Persistent Themes

excerpted from the book

Year 501

The Conquest Continues

by Noam Chomsky

South End Press, 1993, paper



The Batista dictatorship ... served the commercial and export interests in Cuba" admirably, thus enjoying full support

Castro's overthrow of the dictatorship in January 1959 soon elicited US hostility, and a return to the traditional path. By late 1959, the CIA and the State Department concluded that Castro had to be overthrown. One reason, State Department liberals explained, was that "our business interests in Cuba have been seriously affected." A second was the rotten apple effect: "The United States cannot hope to encourage and support sound economic policies in other Latin American countries and promote necessary private investments in Latin America if it is or appears to be simultaneously cooperating with the Castro program," the State Department concluded in November 1959. But one condition was added: "in view of Castro's strong though diminishing support in Cuba, it is of great importance, however, that the United States government not openly take actions which would cause the United States to be blamed for his failure or downfall."

As for Castro's support, public opinion studies provided to the White House (April 1960) concluded that most Cubans were optimistic about the future and supported Castro, while only 7 percent expressed concern about Communism and only 2 percent about failure to hold elections. Soviet presence was nil. In the United States, Jules Benjamin observes, ,The liberals, like the conservatives, saw Castro as a threat to the hemisphere, but without the world communist conspiracy component."

By October 1959, planes based in Florida were carrying out strafing and bombing attacks against Cuban territory. In December, CIA subversion was stepped up, including supply of arms to guerrilla bands and sabotage of sugar mills and other economic targets. In March 1960, the Eisenhower Administration formally adopted a plan to overthrow Castro in favor of a regime "more devoted to the true interests of the Cuban people and more acceptable to the U.S."-the two conditions being equivalent-emphasizing again that this must be done "in such a manner as to avoid any appearance of U.S. intervention."

Sabotage, terror, and aggression were escalated further by the Kennedy Administration, along with the kind of economic warfare that no small country can long endure. Cuban reliance on the US as an export market and for imports had, of course, been overwhelming, and could hardly be replaced without great cost. The New Frontiersmen were obsessed with Cuba from the first moments. During the presidential campaign of 1960, Kennedy had accused Eisenhower and Nixon of threatening US security by allowing "the Iron Curtain... 90 miles off the coast of the United States." "We were hysterical about Castro at the time of the Bay of Pigs [April 1961] and thereafter," Defense Secretary Robert McNamara later testified to the Church Committee. A few days before the decision to invade Cuba, Arthur Schlesinger advised the President that "the game would be up through a good deal of Latin America" if the US were to tolerate "another Cuba"; or this one, JFK determined. Much of Kennedy's Latin American policy was inspired by the fear that the virus would infect others and limit US hegemony in the region.

At the first cabinet meeting after the failed Bay of Pigs invasion, the atmosphere was "almost savage," Chester Bowles noted privately: "there was an almost frantic reaction for an action program." The President's public posture was no less militant: "the complacent, the self-indulgent, the soft societies are about to be swept away with the debris of history. Only the strong...can possibly survive," he told the country. Kennedy broke all diplomatic, commercial, and financial ties with Cuba, a terrible blow to the Cuban economy, given the dependency that had been established under US suzerainty. He succeeded in isolating Cuba diplomatically, but efforts to organize collective action against it in 1961 were unsuccessful, perhaps because of a problem noted by a Mexican diplomat: "If we publicly declare that Cuba is a threat to our security, forty million Mexicans will die laughing." Fortunately, the educated classes in the United States were capable of a more sober evaluation of the threat posed to the survival of the Free World.

Theoretically, medicines and some food were exempt from the embargo, but food and medical aid were denied after Cyclone Flora caused death and destruction in October 1963. Standard procedure, incidentally. Consider Carter's refusal to allow aid to any West Indian country struck by the August 1980 hurricane unless Grenada was excluded (West Indians refused, and received no aid). Or the US reaction when Nicaragua was fortuitously devastated by a hurricane in October 1988. Washington could scarcely conceal its glee over the welcome prospects of widespread starvation and vast ecological damage, and naturally refused aid, even to the demolished Atlantic Coast area with longstanding links to the US and deep resentment against the Sandinistas; its people too must starve in the ruins of their shacks, to satisfy our blood-lust. US allies timidly followed orders, justifying their cowardice with the usual hypocrisy. To demonstrate that its malice is truly bipartisan, Washington reacted in much the same way when a tidal wave wiped out fishing villages leaving hundreds dead and missing in September 1992. The New York Times headline reads: "U.S. Sends Nicaragua Aid As Sea's Toll Rises to 116." "Foreign governments, including the United States, responded with immediate help today for the survivors," the Times excuse for a reporter wrote, while Washington announced "that it was making $5 million available immediately as a result of the disaster." Such nobility. Only in the small print at the end do we discover that the $5 million is being diverted from scheduled aid that had been withheld-but not, Congress was assured, from the over $100 million aid package that the Administration had suspended because the Nicaraguan government is not yet sufficiently subservient to its wishes. The humanitarian donation amounts to an impressive $25,000.

Any weapon, however cruel, may be used against the perpetrators of the crime of independence. And, crucially, the awed self-adulation must never falter. "It was a narrow escape," Mark Twain wrote: "If the sheep had been created first, man would have been a plagiarism."

The Kennedy Administration also sought to impose a cultural quarantine to block the free flow of ideas and information to the Latin American countries, fearing the rotten apple effect. In March 1963, JFK met with seven Central American presidents who agreed "To develop and put into immediate effect common measures to restrict the movement of subversive nationals to and from Cuba, and the flow of materials, propaganda and funds from that country." The unwillingness of Latin American governments to emulate US controls on travel and cultural interchange always greatly troubled the Kennedy liberals, as did their legal systems, requiring evidence for crimes by alleged "subversives," and their excessive liberalism generally."

Immediately after the Bay of Pigs failure, Kennedy initiated a program of international terrorism to overthrow the regime, reaching quite remarkable dimensions. These atrocities are largely dismissed in the West, apart from some notice of the assassination attempts, one of them implemented on the very day of the Kennedy assassination. The terrorist operations were formally called off by Lyndon Johnson. They continued, however, and were escalated by Nixon. Subsequent actions are attributed to renegades beyond CIA control, whether accurately or not, we do not know; one high-level Pentagon official of the Kennedy-Johnson Administrations, Roswell Gilpatnc, has expressed his doubts. The Carter Administration, with the support of US courts, condoned hijacking of Cuban ships in violation of the anti-hijacking convention that Castro was respecting. The Reaganites rejected Cuban initiatives for diplomatic settlement and imposed new sanctions on the most outlandish pretexts, often lying outright, a record reviewed by Wayne Smith, who resigned as head of the US Interests Section in Havana in protest."

From the Cuban perspective, the Kennedy terror seemed to be a prelude to invasion. The CIA concluded in September 1962-before Russian missiles were detected in mid-October-that "the main purpose of the present [Soviet] military buildup in Cuba is to strengthen the Communist regime there against what the Cubans and Soviets conceive to be a danger that the US may attempt by one means or another to overthrow it." In early October, the State Department confirmed this judgment, as did a later State Department study. How realistic these fears were, we may only speculate.

Of interest, in this connection, is Robert McNamara's reaction to the late Andrei Gromyko's allegation that Soviet missiles were sent to Cuba "to strengthen the defensive capability of Cuba-that is all." In response, McNamara acknowledged that "If I had been a Cuban or Soviet official, I believe I would have shared the judgment you expressed that a U.S. invasion was probable" (a judgment that he says was inaccurate). The probability of nuclear war after a US invasion was "99 percent," McNamara added. Such an invasion was frighteningly close after JFK dismissed Khrushchev's offer of mutual withdrawal of missiles from Cuba and Turkey (the latter obsolete, already ordered withdrawn). Indeed, Cuba itself might have initiated nuclear war when a US terrorist (Mongoose) team blew up a factory, killing 400 people according to Castro, at one of the most tense moments of the crisis, when the Cubans may have had their fingers on the button."

The March 1960 plan to overthrow Castro in favor of a regime "more devoted to the true interests of the Cuban people and more acceptable to the U.S." remains in force in 1992 as the US pursues its venerable task of preventing Cuban independence, with 170 years of experience behind it. Also in force is the Eisenhower directive that the crime should be perpetrated "in such a manner as to avoid any appearance of U.S. intervention. "Accordingly, the ideological institutions must suppress the record of aggression, campaigns of terror, economic strangulation, and the other devices employed by the Lord of the hemisphere in its dedication to "the true interests of the Cuban people."

That dictate has been followed with loyalty perhaps beyond the norm. In respected scholarship, US terrorism against Cuba has been excised from the record in a display of servility that would impress the most dedicated totalitarian. In the media, Cuba's plight is regularly attributed to the demon Castro and-"Cuban socialism" alone. Castro bears full responsibility for the "poverty, isolation and humbling dependence" on the USSR, the New York Times editors inform us, concluding triumphantly that "the Cuban dictator has painted himself into his own corner," without any help from us. That is true by virtue of doctrinal necessity, the ultimate authority. The editors conclude that we should not intervene directly as some "U.S. cold warriors" propose: "Fidel Castro's reign deserves to end in home-grown failure, not martyrdom." Taking their stand at the dovish extreme, the editors advise that we should continue to stand aside, watching in silence as we have been doing for 30 years, so the naive reader would learn from this (quite typical) version of history, crafted to satisfy the demands of authority.

News reports commonly observe the same conventions. Cuba is a basket case, Times Caribbean correspondent Howard French reports, "a Communist oddity in an increasingly free-market world," "a Communist dead end" struggling vainly against "economic realities." These "realities," we are to understand, are the failures of sterile Communist doctrine, unaffected by US terror and economic warfare. The former is passed over in silence. The latter is mentioned, but only as posing a tactical question: we must decide whether the embargo should be tightened, or simply maintained on the assumption that the "economic realities" alone will work "inexorably to bring about a dramatic transformation." Any opinion outside this spectrum is another "oddity," not to be sampled by a responsible journalist operating in the free market of ideas.

