March 3, 2004

Haiti and Class Struggle

by Connie White and Lil Joe

The masses of Haitian workers and peasants have not been duped. Certainly not the class conscious workers who are witnessing and analyzing what is being reported about Haiti in the media.

"Former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide said Monday he was forced to leave Haiti in a 'coup d'etat' by the United States. 'I was told that to avoid bloodshed I'd better leave,' he said in an interview on CNN. (March 1, 2004,

The Associated Press reports that Aristide complained of being forced to leave Haiti, and said that "[A]gents were telling me that if I don’t leave they would start shooting and killing in a matter of time." (Eliott C. McLaughlin, Associated Press, March 1, 2004)

A coup d'etat is indigenous to the country in which one faction of the State (its government) illegally and unconstitutionally displaces another -- be it a civilian coup d'etat backed by the military officer corps, or by the officer corps itself. In September 1991, there was a coup d'etat in Haiti -- Aristide, who was legally elected to manage the government of the Haitian State, was overthrown. The civilian government in Haiti was displaced by a junta government.

As in most coup d'etat's, following the coup d'etat in Haiti in 1991, the bureaucratic- military State structurally remained the same with the same civilian State bureaucracy and military officer corps.

Aristide's initial successes in early 1990 and Presidential campaign brought hope to workers and peasants in Haiti. For the first time, they openly entered into the political life of the country -- they started to participate in voting, workers' organizations and associations were organized. The consequence of those workers and peasants engaging in self- organization politicized them in their class interests. This self-organization of the Haitian working class is what frightened the Haitian bourgeoisie and U.S. imperialism, not Aristide the individual. The result was a coup d'etat months after Aristide's initial electoral victory.

"On September 30, 1991, when the Haitian military violently overthrew the democratic government. Aristide was forced into exile, and the military unleashed an unprecedented campaign of terror and violence taking the lives of more that 5000 Haitians over the next three years, hundreds of thousands were forced into hiding, and tens of thousands more fled their homeland by boat. (; Profile of H.E. Mr. Jean-Bertrand Aristide, President of the Republic of Haiti, at:

It was not until the junta in Haiti had suppressed the workers and peasants that the Haitian bourgeoisie, and U.S. imperialism, sought to placate Haitian workers and peasants by returning Aristide to power -- three years after the coup d'etat. Even if Aristide wanted to undertake radical economic reform -- which should only mean factory expropriations by the working class, and land expropriations by the peasantry -- he would not have been able to achieve it because the workers' and peasants' organizations had been destroyed by the junta.

The junta became self-centered and refused to leave government. Subsequently, the Haitian bourgeoisie and transnational corporations -- represented by U.S. imperialism -- found it necessary to have the U.S. President Bill Clinton deploy American troops to Haiti to force the junta to stand down. Aristide was restored to the Presidency by a U.S. invasion. The Aristide government was now militarily and, thus, politically dependent upon U.S. imperialism.

The government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide was reinstated by U.S. troops in 1994 after the coup d'etat. Aristide disbanded the military, assumedly so they could not again accomplish a coup d'etat against him. His "special bodies of armed men" was concretized in the police force. It's interesting to note that recently, in the face of the rebelling Haitian population, the "special bodies of armed men," i.e., the police in Haiti "munitinied" -- this time they refused to kill the armed Haitian population.

We ask the question: what is the difference between the quisling government in, let's say, Iraq, and the quisling government in Haiti that was lead by Jean-Bertrand Aristide? The logic being presented today by the so-called "Left" regarding Jean-Bertrand Aristide is inconsistent -- to wit: when the U.S. installs someooone it likes, that is good. But, when the U.S. installs someone it does not like, that is evil imperialism. The underlying premise in accepting Clinton's installation of Aristide is to support the U.S. political strategy of installing governments that are friendly to U.S. economic and/or political interests.

The statistics show that one percent of the Haitian population owns fifty-nine percent of Haiti's wealth. Transnational investors and financial lending institutions continue to parasitically prey on the Haitian workers and poor peasants. The impoverished Haitian workers and peasants were not better off with Aristide in power. The individual who is prime minister or president is just one man. On the other hand, the State is a bureaucratic-military machine, which is, for the most part, on autopilot. The bureaucratic-military state represents the class interests of the economically dominant class. The management strategy of the State relies on interconnecting individuals who follow orders by chain of command, and act on their own in the interest of the institution, and in the interest of the wealth it protects.

