Global Voices Censored

An antidote to Global Voices Online

GLOBAL VOICES – Hello, what’s happening in Cuba and Venezuela?

Global Voices Online has not posted anything about Cuba for two weeks and it has been about 10 days since it published a post about Venezuela. Since GVO tends to use only three or four blogs to educate us about Cuba and Venezuela and these blogs are on the far right, I’m relieved when GVO has a drought.

Here at Global Voices Censored, we have plenty on Cuba, Venezuela and more. Go to the tag cloud to the right side of this blog and select a topic of interest. If you would like more in-depth analysis of current issues associated with Cuba, Venezuela, and Haiti, please go to: http://hcvanalysis.wordpress.com

February 3, 2008 Posted by | Africa, Cuba, Haiti, Imperialism, Latin America, US, Venezuela | | Leave a comment

LATIN AMERICA: US Policies Doomed to Fail – Book Review

“Left political alternatives,” writes Regalado, “will have to include the struggle for revolution.” And “the use of some type of revolutionary violence will be inevitable, because those holding power in the world will cling to it to the very end.”


BOOK REVIEW
U.S. policies doomed to fail in Latin America
By John Catalinotto
Published Jun 12, 2007 11:01 PM

Latin America at the Crossroads—Domination, Crisis, Popular Movements & Political Alternatives, by Roberto Regalado Álvarez, 2007, Ocean Press, 263 pages, available from leftbooks.com.

The Cuban Marxist economist Roberto Regalado, in the preface to the English edition of his book, takes note of the “challenge to write a book that deals with current-day events.” The December 2005 election of Evo Morales as president of Bolivia had forced him to revise the last two chapters before publication.

It is likely Regalado would now like the chance for another revision. Since he wrote those lines the Ecuadorans have elected leftist Rafael Correa president, Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega won the presidential election in Nicaragua and Hugo Chávez was re-elected by a landslide in revolutionary Venezuela. These new developments, however, only serve to establish Regalado’s main points:
• U.S. imperialism needs to exploit Latin America’s resources and labor even more mercilessly than it did in the period up to the late 1970s. It does this by imposing the policies of “neoliberalism”—essentially, using the state power to aid the banks and transnational corporations to concentrate capital while never using the state to aid poor and oppressed groups or individuals. Washington has tried to do this with minimum intervention, but this has turned out to be impossible; the U.S. is again intervening, subverting and threatening military intervention.
• Washington and the South American oligarchy have allowed the electoral arena to be open to more popular candidates with the plan of gaining a consensus of support for the system. The role of these parties is supposed to be to alternate with the right wing in administering the same neoliberal program. This has led to victories of left-leaning candidates and parties, which are unable to offer significant concessions to the workers and poor within the confines of the existing system.
• These changes, with a big impulse from the 1991 Zapatista uprising in Chiapas, Mexico, are nourishing a debate in the Latin American left. The potential for a struggle for a socialist alternative is gaining credibility, even if such a struggle is not on the order of the day; Colombia is the only country where an armed struggle is under way. This socialist alternative offers the only solution to the crisis of contemporary capitalism.

Regalado is currently the section chief in the Department of International Relations of the Cuban Communist Party. A former diplomat in the U.S. and Nicaragua, he has researched and written on Latin American politics since the 1970s. He also appears to be well acquainted with U.S. politics and even with developments in the U.S. progressive movement.

The book is effective on a few different levels. It summarizes the recent economic development of the worldwide imperialist system and especially in Latin America. It goes over Latin American history and reviews in detail the change in the type of imperialist domination and exploitation from the earlier part of the 20th century to the period since the mid-1970s.

It reviews the political struggles within the Latin American left—the social movements, social-democratic parties and the broad electoral fronts that have led to the elections of “left” candidates or parties in Brazil, Uruguay, Bolivia and Venezuela. The next edition will undoubtedly include Ecuador and Nicaragua.

Regalado also makes a devastating critique of the role of European social democracy and the parties of the Second International, especially those that, like British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Labour Party, welcomed their new role as administering social cutbacks. In the immediate post-World-War-II period, these parties ran ‘’welfare states” to counter the challenge from the socialist camp, and claimed they would change capitalism. But, Regalado notes:

“It was not social democracy that reformed capitalism, but capitalism that reformed social democracy. This was clear, since by the end of the 1970s, social democracy was participating in dismantling the welfare state and functioning as the spearhead of European imperialism in the South.”