Boston Globe Latin America specialist Pamela Constable adopts the same conventions. Reviewing Miami Herald correspondent Andres Oppenheimer's Castro's Final Hour, she opens by explaining that he "is far from a rabid anticommunist, but his credentials as a seasoned journalistic observer of Latin America make his [book], a relentless exposure of the cynical, obsessive workings of Fidel Castro's aging socialist regime, all the more persuasive." He portrays Cuba "as a classic, decaying dictatorship, ruled by a man whose ideals have long succumbed to the hard logic of power," "clinging to a failed system with determined but fatal defiance." In "hilarious and tragic detail," Oppenheimer shows how "life for average Cubans has become a gantlet of woes and absurdities," which she recounts with much amusement. "Oppenheimer leaves little room for doubt that like other messianic tyrants, Castro has sown the seeds of his own destruction." The words "United States" do not appear; there is no hint of any US contribution to the "hilarious" trials of the average Cubans, or to the "failed system" or Castro's mad course of self-destruction. The "hard logic of power" is simply a fact of nature, evoking none of the passion aroused by Castro's evil nature. The norms are universal; Cuba is just a special case. Surveying the terrible decline of Nicaragua after the US-backed government took over, Constable writes that "Two problems underlie the disaster gripping this poor, tropical nation": "lingering hostility" between the Sandinistas and the right, and corruption. Could the rampages of a terrorist superpower have had some marginal effect on the "collapsed socialist economy" and US efforts to recreate the glories that preceded? The idea cannot be expressed, probably even thought, at the dissident extreme of the commissar culture.

The same book is reviewed in the New York limes by Clifford Krauss. Again, Cuba's plight is attributed to the crimes and lunacies of the demon alone. The US does receive an oblique mention, in one phrase: Castro (not Cuba) "has survived a host of calamities: the missile crisis, the trade embargo, the Mariel exodus, repeated harvest shortfalls and endless rationing." That concludes the US role. Oppenheimer is praised for describing Cuba's travail "with insight and wit"-odd, how amusing it is to watch our victims suffer-but more importantly, for having unearthed hitherto undreamt-of iniquity. Insatiable in his quest for power and love of violence, Castro sent "experienced officers" to train Nicaraguans to resist the terrorist army the US dispatched from its Honduran bases with orders to attack "soft targets" such as health clinics and agricultural cooperatives (with explicit approval of the State Department and left-liberal opinion, in the latter case). The monster even considered retaliation "in case the United States under Ronald Reagan invaded Nicaragua," and he was "far more involved than we knew" in supplying the army of Panama "in anticipation of the United States invasion,"

But for those who believe that there are limits to what the criminal mind might contemplate, there is still more. "With Cuban soldiers in Angola to support the Marxist Government, Mr. Castro made himself an obstacle to a negotiated settlement of that country's civil war in the 1980's." Connoisseurs who miss Pravda in the good old days will recognize this as the Tunes spin on Cuba's support for the government recognized by virtually everyone apart from the US, and its success in repelling US-backed South African aggression, thus setting the stage for a negotiated settlement, which Washington at once disrupted by continuing its support for its terrorist clients to ensure that the war, which had already cost hundreds of thousands of lives and destroyed the country, will leave the remains in the hands of South Africa and Western investors.

Whatever one may think of Cuba, such performances provide an enlightening "exposure of the cynical, obsessive workings" of a propaganda system of mechanical predictability, run by an intellectual class of truly awe-inspiring moral cowardice. Matters have changed little since the days when the New York Times editors, 60 years ago, hailed our magnificent record in the Caribbean region, where we were acting with "the best motives in the world" as Marines pursued the "elusive bandit Sandino" with the cheers of Nicaraguans ringing in their ears, contrary to the whining of the "professional 'liberals' "-though it was unfortunate, the editors felt, that the clash "comes just at a time when the Department of State is breathing grace, mercy and peace for the whole world." In Cuba, we were able "to save the Cubans from themselves and instruct them in self-government," granting them "independence qualified only by the protective Platt amendment"-which "protected" US corporations and their local allies. "Cuba is very near at hand," the editors proceed, "to refute" the charge of "the menace of American imperialism." We were "summoned" by the Cuban people who have, finally, "mastered the secret of stability" under our kind tutelage. And while "our commercial interests have not suffered in the island," "we have prospered together with a free Cuban people," so "no one speaks of American imperialism in Cuba.

Commentators affect great anguish over Castro's crimes and abuses. Would that it were believable. Demonstrably, for most it is utterly cynical pretense. The conclusion is established conclusively by comparison of the hysterical outrage over Castro's human rights violations and the evasion or outright suppression of vastly worse atrocities right next door, at the very same time, by US clients, acting with US advice and support History has been kind enough to provide some dramatic test cases to prove the point.

The professed concern for "the true interests of the Cuban people" and for "democracy" need not detain us. Concern for the "true interests" of US business, in contrast, is real enough. The same is true of the concerns over public opinion in Cuba and Latin America. Kennedy knew what he was doing when he sought to block travel and communication. The fears are understandable in the light of the Cuban public opinion polls cited earlier, or the reaction to its Agrarian Reform Law of May 1959, acclaimed by one UN organization as "an example to follow" in all Latin America. Or by the conclusion of the World Health Organization's representative in Cuba in 1980 that "there is no question that Cuba has the best health statistics in Latin America," with the health organization "of a very much developed Country" despite its poverty. Or by a UNICEF report on the "State of the World's Children 1990," reviewed in a Peruvian Church journal, which lists a series of Latin American countries as among those with the highest infant mortality rates in the world, though Costa Rica and Chile have low rates for the region, and "Cuba is the only country on a par with developed nations." Or by the interest in Brazil and other Latin American countries in Cuban biotechnology, unusual if not unique for a small and poor country. Or by the kind of discussion we can read in the Australian press, safely remote, reviewing the efforts to achieve the "historic strategic objective" of restoring Cuba "to Washington's sphere of influence":

That Cuba has survived at all under these circumstances is an achievement in itself. That it registered the highest per capita increase in gross social product (wages and social benefits) of any economy in Latin America-and almost double that of the next highest country-over the period 1981-1990 is quite remarkable. Moreover, despite the economic difficulties, the average Cuban is still better fed, housed, educated and provided for medically than other Latin Americans, and-again atypically-the Cuban Government has sought to spread the burden of the new austerity measures equally among its people.

Worse yet, such perceptions are hardly unusual in the region itself, a product of direct experience and relative freedom from the rigid doctrinal requirements that constrain US orthodoxy and its European camp-followers. They are commonly articulated by leading figures. To select one poignant example, Father Ignacio Ellacuria, the rector of the Jesuit university of El Salvador (UCA), wrote in a Latin American Church journal in November 1989 that for all its abuses, "the Cuban model has achieved the best satisfaction of basic needs in all of Latin America in a relatively short time," while "Latin America's actual situation points out prophetically the capitalist system's intrinsic malice and the ideological falsehood of the semblance of democracy that accompanies, legitimates, and cloaks it."

It was for expressing such thoughts that he was assassinated by US-trained elite troops as the article appeared, and buried deep beneath shrouds of silence by those who feigned great indignation here.

As in numerous other cases, it is not Castro's crimes that disturb the rulers of the hemisphere, who cheerfully support the Suhartos and Saddam Husseins and Gramajos, or look the other way, as long as they "fulfill their main function." Rather, it is the elements of success that arouse fear and anger and the call for vengeance, a fact that must be suppressed by ideologists-not an easy task, given the overwhelming evidence confirming this elementary principle of the intellectual culture.

In the 1980s, the US extended its economic warfare, barring industrial products containing any Cuban nickel, a major Cuban export. Those not affected by political Alzheimer's might recall the US Treasury Department order of April 1988 barring import of Nicaraguan coffee processed in a third country if it is not "sufficiently transformed to lose its Nicaraguan identity" recalling the language of the Third Reich, a Boston Globe editor observed. The US prohibited a Swedish medical supply company from providing equipment to Cuba because one component is manufactured in the US. Aid to the former Soviet Union was conditioned on its suspension of aid to Cuba. Gorbachev's announcement that such aid would be canceled was greeted with banner headlines: "Baker Hails Move," "Soviets Remove Obstacle to U.S. Economic Aid," "The Cuban-Soviet Connection: 31-Year irritant to the U.S." At last, the grievous injury to us may be relieved.

In early 1991, the US resumed Caribbean military maneuvers, including rehearsal of a Cuba invasion, a standard technique of intimidation. In mid-1991, the embargo was tightened further, cutting remittances from Cuban-Americans, among other measures. In April 1992, gearing up for the election, President Bush barred ships that go to Cuba from US ports. New laws proposed by congressional liberals, cynically entitled the Cuban Democracy Act, would extend the embargo to US subsidiaries abroad, allowing seizure of cargo of ships that had landed in Cuba if they enter US territorial waters. The ferocity of the hatred for Cuban independence is extreme, and scarcely wavers across the narrow mainstream spectrum.

There has never been any effort to conceal the fact that the disappearance of the Soviet deterrent (like the removal of the British deterrent a century earlier) and the decline of East bloc economic relations with Cuba merely facilitates Washington's efforts to achieve its longstanding aims through economic warfare or other means. Candor is entirely in order: only the most devilish anti-American, after all, could question our right to act as suits our fancy. If, say, we choose to invade some defenseless country to capture one of our agents who no longer follows orders, and then try him for crimes committed while on our payroll, who could question the majesty of our system of justice? True, the UN did, but our veto took care of that childish tantrum. Even the Supreme Court has since accorded the US the right to kidnap alleged criminals abroad to bring them to justice here. Not for us the qualms of Adolf Hitler, who returned a German émigré abducted by Himmler's gangsters from Switzerland in 1937 after the Swiss government protested, appealing to basic principles of international law.

