A WORLD TO WIN    #20   (1995)


Yankee Marauders
Out of Haiti!

- Statement by the Committee of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement

10 October 1994

Once again the US army has intervened in a "crisis", this time invading and occupying Haiti behind a heavy barrage of slogans like "humanitarian interests", "stemming the refugee flow", "reinstalling a democratically-elected president" and disarming the dictatorship's "brutal armed forces". What?! - the world's biggest thugs and exploiters promising to "liberate" some of the world's poorest people from the clutches of the very killer thugs they themselves have trained and hired?! The US military's true mission in Haiti is as familiar as their increasingly frequent invasions around the world: to establish order, US-imposed order, in a situation that has slipped out of the imperialists' control.

In the present international framework, marked by deepening imperialist crisis, the US imperialists are trying to head off mass revolts against their rule, especially in the neocolonies, while shoring up their position relative to the other imperialist powers. Since the collapse of their main rivals in the East, the Soviet social-imperialists, the US rulers feel they have a freer hand to clean up messy spots and patch up real and potential faultlines in their New World Order. But, as they have seen in Somalia, taking such a path is also filled with danger. Deep divisions exist within the US ruling class over how to proceed. These divisions were reflected in sharp in-fighting over whether, when and how to invade Haiti. But this in-fighting did not at all change their basic drive to establish political stability in the region and throughout Latin America, as a major step in dealing with the problems of their empire.

The Haitian masses have been desperately pressed between dire poverty and the military generals' campaign of terror; many have struggled courageously in the face of this, while many others have been trying to escape the rampant killing and utter misery by going to the US (which has either detained them or sent them back to their deaths at the hands of the junta and police). The fact that the US imperialists finally chose to invade shows their determination to snap their local henchmen into line and defuse the explosive social tensions that have built up there. They want to stop the exodus of refugees towards their shores and most of all to prevent another revolutionary uprising of the Haitian people from completely unraveling their control in Haiti and igniting the neo-colonial tinderboxes stretching across their so-called backyard of Latin America.

The Haitian people have a long, rich history of struggle against slavery and feudalism, colonial invaders and imperialist-installed military regimes. Little has changed in the US' basic relationship to Haiti - that of strangling the economy and propping up a local reactionary army - for almost 100 years. The US first invaded Haiti in 1915, right on the heels of its bloody incursions into the Philippines, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Panama, and Nicaragua. This first invasion was part of the regional consolidation of the US' imperialist empire and its drive to crush armed struggle against feudal landlords. Widespread peasant resistance continued against the US invasion and its harsh 19-year-long colonial occupation, during which thousands were massacred. The Yankees pulled out militarily in 1934, but they extended their economic and political hold, turning Haiti into a neo-colony, helping to build up a small comprador class, along with a state, including an army and laws. A leap in this process took place with the coming to power in the late 1950s of "Papa Doc" Duvalier, a CIA favourite, followed by his son "Baby Doc", which helped consolidate the reactionary classes and suppressed the masses' struggle against the murderous military machine. This paved the way for more thorough imperialist penetration and dispossession of the peasants.

In 1986 a mass dechoukage (uprooting) movement spread throughout the island and overthrew this bitterly-hated Duvalier dictatorship. People's justice was meted out to his death squad members, called the Tonton Macoutes. The mass struggle and revolutionary mood did not subside, and a succession of new governments with the old Duvalierist repressive apparatus still in place were not able to contain the sharp infighting within ruling circles.

The US imperialists shifted strategies in 1991 and helped to organize elections in an effort to channel the fury of the masses into the electoral process and to restructure and stabilize the state through a realignment of pro-US forces within the Haitian elite. The result was the election of the radical populist priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who got 70% of the vote. Aristide emerged from petit-bourgeois forces opposed to the Duvalier regimes who wanted to alleviate some of the poverty and suffering of the masses. But his immense popularity, due in no small part to his posturing against US domination at the time and his measured support of the dechoukage, did not mean he had full political power: Aristide's position at the top of the same state and military structure he wanted to reform was precarious and short-lived. Just six months after his election, Aristide was toppled in a military coup (in which powerful forces in Washington DC are widely believed to have lent a hand). He was replaced by General Raoul Cedras.

