promises of lower cost for everyone and to getting
everyone covered? -[Barack, your
slip is showing...]
And as an aside, Obama, of course, since he can’t even
openly acknowledge or be seen championing mainstream progressive causes, would
not be caught dead pushing any overt black causes. I suppose that dealing with
black concerns, like the inner social city meltdown, the public schools, etc.,
are either completely out of the question, or, are so far down the Obama agenda
that we are not likely to see them until a second term, if at all.
This pre-emptive capitulation is for the birds, and if it
does not stop soon, I am going to personally lead a group to picket the White
house to further dramatize how weak-kneed the Obama team really is. I never
thought I would be the one to say this but what we really need is a democrat,
with GW’s like moxie of full speed ahead, working a progressive agenda. Barack
Haiti’s Great White Hope? May 25, 2009Posted by rogerhollander in Caribbean, Foreign Policy, Haiti.
Tags: aristide, Ban Ki-moon, Bill Clinton, Colin Powell, condoleezza, duvalier, haiti, haiti freedom, haiti history, haiti massacres, haiti poverty, haiti revolution, haitian army, jean bertrand aristide, john maxwell, kofi annan, patrick manning, randall robinson, raoul cedras, roger hollander, slave revolt, slave trade, U.S. imperialism
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Jamaican Observer, May 24, 2009
History is littered with treachery. In the noisome Slough of Dishonour are mired thousands of reputations, most of those who betrayed their own countries, like Pierre Laval, Vidkun Quisling, Jonas Savimbi and Augusto Pinochet.
The deepest pits, though, the most purulent sinks, are reserved for those who have ranged abroad to betray and sabotage strangers, to inflict unnecessary suffering on people who have never given them cause for complaint. People like Leopold of Belgium, Neville Chamberlain, Hitler, Ariel Sharon and George W Bush spring readily to mind. On Monday, former President Clinton announced that he would accept an invitation from the UN secretary general, Ban Ki Moon of South Korea, to become the SG’s personal envoy in Haiti. It is an appointment that will end in disaster. I mention Ban Ki Moon’s nationality because I believe that the disaster that already exists in Haiti is the result of a culture clash which is entirely incomprehensible to most people outside the Western hemisphere and not easily understood by most people outside the international crime scene that has been created in Haiti.
Ground Zero for Modern Civilisation
It is my contention that the modern world was born in Haiti. When you understand that the modern rotary printing press is a direct descendant of mills made to grind sugar you may begin to get the drift of my argument. Since I am not a historian my arguments will not be subtle and nuanced. I am simply presenting a few crude facts which, however you interpret them, will lead inexorably, I believe, to the conclusion that modern ideas of liberty and freedom, modern capitalism and globalisation of production and exchange, would have spent much longer in gestation had it not been for the black slaves of Haiti who abolished slavery and the slave trade. In the process they defeated the armies of the leading world powers of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, destroyed the French empire in the western hemisphere, doubled the size and power of the United States and incidentally promoted the European sugar beet industry and revolutionised European farming.
The problem with all this, as I have repeatedly pointed out, is that had the Haitians been ethnically European, their achievements would now suffuse the world narrative; conversely, had Spartacus been black, he would long ago have faded into the mists of barbarian myth. The Haitians and all the other blacks of the Western hemisphere were uprooted from their native grounds, their civilisations laid waste, and they themselves transported to unknown lands in which they were forced to create unexampled riches and luxury for their rapists and despoilers.
For reasons lost to history, the blacks in Haiti and Jamaica were, for most of their captivity, the most unwilling subjects and continued to fight for their freedom for more than three centuries. The Enlightenment and its prophets and philosophers popularised the ideas of freedom and liberty, the rights of man. Nowhere was freedom taken more seriously than by the Haitians, who, described as Frenchmen, fought valiantly for American freedom in that nation’s Revolutionary War of Independence. When Revolution convulsed France in turn, the Haitians threw their support to those they thought were fighting for freedom. When that proved a false trail, the Haitians continued to fight, defeating the French, British and Spanish armies sent to re-enslave them.
Although the Americans and the French said they believed in freedom, they formed an unholy combination to restrict Haiti’s liberty. The fact of Haitian freedom frightened the Americans and other world powers. Haiti promised freedom to any captive who set foot on her soil and armed, provisioned and supplied trained soldiers to Simon Bolivar for the liberation of South America. Nearly 200 years before the United Nations (and France and the USA), Haiti proclaimed Universal Human Rights, threatening the slave societies in America and the Caribbean. Haiti’s freedom was compromised by French and American financial blackmail, and as I’ve said before, what the Atlantic powers could not achieve by force of arms they achieved by compound interest. Haiti was the first heavily indebted poor country, and the United States, Canada, France and the multilateral financial organisations, the World Bank, the InterAmerican Development Bank and the IMF have worked hard to keep her in that bondage.
|In this March 10, 2009 file photo, former US President Bill Clinton greets United Nations workers in Port-au-Prince. The United Nations recently named Clinton as its special envoy to Haiti, with a mission to help the impoverished nation achieve some measure of stability after devastating floods and other crises. (Photo: AP)|
Eventually, 93 years ago, the Americans invaded Haiti, destroyed the constitution, the government and their social system. American Jim Crow segregation and injustice destroyed the Haitian middle class, enhanced and exacerbated class distinctions and antagonisms and left Haiti a ravaged, dysfunctional mess, ruled by a corrupt American-trained military in the interest of a small, corrupt gang of mainly expatriate or white capitalists, ready to support any and every murderous dictator who protected their interests.