The author discusses the conflicts between socialist Cuba and the U.S., and briefly discusses the Caribbean, but focuses on Latin America. It would be interesting to see what he would write about the U.S. war on Iraq and the impact of the Iraqi resistance on Washington’s ability to intervene in South America, if that were within the scope of the book.

The dilemma the U.S. faces is that the neoliberal scenario continually narrows popular support for the system and its institutions. It wipes out the middle class and impoverishes workers. Thus imperialism is finding it necessary to intervene more directly, as in Haiti and Venezuela, in the Mexican election, etc. While at present the conditions don’t exist for a struggle for socialism, the continued deterioration of living conditions and the threat to humanity from the crisis of capitalism will soon raise this question anew.

“Left political alternatives,” writes Regalado, “will have to include the struggle for revolution.” And “the use of some type of revolutionary violence will be inevitable, because those holding power in the world will cling to it to the very end.”

This conclusion, while not new in classical Marxist literature, bears repetition in this post-Soviet period. To understand how Regalado comes to it, it’s best to read his book.


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February 3, 2008 Posted by | Africa, Bolivia, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, EU, Haiti, Imperialism, Latin America, Mexico, Nicaragua, US, Venezuela | , , , , | Leave a comment

UN “Peacekeepers” Accused of Human Rights Violations in Haiti

http://americas.irc-online.org/am/4905

Excerpt from article:

“Another violent military operation occurred in July 2005, when an estimated 22,000 bullet holes were found after an operation by MINUSTAH in Cite Soleil. Reports by HIP cited accounts by residents that the wounded and dead were found inside their own homes. These accounts charge that soldiers shot at people indiscriminately, which had devastating effects in a neighborhood where housing conditions are extremely precarious.”

My Comment: The author, Maria Luisa Mendonca, is a human rights representative from Brazil which is especially important because the UN mission in Haiti is led by Brazil. Further, in the July 2005 attack described above, between 300-400 UN soldiers participated and included numerous armored personnel carriers and helicopters. The July 6 attack was indeed a massacre. If interested in reading more about this attack, please see an article I wrote about it entitled, “July 6, 2005: Haiti, The Gaza Strip of the Caribbean.”

Americas Program Commentary

UN Troops Accused of Human Rights Violations in Haiti

Maria Luisa Mendonça | January 21, 2008

Americas Program, Center for International Policy (CIP)

americas.irc-online.org

The UN Security Council decided in October 2007 to extend the mandate of the MINUSTAH (United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti) through Oct. 15, 2008. The Brazilian Government is responsible for coordinating the MINUSTAH forces that include approximately 9,000 troops. Yet there is very little discussion in Brazil about the country’s role in the occupation of Haiti, and especially, about the accusations leveled against the UN troops for their participation in human rights violations.

One of the cases documented by Haitian human rights organizations was that of the massacre that took place on Dec. 22, 2006 in the Cite Soleil area of Port-au-Prince, following a protest by some 10,000 people who demanded the return of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and the withdrawal of foreign military forces. According to reports by local residents and video footage recorded by the Haiti Information Project, the UN forces attacked the community and killed about 30 people, including women and children.

In response to the criticism by human rights organizations that denounced those killings, MINUSTAH justified its actions by claiming that it was combating gangs in Cite Soleil. However, the images shot by Haiti Information Project show that UN troops shot unarmed civilians from helicopters. Inter Press Service, which covered the conditions in the area immediately following the attack, reported finding high-caliber bullet holes in many homes. HIP director Kevin Pina accused MINUSTAH of participating together with the Haitian National Police in summary executions and arbitrary arrests. He concluded, “In this context, it is hard to continue seeing the UN mission as an independent and neutral force in the country.”

Camille Chalmers, a Haiti University professor and member of the Haitian Platform for Social Movement Integration, explained in an interview with journalist Claudia Korol of the Adital Agency: “MINUSTAH tried to build legitimacy by saying that it is fighting criminals. But many people realize that the only things that can truly reduce the lack of safety are public policies and social services. Unfortunately, what we have is a violent military apparatus.”

Another violent military operation occurred in July 2005, when an estimated 22,000 bullet holes were found after an operation by MINUSTAH in Cite Soleil. Reports by HIP cited accounts by residents that the wounded and dead were found inside their own homes. These accounts charge that soldiers shot at people indiscriminately, which had devastating effects in a neighborhood where housing conditions are extremely precarious.

