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a206: This Week in Haiti 19:42 01/02/2002 (fwd)
From: "K. M. Ives" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
"This Week in Haiti" is the English section of HAITI PROGRES
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"Le journal qui offre une alternative"
* THIS WEEK IN HAITI *
January 2 - 8, 2001
Vol. 19, No. 42
LOW-INTENSITY WARFARE IN HAITI
AN INTERVIEW WITH JACK NELSON-PALLMEYER
by Mara Delt
(The first of two parts)
Direct military assault is only one of several means which the
U.S. employs to impose its will on nations throughout the Third
World. Political destabilization, media demonization, proxy
guerrilla harassment, diplomatic machinations, and economic
sanctions are also weapons in Washington's arsenal. These are the
tools of "low-intensity warfare," a topic on which Jack Nelson-
Pallmeyer is an expert. An assistant professor of Justice and
Peace Studies at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota,
Nelson-Pallmeyer is the author of numerous articles and books on
U.S. foreign policy including "War Against the Poor: Low
Intensity Conflict and Christian Faith" (Orbis Books 1991);
"Brave New World Order" (Orbis Books 1992); and "School of the
Assassins: The Case for Closing the School of the Americas"
(Orbis Books 1997).
Haïti Progrès contributor Mara Delt interviewed Nelson-Pallmeyer
on Dec. 14, just before the Dec. 17 attack on the National
Palace, which can be categorized as just one more battle in the
low-intensity war against the Haitian people.
Mara Delt: What is low-intensity conflict?
Nelson-Pallmeyer: Low-intensity conflict is a U.S. military
strategy for intervention in non-traditional settings. It's
primarily directed toward countries in the so-called Third World
or Two-Thirds World. It's a type of warfare that implies, or
involves, not direct combat between soldiers, not a high
technology warfare as you see in the bombing of Afghanistan or
Iraq.... It's implemented through diplomatic channels, through
economic leverage through institutions like the International
Monetary Fund, the World Bank. It's basically designed to achieve
objectives that are similar to war. You want a country to
capitulate. You want a country to do what you want them to do,
but you fight the war through non-traditional channels.
Mara Delt: Does it follow a pattern or stages?
Nelson-Pallmeyer: There are typical things that you find in the
package. This warfare strategy really emerged after the U.S.
suffered a defeat in Indochina, and it was thoroughly tested in
Central America in the 1980s. There you saw, for example,
diplomatic aspects of warfare when the U.S. tried to isolate the
country of Nicaragua. You saw the U.S. using diplomatic leverage
on neighboring countries like Honduras to become a base of
support for the Nicaraguan "Contras." There were economic aspects
of the war, a kind of embargo against Nicaragua that prevented
trade. There were economic, diplomatic efforts to try to isolate
Nicaragua by getting their allies not to trade or provide aid.
This also involved the use of debt as a kind of weapon. They used
the indebtedness of neighboring countries, like Honduras for
example, as leverage to get them to open up their country to be a
base for their destabilization campaign against Nicaragua.
At the same time they used the warfare against the Nicaraguan
people to avert that country's capacity to put its economic
resources towards development; resources were instead put into
defense against the warfare. All those are aspects.
Another important aspect in Central America was psychological
warfare, and that takes different forms as well. Sometimes
psychological warfare can mean funding terrorism. The U.S., for
example, created a CIA manual for the "Contras" in Nicaragua on
how to maximize the psychological impact of terrorizing
civilians. So it can take that form.
In the case of Haiti, what you see is just an attempt to wear
down the population by holding up key economic aid, trying to
create disenchantment with the government whose inclination is to
try to meet the needs of the people. All those are standard
practices. But in more recent cases the U.S. has preferred to
intervene through its economic leverage, trying to shape
countries' economic policies in ways that the U.S. prefers, but
which often has a very negative impact on people on the ground.
Mara Delt: When you talk about capitulating to their goals, what
is the U.S. objective then in the end?
Nelson-Pallmeyer: The U.S. objective is simply to control the
economic decisions of a country. I argue in my writings that the
preferred instrument of U.S. foreign policy from about 1945 to
1980 was military dictatorships. I would say that between 1980
and 1990 there were two tracks in U.S. policy. One was actually
increasing support for repressive governments in Central America
and elsewhere. But at the same time, you had a movement in the
direction of utilizing debt as leverage, and, for the
International Monetary Fund, structural adjustment programs
became more important in the 1980s. Today, the U.S. prefers to
exercise its power through economic channels. It wants a
favorable investment economy. It wants to make sure that unions
aren't strong. It wants to make sure that a country is not
diverting its resources to the needs of its people, resources
that are necessary for paying debt and doing other things. So
what the U.S. wants is control, economic control, and it will use
whatever leverage it has.