Finally, 20 years ago, the Haitians rose up and overthrew the Duvaliers and the apprentice dictators who followed. In their first free election the Haitians elected a black parish priest of small stature, the man whose words and spirit had embodied their struggle. But the real rulers of Haiti, the corrupt, bloodthirsty capitalists with their American passports and their bulletproof SUVs, had no intention of letting Haitians exercise the universal human rights their leaders had proclaimed two centuries before.
When Jean Bertrand Aristide was deposed after a few months in office, it was with the help of the CIA, USAID, and other American entities. Then ensued one of the most disgraceful episodes in the long, unsavoury history of diplomacy. Bill Clinton – elected president promising to treat the Haitian refugees as human beings – elected instead to observe the same barbarous policies as George Bush I, and when the refugees became a flood, Clinton’s answer was more illegality. He parked two massive floating slave barracoons in Kingston Harbour where refugees picked up in Jamaican waters were, with the craven connivance of the Patterson government, denied asylum, captured and processed and 22 per cent of them selected for the Guantanamo Bay concentration camp while the rest were returned to their murderers in Haiti.
Eventually, largely due to pressure from black pressure groups in the US and crucially, a fast to the death begun by Randall Robinson, Clinton agreed to restore Aristide while General Colin Powell talked grandly of the soldier’s honour he shared with Haiti’s then murderer-in-chief, a scamp called Raoul Cedras. President Clinton made several pledges to Aristide and to Haiti, but history does not seem to record that any were kept. Had even a few been kept, Haiti may have been able to guarantee public security and to install some desperately needed infrastructure. Instead Haitians are still scooping water to drink from potholes in the street and stave off hunger with ‘fritters’ made from earth and cooking fat.
The Haitian Army, the most corrupt and evil public institution in the western hemisphere, was abolished by Aristide, to the displeasure of the North American powers. Now that the Americans have deposed Aristide for the second time, security is in the hands of a motley mercenary army, a UN peacekeeping force. Security in Haiti is so good that three years ago, the then head of this force, a Brazilian general, was found shot to death after a friendly chat with Haitian elites. The rapes, massacres, disappearances and kidnappings continue unabated and the only popular political force, the Fanmi Lavalas, has been effectively neutered. President Clinton “will aim to attract private and government investment and aid for the poor Caribbean island nation”, according to Clinton’s office and a senior UN official. “A UN official said that Clinton would act as a ‘cheerleader’ for the economically distressed country, cajoling government and business leaders into pouring fresh money into a place that is largely dependent on foreign assistance.”
It all sounds so nice and cozy, a poor, black ‘hapless’ nation under the tutelage of the rich and civilised of the earth. I am prepared to bet that neither Haitian democracy nor Bill Clinton’s reputation will survive this appointment. Democracy is impossible without popular participation and decision making. In Haiti, democracy is impossible without Lavalas and Aristide. If Haiti itself is to survive, the UN General Assembly needs to seize this baton from the spectacularly unqualified and ignorant Security Council and its very nice and affable secretary general, even less attuned to Haitian reality than the last SG, Kofi Annan and his accomplices, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, PJ Patterson and Patrick Manning.
Copyright -2009 John Maxwell firstname.lastname@example.org
Tags: aristide, Ban Ki-moon, Bill Clinton, clinton administratin, Guantanamo, haiti, haiti coup, haiti history, jeremy scahill, raoul cedras, roger hollander, special envoy, U.S. imperialism
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As president, Clinton forced neoliberal policies on Haiti, delayed President Aristide’s return after a US-backed coup and held Haitian refugees at Gitmo without rights.
Shining such a spotlight on those who created the instability, as Concannon suggests, would mean examining Clinton’s own role as president of the US during one of Haiti’s most horrifyingly dark periods.
Reuters news agency quotes a diplomat as saying Clinton is “an ‘excellent choice’ to help unlock Haiti’s potential as an investment target,” adding that his appointment “could attract investment in the Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation and help stabilize the country.”
That last statement about “stabiliz[ing]” Haiti would be humorous for its irony if the reality—and Clinton’s history in Haiti—wasn’t so deadly serious. The fact is that, as US president, Clinton’s policies helped systematically destabilize Haiti.