These accounts also charged that MINUSTAH did not allow the Red Cross to enter the area—a violation of the Geneva Convention. U.S. Government confidential documents, obtained by human rights organizations through the Freedom of Information Act, show that the American Embassy knew that the UN troops planned an attack on Cite Soleil. Local community organizations believe that the goal of the military was to prevent a demonstration commemorating ousted president Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s birthday, which was on July 15.

A report by Project Censored estimates that more than 1,000 members of Lavalas, a loose organization that groups supporters of Aristide, were arrested and about 8,000 people killed during the “interim government” that ran the country from 2004 to 2006, following the coup against Aristide on Feb. 29, 2004.

Camille Chalmers characterizes this action as an “intervention led by the governments of the United States and France.” He further explains that “solidarity with the people of Haiti means helping to rebuild the country and find answers to the most pressing social problems, and the military presence does not help. The goals of security and human rights have not been met. On the contrary, we believe that the presence of MINUSTAH constitutes a violation of the Haitian people’s right to self determination.”

On Feb. 2, 2007 UN troops conducted another operation in Cite Soleil that resulted in the deaths of two young women who were sleeping in their homes. On Feb. 7, various demonstrations took place in the country, and on Feb. 9 there was another military attack, which was denounced by local organizations such as the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti.

On Oct. 30, 2007, the kidnapping of Dr. Maryse Narcisse, who is a member of the national leadership of Lavalas and worked with health and education social programs in Haiti, was made public. Another member of Lavalas, the psychologist and human rights activist Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine, disappeared on Aug. 12. Local organizations accuse the UN troops of generating public instability and attacking those who defend democracy and human rights.

The Brazilian Bar Association (Ordem dos Advogados do Brasil, OAB) led an observation mission to Haiti in late June 2007 and concluded that MINUSTAH plays a “violent” and “repressive” role that cannot be characterized as a “humanitarian action.” Anderson Bussinger Carvalho, the lawyer responsible for the report, called for the withdrawal of Brazilian troops from Haiti. “I have concluded that the presence of Brazilian troops is not humanitarian. It is a strictly military mission. Haiti has a history of military occupations and Brazil ends up playing a role in this history,” said Carvalho in an interview with the newspaper A Folha de São Paulo (Sept. 4, 2007).

The role played by Latin American countries in Haiti today is similar to the one played by the multilateral forces that stayed in the Dominican Republic following the invasion by the United States in 1965. The Dominican Republic suffered under a long military dictatorship that lasted until 1961 when longtime dictator Rafael Trujillo died.

In 1962 Juan Bosch was elected president but was deposed by a military coup after seven months in power. In April 1965, a series of widespread demonstrations demanded the return of ex-president Juan Bosch. It was during that time that U.S. President Lyndon Johnson ordered a military invasion of the Dominican Republic by 20,000 marines. A few weeks after the invasion, the Organization of American States sent in the Inter-American Peace Force of 1,129 soldiers. During that period, while Brazil was under a military dictatorship, the role of Brazilian troops in the Dominican Republic was similar to the one they play in Haiti today.

According to the North American writer Norman Solomon, writing in his book War Made Easy: “In retrospect, the 1965 invasion of the Dominican Republic foreshadowed a series of U.S. military actions in the Western hemisphere and beyond. Covert intervention by the CIA in Latin America was as constant as the seasons, the overwhelming arrival of so many U.S. troops in the small country was a kind of political and media prototype for a pair of lightning strike invasions in the 1980s—Grenada and Panama—as well as, in more complicated ways, the relatively limited military interventions in Haiti during the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations. In each case, the man living in the White House found ways to set the media agenda for public approval to affirm the kind of desire expressed by Lyndon Johnson to Assistant Secretary of State Mann: ‘We’re going to have to really set up that government down there and run it and stabilize it some way or other.'”

The experience of Brazilian troops in Haiti was described by soldier Tailon Ruppenthal in his book A Brazilian Soldier in Haiti (Globo Publishing). He was 20 years old in 2004 when he took part in the UN mission for six months. “Even today, more than two years since I got back to Brazil and left the Army, I can’t forget what I saw there. Once when I was on foot patrol, I saw something far away that looked like a pig that that had been completely burnt. As I got closer, I started to shake and almost lost control before a horrifying sight: it wasn’t a pig, but a child around three years old,” recounts Ruppenthal in his book.