In January/February 2004, the Haitian people hit the streets in rebellion. Yes, we believe that the rebellion in Haiti is a mass rebellion. All the indicators seem to support such. For example, twenty or even one hundred so-called "rebels" could not capture and hold power in the two largest cities in Haiti -- Cap-Haitien and Port-au-Prince -- amid cheering crowds of the Haitian population in those cities without the popular support of the masses of Haitian people. This is notwithstanding the fact that Jean- Bertrand Aristide was once popularly elected.

Furthermore, what is very problematic is that the U.S. quisling, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, called on the Western imperialist troops (i.e., the U.S. military) to "save" him from his own people. Even though Aristide was "popularly" re-elected by those who voted -- the masses boycotted the election by not voting -- calling on the murderous U.S. military to come into Haiti to reinforce his political position is an aberration! The U.S. military has no interest in preserving life or observing so-called human rights in Haiti. They will come in to occupy, kill and destroy based on the interests of the U.S. government.

Objectively, as head of State in Haiti, enforcing laws that protect bourgeois wealth, Jean-Bertrand Aristide is in bed with the Haitian aristocracy of wealth. Together with the U.S. government, Aristide was politically protecting aristocratic wealth in Haiti, and protecting transnational capitalist class interests.

In requesting that the U.S. military "rescue" him politically and personally, Aristide should have known that the U.S. military does not care about loss of human life, but about U.S. political and economic interests in Haiti. The U.S. has had a bloody history of murder and occupation -- Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Vietnam, Korea, Serbia, Iraq, Afghanistan, and on. While the American "Left" shouts "Coup!" "Coup!," the "U.S. Marines have 'kidnapped' Aristide!," the Pentagon has deployed troops to Haiti to disarm the rebellious workers. Just as the U.S. bombed wedding parties in Afghanistan, and the Afghan and Iraqi children, women and men in Middle-Asia, they will bomb, kill with sanctions, and otherwise murder and destroy whenever it sees it as in its interests. The armed workers in Haiti are being isolated from the international working class by the Democratic Party and Western media "spin." Aristide, the individual, is being presented by this same Democratic Party and Western media as a "Catholic Christ," while the workers and peasants in Haiti that oppose Aristide are presented as "Judas."

In unison with the Democratic Party, the American "Left" is calling the worker insurrectionists in Haiti "thugs" who are liberating "hardened criminals" from jail. Furthermore and also in unison with the Democratic Party, the American "Left" supports the OAS or UN sending troops to suppress these Haitian "thugs." It appears that the American "Left" has been manipulated by the Democratic Party through its Congressional Black Caucus operatives, and the news media. Meanwhile, the thousands of workers and peasants in rebellion in the streets of Haiti are presented as "right wing thugs" and "agents of imperialism." Therefore, the international atmosphere has been created for accepting U.S. invasion and occupation of Haiti, as well as the U.S. military's use of repressive force to quell the armed uprising.

Meanwhile, the real "Judases" of the rebellion in Haiti are the so-called "leaders" who have been placed there by the Haitian and transnational bourgeoisie and/or their political and military operatives. Maybe they have been bought off by offers of money, property and/or political position in the next bourgeois government in Haiti. Of course, the lesson that the quisling Aristide has learned is that you remain in the quisling position as long as you can keep a lid on mass rebellion of the Haitian people. Otherwise, you are removed, and the Haitian people are subject to military occupation, attack and murder.

Nevertheless and notwithstanding the obvious rebellion of the Haitian impoverished working- class and peasantry, much of the international community -- and, surprisingly, the international "Left" -- are playing into and being manipulated by American election year politics, and blaming Bush foreign policy for abandoning Aristide. They parrot the American Democratic Party's position related to Haiti:

"HIGHLAND HILLS, Ohio, Feb. 24 — Senator John Kerry accused the Bush administration on Tuesday of helping foster the political instability in Haiti that has given rise to the armed rebellion threatening to overthrow the government of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. ***** 'I think the administration has missed a lot of opportunities, in fact has exacerbated the situation over the last few years with its cutoff of humanitarian assistance and its attitude towards the Aristide administration,' Mr. Kerry said. 'So they sort of created the environment within which the insurgency could grow, take root. And now they're trying to manage it, I think.' ***** He also questioned whether the administration had been playing 'a duplicitous game': publicly encouraging Mr. Aristide but declining to assert itself in his behalf with the insurgents. ***** 'They hate Aristide,' Mr. Kerry said of administration officials at a morning meeting with editors and reporters of The New York Times, as he sought endorsements in New York's Democratic presidential primary next week. He then flew to Ohio, another Super Tuesday state, to campaign near Youngstown and in this Cleveland suburb. . .

