To the Editor, The Montclarion:
The Clinton Administration says the US invasion of Haiti means to "stop human rights abuses" and "restore democracy." Recently published research *, however, reveals that this is a smokescreen for the real purposes, which are economic. The US invasion not only hurts Haitian workers; it hurts US workers too!
Interviewed by investigative reporter Allan Nairn, American government and military officials involved in planning the inva- sion stated that its purpose it to prevent any kind of popular movement arising that might fight for the kind of reforms which Haitian President Aristide promised when elected in 1990: raising the minimum wage and a social-security insurance system.
Aristide was overthrown because these reforms would raise the cost of labor, and so lower the profits of the tiny class of wealthy Haitian landowners and businessmen. The Haitian army's only job is to keep Haitian workers and peasants terrorized, killing anyone who tries to organize for reform.
And that's why the US is invading now -- to preserve this large pool of cheap labor. To keep the labor cheap, no popular movement -- no farmworkers' organizations, no trade unions inde- pendent of the government or the employer -- will be permitted to arise, say the US officials interviewed by Nairn.
The Haitian army was set up by the U.S. during the American occupation of 1915-1934. All its murderous leaders have been trained in the US. The Clinton Administration has recently admit- ted that these generals were still on the CIA payroll after overthrowing the only democratically elected government Haiti ever had. Now US officials state that the army will be retrained but left intact. Over 5,000 members of Aristide's popular movement have been killed since his overthrow, but the US has prom- ised amnesty to all the murderers.
Why is all this bad for us here? Jobs and wages! More US companies will move operations to a Haiti where unions and reform movements are outlawed. More US workers will become unemployed. Further, the presence of pools of cheap labor nearby holds down wage and benefit increases in the US for those who do have work, since an employer can always use the threat to move abroad in order to discourage demands for higher salaries and benefits.
"Who are we going back [to Haiti] to save?" said Major Louis Kernisan, one of the US military experts on Haiti: "... the same folks as before, the five families that run the country, the military and the bourgeoisie." And why? Axel Peuker, a World Bank Haiti desk officer, told Nairn: "this will mean a chance to make Haiti interesting for foreign investors."
The mainstream US media are hiding this from us, as they always do. But the brutality of the Haitian military and upper classes towards Haitian workers has started to sow the seed of doubt in many minds. "I think we're working with the wrong side here," a 19-year-old US private recently told the New York Times.
American imperialism in Haiti not only hurts most Haitians; it hurts us, too. No more help to the fascist Haitian military and ruling class! US out of Haiti!
Grover Furr, English Department
[Sources: Allan Nairn's articles The Nation, October 3, and Multinational Monitor, July/Aug 1994]
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