“A soldier must have courage above all. But the collective depression starts to spread, and after a few months even getting out of bed is hard. You remember that you will cross paths with all those people who are starving but there’s nothing you can do,” writes Ruppental.

In another part of the book Ruppenthal describes what happened during a visit from then UN Secretary Koffi Annan: “The shooting was petrifying. There were bullets flying everywhere. You couldn’t tell from where in the slum the bullets were coming and so the soldiers started to shoot blindly, setting off the biggest barrage of bullets that I experienced in the peace mission. The whole situation was out of control, and within one or two minutes bullets were flying from every direction.”

When Ruppenthal returned to Brazil his behavior changed. “I was very aggressive and started to drink a lot. My mom noticed how much I had changed, and we found a doctor who diagnosed post-traumatic syndrome. I would need to receive psychological help. We approached the Army, but they refused to help me, claiming that they examined me upon my return and found nothing wrong with me.” And he sums up, “And I just would like to remind everyone that we are losing the real war: against poverty … Only the fight against poverty will bring peace. When will they see that?”

Unfortunately, Ruppenthal’s opinion and the many criticisms of the negative role the UN troops play in Haiti are not taken into account by the Brazilian government. The Brazilian government’s policy in relation to Haiti serves to legitimize a coup d’etat and strengthen U.S. interests in the region.

Maria Luisa Mendonça is a journalist and coordinates the Network on Social Justice and Human Rights in Brazil.

January 22, 2008 Posted by | Africa, Canada, France, Haiti, Imperialism, NED, United Nations, US, USAID | , , | Leave a comment

Haiti-Cuba-Venezuela: Nothing Recent on Global Voices Online, But Maybe That’s Best

GVO has had almost no posts on these three countries since the end of last year. So, this gives me a chance to share a substantive article on each country rather than the usual GVO fare: recipes for the holiday, having hope at Christmas time, or right-wing rants about Cuba and Venezuela. Happy New Year all.

HAITI: “Disturbing the Peace in Haiti and New Orleans,” by Brian Concannon

Excerpt:

“Fr. Gerard Jean-Juste, a Catholic priest from Haiti, just does not know when to shut up. In the 1970s he saw his people starved and persecuted while Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier lived in opulence, so he organized for change. The Duvalier regime responded as dictatorships do, and kicked him out of the country.

When he reached Miami, Fr. Gerry saw that the safety he found there did not extend to immigrants locked up in detention centers or sent back to face torture or worse in Haiti and countries like it. So he organized there for change. He founded Florida’s Haitian Refugee Center to bring the struggle for justice to the U.S. courts, and coordinated demonstrations to bring the struggle to the streets.

The United States responded as democracies should: It let Fr. Gerry do his work, as long as he did not break the law. He did not win all the battles here that he should have – our laws and our courts are not perfect. But he was at least able to criticize and mobilize without fear of persecution, and sometimes even win.

Bill Quigley, a Catholic law professor from New Orleans, cannot stop helping people organizing for change. He has been a leading advocate for the victims of Katrina since he weathered the storm in a New Orleans hospital where his wife Debbie, a nurse, works, trying to help. The hospital patients did not need a lawyer then, but the families still without homes and the kids still without good schools need one now, so Bill is busy. In 30 years of public interest lawyering, Bill has stood up for a whole spectrum of people fighting for social justice, including peace protestors, death-row inmates and advocates for fair education, healthcare and housing.”

CUBA: “Cuban Survivor of Guernica Massacre Tells the Story”

VENEZUELA: “Venezuela: A Dictionary of Euphemisms of the Liberal Opposition”

Venezuela: A Dictionary of Euphemisms of the Liberal Opposition


January 7, 2008 Posted by | Cuba, Haiti, Imperialism, Latin America, US, Venezuela | , , , , | Leave a comment

Global Voices Online Misses Haitian Independence Day – January 1

GVO’s featured Haiti blog for the 1st day of January is Pwoje Espwa which offers a prayer for the new year. Haiti needs more than a prayer as it remains under occupation on the 204th anniversary of the country’s independence. In an attempt to bring to readers’ attention that this is Independence Day for Haiti and that all is not well, I posted the following note to the GVO website.

