Noam Chomsky on Haiti
democracynow. org, March
[A few days before President Jean Bertrand
Aristide was flown from Haiti to the Central African Republic,
MIT professor Noam Chomsky spoke at the University of Massachusetts
about Haiti and the brewing coup d'etat.]
Noam Chomsky Traces Underpinnings Of Aristide's
Ouster Back To 1991-1994 Coup
In Haiti, you can read on the front pages
of the main newspapers that death squad leaders are rampaging
through the country. The death squad leaders, apart from a hideous
record in the -- in earlier years, were responsible for maybe
4,000 to 5,000 deaths during the period of the military junta
in 1990, 1994 -- 1991 to 1994. The military junta, though it's
-- that much is reported, they were leaders of the military junta,
which killed maybe 4,000 or 5,000 people than death squads did,
the paramilitaries. What is not mentioned is that the military
junta was supported by the Bush and the Clinton administrations.
Inform, just quickly go over the background. There's a long, ugly,
horrifying history going back two centuries. But just starting
in 1990, the Haiti did have its first free election in 1990. The
U.S. had a candidate, World Bank official Mark Bean who would
assume obviously win. He had all the money and everything else.
Nobody was paying attention to what was going on in the slums
and the streets and the hills and what was going on was pretty
impressive. A lot of large-scale effective organizing among some
of the poorest, most miserable people in the world and grassroots
movements had developed with nobody paying any attention. Which
were so powerful that when it did come to an election, they swept
the election. The U.S. candidate got 14% of the vote and Aristide,
President Aristide won by a very large majority, which shocked
everybody. The United States instantly, instantly turned to overthrowing
the government. It withdrew support from badly, desperately needed
support from the government and not because the government was
inefficient, it was getting very good marks from the international
lending institutions and so on, but because it had broken the
rules. It was a popular government that had been elected on the
basis of large-scale grassroots organizing, all aid was withdrawn
from the government. Aid was given, but only to the opposition.
Up until that point, under agreements
first with carter and then intensified with Reagan, the U.S. had
a virtual blockade around the island during the periods of the
vicious military dictatorships that the U.S. was supporting to
try to prevent people from escaping. That's illegal, of course.
It's in gross violation of the universal declaration of human
rights and conventional humanitarian law. But anyway, that's what
was going on. They changed it when Aristide was elected. For the
first time, Haitians were allowed to come to the United States
and accept political asylum, not when they were being tortured
by Duvalier's thugs. It didn't matter too much because very few
people were trying to get out. In fact, during that moment of
hope, people for the first time were trying to get in. But if
anyone was trying to get out, they were, for the first time, allowed
to be called political refugees. When the coup took place, it
was anticipated seven months later, it reversed. Then nobody could
flee again because they weren't political refugees. The organization
of American states called an embargo after the military coup,
bush was then president, announced right away that the U.S. Would
disregards it. It would permit U.S. Firms to break the embargo
to continue providing aid, commerce with the military junta and
the rich backers. The press did report this, New York Times reported
it. There was an effort to fine-tune embargo for the benefit of
the Haitian poor. And namely by allowing U.S. firms to violate
the embargo. That passed without comment. And, in fact, traded
with Haiti continued, extended under Clinton, even further. The
crucial element in the embargo, any embargo as oil to Haiti, the
military would -- and the rich elite would run out and wouldn't
be able to continue if they didn't have oil.
The C.I.A. was testifying solemnly to
congress that no oil was getting in. I was there for some of the
time. I've been in a lot of horrible places. I've never seen people
so terrorized and terrified, just afraid to open their mouths.
All you had to do is walk around the streets of Port-Au-Prince
to see the C.I.A. Was lying. You could seeds the oil forms that
were bill. You could go to the harbor and see the ships coming
in with the oil. But the pretense was maintained that the U.S.