In a typical commentary on Cuba's happy plight, the editors of the Washington Post urged that the US seize the opportunity to crush Castro: For his great antagonist, the United States, to give relief and legitimacy to this used-up relic at this late hour would be to break faith with the Cuban People-and with all the other democrats in the hemisphere." Pursuing the same logic, the editors, through the 1980s, called upon the US to coerce Nicaragua until it was restored to the "Central American mode" of the Guatemalan and Salvadoran terror states, observing their admirable "regional standards"; and scoffed at Gorbachev's 'New Thinking" because he had not yet offered the US a free hand to achieve its objectives by the means condemned by the World Court (in a judgment that discredited the Court, the press and liberal commentators concluded). The Post speaks for the people of Cuba just as the State Department did in the Eisenhower-Kennedy years; as William McKinley spoke for 'the vast majority of the population" of the Philippines who "welcome our sovereignty" and whom he was "protecting... against the designing minority" while slaughtering them by the hundreds of thousands; and as his proconsul Leonard Wood spoke for the decent (i.e., wealthy European) people of Cuba who favored US domination or annexation and had to be protected from the 'degenerates." The US has never been short of good will for the suffering people of the world who have to be protected from the machinations of evil-doers. As for the Post's love of democracy, charity dictates silence. Its peers scarcely differ.

The Cuban record demonstrates with great clarity that the Cold War framework has been scarcely more than a pretext to conceal the standard refusal to tolerate Third World independence, whatever its political coloration.



... plans for a military coup were initiated shortly after Joao Goulart became President in August 1961. The military were wary of his populist rhetoric and appeal, and angered by his efforts to raise minimum wages of civilian laborers. Concerns of the US business community were enhanced when the Chamber of Deputies passed a bill placing conditions on foreign investment and limiting remittance of profits on the grounds that they were 'bleeding the Brazilian economy." Though Goulart, a faithful member of the Brazilian elite, was anti-Communist, US labor leaders and Embassy officials were alarmed at his involvement with labor and peasant organizations and appointment of Brazilian Communists to staff positions; "an openly Communist course," the CIA warned. The appropriate Cold War context had been spelled out by JFK, shortly before assuming office

By early 1962, Brazilian military commanders had notified Kennedy's Ambassador, Lincoln Gordon, that they were organizing a coup. At JFK's personal initiative, the US began to lend clandestine and overt support to right-wing political candidates. The President's feeling, in agreement with Gordon and the US business community, was that 'the military probably represented the key to the future," Ruth Leacock concludes. Robert Kennedy was dispatched to Brazil in December 1962 to influence Goulart to "confront the communist problem," as the US Embassy put it. RFK informed Goulart that the President was seriously concerned about the infiltration of 'Communists and anti-American nationalist leftists" into the government, the military, the unions, and student groups, and about the 'ill treatment [of] American and other foreign private investors." If Goulart wanted US aid, Kennedy said, he must see to it that 'personnel in key Brazilian positions" were pro-American, and impose economic measures that the US recommended.

Relations remained tense, particularly over the austerity plan that the Kennedy Administration demanded as a condition for aid, and its admonitions about left-wing influence. In March 1963, the CIA again reported plans for a military coup; US corporate executives were, by then, privately urging a total US aid cutoff to expedite the coup plans. In August, US Defense Attaché Vernon Walters warned the Pentagon that Goulart was promoting "ultranationalist officers" in preference to 'pro-democratic pro-US officers" (the two terms presumably being synonymous). Relations harshened further under the Johnson Administration. Senator Albert Gore informed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, then considering US aid, that he had heard that "all of the members of the Brazilian Congress who advocated the kind of reforms which we have made a prerequisite for Alliance for Progress aid are now in prison." Ambassador Gordon cabled Washington that the US should increase military aid for Brazil because the military was essential in the 'strategy for restraining left wing excesses of Goulart government." Meanwhile the CIA was 'financing the mass urban demonstrations against the Goulart government, proving the old themes of God, country, family, and liberty to be as effective as ever," Philip Agee noted in his Diary.

Recall that aid to the military is standard operating procedure for overthrowing a civilian government. The device was also used effectively in Indonesia and Chile, and tried in Iran in the early 1980s, the first stage in what later became (suitably recrafted) the Iran-contra affair.'

On March 31, the generals took over, with US support and plans for further action if necessary 'to assure success of takeover." The Generals had carried out a 'democratic rebellion," Gordon cabled Washington. The revolution was "a great victory for the free world," which prevented a 'total loss to the West of all South American Republics" and should 'create a greatly improved climate for private investments." 'The principal purpose for the Brazilian revolution," he testified before Congress two years later, "was to preserve and not destroy Brazil's democracy." This democratic revolution was 'the single most decisive victory of freedom in the mid-twentieth century," Gordon held, "one of the major turning points in world history" in this period. Adolf Berle agreed that Goulart was a Castro clone who had to be removed. Secretary of State Dean Rusk justified US recognition for the coup regime on the grounds that 'the succession there occurred as foreseen by the Constitution," a statement that was not "entirely accurate," Thomas Skidmore judiciously observes.

US labor leaders demanded their proper share of the credit for the violent overthrow of the parliamentary regime, while the new government proceeded to crush the labor movement and to subordinate poor and working people to the overriding needs of business interests, primarily foreign, reducing real wages by 25 percent within 3 years and redistributing income "toward upper-income groups who were destined to be the great consumers of the Brazilian miracle" (Sylvia Ann Hewlett, who sees the brutal repression and attack on living standards as "an essential prerequisite for a new cycle of capitalist growth within the Brazilian domestic economy"). Washington and the investment community were naturally delighted. As the relics of constitutional rule faded away and the investment climate improved, the World Bank offered its first loans in 15 years and US aid rapidly increased along with torture, murder, starvation, disease, infant mortality-and profits.

The United States was the "regime's most reliable ally," Thomas Skidmore observes in the most comprehensive scholarly study of what came next. US aid "saved the day" for the ruling Generals; the process also "turned the U.S. into a kind of unilateral IMF, overseeing every aspect of Brazilian economic policy." "In almost every Brazilian office involved in administering unpopular tax, wage, or price decisions, there was the ubiquitous American adviser," the new US Ambassador discovered in 1966. Once again, the US was well-positioned to use Brazil as a "testing area for modern scientific methods of industrial development" (Haines), and therefore has every right to take credit for what ensued. Under US guidance, Brazil pursued orthodox neoliberal policies, "doing everything right" by monetarist criteria, and "strengthening the market economy" (Skidmore). The "economic miracle" proceeded in parallel with the entrenchment of the fascist National Security State, not accidentally; a regime that could not wield the knout could hardly have carried out measures with such a deleterious impact on the population.

The neoliberal reforms did not exactly succeed in "building Brazilian capitalism," Skidmore continues (though they did help build foreign corporations). They provoked a severe industrial recession, driving many businesses to ruin. To counter these effects and to prevent still further foreign takeover of the economy, the government turned to the public sector, strengthening the despised state corporations.

In 1967, economic policy was taken over by technocrats led by the highly respected conservative economist Antonio Delfim Neto, an enthusiastic supporter of "the Revolution of March 31," which he saw as a "huge demonstration by society" and "the product of a collective consensus" (among those who qualify as "society"). Declaring its devotion to the principles of economic liberalism, the government instituted indefinite wage controls. "Worker protests, up to now infrequent and small, were handily suppressed," Skidmore notes, as fascist rule hardened further over the whole society, with harsh censorship, elimination of judicial independence, removal of many faculty, and revised curricula to promote patriotism. The new compulsory course in "Moral and Civic Education" aimed to "defend the democratic principle by preserving the religious spirit, the dignity of the human being, and the love of liberty, with responsibility under God's inspiration"-as administered by the Generals with the technocrats at their side. The authors of the 1992 Republican Campaign platform would have been much impressed, along with 1980s-style "conservatives" rather generally.

The President announced in 1970 that repression would be "harsh and implacable," with no rights for "pseudo-Brazilians." Torture became "a grisly ritual, a calculated onslaught against body and soul," Skidmore writes, with such specialties as torture of children and gang rape of wives before the family. The "orgy of torture" provided "a stark warning" to anyone with the wrong thoughts. It was a "powerful instrument," that "made it even easier for Delfim and his technocrats to avoid public debate over fundamental economic and social priorities" while they "preached the virtues of the free market." The resumption of high economic growth, by these means, made Brazil "again attractive to foreign private investors," who took over substantial parts of the economy. By the late 1970s, "The industries dominated by local capital in Brazil [were] the same industries where small businesses flourish in the United States"; multinationals and their local associates dominated the more profitable growth areas, though with the changes in the global economy, about 60 percent of foreign capital was then non-US (Peter Evans).

Macroeconomic statistics continued to be satisfying, Skidmore continues, with rapid growth of GM' and foreign investment. A "dramatic" improvement in terms of trade in the early '70s also provided a shot in the arm to the Generals and technocrats. They held firm to the doctrine that "the real answer to poverty and unequal income distribution was rapid economic growth, thereby increasing the total economic pie," eliciting nods of approval in the West. A closer look shows other characteristic features of neoliberal doctrine. Growth rates in 1965-1982 under the National Security State averaged no higher than under the parliamentary governments from 1947-1964, economist David Felix observes, despite the advantages of authoritarian control the fascist neoliberals enjoyed; and the domestic savings rate hardly rose during the 'miracle years" under the 'right-wing consumerism" instituted by the Generals and technocrats. The domestic market was dominated by luxury goods for the rich. None of this will be unfamiliar to others subjected to the same doctrines, including North Americans during the 'Reagan revolution."

Brazil became 'the most rapidly growing of major overseas markets of American manufacturers," Evans observes, with high rates of return for investment, second only to Germany during the late '60s and early 70s. Meanwhile, the country became even more of a foreign-owned subsidiary. As for the population, a World Bank study in 1975-at the peak of the miracle years-reported that 68 percent had less than the minimum caloric requirement for normal physical activity and that 58 percent of children suffered from malnutrition. Ministry of Health expenditures were lower than in 1965, with the expected concomitant effects."

After a visit to Brazil in 1972, Harvard political scientist Samuel Huntington urged some relaxation of the fascist terror, but with moderation: 'relaxation of controls" might 'have an explosive effect in which the process gets out of control," he warned. He suggested the model of Turkey or Mexican one-party rule, playing down the importance of liberal rights in comparison with the more significant values of "institutionalization" and stability.

A few years later, the bubble burst. Brazil was swept up in the global economic crisis of the '80s.