Today, January 1, is the 204th anniversary of Haitian independence. In late November 1803, Haitian slaves, led by Jean-Jacques Dessalines, achieved victory in a twelve year war for independence from the French and sent Napoleon’s army packing. The victory by the Haitian slaves resulted in the establishment of the first independent black republic. But, over the next 200 years, the international community interfered numerous times in Haiti’s internal affairs, especially France and the US.

Today, Haiti is under occupation by the United Nations, a force formed under the direction of the US, France and Canada. I am providing you with a URL for a two part photo essay/article by Wadner Pierre, a young Haitian freelance journalist in Haiti. The article, written in February 2007, chronicles the effects of the current occupation on one of the poorest neighborhoods in Port-au-Prince, Cite Soleil. The photos are incredible and the story is very compelling.

I couldn’t let January 1 pass without acknowledging Haiti’s Independence Day and encouraging everyone to learn more about Haiti.

Check out Wadner Pierre’s two-part story “Brutalized and Abandoned: Residents of Cite Soleil Speak Out”

If interested in checking out this young journalist’s blog:
http://wadnerpierre.blogspot.com

Also, for background on Haiti since the 2004 coup that resulted in the kidnapping of the president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, please go to: http://hcvanalysis.wordpress.com

January 1, 2008 Posted by | Canada, France, Haiti, Imperialism, US | , , , , | Leave a comment

HAITI: “Christmas in Hell” by John Maxwell

Because of my interest in Haiti, it was one of the first things that I looked up on Global Voices Online. What a disappointment. Most of its blog entries were from a blog for an organization called “Haiti Innovation.” Supposedly, Haiti Innovation is an NGO staffed by former Peace Corps workers in Haiti. I’m not sure about the nature of their work, but in their blog posts never once reflected the fact that Haiti had a coup d’etat in 2004 and since then between 8,000 and 10,000 people have been killed.

I wrote GVO a few times to give them the URL for a blog written by a young Haitian journalist who is doing some very insightful writing about Haiti – the UN occupation, the new government, the poor, etc. GVO never picked up on Wadner Pierre’s blog.

NOW, for the main attraction. John Maxwell, who writes a column for the Jamaica Observer called “Common Sense,” has a way of hitting nails directly on the head. He reminds us of things we should never forget. He leads us down paths we might never choose. He reveals connections we thought didn’t exist. Most of all, for me, he NEVER forgets Ayiti.

CHRISTMAS IN HELL -John Maxwell

Common Sense

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Christmas in Jamaica is bad enough. One good thing about Christmas Day is that it means the end of weeks of aural assaults by mindless rhymesters perverting songs of worship to paeans of praise for hucksters of all kinds, from shopkeepers to banks, from auto-parts dealers to purveyors of cheap, non-returnable, eminently breakable, non-biodegradable trash tricked out in plastic, tinsel and lead paint to lure innocent children and entrap their parents.

And, as a bonus, there are the sound-system parties, which allow you to dance in your own home to music played two miles away.

AN ALTERNATIVE SCENARIO

If you think this is bad, consider another scenario.

Consider that you are a citizen of another land, one steeped in history – a history of resistance to oppression, a history that includes the first proclamation on earth that all people were equal, including women and children.

This land, which for convenience we’ll call Ayiti, was introduced to Christianity by a bunch of marauding savages bearing swords and caparisoned in the fierce colours of their leader, a Genoese adventurer named Cristobal Colon, aka Christopher Columbus. This character had induced Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand, the monarchs of two Spanish kingdoms – Aragon and Castile – to bet their farms on the discovery of a new route to China, then as now, the fabulous land of magical herbs, spices and other goods, which would make life bearable for the inhabitants of Europe, just emerging from the Dark Ages.

Our hero had managed to convince Ferdinand and Isabella, on the basis of a map obtained from an African who claimed to know the way to China aka Cipangu. If the Spanish got to Cipangu before their European cousins, great wealth and power would be theirs; all the tea in China would be theirs for the asking, in addition to carpets, silks and luxuries only dreamt of in Europe.

When Columbus’ “doom-burdened caravels” hove to in Ayiti, the million or so people who welcomed him could never have guessed that they would soon be history.

Within 30 years, the populations of the West Indies had been so reduced that in the four larger islands, now re-christened the Greater Antilles, less than a thousand remained alive in 1519. This is according to the testimony of Bartolomeo de las Casas, a Spanish monk who came with the conquistadors and was an eyewitness to the conquest. Another historian, Gonzalo Oviedo, estimated that of the one million Indians on Ayiti when the Spaniards arrived, less than 500 remained half a century later- the “natives and . the progeny and lineage ” of those who first occupied the land.