"President George Bush's foreign policy team came into office intent on toppling Mr. Aristide, and their efforts were apparently consummated on Sunday. Mr. Aristide was long reviled by powerful US conservatives such as former senator Jesse Helms, who obsessively saw him as another Fidel Castro in the Caribbean. Such critics fulminated when President Bill Clinton restored Mr. Aristide to power in 1994, and they succeeded in forcing the withdrawal of US troops from Haiti soon afterwards, well before the situation in the country could be stabilised. In terms of help to rebuild Haiti, the US Marines left behind about 8 miles of paved roads in Port-au-Prince and essentially little else." (Financial Times, 29 February 2004, "Don't Fall for Washington's Spin on Haiti" by Jeffrey Sachs, posted to Chickenbones: A Literary Journal at:

"It would now seem that the Bush Administration decided at some point to violate international law in the interest of known anti-democratic criminals and murders who have a long history of bloodshed against the Haitian People." (Source: Friends of Haiti) ("Aristide Kidnapped by US Marines, According to Maxine Waters and Randall)

The Message from the Democrats and their "Left"- wing ideologues is clear: the Haitian workers' and peasants' revolt against "our man" Aristide is terrible. We placed him in power in 1994 backed by thousands of U.S. troops, and Bush's Republican policy has uprooted "our man," Aristide. The present mess in Haiti is the fault of Bush changing the Democratic Party's management policy in Haiti.

In reality, Haiti is being shaken by class war in the streets, and all the nations of Latin America are watching the deployment of American and French troops to Haiti. Politically and economically, Haiti is closely interconnected with France (EU) and the United States. The United States and the European Union (EU) are economic and political rivals. The U.S. is like the old bully on the global block who is being challenged by the new kid on the block, the EU.

But, among this backdrop of U.S./EU political rivalry, the international working class has been testing the waters. There have been numerous and continuing general strikes in France, Germany, Italy, and working class rebellions in Argentina, Venezuela, and now Haiti. The Argentine and Haitian workers observed the successful opening stages of international, armed peasant's uprisings in Chiapas, Zimbabwe and Bolivia. We posit that instinctively the Argentine and Haitian workers are now testing the waters of open class war. Argentina's historical, political and cultural ties are interlocked with Spain -- Haiti's with France.

The Great French bourgeois-democratic Revolution was known in Haiti. Amidst this conflict, the Haitian petty-bourgeoisie started an independence movement that was transformed by the entry of the Haitian slaves. Haiti's history is that of the only successful slave revolution.

With the backdrop of peasant uprisings and land seizures in Zimbabwe, and the workers' rebellion in Argentina, the Haitian workers took to the streets four weeks ago -- releasing prisoners, and driving away the police. The Haitian masses in the streets were freeing the captives and burning down police stations.

Furthermore, the historical and political backdrop of the Haitian rebellion in 2004 is one of a class struggle for social power in France and Germany -- the Socialist and Communist parties in power betrayed the working classes of France and Germany, and those working classes have responded with numerous general strikes. The lesson to which the Haitian rebellion is heir: winning the battle of democracy is only a reality when the national wealth is transferred from capitalist private property to the trade unions to be managed by the working class.

The workers in revolt in the cities of Haiti can only be a rebellion suppressed, unless the French, German, and Italian workers support the Haitian rebellion with strikes -- like the French did in May and June 1968 in solidarity with the Vietnamese workers and peasants.

In America, there are class-conscious workers who think for themselves, and know exactly what is going on in Haiti. Just like the class- conscious workers in France and Canada, there are rising numbers of workers in the United States who recognize the rebellious workers in the streets of Haiti who are chasing police from cities, setting the captive free from prison, and declaring an acceptable day for cosmopolitan proletarian revolution!

Every worker revolt that originates in solidarity with workers internationally is a political struggle for workers' power everywhere.

The revolutionary working class does not stop at "state power," but recognizes the need to secure ownership of the means of social production. So long as the capitalist class remains the monopoly owner of the means of social production and finance, any political party that manages government will only be the executive of national bourgeois wealth.

The workers have to take the productive forces or else time and again be manipulated by capitalists and labor bureaucrats.

Today, the workers' rebellion in Haiti has the potential of becoming a proletarian revolution IF, for example, the French students and workers strike in solidarity with the Haitian workers in rebellion -- the way they did in May/June 1968 in solidarity with the workers and peasants in Vietnam. This time around, when the workers occupy factories and work site locations in France, the French working classes should refuse co- optation and manipulation by labor bureaucrats in the Socialist, Communist, or Green parties.

In order to bring workers' general strikes or rebellions, or peasant uprisings, to a revolutionary conclusion, we must capture ownership of the productive forces to be managed by the working class.

La lucha continua.

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