I would say, from my understanding of what's happening in Haiti,
that the other thing the U.S. doesn't want is a progressive
government in power. It wants a government more valuable to its
own interests and power. Holding back the [$146 million]
Inter-American Development Bank loan (see Haïti Progrès, Vol. 19,
No. 37, 11/28/01) is a way of trying to force a change of
government. The U.S. doesn't want authentic democracy. It wants
democracy within various narrow channels that it dictates in
terms of what economic choices are available to countries and
Mara Delt: People often ask what is the U.S. interest in Haiti.
Why do they care about Haiti, what does Haiti have?
Nelson-Pallmeyer: That's a really good question. The same
question was asked about Nicaragua and El Salvador. What's the
big issue? El Salvador didn't have that many resources, Nicaragua
didn't have a whole lot, and Haiti doesn't have a lot. But I
think the U.S. really fears independent democracy because
independent democracies are what the world desperately needs. By
that I mean democracies that can really function, in which
governments have the power to shape the economic decisions of
their countries, to try to reorient their economic priorities to
meet the basic needs of their people. In Haiti that doesn't cost
the U.S. a lot. Whatever happens in Haiti isn't going to impact
the U.S. a great deal. The same thing could be said about El
Salvador, Cuba, or Nicaragua. But when you take those examples
together and then you spread that model elsewhere and if, for
example, Mexico had an authentic democratic government that would
reorient resources -- that would be a challenge.
There's a new mythology that guides the world today -- at least
the world as created by U.S. policymakers -- and that is that
globalization is good. What is not said is that globalization
means corporate-led globalization. The reality is that
corporate-led globalization is very good for about 20% of
humanity, and it's very bad for probably half of humanity, and it
puts the rest in very vulnerable positions. You could probably
give me statistics on Haiti, but worldwide, about 3 billion
people are living and dying on less than $2 a day. According to
the UN, the three richest people in the world have assets greater
than the gross domestic products of the 48 poorest countries
combined. In that kind of world, any government which is really
independent and which is going to try to redirect economic
resources to meet the needs of the majority will be treated by
the U.S. as an enemy because if that example were to spread to
countries throughout the world (which in my view has to happen if
we're going to respond to the issues of poverty), then that does
become a problem for the U.S., for U.S. economic interests.
Mara Delt: The opposition in Haiti refuses to accept the results
of recent elections and has since been working to create
instability in the country. Is that a technique that the U.S.
typically uses in all the countries?
Nelson-Pallmeyer: Absolutely. You saw the exact same pattern in
Nicaragua, for example. The U.S. first worked to destabilize the
Sandinista-led government in Nicaragua and then poured millions
of dollars into consolidating a right-wing coalition with a
centrist face, and then communicated to the electorate -- through
the invasion of Panama and an ongoing threat of continued warfare
-- that if the people didn't vote properly they could expect
ongoing sanctions and possibly a military invasion.
We don't even have to go back to that earlier history of 1990. We
can go back to the recent elections in Nicaragua where the U.S.
ambassador basically said in newspapers and on television in
Nicaragua that, if people voted for [Sandinista presidential
candidate] Daniel Ortega, that would simply be unacceptable to
Mara Delt: The U.S. ambassador said that publicly?
Nelson-Pallmeyer: Yes, basically. It was that blatant. The U.S.
communicated in no uncertain terms that an electoral victory by
Ortega would cause serious problems with U.S. relations. That, in
my view, is a very clear intervention into the democratic process
and that, in a sense, pre-determines an outcome. If a government
had been elected in Nicaragua that the U.S. didn't like, then you
would see a new stage kick in, similar to what Haiti is
So, yes, this has been done and continues to be done, over and
over again. In Haiti now, because Aristide was elected with a
pretty overwhelming majority, I think the U.S. probably is trying
to send a very clear message that Aristide will only be
acceptable to the U.S. if he governs outside of his commitment to
improve the living situation of the majority of people in Haiti.
Mara Delt: The opposition continues to challenge the validity of
recent local elections because Haiti has moved towards
decentralization and that's where the power is, at the base, with
the local representation. That's not in the interest of the
opposition, and it's certainly not in the interest of the U.S..