‘They died in heaps, like bedbugs .’

In the Caribbean and in Mexico, Peru and Colombia, smallpox and other diseases introduced by the Spaniards killed the ‘Indians’ by the million. Relatively small Spanish expeditions were able to conquer huge empires because the native populations were swept away by diseases, to which they had never been exposed and for which they had no immunity.

Toribio Motolina, another Spanish priest, wrote that in most provinces in Mexico “more than one-half the population died; in others the proportion was a little less; they died in heaps, like bedbugs.”

More than 100 years after Motolina, a German missionary writing in 1699, said the so-called Indians “die so easily that the bare look and smell of a Spaniard causes them to give up the ghost.”

The destruction of the ‘American Indian’ populations and cultures has meant an incalculable loss to human ethnic and cultural diversity. It was they who gave us words like barbecue, canoe, hammock, and hurricane, and crops like corn, potatoes, cassava, and tomatoes.

The people of ancient Egypt, the pyramid builders seem very far away in time; the Olmecs, Maya, Aztecs, and Incas, who also built pyramids and played games very much like basketball, soccer and Jai alai, seem much closer.

To Jamaicans and people of the Caribbean, the sense of loss is almost palpable in relation to the lost civilisations of Africa, destroyed by the slave trade, which, like globalisation, set brother against brother, tribe against tribe and nation against nation.

Africa was targeted because the Europeans knew that their own people could not survive for long in the hot, humid, mosquito-ridden Indies and that sugar, replacing gold as the commodity most likely to make men rich, was too hard a work for them.

Turning to Africa meant the devastation of many ancient civilisations – many disappearing almost without trace, further impoverishing mankind’s cultural diversity and robbing Africa of the populations and skills it needed for its own development.

Although the Europeans found large quantities of gold, silver and copper in the ‘New World’, gold was never as lucrative as sugar and the cotton and rubber extracted from the plantations of the Americas. And nothing was as lucrative as the slave trade.

As Sybille Fischer remarks in her book Modernity Disavowed: “Colonialism in the Caribbean had produced societies where brutality combined with licentiousness in ways unknown in Europe.

The sugar plantations in the New World were expanding rapidly and had an apparently limitless hunger for slaves.”

‘A WRETCH LIKE ME!’

One of the modern Jamaicans’ favourite hymns at funerals is Amazing Grace penned by a slave trader after he retired from the trade, rich and comfortable. It was his way of atoning for his crimes, and perhaps, of saying thanks to God.

Nothing can atone for the misery and degradation imposed on the 25 million or more people transported into slavery or the millions more slaughtered when they fought to avoid capture. Nothing can atone for 500 years of racist victimisation, nor the 500 years of brutality and dangerous behaviours, beaten, inculcated and burned into the psyches of the enslaved and their descendants.

The inhabitants of Ayiti, now almost all African, like the people of all the enslaved islands and lands of the Americas, were engaged in an unending struggle to destroy slavery.

In Suriname, in Barbados, and Grenada, in the United States of America, in Nicaragua and in the Caribbean the slaves rose time after time to break their chains.

In Jamaica, they had some success. The Maroons fought the much better armed British to a standstill and wrested from them a treaty of non-aggression and non-interference in 1739. It was a treaty soon broken by the British.

Desperation and the will to be free fuelled the Tacky rebellion of 1760. This rebellion dwarfed the Maroon Wars and was an islandwide conspiracy, which lasted six months. The aims of the leaders included driving out the white population, and partitioning Jamaica into principalities in the tradition of the Akan-speaking Koromanti who were at the heart of the rebellion.

One of them, a man called Bouckman, fled to Ayiti when the rebellion was finally crushed. There, in Ayiti, he ignited a struggle for freedom, which ended with the expulsion of the last foreign soldiers from Ayisien soil.

In 1804, after 10 years of warfare, the rebel slaves and their free allies defeated the armies of Napoleon (twice), and of Britain and Spain. Dessalines declared Ayiti independent and free and declared the country a refuge from slavery anywhere.

He also pronounced the first known declaration of universal human rights, giving legal equality to all human beings, men, women, and children. More…

It was 144 years later, in 1948, that the world caught up with Ayiti in producing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Next December 10, almost exactly a year from now, the world will celebrate the 60th anniversary of the United Nations proclamation of the Universal Declaration.