The "real American success story" was spelled out in a 1986 study Commissioned by the new civilian government. It presented a by-now familiar picture of Brazil," Skidmore observes: 'although boasting the eighth largest economy in the Western world, Brazil fell into the same category as the less developed African or Asian countries when it came to social welfare indices"; this was the result of "two decades of a free hand for the technocrats" and the approved neoliberal doctrines, which "increased the cake" while leaving "one of the most unequal income distributions in the world" and "appalling deficiencies" in health and welfare generally. A UN Report on Human Development (measuring education, health, etc.) ranked Brazil in 80th place, near Albania, Paraguay, and Thailand. Shortly after, in October 1990, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) announced that more than 40 percent of the population (almost 53 million people) are hungry. The Brazilian Health Ministry estimates that hundreds of thousands of children die of hunger every year. Brazil's educational system ranks above only Guinea-Bissau and Bangladesh, according to 1990 UNESCO data.

The "success story" is summarized in a May 1992 Americas Watch report: "Rich in natural resources and with a large industrial base, the country has the largest debt in the developing world and an economy that is entering its second decade of acute crisis. Tragically, Brazil is not able to provide an adequate standard of living for its 148 million people, two-thirds of whom were malnourished in 1985, their misery caused and compounded by lack of access to the land" in a country with "one of the highest degrees of concentration of land ownership in the world," and one of the most lopsided distributions of income as well.

Starvation and disease are rampant, along with slave labor by contract workers who are brutally treated or simply murdered if they seek to escape before working off their debts. In one of the nine cases of rural slavery unearthed by the Catholic Church Land Ministry Commission in the first few months of 1992, 4000 slave workers were found extracting charcoal in an agribusiness project established and subsidized by the military government as a "reforestation project" (of which nothing operates but the charcoal pits). In haciendas, slave laborers work 16 hours a day without pay and are frequently beaten and tortured, sometimes murdered, with almost complete impunity. Almost half the farmland is owned by 1 percent of farmers; government emphasis on export crops, following the precepts of the foreign masters, favors farmers with capital to invest, marginalizing the huge majority even further. In the north and northeast, rich landowners call in gunmen or the military police to burn houses and crops, shoot livestock, murder unionists, priests, nuns or lawyers trying to defend peasant rights, and drive the villagers into shantytowns or to the Amazon, where they are then blamed for deforestation as they clear land in a desperate attempt to survive. Brazilian medical researchers describe the population of the region as a new subspecies: "Pygmies," with 40 percent the brain capacity of humans-the result of severe malnutrition in a region with much fertile land, owned by large plantations that produce cash crops for export."

Brazil is a world center of such triumphs as child slavery, with some 7 million children working as slaves and prostitutes, exploited, overworked, deprived of health and education, "or just deprived of their childhood," an International Labor Organization study estimates. The luckier children can look forward to work for drug traffickers in exchange for glue to sniff to "make the hunger go away." The figure worldwide is estimated at hundreds of millions, "one of the grimmer ironies of the age," George Moffett comments. Had the grim result been found in Eastern Europe it would have been a proof of the bestiality of the Communist enemy; since it is the normal situation in Western domains, it Is only irony, the result of "endemic third-world poverty... exacerbated as financially strapped governments have cut expenditures for education," all with no cause.

Brazil also wins the prize for torture and murder of street children by the security forces-"a process of extermination of young people" according to the head of the justice Department in Rio de Janeiro (Hello Saboya), targeting the 7-8 million street children who "beg, steal, or sniff glue" and "for a few glorious moments forget who or where they are" (London Guardian correspondent Jan Rocha). In Rio, a congressional commission identified 15 death squads, most of them made up of police officers and financed by merchants. Bodies of children murdered by death squads are found outside metropolitan areas with their hands tied, showing signs of torture, riddled with bullet holes. Street girls are forced to work as prostitutes. The Legal Medical Institute recorded 427 children murdered in Rio alone in the first ten months of 1991, most by death squads. A Brazilian parliamentary study released in December 1991 reported that 7000 children had been killed in the past four years.

Truly a tribute to our magnificence and the "modem scientific methods of development based solidly on capitalism" in a territory as much "worth exploitation" as any in the world.

We should not underestimate the scale of the achievement. It took real talent to create a nightmare in a country as favored and richly-endowed as Brazil. In the light of such triumphs, it is understandable that the ruling class of the new imperial age should be dedicated with such passion to helping others share the wonders, and that the ideological managers should celebrate the accomplishment with such enthusiasm and self-praise.



From World War II, in Venezuela the US followed the standard policy of taking total control of the military "to expand U.S. political and military influence in the Western Hemisphere and perhaps help keep the U.S. arms industry vigorous" (Rabe). As later explained by Kennedy's Ambassador Allan Stewart, "U.S.-oriented and anti-Communist armed forces are vital instruments to maintain our security interests." He illustrated the point with the case of Cuba, where the "armed forces disintegrated" while elsewhere they "remained intact and able to defend themselves and others from communists," as demonstrated by the wave of National Security States that swept over the hemisphere. The Kennedy Administration increased its assistance to the Venezuelan security forces for "internal security and counterinsurgency operations against the political left," Rabe comments, also assigning personnel to advise in combat operations, as in Vietnam. Stewart urged the government to "dramatize" its arrests of radicals, which would make a good impression in Washington as well as among Venezuelans (those who matter, that is).

In 1970, Venezuela lost its position as world's leading oil exporter to Saudi Arabia and Iran. As in the Middle East, Venezuela nationalized its oil (and iron ore) in a manner quite satisfactory to Washington and US investors, who "found a newly rich Venezuela hospitable," Rabe writes, "one of the most unique markets in the world," in the words of a Commerce Department official."

The return to office of social democrat Carlos Andrés Perez in 1988 aroused some concerns, but they dissipated as he launched an IMF-approved structural readjustment program, resolutely maintained despite thousands of protests, many violent, including one in February 1989 in which 300 people were killed by security forces in the capital dry of Caracas.

Though rarely reported in the US, protests continued along with strike waves severe enough to lead to fear that the country was headed towards "anarchy." Among other cases, three students were killed by police who attacked peaceful demonstrations in late November 1991; and two weeks later, police used tear gas to break up a peaceful march of 15,000 people in Caracas protesting Perez's economic policies. In January 1992, the main trade union confederation predicted serious difficulties and conflicts as a result of the neoliberal programs, which had caused "massive impoverishment" including a 60 percent drop in workers' buying power in 3 years, while enriching financial groups and transnational corporations.

By then, another "economic miracle" was in place: "a treasury brimming with foreign reserves, inflation at its lowest rate in five years, and an economy growing at the fastest rate in the Americas, 9.2 percent in 1991," Times correspondent James Brooke reported, noting also some familiar flaws, among them a fall in the real minimum wage in Caracas to 44 percent of the 1987 level, a decline in nutritional levels, and a "scandalous concentration of wealth," according to a right-wing Congressman he quotes. Other flaws were to come to light (in the US) a few weeks later after a coup attempt, among them, the government's admission that only 57 percent of Venezuelans could afford more than one meal a day in this country of enormous wealth. Other flaws in the miracle had been revealed in the report of an August 1991 Presidential Commission for the Rights of Children, not previously noticed, which found that "critical poverty, defined as the inability to meet at least one half of basic nutritional requirements," had tripled from 11 percent of the population in 1984 to 33 percent in 1991; and that real per capita income fell 55 percent from 1988 to 1991, falling at double the rate of 1980-1988.'

On February 4,1992, an attempted military coup was crushed. "There was little jubilation," A? reported. "The coup attempt caps a crescendo of anger and frustration over the economic reforms that have written such a macroeconomic success story but have failed to benefit the lives of most Venezuelans and have embittered many" (Financial Times). It "was met by silent cheers from a large part of the population," Brooke reported, particularly in poor and working-class areas. Like the Brazilian technocrats, Perez had done everything right, "cutting subsidies, privatizing state companies and opening a closed economy to competition." But something had unaccountably gone wrong. True, the growth rate was impressive, "but most economic analysts agree that the high price of oil in 1991 fueled Venezuela's growth more than Perez's austerity moves," Stan Yarbro reported, and none can fail to see that "the new wealth has failed to trickle down to Venezuela's middle and lower classes, whose standard of living has fallen dramatically." Infant deaths "have soared in the past two years as a result of worsening malnutrition and other health problems in the shantytowns," a priest who had worked in poor neighborhoods for 16 years said. There is ample "new wealth," much of it "poured into financial speculation schemes rather than new investments in industry. In 1991 money made in real estate and financial services almost equaled the profits from manufactures."

In short, a typical economic miracle, achieved under unusually favorable conditions for the evaluation of the neoliberal doctrines preached with such fervor by the priesthood of what Jeremy Seabrook calls the new "International Monetary Fundamentalism.



Take Guatemala, another country richly I endowed with resources that offered fine prospects for a success story for capitalism after the US regained control in 1954-and another case that should inspire us with pride in our accomplishments, so impressive in comparison with the wreckage left by the despicable enemy.

Guatemala now boasts a higher level of child malnutrition than Haiti, according to UNICEF. The Health Ministry reports that 40 percent of students suffer from chronic malnutrition, while 2.5 million children in this country of 9 million suffer abuse that leads them to abandon school and become involved in crime. A quarter of a million have been orphaned by political violence. The condition of children is not very surprising when 87 percent of the population live below the poverty line (up from 79 percent in 1980), 72 percent cannot afford a minimum diet (52 percent in 1980), 6 million have no access to health service, 3.6 million lack drinking water, and concentration of land ownership continues to rise (2 percent now control 70 percent of the land). Purchasing power in 1989 was 22 percent of its 1972 level, dropping still further as the neoliberal measures of the 1980s were intensified.