Was not permitting oil toll go in. It later turned out that the
bush and the Clinton administrations had authorized Texaco Oil
Corporation to circumvent presidential directives and supply the
oil illegally to the gangsters who were torturing and terrorizing
the population that has yet to be printed outside of the business
press. it was known in1994 and the dissident press, of course,
which isn't subject to those constraints. Finally, in 1994, Clinton
decided that the population had been tortured enough and the president
was permitted to return. That is described, and like I said, you
don't read the front pains, but what you do read is that this
was a magnificent act of humanitarian intervention, pure altruism
entering the noble phase of foreign policy as we restored the
democratically elected president in 1994. Continuing with what
isn't reported, the president was indeed allowed to return, but
on a condition, namely the condition that he accept the program
of the defeated U.S. candidate in the 1990 election who had gotten
14% of the vote. That is a very harsh neo-liberal program, which
opens Haiti up to complete takeover by foreign, meaning U.S.,
mainly corporations, no constraints. It was bound to be an economic
disaster for what shreds of the economy remained. It's a familiar
program. It has just been imposed on Iraq by the pro-counsel,
Paul Bremer, Order 39 last October declares that Iraq -- the Iraq
economy must be open to and takeover by foreign, namely U.S.,
multinationals, the bank, U.S. banks, J.P. Morgan and others have
to be able to take over the financial institutions, which means
essentially running the economy and everything else can be brought
up by the foreign, mainly U.S., businesses. No sovereign country
would ever accept that.
But this is a country under military occupation.
The business classes in Iraq are protesting because they know
they can't withstand international competition trust massively
subsidized U.S. multinationals. But it doesn't matter. Bremer
also imposed a 15% top tax. The Bush administration's delight.
Again, no sovereign country would accept that. It's program like
that that Adam Smith was complaining about. As a matter of fact,
it's programs like that, forced into position of market principles
on countries under military occupation, now that's basically what's
created what's today the third world. The rich countries are,
including the United States, have never accepted such rules and
if the -- actually, it is interesting. Adam smith urged the U.S.
colonies, this is 1776, to pursue comparative advantage to do
what they were good at. What they were good at was agricultural
production. You know, catching beavers, sending fish to England.
They'd concentrate on that. That was the best way to maximize
efficiency. But don't try to develop industry. That would be crazy
because British industry's far more efficient, which was true
and you'll just be harming overall efficiency if you try to develop
your own industry. Well, you know, same laws for India. But India
had to accept them because they were under occupation. The U.S.
was able to throw the British out and disregards the advice, which
happens to be the same advice that economists are now giving to
the poor countries of the world. And that violated the principles
of comparative advantage and economic efficiency and developed
its own industry and the story goes on from there. If the U.S.
Had followed the rules, the ones now imposed on Iraq and Haiti
and others, we would be not here, we would be maybe a couple of
us would be around talking in some hut somewhere while we're off
to catch fish to send to evening land or something, pursuing our
comparative advantage. Anyhow, Haiti had to accept that as a condition
on the return of the elected president, that is the great humanitarian
Well, it was -- what was predicted as
once happened, the remnants of Haitian economic functioning were
destroyed, of course. Haitian farmers, rice farmer, for example,
happened to be quite efficient, they were producing rice efficiently
at a high quality, which was feeding the population and now you
read that Haiti can't feed itself, which is correct. Haiti fish
farmers cannot begin to compete with U.S. Agri-business which
maybe gets 40% of its profits from subsidies granted to it by
the Reaganites under free market doctrine t way it actually works.
The same happened with just about whatever was left. And one of
the few businesses that was actually functioning in Haiti was
making chicken parts. But it turned out -- turns out that Americans
don't like dark meat. So, there's lots of extra dark meat lying
around here and companies like Tyson don't want to throw it out.
They would like to force other countries to buy it at dumped prices.
So, they dumped dark meat on Haiti. They fried to do it in Canada
and Mexico, but those countries are able to impose barriers to
dumping. However, Haiti wasn't allowed to because of the condition
for their freedom so that industry was wiped out. And so it goes
case after case. And the result is complete chaos, destruction,
what you see today on the front pages. Well, that is the background.
Now let's come to the doctrine of the Bush doctrine.
The head of the paramilitary forces that
are now rampaging once again in Haiti is a gentleman named Emanuel
Constant who is living happily in Queens. There is no question
about his responsibility. He's already been tried in absentia
in Haitian courts and no one questions that he was the leader
of terrorist forces. Haiti has made several efforts to have the
United States extradite him, but they rarely even get a response.
Some of these are interesting. The timing is interesting. One
request was on September 30 2000 1. That was right in the middle
of the furor over the fact that the Taliban are unwilling to turn
over to us someone who the U.S. Accuses of terrorism without providing
any evidence. You know, a big topic, if we're going to bomb Afghanistan.
Haiti required extradition of Emanuel Constant. It was mentioned
in the sort of back pages, but obviously no response. Just not
their kind of thing.
Noam Chomsky is an institute professor
and professor of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology. His latest book is Hegemony or Survival: America's
Quest For Global Dominance.