Nelson-Pallmeyer: From what I can gather in Haiti, part of a
classic low-intensity conflict strategy is that you really try to
make the economy scream. You do that in part because you're
trying to erode the base of popular support for the government
that you don't like. So in this case, by holding up those loans,
which would largely go to healthcare and water development and
other things, the U.S. is squeezing the constituency that is
probably most supportive of the Aristide government and the
decentralized process that you just named. The whole purpose of
the strategy is to create instability in the country and to eat
away at, to erode, the popular base of a popular government.
That's the purpose of the strategy.
(to be continued)
INTRODUCING "OPEN GATE," AN ANTHOLOGY OF HAITIAN CREOLE POETRY
by Paul Laraque
A version of the following text was read by the author at the
Poetry Project in Manhattan on Dec. 19, 2001. The event -- which
featured readings by other Haitian poets including Max Manigat,
Pierre-Richard Narcisse, Cauvin Paul, and Denizé Lauture, as well
as North American poet Jack Hirschman -- spotlighted Open Gate,
the first bilingual collection of modern Haitian Creole poetry
available to English readers.
It was in 1993. The Haitian military and civilian terrorists
formed in the United States had already overthrown the freely
elected president Jean-Bertrand Aristide and his popular
government. The new gangs massacred thousands of poor peasants
and workers and did whatever they could to crush the democratic
movement before it could object to capitalist exploitation and
foreign domination. Thieves and murderers of Haitian descent were
expelled from U.S. jails to Haiti, where they transferred the
masses' wrath from the political arena to the social field.
My youngest brother, Guy F. Laraque -- who was also a poet but
not a militant like my other brother Franck and me -- was killed
near his residence in Delmas, a suburb of the capital, Port-au-
Prince, because his murderers needed his car for criminal
activities. President Aristide was then in Washington D.C..
Alexander Taylor called me from Connecticut to ask what he could
do to help. Alexander is the co-director of Curbstone Press,
which had published my selection of French poems Camourade,
translated into English by Rosemary Manno with an introduction by
Jack Hirschman, my brother in poetry and in Marxism. I
immediately thought of an anthology of modern Haitian poetry,
both in French, the official language of my country, which we
mastered to fight our masters, and in Creole, the mother tongue
of the Haitian people, inherited from the African slaves. The
slaves also created a new religion "vodou" (voodoo), a spiritual
cement in their struggle for the abolition of slavery and the
independence of Haiti, the first black republic in the world.
When I consulted Jack Hirschman, he wanted U.S. to concentrate
only on modern Haitian Creole poetry. And that's how "Open Gate"
>From the almost 40 authors to the co-editors, from the two
translators, Jack Hirschman and Boadiba, a female Haitian poet
fluent in French, Creole and English, to the publishers Alexander
Taylor, Judy Doyle and other members of Curbstone Press, this
wonderful book is the result of extraordinary international
teamwork. Today, we have with us a few of the poets who
participated in this "groundbreaking anthology," as Martin Espada
puts it. Unfortunately, we could not find Suze Baron, the only
woman among the Haitian poets living here in the New York City.
In a country dominated by men like Haiti, she is the symbol of
the struggle against the triple discrimination inflicted on women
on the basis of sex, color, and class. As the conscience of our
people, we, the poets, reaffirm our solidarity with women, who
represent in flesh and in spirit, a vital necessity and the
beauty of the world.
Two days ago, on Monday, Dec. 17, a group of men, heavily armed,
came from the Dominican Republic, our neighbor, to overthrow the
Haitian government. The masses took to the streets, drove the
traitors away, and sent a powerful message to the Haitian mulatto
and black elite, and to both Washington and Santo Domingo: "No
more military coups with the complicity of foreign powers." The
government will probably take advantage of the situation but,
actually, it is the victory of the people.
I would like to conclude with the following Creole verses
translated into English by Jack Hirschman. They were written for
my wife Marcelle Laraque, my life companion for 48 years and my
main inspiration in poetry.
legzil san ou ta lanfè
ou rache-m lan bouch dezespwa
lan fredi ou pote chalè
ou se limyè lan fènwa.
exile without you would be hell
you pulled me from the mouth of despair
in the cold you bring fire
you're the light in the darkness
"Open Gate," an anthology of Haitian Creole Poetry. Edited by
Paul Laraque and Jack Hirschman. Translated by Jack Hirschman and
Boadiba. Published by Curbstone Press, 321 Jackson St., Windham,
CT 06226 Tel: 860-423-5110.
All articles copyrighted Haiti Progres, Inc. REPRINTS ENCOURAGED
Please credit Haiti Progres.