We need not linger on the record of mass slaughter, genocide in the highlands, disappearance, torture, mutilation, and other standard accompaniments of Free World victories; admittedly, a display of imperial benevolence that has been somewhat excessive in the case of Guatemala. The contours, at least, should be recalled. The terror began as soon as the US-run military coup succeeded in overthrowing the reformist capitalist democracy. Some 8000 peasants were murdered in two months in a terror campaign that targeted particularly United Fruit Company union organizers and Indian village leaders. The US Embassy participated with considerable fervor, providing lists of "Communists" to be eliminated or imprisoned and tortured while Washington dedicated itself to making Guatemala "a showcase for democracy." At a comparable stage, the Khmer Rouge were condemned for genocide. Terror mounted again in the 1960s, with active US participation. The process resumed in the late 1970s, soon reaching new levels of barbarism. Over 440 villages were totally destroyed and well over 100,000 civilians were killed or "disappeared," up to 150,000 according to the Church and others, all with the enthusiastic support of the Reagan Administration. Huge areas of the highlands were destroyed in a frenzy of irreversible environmental devastation. The goal was to prevent a recurrence of popular organization or any further thought of freedom or social reform. The toll since the US regained control is estimated at about 200,000 unarmed civilians killed or "disappeared," and in the highlands, episodes that qualify as genocide, if the word has meaning. In an amazing triumph of the human spirit, popular forces and leaders continue their struggle against US-inspired neo-Nazism.

As for the "showcase of democracy," an election was scheduled for 1963, but it was prevented by a military coup backed by the Kennedy Administration to block the participation of Juan José Arévalo, the founder of Guatemalan democracy, who had been elected in 1945 after the overthrow of the US-backed Ubico dictatorship. A 1966 election extended military control over the country, setting off another wave of terror. The 1985 election was proclaimed by the US Embassy to be the "final step in the reestablishment of democracy in Guatemala." The November 1990 elections ended in a draw between two right-wing neoliberal candidates, who managed to stir up 30 percent of the electorate (counting valid votes). In the runoff election won by Jorge Serrano, abstention was even higher.

These achievements aside, the prevailing social conditions are the result of another successful experiment: the development model introduced by US advisers after the 1954 coup terminated the ten-year episode of capitalist democracy. As terror improved the investment climate, export-oriented economic programs led to rapid growth in production of agricultural commodities and beef for export, destruction of forests and traditional agriculture, sharp increase in hunger and general misery, the world championship for DDT in mothers' milk (185 times World Health Organization limits), and gratifying balance sheets for US agribusiness and local affiliates. The new maquiladoras are having a similar impact. Current economic plans, under the guidance of US advisers, are intensifying this range of effects.

No less predictably, in his January 1992 report to Congress, President Serrano declared the results of the properly neoliberal economic program (including the 100 percent increase for the military in the 1992 budget) to be an "economic miracle," while Western commentators applauded at j looked forward to still further triumphs of capitalist democracy.



The most phenomenal success story of all is Chile, with its "prospering free-market economy generated by Gen. August Pinochet" (Nash). That is an established truth, repeated everywhere. True, Pinochet was tough, but the 'economic miracle" carried out by his Chicago Boys from 1974 to 1989 is there for all to see. To see, if they do not look too closely.

Pinochet's 'miracle" turned into the 'Chilean catastrophe" in under a decade, David Felix writes; virtually the entire banking system was taken Over by the government in an attempt to salvage the economy, leading some to describe the transition from Allende to Pinochet as "a transition from utopian to scientific socialism, since the means of production are ending up in the hands of the state" (Felix), or "the Chicago Road to Socialism." The militantly anti-socialist London Economist lntelligence Unit Wrote that "the believer in free markets, President Pinochet, had a more comprehensive grip on the 'controlling heights of the economy' than President Allende had dared dream of." The government-controlled portion of the economy in 1983 was comparable to the Allende years after the state took over failing enterprises, which it sold off at bargain rates to the private sector when they were resuscitated, along with efficient and profitable public enterprises that were generating 25 percent of the government's revenues, Joseph Collins and John Lear note. Multinational corporations did very nicely in the process, gaining control over large parts of the Chilean economy. Citing Chilean economists, James Petras and Steve Vieux report that "an estimated $600 million in subsidies were provided to purchasers in the 1986-1987 wave of privatizations," including "efficiently run, surplus-producing operations"; the operation is expected to reduce government surplus by $100 to $165 million during 1990-1995.

Until 1980, Chile's GDP per capita did not approach the 1972 (Allende) level, and investment was still below the late 1960s while unemployment was far higher. Per capita health care was more than halved from 1973 to 1985, setting off explosive growth in poverty-related diseases such as typhoid and viral hepatitis. Since 1973, consumption dropped 30 percent for the poorest 20 percent in Santiago and increased 15 percent for the top 20 percent. Private hospitals proudly display their high-tech equipment for the rich, while public ones offer mothers an appointment months away and medicines they cannot afford. College education, free for everyone under / Allende, is now for the more privileged; and they will not be exposed to ~ the "subversives" who have been purged, but offered "sociology, political science, and economics courses... more like religious instruction in the revealed truth of free markets and the red peril" (Tina Rosenberg), as in Brazil under the generals, or other places that come to mind. Macroeconomic statistics in the Pinochet years are generally below those for the preceding two decades; the average GNP growth from 1974-1979 was just over half that of 1961-1971, while per capita GNP fell 6.4 percent and per capita consumption 23 percent from 1972-1987. The capital city of Santiago is now "among the most polluted cities in the world," Nathaniel Nash observes, thanks to the free market Friedmanite model with its slogan "Produce, produce, produce," come what may-what we denounce as the "Stalinist model" when there are points to be scored thereby. What "came" was "the daunting cost of cleaning up, ...and the daunting cost of not cleaning up" in a country with "some of the world's dirtiest factories," no regulations, severe pollution of water supplies, and general environmental ruin with much-feared consequences for the health of the population.

And thanks to the miracle, along with a little US help in "making the economy scream" under the Allende government, the proportion of the population that fell below the poverty line (minimum income required for basic food and housing) increased from 20 percent to 44.4 percent from ) 1970 to 1987.



Columbus described the people he found as 'lovable, tractable, peaceable, gentle, decorous," and their land as rich and bountiful. Hispaniola was 'perhaps the most densely populated place in the world," Las Casas wrote, "a beehive of people," who "of all the infinite universe of humanity, .are the most guileless, the most devoid of wickedness and duplicity." Driven by "insatiable greed and ambition," the Spanish fell upon them "like ravening wild beasts, ... killing, terrorizing, afflicting, torturing, and destroying the native peoples" with "the strangest and most varied new methods of cruelty, never seen or heard of before, and to such a degree" that the population is barely 200 persons, he wrote in 1552, "from my own ç knowledge of the acts I witnessed." 'It was a general rule among Spaniards 1 to be cruel," he wrote: 'not just cruel, but extraordinarily cruel so that harsh / and bitter treatment would prevent Indians from daring to think of themselves as human beings." "As they saw themselves each day perishing by the cruel and inhuman treatment of the Spaniards, crushed to the earth by the horses, cut in pieces by swords, eaten and torn by dogs, many buried dive and suffering all kinds of exquisite tortures, ...[they] decided to abandon themselves to their unhappy fate with no further struggles, placing themselves in the hands of their enemies that they might do with them as they liked."

As the propaganda mills ground away, the picture was revised to provide retrospective justification for what had been done. By 1776, the story was that Columbus found 'nothing but a country quite covered with wood, uncultivated, and inhabited only by some tribes of naked and miserable savages" (Adam Smith). As noted earlier, it was not until the 1960s that the truth began to break through, eliciting scorn and protest from outraged loyalists.

The Spanish effort to plunder the island's riches by enslaving its gentle people were unsuccessful; they died too quickly, if not killed by the 'wild beasts" or in mass suicide. African slaves were sent from the early 1500s, later in a flood as the plantation economy was established. "Saint Domingue was the wealthiest European colonial possession in the Americas," Hans Schmidt writes, producing three-quarters of the world's sugar by 1789, also leading the world in production of coffee, cotton, indigo, and rum. The slave masters provided France with enormous wealth from the labor of their 450,000 slaves, much as in the British West Indian colonies. The white population, including poor overseers and artisans, numbered 40,000. Some 30,000 mulanoes and free Negroes enjoyed economic privileges but not social and political equality, the origins of the class difference that led to harsh repression after independence, with renewed violence today.

Between 1849 and 1913, US Navy ships entered Haitian waters 24 times to "protect American lives and property." Haiti's independence was scarcely given even "token recognition," Schmidt observes in his standard history, and there was little consideration for the rights of its people. They are "an inferior people," unable "to maintain the degree of civilization left them by the French or to develop any capacity of self government entitling them to international respect and confidence," Assistant Secretary of state William Phillips wrote, recommending the policy of invasion and US Military government that President Woodrow Wilson soon adopted. Few words need be wasted on the civilization left to 90 percent of the population the French, who, as an ex-slave related, "hung up men with heads downward, drowned them in sacks, crucified them on planks, buried them alive, crushed them in mortars..., forced them to eat slat, ... cast them alive to be devoured by worms, or onto anthills, or lashed them to stakes in the swamp be devoured by mosquitos, ... threw them into boiling cauldrons of cane syrup"-when not "flaying them with the lash" to extract the wealth that helped give France its entry ticket to the rich men's club.

Phillips captured prevailing attitudes with accuracy, though some, like Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan, found the Haitian elite rather amusing: "Dear me, think of it, Niggers speaking French," he remarked. The effective ruler of Haiti, Marine Colonel L.W.T. Wailer, who arrived fresh from appalling atrocities in the conquest of the Philippines, was not amused: "they are real nigger and no mistake... real nigs beneath the surface," he said, rejecting any negotiations or other "bowing and scraping to these coons," particularly the educated Haitians for whom this bloodthirsty lout had a special hatred. Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin Delano Roosevelt, while never approaching the racist fanaticism and thuggery of his distant relative Theodore Roosevelt, shared the feelings of his colleagues. On a visit to occupied Haiti in 1917, he recorded in his diary a comment by his travelling companion, who later became the Occupation's leading civilian official. Fascinated by the Haitian Minister of Agriculture, he "couldn't help saying to myself" he told FDR, "that man would have brought $1,500 at auction in New Orleans in 1860 for stud purposes." "Roosevelt appears to have relished the story," Schmidt notes, "and retold it to American Minister Norman Armour when he visited Haiti as President in 1934." The element of racism in policy formation should not be discounted, to the present day.

