Operation SweatshopBy Chris Floyd, www.moscowtimes.ru
March 05, 2004
This week, the Bush administration added another violent "regime change" notch to its gunbelt, toppling the democratically elected president of Haiti and replacing him with an unelected gang of convicted killers, death squad leaders, militarists, narcoterrorists, CIA operatives, hereditary elitists and corporate predators -- a bit like Team Bush itself, in other words.
Although the Haiti coup was widely portrayed as an irresistible upsurge of popular discontent, it was of course the result of years of hard work by Bush's dedicated corrupters of democracy, as William Bowles reports in Information Clearinghouse. Bushist bagmen funded the political opposition to President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, smuggled guns to exiled Haitian warlords and carried out a relentless strangulation of the county, cutting off long-promised financial and structural aid to one of the poorest nations on earth until food prices were soaring, unemployment spiked to 70 percent and the broken-backed government lost control of society to armed gangs of criminals, fanatics and the merely desperate. Meanwhile, Haiti was forced to pay $2 million per month on debts run up by the murderous U.S.-backed dictatorships that ruled the island for decades after the American military occupation of 1915-1934.
The ostensible reason for Bush's deadly squeeze-play was Haiti's disputed elections in 2000. That vote, only the nation's third free election in 200 years, was indeed marred by reports of irregularities -- although these were not nearly as egregious as the well-documented hijinks which saw a certain runner-up candidate appointed to the White House that same year. There was no question that Aristide and his party received an overwhelming majority of legitimate votes; however, out of the 7,500 offices up for grabs, election observers did find that seven senate results seemed of dodgy provenance.
So what happened? The seven disputed senators resigned. New elections for the seats were called, but the opposition -- two elitist factions financed by Washington's favorite engines of subversion, the Orwellian-monikered "National Endowment for Democracy" and "International Republican Institute" -- refused to take part. The government broke down because the legislature couldn't convene. When Bush came in, he tightened the screws of the international blockade of the island, insisting that $500 million in desperately needed aid could not be released unless the opposition participated in new elections -- while he was simultaneously paying the opposition not to participate.
The ultimate aim of this brutal pretzel logic was to grind Haiti's destitute people further into the ground and destroy Aristide's ability to govern. His real crime, of course, was not the Florida-style election follies or the reported "tyranny." Bush loves that stuff -- witness his eager embrace of the nuke-peddling dictatorship of Pakistan, the human-boiling hardman of Uzbekistan, the torture-happy tyrant of Kazakhstan, the drug-running warlords of Afghanistan and so forth.
No, Aristide did something far worse than stuffing ballots or killing people -- he tried to raise the minimum wage to the princely sum of two dollars a day. This move outraged the American corporations -- and their local lackeys -- who have for generations used Haiti as a pool of dirt-cheap labor and sky-high profits. It was the last straw for the elitist factions, one of which is actually led by an American citizen and former Reagan-Bush appointee, manufacturing tycoon Andy Apaid.
Apaid was the point man for the Reagan-Bush "market reform" drive in Haiti. Of course, "reform," in the degraded jargon of the privateers, means exposing even the very means of survival and sustenance to the ravages of powerful corporate interests. For example, the Reagan-Bush plan forced Haiti to lift import tariffs on rice, which had long been a locally grown staple. Then they flooded Haiti with heavily subsidized American rice, destroying the local market and throwing thousands of self-sufficient farmers out of work. With a now-captive market, the American companies jacked up their prices, spreading ruin and hunger throughout Haitian society.
The jobless farmers provided new fodder for the factories of Apaid and his cronies. Reagan and Bush chipped in by abolishing taxes for American corporations who set up Haitian sweatshops. The result was a precipitous drop in wages -- and life expectancy. Aristide's first election in 1990 threatened these cozy arrangements, so he was duly ejected by a military coup, with Bush I's not-so-tacit connivance.
Bill Clinton restored Aristide to office in 1994 -- but only after forcing him to agree to, yes, "market reforms." In fact, it was Clinton, the privateers' pal, who instigated the post-election aid embargo that Bush II used to such devastating effect. Aristide's chief failing as a leader was his attempt to live up to this bipartisan blackmail. As in every other nation that's come under the IMF whip, Haiti's already-fragile economy collapsed. Bush family retainers like Apaid then shoved the country into total chaos, making it easy prey for the warlords whom Bush operatives -- many of them old Iran-Contra hands -- supplied with arms through the Dominican Republic, the Boston Globe reports.
When the terrorist warlords attacked last month, Bush flatly refused Aristide's plea for an international force to preserve Haiti's democracy. Instead, he sent armed men to "persuade" Aristide to resign. Within hours, the Bush-backed terrorists were marching through Port-au-Prince, executing Aristide's supporters, the NY Times reports.
Guess they won't be asking for two dollars a day now, eh? Mission accomplished!
Thus, just like his father, Bush has overthrown Aristide, and for the same reason: He represented a threat to their "natural order" -- unchecked rule by pampered, protected elites. Terrorism, despotism, torture, WMD trafficking: All of this can countenanced, even embraced. But Aristide's alternative -- democratic, capitalist, but with "a prejudice for the poor," as enjoined by the Gospels -- this evil can never be tolerated.
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