Latin American Leaders Support the
Coup in Haiti
a coup d'etat planned, coordinated, and executed by the most reactionary
elements in Haiti, with the substantial material support of the governments
of the United States and its ever-obedient Dominican Republic, the
proud nation of Haiti is again under foreign military occupation.
The shameful fact, however, is that this time the occupation is being
carried out by not only by the French, whose savage imperial history
there is well known, and by the Canadians (perennial handmaidens of
the US), but by Argentina, Brazil, and Chile--three nations who have
themselves been victimized by the covert operations establishment
of the United States, and governments who are making the now-specious
claim that they are "progressive."
The Haitian people and their popular
organizations are utterly astonished by this grotesque betrayal and
unabashed political opportunism. More than one Haitian with whom I
spoke while there for three weeks in June posed the question: How
will these allegedly leftist governments respond when and if we attack
This was not a rhetorical question.
Almost everyone with whom I spoke said
explicitly that they would welcome such an attack as a needed catalyst
to initiate another general uprising. The spectrum of opinion on this
question ranged from those who merely asserted that attacking occupiers
was a right, to those who said it will become a patriotic duty. In
the interest of full disclosure, I did not speak with the macouto-bourgeois
faction in Port-au-Prince who had been on the payroll of the US Embassy,
via the International Republican Institute and the National Endowment
In fact, I spoke with few urban dwellers
at all. On this trip, it seemed appropriate -- given the demagogy
about democracy with which we are constantly assailed -- to go where
the Haitian majority lives: the countryside. I encountered not a single
peasant (at least in the Central Plateau) who accepted Latortue or
anyone else in the de facto government appointed by the United States.
They regard them not even with fear, but with derision as fools. What
might surprise those unfamiliar with Haiti was how well many peasants
understand the paradox of these Latin American occupiers. Almost all
had heard of the landless peasants' movement in Brazil, and wondered
if these kinds of formations in Latin America might not rise up against
their own governments for participating in the consolidation of the
coup d'etat in Haiti.
The timing of this coup d'etat--Haitians
believe, and I agree--on the bicentennial of the Haitian Revolution
constitutes an intentional humiliation of Haiti, shepherded as it
was by Roger Noriega, former aid to arch-racist Jesse Helms. That
intent festers with every passing day in the sullen and smoldering
determination that this will not stand.
The people of Argentina, Brazil, and
Chile (A,B, & C) should perhaps grasp the ABC of American covert
operations better than their ostensible leaders. Lending the US a
hand in one imperial enterprise will not protect them from the predations
of the US. In fact, it only strengthens the hand of the US foreign
policy establishment to commit the same crimes against them when it's
expedient. That applies to the liberal US establishment -- now out
of power -- that wants to increment its domination through financial
structures, but it applies even more immediately to the black-shirted
reactionaries of this administration who, if we look closely, are
an aging replication of the self-same clique that brought us the Iran-Contra-Cocaine
scandal -- men who left thousands of Latin American bodies in their
Has Argentina's Kirchner forgotten
the US's supportive role during the Dirty War? Has Chile's Lagos forgotten
1973 and the CIA attack on Chilean popular sovereignty? And has Brazil's
de Silva developed amnesia with regard to Goulart's ouster at the
hands of the same CIA in 1964?
How is it, then, that these nations,
of all nations, can send their militaries to prop up the transparent
coup d'etat against yet another democratically elected government?
How have they become obliged, in the face of their own histories of
struggle against US plotters and assassins, to support this racist
subjugation of a fellow Latin American nation?
Driving through Gonaives, I saw pimply-faced
youth in Canadian uniforms waving from atop their armored personnel
carriers in the apparent expectation that they will be received with
accolades -- a la the Chalabi hallucination of cheering crowds in
Iraq -- only to be met with hostility and contempt from the street.
The flags of A,B, & C snapped in the wind from behind barricades
at Toussaint L'Overture Airport in Port-au-Prince, but the post-pubescent
lads from those countries will soon be pushed out into Haiti's genpop,
and it is inevitable that some will be attacked.
How will these governments -- all claiming
to be progressive -- explain themselves to their own general populations
then? The United Nations imprimatur will be cold comfort indeed for
the families of the fallen and a puny poultice for the political wounds
resulting not from the actions of an external Right, like the manufactured
crisis that culminated in the kidnapping of Aristide in Haiti, but
from the home grown Left in A, B, & C themselves.
This acquiescence -- no, collaboration
-- with the diktat of the US will not loosen the parasitic grip of
the Imperial Center on a single Latin American, nor will it ameliorate
that Center's intent to continue exploiting the entire region until
it is used up and dead. This pious fantasy that cooperation will be
rewarded has been the downfall of many a leader, including Aristide
who was taken from his home after calling for "peaceful mobilization"
even in the faced of murderous paramilitaries.
It looks more and more, at least to
this writer, like there are only three Latin American leaders left
with a spine -- Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez, and Manuel Marulanda. With
the commitment of troops to the coup against Haitian popular sovereignty,
Kirchner, de Silva, and Lagos have displayed a craven disregard for
their own people and for their own histories. They now stand objectively
as allies of Jesse Helms -- a man who praised D'Abuisson's death squads,
and who never relented in his commitment to American Apartheid.
May they all admit this terrible error
and quit Haiti now, or may history mark them with shame.
Stan Goff is the
author of "Hideous Dream: A Soldier's Memoir of the US Invasion
of Haiti" (Soft Skull Press, 2000) and of the upcoming book "Full
Spectrum Disorder" (Soft Skull Press, 2003). He is a member of
the BRING THEM HOME NOW! coordinating committee, a retired Special
Forces master sergeant, and the father of an active duty soldier.
Email for BRING THEM HOME NOW! is email@example.com.