Such thoughts were not unusual at the time of Wilson's intervention, not only in the United States. We may recall that shortly after, Winston Churchill authorized the use of chemical weapons "against recalcitrant Arabs as experiment," denouncing the "squeamishness" of those who Objected to "using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes," mainly Kurds, a policy that he strongly favored, expecting that it "would spread a lively terror." For England itself, he had somewhat different plans. As Home Secretary in 1910 he had secretly proposed sterilization of 100,000 "mental degenerates" and the dispatch of tens of thousands of others to state-run labor camps so as to save the "British race" from inevitable decline if its "inferior" members are allowed to breed-ideas that were within the bounds of enlightened opinion of the day, but have been kept secret in Home Office files because of their sensitivity, particularly after they were taken up by Hitler. 4

Given the cultural climate of the day, the character of Wilson's 1915 invasion comes as no great surprise. It was even more savage and destructive than his invasion of the Dominican Republic in the same years. Wilson's troops murdered, destroyed, reinstituted virtual slavery, and demolished the constitutional system. After ruling for 20 years, the US left "the inferior people" in the hands of the National Guard it had established and the traditional rulers. In the 1950s, the Duvalier dictatorship took over, running the show in Guatemalan style, always with firm US support.

The brutality and racism of the invaders, and the dispossession of peasants as US corporations took over the spoils, elicited resistance. The Marine response was savage, including the first recorded instance of coordinated air-ground combat: bombing of rebels (Cacos) who were surrounded by Marines in the bush. An in-house Marine inquiry, undertaken after atrocities were publicly revealed, found that 3250 rebels were killed, at least 400 executed, while the Marines and their locally recruited gendarmerie suffered 98 casualties (killed and wounded). Leaked Marine orders call for an end to "indiscriminate killing of natives" that "has gone on for some time." Haitian historian Roger Gaillard estimates total deaths at 15,000, counting victims "of repression and consequences of the war," which "resembled a massacre." Major Smedley Butler recalled that his troops "hunted the Cacos like pigs." His exploits impressed FDR, who ordered that he be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for an engagement in which 200 Cacos were killed and no prisoners taken, while one Marine was struck by a rock and lost two teeth.

The leader of the revolt, Charlemagne Péralte, was killed by Marines who sneaked into his camp at night in disguise. In an attempt at psywar that prefigured some of Colonel Edward Lansdale's later exploits in the Philippines, the Marines circulated photos of his body in the hope of demoralizing the guerrillas. The tactic backfired, however; the photo resembled Christ on the cross, and became a nationalist symbol. Péralte took his place in the nationalist Pantheon alongside of Toussaint.

The invaders "legalized" the Occupation with a unilateral declaration they called a "treaty," which the client regime was forced to accept; it was then cited as imposing on the US a solemn commitment to maintain the Occupation. While supervising the takeover of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, Wilson built his reputation as a lofty idealist defending self-determination and the rights of small nations with impressive oratory. There is no contradiction. Wilsonian doctrine was restricted to people of the right sort: those "at a low stage of civilization" need not apply, though the civilized colonial powers should give them "friendly protection, guidance, and assistance," he explained. Wilson's Fourteen Points did not call for self-determination and national independence, but rather held that in questions of sovereignty, "the interests of the populations concerned must have equal weight with the equitable claims of the government whose title is to be determined," the colonial ruler. The interests of the populations "would be ascertained by the advanced nations, who best comprehended the needs and welfare of the less advanced peoples," William Stivers comments, analyzing the actual import of Wilson's language and thinking. To mention one case with long-term consequences, a supplicant who sought Wilson's support for Vietnamese representation in the French Parliament was chased away from his doors with the appeal undelivered, later surfacing under the name Ho Chi Minh.

Another achievement of Wilson's occupation was a new Constitution, imposed on the hapless country after its National Assembly was dissolved by the Marines for refusing to ratify it. The US-designed Constitution overturned laws preventing foreigners from owning land, thus enabling US corporations to take what they wanted. FDR later took credit for having written the Constitution, falsely it appears, though he did hope to be one of its beneficiaries intending to use Haiti "for his own personal enrichment," Schmidt notes. Ten years later, in 1927, the State Department conceded that the US had used "rather highhanded methods to get the Constitution adopted by the people of Haiti" (with 99.9 percent approval in a Marine-run plebiscite, under 5 percent of the population participating). But these methods were unavoidable: "It was obvious that if our occupation was to be beneficial to Haiti and further her progress it was necessary that foreign capital should come to Haiti..., [and] Americans could hardly be expected to put their money into plantations and big agricultural enterprises in Haiti if they could not themselves own the land on which their money was to be spent." It was out of a sincere desire to help the poor Haitians that the US forced them to allow US investors to take the country over, the State Department explained, the usual form that benevolence assumes.

Elections were not permitted because it was recognized that anti-American candidates would win, hindering the US programs to help the suffering people. These programs were described as "An Experiment in Pragmatism" by one not untypical intellectual commentator, who observed that "The pragmatists insist that intelligent guidance from without may sometimes accelerate the process of national growth and save much waste." We have already seen some illustrations of that "intelligent guidance" in the case of beneficiaries from Bengal to Brazil and Guatemala. We turn to the Haitian experience in the next chapter.

The Occupation "consistently suppressed local democratic institutions and denied elementary political liberties," Schmidt writes. "Instead of building from existing democratic institutions which, on paper, were quite impressive and had long incorporated the liberal democratic philosophy and governmental machinery associated with the French Revolution, the United States blatantly overrode them and illegally forced through its own authoritarian, antidemocratic system." "The establishment of foreign-dominated plantation agriculture necessitated destruction of the existing minifundia land-tenure system with its myriad peasant freeholders," who were forced into peonage. The US supported "a minority of collaborators" from the local elite who admired European fascism but lacked the mass appeal of their fascist models. "In effect," Schmidt observes, "the Occupation embodied all the progressive attitudes of contemporary Italian fascism, but was crippled by failures in human relationships" (lack of popular support). The only local leadership it could mobilize was the traditional mulatto elite, its racist contempt for the great mass of the population now heightened by the even harsher attitudes of "ethnic and racial contempt" of the foreigner with the gun and the dollar, who brought "concepts of racial discrimination" not seen since before independence, and the "racist colonial realities" that went along with them.

The Occupation thus reinforced the internal class/race oppression that goes back to the days of French colonialism. One consequence was the rise of the ideology of Noirisme, in response to the racism of the occupiers and their elite collaborators. "Papa Doc" Duvalier would later exploit this backlash when, 20 years after the Marines left, he took the reins with the pretense of handing power to the black majority-in reality, to himself, his personal killers (the Tontons Macoutes), and the traditional e ;e, who continued to prosper under his murderous kleptocracy.

In the 1980s, IMF Fundamentalism began to take its customary toll as the economy deteriorated under the impact of the structural adjustment programs, which caused agricultural production to decline along with investment, trade and consumption. Poverty became still more terrible. By the time "Baby Doc" Duvalier was driven out in 1986, 60 percent of the population had an annual per capita income of $60 or less according to the World Bank, child malnutrition had soared, the rate of infant mortality was shockingly high, and the country had become an ecological and human disaster, perhaps beyond hope of recovery. Through the 1970s, thousands of boat people fled the ravaged island, virtually all forced to return by US officials with little notice here, the usual treatment of refugees whose suffering lacks propaganda value. In 1981, the Reagan Administration initiated a new interdiction policy. Of the more than 24,000 Haitians intercepted by the US Coast Guard in the next ten years, 11 were granted asylum as victim of political persecution, in comparison with 75,000 out of 75,000 Cubans. During Aristide's brief tenure, the flow of refugees dropped dramatically as terror abated and there were hopes for a better future.


In June 1985, the Haitian legislature unanimously adopted a new law ( requiring that every political party must recognize President-for-Life JeanClaude Duvalier as the supreme arbiter of the nation, outlawing the Christian Democrats, and granting the government the right to suspend the rights of any party without reasons. The law was ratified by a majority of 99.98 Percent. Washington was impressed. It was "an encouraging step forward," the US Ambassador informed his guests at a July 4 celebration. The Reagan Administration certified to Congress that "democratic development" was progressing, so that military and economic aid could continue to flow mainly into the pockets of Baby Doc and his entourage. The Administration also informed Congress that the human rights situation was improving, as it always is when some regime requires military aid to suppress the population in a good cause. The Democrat-controlled House Foreign Affairs Committee had given its approval in advance, calling on the Administration "to maintain friendly relations with Duvalier's non-Communist government."

These gratifying developments were short-lived, however. By December, popular protests were straining the resources of state terror. What happened next was described by the Wall Street Journal two months later with engaging frankness:

An administration official said that the White House concluded late last year, following huge demonstrations that hadn't been seen on such a scale before, that the regime was unraveling... U.S. analysts learned that Haiti's ruling inner circle had lost faith in the 34-year-old president for life. As a result, U.S. officials, including Secretary of State George Shultz, began openly calling for a "democratic process" in Haiti.

The cynicism was underscored by the fact that the very same scenario was then being enacted in the Philippines, where the army and elite made it clear they would no longer support another gangster for whom Reagan and Bush had expressed their admiration, even "love," not long before, so that the White House "began openly calling for a 'democratic process'" there as well. Both events have, accordingly, entered the canon as a demonstration of how, particularly in the 1980s, we have "served as inspiration for the triumph of democracy in our time" (New Republic)?

Duvalier was duly removed, flown out in a US Air Force jet and sent to comfortable exile in France. Armed Forces chief General Henri Namphy took power. This long-time US favorite and close Duvalier associate was "Haiti's best chance for democracy," Assistant Secretary of State Elliott Abrams announced, revealing once again the dedication to democracy for which he was famous. Not all were pleased. A rural priest in a small church, Father Jean-Bertrand Aristide, said that "we're glad Duvalier is gone" but "what we now have is Duvalierism without Duvalier." Few listened, but events were to prove him right in short order.

Elections were scheduled for November 1987, but Namphy and his associates, the army and the old elite, were determined that nothing would go wrong. The Tontons Macoutes were reorganized, terror continued. A particularly gruesome massacre took place in July 1987, involving the army and the Macoutes. The same groups sponsored escalating violence, leading up to an election day massacre that provided Namphy with a pretext to cancel the elections. Throughout, US military aid continued on grounds that it helped the army keep order-which was disrupted by army-Macoute violence and atrocities. Military aid was finally suspended after the election day terror, with over 95 percent of the 1987 funds already disbursed.

