Ezili Danto wrote:One et Respe to all: Aristide's Betrayal: US Free Zone displaces Haitian farmers
One et Respe to all:
I spoke too soon…
I was encouraged by reading the histories of African strongman, like Robert Mugabe, Charles Taylor and Jonas Savimbi, Laurent Kabila and Foday Sankoh (Category Zero opportunists) posing as "freedom fighters" and favorably comparing the Lavalas government and Aristide to date. But that was yesterday, I said…."Not yet." I believed then Aristide(Category Zero - unwilling opportunist/collaborator) had not yet FULLY taken on the backward, profit-over-people white-privileged policies of the IMF/World Bank/USAID and US Embassy (Category One.)
And, I hoped that if Aristide was forced to, he would do so measurably, gradually and with less human suffering, more activist involvement, more people empowerment than we see in Africa, India, Latin
America and the Caribbean. But, it's not too late to revisit my assessment. I said, "not yet...."
But I was wrong. (See, http://www.haitiforever.com/forum/viewt ... highlight= Post dated Tue Aug 05, 2003 6:04 pm Post subject: Concern: Ouanaminthe Free Zone – article submitted to The Sunday Times, By Jacqui Goddard in Ouanaminthe, Haiti. 5 July 2003)
Yesterday I wrote Aristide had to be judged based on his relationship with the majority of the people. Today I wonder what the people in the town of Ouanaminthe, who lost their farms and who are too old to get jobs at the Ouanaminthe Free Zone factories are suffering because of the Aristide government policies and its leadership failure to make proper restitution?
What is Aristide about? Just radical Black liberation rhetoric? Is he like Mugabe, Taylor and the deceased Jonas Savimbi simply manipulating the symbols of Black liberation to promote carnage, gender violence, arbitrary arrests, insec
urity and destruction across Haiti? This Free Zone will hire mainly Haitian women? Where will this lead our society. Will there be daycare for their children, healthy conditions in these sweatshops, protection from the hoardes of unemployed who will be preying on them? Where is Aristide leading these Haitian women? What about the displaced, out of work farmers and their families? How severe will the State repression be that will contain their legitimate discontent?
Speaking about Mugabe, Professor Campbell noted that "Radical rhetoric as a disguise for state repression has been developed into an art form by the leadership in Zimbabwe.
"(http://www.blackcommentator.com/51/51_zim_campbell.html ) Is this where Haiti is heading. Is it there already?
First off, can the Aristide government legitimately be asking for restitution from France when it is now in debt to these Ouanaminthe farmers? Isn't it squandering it's own moral standing just as Mugabe did? I do hope ameliorating steps are immedia
tely taken because we-Haitians did not come this far to go backwards.
For, if the reports one read are accurate, the Aristide Government has clearly stolen the land of Haitian farmers without due compensation or due process; clearly committed an injustice against the 54 farmers in the town of Ouanaminthe. For the land is our Bwa Kayiman inheritance, paid for in-blood, sweat and tears. To ignore the farmers pleas, to ignore Haitian civil society organizations and give Haitian lands up to the World Bank/IMF/Grupo M - Levi's, Gap, Tommy Hilfiger and Hugo Boss, et cetera, is a shocking and unspeakable betrayal of the mandate of the Haitian people to rule on behalf of the people. Pwen, no virgul.
Clearly the Aristide government has moved to the political center if not outright to the ultra Haitian right on this neoliberalization issue if the Free Trade Zone confiscation of farmers lands is any indication. This then, is the historical moment, Haitian progressives may clearly point to as the moment i
n time when Aristide, as the leader of Lavalas, no longer articulated the demands of the Haitian populous. This then is the moment in time when his leadership is becoming unworthy of the support of decent peoples everywhere. I hope his government makes amends quickly. For, with this so-called "Free Trade Zone", Aristide has rejected we of the anti-imperialist cadre and joined in and aligned his leadership with our enemies and their Haitian business forces and imperial agents.
This is a clear political leadership degeneration. It will have far-reaching degeneration affecting every aspect of Haitian society (environmental, overcrowding, improper handling of toxic waste, absence of health care and lack of proper conditions for factory worker in the Free Zone sweatshops). And, the fact that it's a so-called "people's government" instituting this degeneration is disappointing to the extreme. But it does follow the traditional repression model/blueprint - from Revolutionary leader to unwilling participant
in neoliberalism to outright collaborator just fighting to keep a job as the political honcho/feudal lord in charge, or keeping house, for Euro/US capitalist.
