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Of all the nations in the western hemisphere, none is more impoverished than
Such racist assumptions ignore the realities.
"As has happened throughout the developing world, the application of neoliberal policies quickly disrupted the small-scale farming that formed the base of the economy, driving many Haitians out of the countryside. Some ended up in the new low-wage assembly plants that were churning out everything from clothes to major league baseballs for the U.S. market under the 1983 Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI) trade legislation; others sought economic refuge in the United States itself.”Haitians developed a new pro-democracy movement to counter their oppression; finally overthrowing the Duvaliers in 1986, though, they were soon under siege by five years of coups and counter-coups. American attempts to install Marc Bazin as a more permanent collaborator failed with the landslide election of charismatic populist priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Aristide was initially hailed—at least in public—by the
As Noam Chomsky said in a speech in Chicago in 1994, despite supposed US sanctions against Haiti, the US Treasury Department instructed Texaco to ignore the sanctions and their legal punishments--in Chomsky’s words, “Shell and Exxon shipped oil there from their foreign subsidiaries, but Texaco was doing it directly from the U.S. They asked if it was OK to set up a blind trust, and were told that was illegal, but again not to worry about it.” Chomsky also reports that US-Haiti trade actually increased under the sanctions.
So much for the myth that Bill Clinton had an affinity for Black people.
If it were possible, things went downhill after that. Despite invading Haiti with the supposed aim of restoring Aristide and his populist revolution, the US spent years actively undermining him and his government’s plans for development. The Haiti Action Committee notes that "Since 2000, the Bush Administration has effectively blocked more than $500 million in international loans and aid to Haiti. This included a $146 million loan package from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) intended for healthcare, education, transportation and potable water. Under the terms of the loan agreement, Haiti paid fees and interest totalling more than $5 million long before seeing any money. Since December 2001, the Haitian gourde has lost 69% of its value and Haiti’s foreign reserves have shrunk by 50%, largely due to the embargo.”
The dramatic end to the Aristide revolution came in spring 2004, when the
Tonight we’ll hear from several sources on the subject. In the second half of the show, marchers in a February 7th mobilisation in
Apollon is the elected leader of the Women’s Commission of a trade union called the Confédération des Travailleurs Haitiens (CTH). Members of the CTH are generally so impoverished that the union is almost entirely volunteer-run, since few of its members can pay dues. Indeed, the daily legal minimum wage is a mere $1.20 US.
Still, despite labour repression, the CTH claims a membership of 110,000 among nurses, the ports and the garment industry, and is currently developing a series of social programs for health, education and economic development. Ginette Apollon rose to international prominence as a representative of the CTH following the
Despite a massive influx of Western money since the overthrow, Haitians are still suffering under local and imported brutality, and without sufficient education, health care or decent jobs. Canadians might ask why our government helps undermine and eventually overthrow others, and does little to nothing to help the poorest people in our hemisphere.
If the Liberal and Conservative governments have overseen Canadian money going into
I spoke with Madame Apollon yesterday at the Varscona Hotel in Old Strathcona, prior to a speech she delivered that evening at Faculté St. Jean. Translation was provided by Marie Gervais of the Northern Alberta Alliance on Race Relations. And now on The Terrordome, my conversation with Ginette Apollon of the Confederation of Haitian Workers.
Apollon’s speaking tour was organised by the Canada-Haiti Action Network and has been endorsed by scores of national, provincial and local trade unions across Canada including the Canadian Labour Congress, Canadian Union of Postal Workers, Public Service Alliance of Canada, and the National Union of Public and General Employees. It was sponsored locally by APIRG, the Alberta Public Interest Research Group (APIRG) and the Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA).
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