A fraudulent military-run election followed, then a coup restoring Namphy to power and a rash of Duvalierism-without-Duvalier atrocities by the army and Macoutes, including repeated attacks on union offices and peasant groups. Asked about these events by US human-rights organizations, Ambassador Brunson McKinley said, "I don't see any evidence of a policy against human rights. "True, there is violence, but it is just "part of the culture." Whose, one might wonder.

A month later, a gang of killers attacked Aristide's church as he was saying mass, leaving at least 13 dead and 77 wounded. Aristide fled underground. In yet another coup, Duvalierist General Prosper Avril arrested Namphy and expelled him. The Haitian head of Aristide's Salesian order authorized him to return to his church, but not for long. To the dismay of the conservative Church hierarchy, Aristide continued to call for freedom and an end to terror. He was duly ordered by his superiors in Rome to leave the country. Popular protests blocked his departure, and he went into hiding. At the last minute, Aristide decided to take part in the December 1990 elections. In a stunning upset, he won 67 percent of the vote, defeating the US candidate, former World Bank official Marc Bazin, who came in second with 14 percent. The courageous liberation theologist, committed to "the preferential option for the poor" of the Latin American bishops, took office in February as the first democratically elected President in Haiti's history-briefly; he was overthrown by a military coup on September 30.

"Under Aristide, for the first time in the republic's tortured history, Haiti seemed to be on the verge of tearing free from the fabric of despotism and tyranny which had smothered all previous attempts at democratic expression and self-determination," the Washington Council on Hemispheric Affairs observed in a post-coup review. His victory "represented more than a decade of civic engagement and education on his part," spearheaded by local activists of the Church, small grassroots-based communities, and other popular organizations that formed the basis of the Lavalas ("flood") movement that swept him into power, "a textbook example of participatory, 'bottom-up' and democratic political development." With this popular base, his government was committed to "the empowerment of the poor," a "populist model" with international implications that frightened Washington, whose model of "democracy" does not entertain popular movements committed to "social and economic justice, popular political participation and openness in all governmental affairs" rather than "the international market or some other current shibboleth." Furthermore, Aristide's balancing of the budget and "trimming of a bloated bureaucracy" led to a "stunning success" that made White House planners "extremely uncomfortable": he secured over half a billion dollars in aid from the international lending community, very little of it from the US, indicating "that Haiti was slipping out of Washington's financial orbit" and "demonstrating a degree of sovereignty in its political affairs." A rotten apple was in the making."

Washington was definitely not pleased. With its ally Duvalier gone, the US had in mind the usual form of democracy committed to the preferential option for the rich, particularly US investors. To facilitate this outcome, the bipartisan National Endowment for Democracy (NED) directed its "democracy building" grants to the Haitian International Institute for Research and Development (HIRED) and two conservative unions. HIRED was associated with Bazin and other political figures with little popular base beyond the NED, which portrayed them as the democratic movement. The State Department approached AIFLD, the AFL-CIO affiliate with a notorious record of anti-labor activities in the Third World, to join its efforts in Haiti "because of the presence of radical labor unions and the high risk that other unions may become radicalized." AIFLD joined in, expanding the support it had given from 1984 to a union group run in part by Duvalier's security police. In preparation for the elections, NED extended its support to several other organizations, among them a human rights organization headed by Jean-Jacques Honorat, former Minister of Tourism under Duvalier and later an opponent of his regime. By way of the right wing Puebla Institute, NED also provided pre-election funding to Radio Soled, which had been antiDuvalier but shifted well to the right under the influence of the conservative Catholic hierarchy.

Following Aristide's victory, US funding for political activities sharply increased, mainly through USAID. According to Kenneth Roth, deputy director of Human Rights Watch, the aid was intended to strengthen conservative groups that could "act as an institutional check on Aristide," in an effort to "move the country in a rightward direction." After Aristide was overthrown and the elite returned to power, Honorat became de facto Prime Minister under the military regime. The popular organizations that supported Aristide were violently suppressed, while those backed by NED and AID were spared. 12 One of the closest observers of events in Haiti, Amy Wilentz, writes that Aristide's brief term was "the first time in the post-Duvalier era that the United States government has been so deeply concerned with human rights and the rule of law in Haiti" (not that there was more than rhetoric under the Duvaliers). The State Department is reported to have "circulated a thick notebook filled with alleged human rights violations" under Aristide-"something it had not done under the previous rulers, Duvalierists and military men," who were deemed proper recipients for aid, including military aid, "based on unsubstantiated human-rights improvements":

During the four regimes that preceded Aristide, international human rights advocates and democratic observers had begged the State Department to consider helping the democratic opposition in Haiti. But no steps were taken by the United States to strengthen anything but the executive and the military until Aristide won the presidency. Then, all of a sudden, the United States began to think about how it could help those Haitians eager to limit the powers of the executive or to replace the government constitutionally.

USAID's huge "Democracy Enhancement" project was "specifically designed to fund those sectors of the Haitian political spectrum where opposition to the Aristide government could be encouraged."

All absolutely normal, simply further evidence that "democracy" and "human rights" are regarded purely as power instruments, of no intrinsic value, even dangerous and objectionable; precisely as any rational person with some knowledge of history and institutions would expect.

Before deciding to run for office, Aristide had observed that "Of course, the U.S. has its own agenda here," adding that it was natural for the rich to make investments and want to maximize return. "This is normal, capitalist behavior, and I don't care if the U.S. wants to do it at home... But it is monstrous to come down here and impose your will on another people," whom you do not understand and for whom you care nothing. "I cannot accept that Haiti should be whatever the United States wants it to be." It's obvious why he had to go.

There are few surprises here, well into the post-Cold War era with its heralded New World Order.

Immediately after taking power on September 30, 1991, the army "embarked on a systematic and continuing campaign to stamp out the vibrant civil society that has taken root in Haiti since the fall of the Duvalier dictatorship," Americas Watch reported in December. At least 1000 people were killed in the first two weeks of the coup and hundreds more by December, "generally reliable Haitian human rights groups" estimated, though they knew little about what is happening in the countryside, traditionally the locus of the worst atrocities. Terror increased in the months that followed, particularly after the reconstituted Macoutes were unleashed in late December. Tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands are in hiding. Many regard the terror as "worse than Papa Doc." "The goal of the repression is twofold: first, to destroy the political and social gains made since the downfall of the Duvalier dynasty; and second, to ensure that no matter what Haiti's political future may hold, all structures for duplicating those gains will have been laid waste." Accordingly, unions and popular organizations were specifically targeted for violent repression, and the "lively and combative radio stations-the main form of communication with Haiti's dispersed and largely illiterate population"-were suppressed. The rascal multitude must remain dispersed and scattered, without unions or other popular organizations through which they might act to formulate and express their interests, and without independent means of communication and information.

If it sounds familiar, that's because it is. In the Haitis of the world, the means can be quite direct.

De facto Prime Minister Jean-Jacques Honorat justified the [1991] coup. "There is no relationship between elections and democracy," he said. Haiti is being defamed by foreign 'racists" in the press and French Embassy. It is right to return Duvalier thugs to power as rural section chiefs because "No society can exist without police." Along with landholders, they "are taking revenge against those who were persecuting them," notably priests, Christian base communities, and the nonviolent Papaye Peasant Movement, who are guilty of "terrorism." "The military was systematically persecuted" by these elements, who believed "they could do anything" under Aristide's rule, he informed the visiting human rights delegation, blaming Aristide for the coup. When a press conference of the Federation of Haitian Students at the national university was attacked by armed soldiers, clubbing and arresting participants, Honorat's wife "offered fifty of the students their freedom if they taped a statement saying they had been treated well in detention," Kenneth Roth reports. "As Haitians began in early November to flee this violence and persecution in large numbers," the Americas Watch report continues, "the Bush Administration changed from an outspoken proponent of human rights and democracy in Haiti to a shameful apologist." The State Department "issued a fraudulent opinion asserting that political persecution of Aristide's supporters had ceased," providing 'rhetorical cover to the army's ongoing campaign of repression" and laying the basis for the forcible return of fleeing refugees to the terror of the coup regime. 'Evidently fearful that continuing honest and outspoken criticism of military abuses in Haiti would jeopardize the legal defense of its interdiction efforts, which had come under challenge in U.S. courts, the Administration stopped public criticism altogether. Since late October, Haiti has been immune from censure by the State Department on human rights grounds.

The Bush Administration quickly 'distanced itself from" deposed president Aristide "in light of concerns over his human rights record," the press reported with no detectable embarrassment; the White House "refused to say that his return to power was a necessary precondition for Washington to feel that democracy has been restored in Haiti" (Thomas Friedman). The same day, the head of the OAS delegation stated that "We have come down with an extremely clear mandate that Aristide must be restored."

It was the notes sounded by Washington, however, that reverberated in the press. Aristide was regarded as 'an insular and menacing leader who saw his own raw popularity as a substitute for the give and take of politics," Times correspondent Howard French wrote. He governed "with the aid of fear," leaning "heavily on Lavalas, an unstructured movement of affluent idealists and long-exiled leftists" whose model was China's Cultural Revolution-the Times version of the "textbook example of participatory, 'bottom-up' and democratic political development" depicted by the Council on Hemispheric Affairs. Aristide's power hunger led to 'troubles with civil society," another concept of Times-speak, excluding the large majority of the population, which continued to support him with passion and courage. Furthermore, 'Haitian political leaders and diplomats say, the growing climate of vigilantism as well as increasingly strident statements by Father Aristide blaming the wealthier classes for the poverty of the masses encouraged" the coup; such statements are outrageous and absurd, we are to understand. "Although he retains much of the popular support that enabled him to win 67 percent of the popular vote in the country's December 1990 elections, Father Aristide was overthrown in part because of concerns among politically active people over his commitment to the Constitution, and growing fears of political and class-based violence, which many believe the President endorsed."

