US Campaign against Haiti: Why?

by Dale Sorenson, MITF Director

MITF Report, April 4, 2001


Why are the US government and its friends in the corporate media mounting a new campaign against a country and people moving towards genuine democratic development? Here's a thumbnail sketch of reasons.

* Haiti is resisting corporate globalization.

Since 1994 the Haitian people and government have stood their ground against intense pressure to adopt neoliberal economic policies (opening markets to US goods, austerity programs, and the privatization of state owned enterprises). Newly elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide has continued to be a spokesman for an alternative vision that places human development at the center of all economic programs.

To date only the flour mill and the cement plant have been sold. Now Aristide is back in power and the US is again tightening the screws, hoping to force privatization.

* Haiti has a popularly elected government that bas committed itself to making healthcare and education its top priorities.

The Fanmi Lavalas platform on which President Aristide based his candidacy proposes decentralized rural development, funded by Haitian government resources. It favors small-scale projects over large-scale internationally funded projects like roads and power plants. The centerpiece of the platform is a plan to build, staff and equip a primary school and primary care clinic in each of Haiti's 565 rural sections.

* Haiti is the only country in the world, aside from Costa Rica, with no military.

In 1995, President Aristide disbanded the Haitian military. Wildly popular in Haiti, the move caught the US by surprise. Created during the US occupation of Haiti from 1915-1934, the Haitian military served as a force of internal repression against the Haitian people. As is the case throughout Latin America, the Haitian military was a conduit for covert and overt US intervention in Haitian affairs. The conduit is now gone.

The Haitian military once absorbed 40% of Haiti's national budget. Today, Haiti spends zero on the military, making it a model in devoting resources to human development rather than to militarism.

* Haiti has developed close ties with Cuba.

Cuba has hundreds of Cuban doctors and health promoters in Haiti and is training hundreds of Haitians in Cuba to be doctors. Cuba has agronomists and other technicians in Haiti, is helping to improve their literacy program and is trading with Haiti. Cuba is the archenemy of the US.

* Haiti is becoming a participatory democracy that threatens the corporate and the political elites.

President Aristide, elected with over 70% of the popular vote, is moving the country toward real democratic development. The US shuns participatory democracy, preferring its formal democracy with two parties that select candidates for the presidency who represent the rich and powerful.

James Madison, one author of the US Constitution and one of our founding fathers, stated that the reason the vote was limited to property owners was "to protect the opulent minority from the majority". The International Republican Institute and Jesse Helms only support the "opulent minority" candidates in Haiti.

Just as in 1990 when President Aristide was first elected, there is now a campaign to destabilize and isolate the Haitian government and discredit it in the international media. In 1990, this campaign contributed to the violent overthrow of Haiti's elected government and the deaths of 5000 Haitians during three years of military rule.

You can contact the Bay Area's Haiti Action Committee:


Sources: Laura Flynn and Robert Roth of the Haiti Action Committee, April 4, 2001.


Marin Interfaith Task Force on Central America . P.O. Box 2481, Mill Valley, CA 94942 · 415-924-3227 · 4 April 2001

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