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#1942: "The big picture" : Chamberlain adds to Arthur (fwd)
From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>
Charles Arthur is quite right to remind us of the Toto Constant
scandal and the Cedras/Biamby situation, and also of the collapse
of the sugar industry for the wrong reasons. He might've added
the scandal of the FRAPH documents too (though plenty of useful
trial preparation could be done with the available censored version
of these if people could get their heads past the alleged national
We must indeed keep our eye on the big picture. But the big picture
is _not_ a conspiracy. If that's how we regard it, we'll miss the point.
Three aspects of a recent post by Tom Driver (not Charles' post)
prompt this remark.
> Aristide was not returned to power until, bowing to U.S. will, he
> agreed to the economic plans the U.S. wanted. His doing so put
> a crack in the Lavalas movement that has grown into the deep and
> paralyzing split that exists today.
The persistance in seeing the Lavalas mess as some kind of pure
ideological split because it fits into a neat view of an anti-imperialist
struggle (and of course the obligatory old chestnut of blaming it all
on someone else) is not helpful. It may be a dream of well-meaning
foreigners, but it just isn't much to do with what's happening.
When are we going to say bluntly that it's largely personal feuds all
dressed up as ideology to fool the masses (who are usually far less
fooled -- in Haiti and everywhere else -- than such foreigners) ?
The present situation just is not about ideology. Though it possibly
was in 1990-91 for a few fleeting moments. Until we recognise this,
precious energy that could otherwise produce good things is going
to be wasted.
Tom also wrote:
> I do not for a minute believe that the U.S. since 1994 (or at any other
> has put "enormous effort" into building up Haiti's democratic political
> judicial institutions. Of course, it CLAIMS to do so, but look at the
> you saw the CBS '60 Minutes' story about the USAID's work on the Haitian
> judicial system, you saw that these "enormous efforts" have done
> nothing to answer the cries of the people for justice.
The implication here is that a monolithic US of A and a rotten USAID-backed
programme is the sum total of outside efforts to help get Haiti's
judicial system on its feet. Yet there are quite a few significant
(several million $$$) by others -- French, Canadian, UN and US -- in the
justice field which are making some headway. You also have Brian Concannon
(American) and his years-long efforts to get the Raboteau massacre trial
Other US human rights lawyers are active too. Are these not to be
because they upset the anti-American picture provided by one TV programme?
And Tom is still ducking the question by Phil Knowles:
>> Phil Knowles says, in response to me: "... but if we [the U.S. Govt.]
>> have stayed away and left Cedras in power, I need an education."
> If we had indeed stayed away, Cedras would probably never have been in
So do Tom and others believe that the US _shoudn't've_ invaded at all and
left thousands more to die at the hands of the army and its thugs? Why
have a straight answer? The contradictions of history are far more
and instructive than comfortable neat patterns and the easy rhetoric of
from the Haitian bourgeoisie who masquerade as revolutionaries
and jeer at "soup joumou liberals."