The preamble to the Declaration is not very well known. It goes like this:

“Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice, and peace in the world,

Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts, which have outraged the conscience of mankind;

And the advent of a world, in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,

Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,

Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,

Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,

Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,

Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realisation of this pledge,

“Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms, and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.”

The declaration then proceeds to list the basic principles of the declaration beginning with Article 1, which says that:
“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

And it continues to explain in Article 2 that

“Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional, or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty”.

The declaration is intended to be universal, as was Dessalines’ declaration in 1804. Unfortunately, for us there are billions of people in this world including many in this country, who do not enjoy all the benefits of this universal declaration.

But some are much worse off than others. Among those are the people of Iraq, of Palestine, and right next door to us, the people of Ayiti, that imaginary place where slavery was abolished by the slaves themselves.

In Ayiti, aka Haiti, these rights, and the Universal Declaration do not apply.

Rather like the captured Islamists in neighbouring Guantanamo Bay, a little to their northwest, the Haitians, all 8 million of them, live in a concentration camp.

The Haitian version is designed to stifle their freedoms and liberties and engineered to prevent them from being led by leaders of their own choice.

Nearly four years after US Marines landed there for the third time in 100 years, the freely elected president of Ayiti is an exile in South Africa.

He was kidnapped from the presidential palace by US Marines led by the US Ambassador to Haiti and transported, as “cargo” with his family to the Central African Republic – the American idea of hell on earth. From there he was rescued in a mission led by the black US congresswoman Maxine Waters and TransAfrica founder Randall Robinson.

They chartered a plane and headed off to the Central African Republic themselves to bring President Aristide and his wife Mildred and their two daughters back to the Caribbean. It took them hours of negotiating with the country’s dictator to get him to release the Aristides.

President Aristide came to Jamaica where the government felt constrained by tradition and popular sentiment, to welcome him, but found itself unable to resist US pressure to get him out of the Caribbean.

Aristide’s sin was to want to fulfil the mission of his ancestors, to build a paradise on the dungheap left behind by Haiti’s colonisers and exploiters.

Nearly four years later a Haitian president is in office, but Aristide’s and his people’s enemies are in power.

The country is ruled by the US Ambassador, and is policed by a so-called United Nations force – MINUSTAH whose second commander, a Brazilian general, killed himself after a friendly chat with leaders of the Haitian elite.

MINUSTAH’s only distinctions are killing a large number of women and children in their pursuit of so-called bandits who seem to be mainly pro-Aristide youth, and the rape and other sexual abuse of young Haitian children, some as young as ten.

A DREAD OF BLACK FREEDOM

From the earliest days as an independent nation, the Americans have feared and dreaded Haiti. As an asylum for escaped slaves, it threatened the slave system in the American south. And after France extorted billions of dollars in gold from Haiti in ‘compensation’ for the loss of capital (slaves) and land, in Haiti, the US lent money to the Haitians to pay the debt and ruined them with the interest.

As I have said before: while arms never subdued Haiti, it was defeated by the power of financiers in a sinister preview of the modern tactics of the IMF and the World Bank.

Despite all the harassment, the 10,000 murders of activists and leaders, the Haitian people, united in the Fanmi Lavalas, have continued to support their leaders and their culture. A few months ago, one of their leaders, Dr Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine, was kidnapped after a meeting with some Americans. He has not been heard from since. A few weeks later another leader, Dr Marlyse Narcisse, was kidnapped but released when there was a tremendous howl of Haitian and international outrage that apparently embarrassed the powers that rule Haiti. And so, the Haitians survive, without rights, at the mercy of a United Nations corrupted and intimidated by the power of the United States, Canada, and France acting in concert.

The United States, Canada, France, and Haiti all signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.

They all agreed that “. disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts, which have outraged the conscience of mankind”, and they promised to make the world a more civilised place.

The spectacle of these three self-styled democracies combining to crush the rights and hopes of eight million poor people is obscene, but perhaps not as revolting as the fact that Haiti’s relatives and friends in the Caribbean, Jamaica and the others, but especially Jamaica, can sit and watch the Haitians’ sojourn in hell as if they were watching a Disney fantasia or a Christmas pantomime.

Copyright©2007 John Maxwell
jankunnu@gmail.com

December 30, 2007 Posted by | Canada, France, Haiti, Latin America, US | , , , , | Leave a comment