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a769: Fwd re Walking on Fire by Beverly Bell from from Focus onthe Corporation (fwd)
From: Walter Miale <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Fwd from Focus on the Corporation
Date: Wed, 13 Feb 2002 11:07:09 -0800
Resisting the Assassins' Power
By Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman
Why does the movement against corporate globalization protest at
meetings like those of the World Economic Forum, recently completed in
New York? What does the movement for global justice want?
There are a million ways to answer these questions. One set of
compelling answers is contained in Walking on Fire: Haitian Women´s
Stories of Survival and Resistance, a wonderful new book by Beverly
Bell (Cornell University Press). Walking on Fire is a collection of
interviews with Haitian women, with astute synthesizing text by Bell.
Relying on the words of a broad cross-section of Haitian society, from
former Prime Minister Claudette Werleigh to desperately poor women like
Yolande Mevs who are struggling day-to-day to provide enough food to
calm their children´s aching bellies, Walking on Fire illustrates how
the dynamics of corporate globalization overlay with local hierarchies,
prejudices and systems of patriarchy to impoverish and marginalize
Most searingly, Walking on Fire reveals the raw violence embedded in
these overlapping systems of domination. The women in Walking on Fire
recount stomach-churning stories of childhood slavery and abuse, rape
Alerte Belance relates a horrifying tale of brutality at the hands of
the FRAPH, the CIA-supported paramilitary force that terrorized Haiti
during the coup period of the 1990s, when democratically elected
President Jean Bertrand Aristide was forced into exile.
A local organizer who supported Aristide´s lavalas movement (as did the
majority of the country), Belance went into hiding when Aristide was
deposed. After the Governor´s Island Accord promised Aristide would
return to power in October 1993, Belance came out of hiding.
"They came for me on October 15," she recounts, "several days after I´d
returned from hiding."
"The vicious ones chopped me up during the nightç I spent a night in the
weeds bleeding. They sliced me into pieces with machete strokes. They
cut out my tongue and my mouth: my gums, plates, teeth, and jaw on my
right side. They cut my face open, my temple and cheek totally open.
They cut my eye open. They cut my ear open. They cut my body, my whole
shoulder and neck and back slashed with machete blows. They cut off my
right arm. They slashed my left arm totally and cut off the ends of all
my fingers of my left hand. ... The death squad was so convinced that I
died that they dragged me further away to dump me."
Left for dead by the death squad, she survived by luck and will,
dragging herself from the bushes to the road, from where she was
eventually taken to medical care.
Rosemie Belvius explains the multiple types of violence experienced by
peasant women in Haiti. There is the structural violence of coerced
theft and dispossession imposed by landlords. "If you harvest 100
cannisters of rice, the big man gets 50, you get 50. This is even though
you spent the money, you bought the fertilizer that sells for $60 per
sack, and you bought the labor for three dollars a day to hoe the
And, in Haiti, there is, too often, the more overt violence directed
against peasants who challenge landlords´ power. When Belvius and area
farmers constructed a cooperatively owned corn silo, the Tonton Macoutes
-- the terror force of Baby Doc Duvalier -- burned it down and torched
her house as well.
These are very localized experiences. But people do not experience broad
trends of corporate globalization they live their lives with their
families and communities and find themselves involuntarily confronting
local, national and international structures of domination.
Author Beverly Bell explains how "power structures within the
international community and the global economy [are] mirrored in
Walking on Fire is subtitled "Haitian women's stories of survival and
resistance" and the emotions of horror stirred by the book are matched
by a sense of awe and inspiration of the women, many of whom do struggle
just to survive, and especially of those who choose to respond to
amazing hardship and myriad challenges by organizing and collective
action to improve their and others' lives, and to fight for justice.
"Today," Bell writes, "the popular movement is demanding stronger
national sovereignty so that Haiti will no longer be subordinated to
more powerful states, lending agencies and international trade and
finance institutions. The movement is protesting the foreign-imposed
economic policy of structural adjustment, or what Haitians have labeled
the plan lanmo, the death plan."
Their protests and organizing take the form of street theater featuring
demons labeled "IMF," creating women's associations, organizing trade
unions and much more. For the women in Walking on Fire, the fight
against the local landlord or structural adjustment is seamless, all to
be resisted, with a will of steel. Belvius relates a song from her
We will not give in, oh no.
We'll never cede the battle.
No we will not surrender
To the assassins' power.
Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime
Reporter. Robert Weissman is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based
Multinational Monitor, http://www.essential.org/monitor. They are
co-authors of Corporate Predators: The Hunt for MegaProfits and the
Attack on Democracy (Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press, 1999;
(c) Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman
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