Naturally, our instincts are to fight against this degeneration and rally to the support of the farmers. This division will likely only make the ultra-Haitian-right opposition to Aristide stronger and lead to more compromises, more chaos, more militarization, more anti-democratic State action - leading to greater human loss and misery in Haiti. The old blueprint continues - unrolling as programmed.....
It is reported that:
"The lease of 65 hectares of prime agricultural land outside the town of Ouanaminthe near the border to the Dominican apparel company, Grupo M, has caused much controversy in Haiti. Local farmers and progressive organizations in Haiti are outraged that the Haitian government should authorize such a dubious development project."
Haitians don’t need this collaboration with the imperialist. It will only lea
d down the road to a Haitian Civil War that will then give the imperialist the excuse to come "restore order." No good will come of it if past sweatshop collaborations are any barometer. If the displacements in Africa, in Jamaica (http://www.lifeanddebt.org/), in Latin America for Free Trade Zones are any indications.
Soon, a few years from now, as the beleaguered factory workers at the Ouanaminthe Free Trade Zone, strike, we may be faced with imported Asian laborers into Haiti to salvage the white men’s businesses. Is this what Haitians fought for in 1986 until now? I beg a reconsideration, pronto.
For, as activists have noted, Free Trade Zones, such as the one in question will only lead to "a swift ghetto-isation of the Maribahoux area as cheap housing springs up and thousands pour in searching for work."
"The job creation rhetoric is propaganda," said Mr. Chalmers, founder of PAPDA, the Haitian Advocacy for an Alternative Development Programme. "They talk about jobs being created, no
t the jobs that are being lost. There will be a real human cost." We know this for sure!
"They should work with farmers to increase agricultural productivity and feed Haiti's people, rather than destroying the country's bread basket to benefit foreign investors." Yes indeed, they should!
Why has Aristide brought misery to this region? Don’t we-Haitians have enough to deal with already without anticipating the ghettorization of Haiti’s breadbasket region and the displacement of PRODUCTIVE farmers? WHY IS THE ARISTIDE GOVERNMENT FURTHER DESTROYING HAITI’S DOMESTIC ECONOMY for foreigners’ profit?
Has Aristide entered the third stage of our repressive model – from unwilling participant to outright collaborator, displacing the most exploited, ruining the environment and creating only crony capitalist to benefit from his new policies? What next? Greater security and military to keep forced Haitian labor humming along, to stop the factory workers from unionizing; to imprisoned Haitian farm squ
atters who should refuse to peacefully leave their lands?
As this is a joint venture with the Dominican Republic, shall the DR’s Haitian-hating-police-force be dispatched to keep the Haitian workers in order. You know, this repressive model is too old - it’s consequences to predictable for Aristide not to know. The only reason why this would go on is if Aristide has totally lost his head to his lust for power. Nothing else explains it. For if the IMF/World Bank said "you do this or we withhold money?" What else is new? As I’ve said before silence doesn’t help the Haitian people fight the imperialist. If we don’t know the story, we can only look at the model and the conclusion is that the suffering of the Ouanaminthe farmer means profit for Aristide with the IMF/World Bank people. The hype about creating jobs is as real as the hype was about "civilizing" Africa.
For the Ouanaminthe farmers, the damage has already been done. Now, is the time to STOP the bloodletting before it really starts.
Unless the displaced Ouanaminthe farmers are duly compensated, unions are organized, daycare provided and working conditions regulated in this so-called "Free Trade Zone" to protect the factory workers, this is nothing more than the Aristide government providing the imperialist with access to helpless unprotected slave labor in Haiti at the expense of further underdeveloping Haiti and Haitian society.
As one Haitian farmer who just lost his Bwa Kayiman lands to Aristide/US Corporate buddies succinctly puts it: "Land is your inheritance, but now I have none to hand over to my son. This was the pearl of Haiti, but what they are building on this land is misery" (Farmer Francis Bosse, 74). (See, http://www.haitiforever.com/forum/viewt ... highlight=)
"Grenadye a la so. Sa ki mouri za fe yayo. Nan pren manman, nen pren papa. Sa ki mouri za fe yayo. Grenadye a la so…..(Haitian Revolution Freedom Song.)
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