As this well-informed correspondent knew, the "political and class-based violence" was a near monopoly of the military and the elite, whose "commitment to the Constitution" was invisible and who turned at once to terror to demolish the "politically active people" and their organizations which were much too "structured" and effective for the tastes of those who qualify as 'civil society" by Administration- Times standards. What they call "civil society" intends to retain their traditional power and privilege, and the army, which, French assures us, "made it clear that it had no desire to hold on to power," will doubtless be happy to permit "civil society" to rule as in the past, on condition that the army can "hang on to effective control of the country and resume its highly lucrative activities such as the transshipment of narcotics from South America to North America" (Financial Times).

Ruminating on the dilemmas of the post-Cold War era, the editor of Foreign Affairs, William Hyland, observed that "In Haiti it has not been so easy to differentiate among the democrats and the dictators"; the distinction between Aristide, on the one hand, and Duvalier and his latter-day clones, on the other, is too subtle even for the discriminating eye. It should not be thought that Hyland is lacking inhuman concerns. Our worthy commitment to "pragmatism," he warned, should be tempered by the recognition that the US "owes a moral debt to the people of Israel"; accordingly, we must not allow policy to succumb to the "virulent antisemitism" that lies "beneath the veneer of support for Israel," and is "beginning to break through in the debate over Israeli settlements." In Haiti, in contrast, it is hard to detect anyone who might merit our support.

Commentators who found it possible to distinguish Aristide from Papa Doc and the ruling generals hoped that he would find some way to convince the White House of his good faith. A visit to Washington, Pamela Constable wrote, might "bolster his image as a reasonable leader committed to democracy and thus win him a strong public endorsement by the Bush administration"-which, surely, was holding back only because of its reservations on this score.

The OAS at once imposed an embargo, which the US joined, suspending trade on October 29. It was denounced by the ruling elite, and cheered by those who suffer most from its effects. In the slums, "news of the O.A.S. embargo was the only thing many people could find to cheer about as hundreds of people squeezed into overloaded buses to the countryside to flee the expected nightly violence by soldiers," Howard French reported on October 9. Trade should be cut off, "anxious-looking residents" told reporters: "It doesn't matter how much misery we get. We'll die if necessary." Months later, the mood remained the same. "Keep the Embargo" was the popular refrain among the poor. "Titid [Aristide] gave us dignity and hope... We are ready to suffer if it means Titid will come back."

All indications are that Aristide's massive popular support among the poor majority... remains intact... It is difficult to find anyone on the street, either in the capital or in the provinces, who does not support the priest-turned-politician." His associates bitterly condemned the US move. A priest who is a close adviser to Aristide denounced Washington as having " totally" betrayed him from the be-ginning." US policy, he said, is "the most cynical thing you can ever find on earth... I don't think the U.S. wants Aristide back," because he "is not under their control. He is not their puppet."

The assessment is plausible enough. That the US should have sought to establish "Duvalierism without Duvalier" could surprise only the willfully blind. For similar reasons, the Carter Administration sought desperately to institute "Somocismo without Somoza" after its efforts to salvage the tyrant collapsed, and its successor turned to more violent means to achieve the same end, with the general approval of enlightened opinion, tactical disagreement aside.

Superfluously perhaps, the priest's assessment is reinforced by a leaked secret document allegedly authored by a staff member of the US Embassy in Port-au-Prince at the behest of Prime Minister Honorat and other Haitian officials. Its authenticity was questioned by the Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA), and denied by the State Department, but "later research has now validated [it] as being completely reliable," COHA concluded. The document lays out a plan to allow a symbolic "restoration" of Aristide as a PR ploy, with his complete removal later on, when attention has declined.

By the time the document surfaced in January 1992, most of its applicable recommendations had been implemented, COHA noted. Others were to follow shortly. The embargo was rendered still more toothless on February 4. Three weeks later, Aristide accepted what COHA described as "a near-total defeat for Haitian democracy," "a tragic sell-out by a desperate man" who was forced to agree to a "government of national unity" in which he would have only a symbolic role. Aristide "was effectively left with no option but to mutilate his own stature by signing away his powers in exchange for the still uncertain prospect of his restoration to what will now be a figurehead presidency," COHA stated. The "national unity" government brought together two partners: a group headed by René Theodore, who represented 1.5 percent of the electorate, the Haitian military and elite, and the US government; and another led by Aristide, with 67 percent of the electorate but no other assets.

The military in Haiti celebrated the agreement, along with "civil society." One Haitian Senator commented happily that "it would be surrealistic to believe or to print that [Aristide] can return by June 30, or any other specific date for that matter." "The military thugs down there understand... that they have got a nod and a wink from the U.S. government," Congressman John Conyers said.

All that was left was to replace Theodore by the original US favorite Marc Bazin. That result was achieved in June 1992, when Bazin was inaugurated as Prime Minister. "The Vatican and the Haitian bishops' conference... walked into the National Palace and blessed Haiti's new army-backed government," the National Catholic Reporter (NCR) commented, though the Vatican was alone in extending formal recognition. The Vatican had waited until Aristide was exiled to fill the position of papal nuncio. The formal recognition "shows they're really out to get Aristide and to align themselves with Haiti's traditional powers-the army and the bourgeoisie," a Western diplomat told NCR. Liberation and human rights were a grand cause in Eastern Europe; in the Caribbean and Central America, they must be crushed, in the service of traditional privilege, and "the preferential option for the poor" is definitely not welcome. Bazin delivered his inauguration address in French to a "stifling official gathering of men in dark suits and perfumed women in white dresses," Howard French reported; Aristide had given his in Creole, the language of the population, receiving the presidential sash from a peasant woman.

Democracy marches on.

An adviser of the Bazin government, echoing Aristide, said that "all it would take is one phone call" from Washington to send the army leadership packing. "Virtually all observers agree" that little more would be necessary, Howard French writes. But "Washington's deep-seated ambivalence about a leftward-tilting nationalist whose style diplomats say has sometimes been disquietingly erratic" precludes any meaningful pressure. "Despite much blood on the army's hands, United States diplomats consider it a vital counterweight to Father Aristide, whose class-struggle rhetoric... threatened or antagonized traditional power centers at home and abroad." The "counterweight" will therefore hold power with the "erratic" nationalist in exile, and class-struggle rhetoric and terror will continue with the tacit support of traditional power centers.

The New York Times sought to place the proper spin on the February 4 decision to advance the anti-Aristide scenario and benefit US businesses. Under the headline "U.S. Plans to Sharpen Focus of Its Sanctions Against Haiti," Barbara Crossette reported from Washington that "The Bush Administration said today that it would modify its embargo against Haiti's military Government to punish anti-democratic forces and ease the plight of workers who lost jobs because of the ban on trade." The State Department would be "fine tuning" its economic sanctions, the "latest move" in Administration efforts to find "more effective ways to hasten the collapse of what the Administration calls an illegal Government in Haiti." The naive may find the logic a bit obscure: how the move punishes the anti-democratic forces who applauded it, while easing the plight of workers who strenuously opposed it, is left a mystery. Until we translate from PC to English, that is. Then all is clear.

A more straightforward account appeared a few days later in a report from Port-au-Prince under the heading: "Democracy Push in Haiti Blunted: Leaders of Coup Gleeful After U.S. Loosens Its Embargo and Returns Refugees." Howard French writes that "the mood in army and political circles began to turn from anxiety to confidence that the United States, feeling no particular domestic pressure now from Haiti's problems, would leave them in peace." The same day, the anniversary of Aristide's inauguration, New York traffic was tied up by a large protest march against the US actions, as in Miami. That is not what is meant by "domestic pressure," however; mostly black, the protestors merited little notice-though the actions were reported in the Alaska press, where one could also read the statement by Haiti's consul general in New York, who said "There is a tacit collaboration between the Haitian military and the State Department. The Americans will have the last word. And the Americans don't want Aristide's return." Time quoted a "disillusioned Republican congressional staffer" who said, "The White House is banking on the fact that people won't care. Politics, not principle, is the overriding consideration.

That much seems beyond dispute. For those who choose to hear, the italicized words tell the story that is solidly based on two centuries of history. Without popular support here, Toussaint's tree of liberty will remain deeply buried, at best a dream-not in Haiti alone.


Haiti / pigs

In 1978, US experts became concerned that swine fever in the Dominican Republic might threaten the US pig industry. The US initiated a $23 million extermination and restocking program aimed at replacing all of the 1.3 million pigs in Haiti, which were among the peasants' most important possessions, even considered a "bank account" in case of need. Though some Haitian pigs had been found to be infected, few had died, possibly because of their remarkable disease-resistance, some veterinary experts felt. Peasants were skeptical, speculating that the affair had been staged so that "Americans could make money selling their pigs." The program was initiated in 1982, well after traces of disease had disappeared. Two years later, there were no pigs in Haiti.

Peasants regarded this as "the very last thing left in the possible punishments that have afflicted us." A Haitian economist described the enterprise as "the worst calamity to ever befall the peasant," even apart from the $600 million value of the destroyed livestock: "The real loss to the peasant is incalculable... [The peasant economy] is reeling from the impact of being without pigs. A whole way of life has been destroyed in this survival economy." School registration dropped 40-50 percent and sales of merchandise plummeted, as the marginal economy collapsed. A USAID-OAS program then sent pigs from Iowa-for many peasants, confirming their suspicions. These were, however, to be made available only to peasants who could show that they had the capital necessary to feed the new arrivals arid to house them according to specifications. Unlike the native Haitian pigs, the Iowa replacements often succumbed to disease, and could survive only on expensive feed, at a cost that ran up to $250 a year, a huge sum for impoverished peasants. One predictable result was new fortunes for the Duvalier clique and their successors who gained .control of the feed market.


GM, Firestone and Standard Oil vs. public transit

Between 1936 and 1950, National City Lines, a holding company sponsored and funded by GM, Firestone, and Standard Oil of California, bought out more than 100 electric surface-traction systems in 45 cities (including New York, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Salt Lake City, Tulsa, and Los Angeles) to be dismantled and replaced with GM buses... In 1949 GM and its partners were convicted in U.S. district court in Chicago of criminal conspiracy in this matter and fined $5,000." By the mid-1960s, one out of six business enterprises was directly dependent on the motor vehicle industry.


Adolf Hitler

[a woman's] "world is her husband, her children, and her home."

Year 501

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