Dan Coughlin, who spent years as a journalist in Haiti in the 1990s for Inter Press Service, said he was “incredulous” when he heard the news. “Given the Clinton Administration’s aggressive pursuit of policies that profitted Haiti’s tiny elite, the IMF and big corporations at the expense of Haiti’s farmers and urban workers, the appointment does not bode well for the kind of fundamental change so needed in a country that has given so much to humankind,” Coughlin says.
In September 1991, the US backed the violent overthrow of the government of Haiti’s democratically-elected leftist priest President Jean Bertrand Aristide after he was in power less than a year. Aristide had defeated a US-backed candidate in the 1990 Haitian presidential election. The military coup leaders and their paramilitary gangs of CIA-backed murderous thugs, including the notorious FRAPH paramilitary units, were known for hacking the limbs off of Aristide supporters (and others) along with an unending slew of other horrifying crimes.
When Clinton came to power, he played a vicious game with Haiti that allowed the coup regime to continue rampaging Haiti and further destabilized the country. What’s more, in the 1992 election campaign, Bill Clinton campaigned on a pledge to reverse what he called then-President George HW Bush’s “cruel policy” of holding Haitian refugees at Guantanamo with no legal rights in US courts. Upon his election, however, Clinton reversed his position and sided with the Bush administration in denying the Haitians legal rights. the Haitians were held in atrocious conditions and the new Democratic president was sued by the Center for Constitutional Rights (sound familiar?).
While Clinton and his advisers publicly expressed their dismay with the coup, they simultaneously refused to support the swift reinstatement of the country’s democratically elected leader and would, in fact, not allow Aristide’s return until Washington received guarantees that: 1. Aristide would not lay claim to the years of his presidency lost in forced exile and; 2. US neoliberal economic plans were solidified as the law of the land in Haiti.
“The Clinton administration was credited for working for the return to power of Jean Bertrand Aristide after he was overthrown in a military coup,” says author William Blum. “But, in fact, Clinton had stalled the return for as long as he could, and had instead tried his best to return anti-Aristide conservatives to a leading power role in a mixed government, because Aristide was too leftist for Washington’s tastes.” Blum’s book “Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II” includes a chapter on the history of the US role in Haiti.
The fact that the coup against the democratically-elected president of Haiti was allowed to continue unabated for three full years seemed to be less offensive to Clinton than Aristide’s progressive vision for Haiti. As Blum observed in his book, “[Clinton] was not actually repulsed by [coup leader Raoul] Cédras and company, for they posed no ideological barrier to the United States continuing the economic and strategic control of Haiti it’s maintained for most of the century. Unlike Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a man who only a year earlier had declared: ‘I still think capitalism is a mortal sin.’”
Blum added: “Faced ultimately with Aristide returning to power, Clinton demanded and received — and then made sure to publicly announce — the Haitian president’s guarantee that he would not try to remain in office to make up for the time lost in exile. Clinton of course called this ‘democracy,’ although it represented a partial legitimization of the coup.” Indeed, Haiti experts say that Clinton could have restored Aristide to power under an almost identical arrangement years earlier than he did.
When Aristide finally returned to Haiti, as Blum notes, “Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s reception was a joyous celebration filled with optimism. However, unbeknownst to his adoring followers, while they were regaining Aristide, they may have lost Aristidism.”
As The Los Angeles Times reported at the time:
In a series of private meetings, Administration officials admonished Aristide to put aside the rhetoric of class warfare … and seek instead to reconcile Haiti’s rich and poor. The Administration also urged Aristide to stick closely to free-market economics and to abide by the Caribbean nation’s constitution — which gives substantial political power to the Parliament while imposing tight limits on the presidency. … Administration officials have urged Aristide to reach out to some of his political opponents in setting up his new government … to set up a broad-based coalition regime. … the Administration has made it clear to Aristide that if he fails to reach a consensus with Parliament, the United States will not try to prop up his regime. Almost every aspect of Aristide’s plans for resuming power — from taxing the rich to disarming the military — has been examined by the U.S. officials with whom the Haitian president meets daily and by officials from the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and other aid organizations. The finished package clearly reflects their priorities. … Aristide obviously has toned down the liberation theology and class-struggle rhetoric that was his signature before he was exiled to Washington.
“While Bill Clinton oversaw the return of President Aristide in 1994, he also put significant constraints on what Aristide was able to do once back in power,” says Bill Fletcher, Jr, the Executive Editor of BlackCommentator.com and the immediate past president of TransAfrica Forum. “Clinton advanced a neo-liberal agenda for Haiti thereby undermining the efforts of an otherwise progressive populist administration (Aristide’s). There is no reason to believe that [as a UN envoy] ex-President Clinton will introduce or support efforts to radically break Haiti from under the thumb of the USA and the dire poverty which has been a significant consequence of said domination.”