For three years the US has been debating how to stabilize Haiti again. One section of the US bourgeoisie wanted to abandon Aristide and preferred to pressure the corrupt military junta to step down or at least to loosen its destabilizing clampdown against the masses. But it was of course the people who suffered from the subsequent economic embargo, while CIA kickbacks and "anti-drug" funds continued to fatten the generals.

Another section of the US rulers, including Clinton, insisted on seizing the opportunity of returning Aristide to power in order to send in the US marines (posing as freedom fighters) to get a firm grip on the situation. To convince public opinion, the Clinton government exposed to the world some of the torture, rape and murder that these local brutes were guilty of, while trying to conceal who signs their paychecks and to pretend that the "new" army, also trained by US killer police and soldiers, will be different. For his part, Aristide, exiled in the US, has been negotiating his return to office in exchange for completely surrendering to US demands and conditions.

Despite Aristide's torrent of appeals for reconciliation in Haiti, his future role remains uncertain. With or without him, and partly camouflaged by the arriving hand-picked international peacekeeping force and police trainers from places like Israel, the US will continue its occupation in an effort to reorganize a reliable Haitian military and police force that can maintain the comprador-feudal order in Haiti and protect imperialist interests.

At first the US troops allowed the people to let off steam from the pressure cooker building up. But the masses' desire for revenge against their enemies is displayed in great disorder everywhere. The US troops' job of enforcing amnesty at gunpoint for the people's murderers in the police and military will inevitably throw the masses into direct conflict with the Yankee army, which will then spill plenty of the people's blood if necessary in the name of "order", that is, suppressing violence by the oppressed.

Cruel illusions are being spread among the Haitian masses about what the new situation will mean for the economy. It was many years ago under the Duvalier regime that the situation of the always poor Haitian masses became the living hell it is today. Economic production was organized to serve US requirements. Landlords threw large numbers of peasants off the best land. Imperialist agro-industry penetrated the countryside setting up coffee and cacao plantations for export. Big export-oriented capitalist pig farms replaced small family pig production through a phoney health scare. US-owned sweatshops sprang up in free trade zones in which the daily wages of the masses did not even feed them, and all the profits left the country untaxed.

The Haitian masses are literally starved by their dependency on imperialism and the semi-feudal system in the countryside; they eat a less than subsistence diet of rice, corn and sometimes plantains, if they can afford them. They get little protein, except for what they can get from sorghum, and consumption of meat, eggs, milk or even beans is rare. The average Haitian earns less than a $1 a day and spends almost 20 cents of it to buy water. (See A World to Win 1986/6 for more background information.)

A new president might even be able to raise a small section of the masses out of the hellish depths of poverty and misery they are currently in, thus fueling illusions about what they can gain from a new government. But most of the poor people will likely be plunged into deeper poverty. And, even if some of the middle classes see their situation improve, Aristide's cooperation with the US to tighten the noose on the basic masses - with the usual package of developing the "free" market, keeping foreign investors happy, and IMF and World Bank austerity schemes - is bound to throw the people into renewed struggle against him or any future president.

As for the US claim to restore democracy, when Clinton says, "Democratic neighbours make better trade partners", it is obvious that he means US-imposed order is better for exploiting the poor masses in neo-colonial sweatshops like Haiti. This is the basic relationship underlying the forms of very "undemocratic" political rule over the masses in Haiti, which they know as terror and weekly funerals of their people. One of the purposes of this so-called democratic mission is to foster hopes and disarm the people with another big lie: that a "new" regime under the present set-up in an oppressed nation like Haiti can reform and develop a bourgeois society that will offer the kind of political rights and partial freedoms generally allowed some sections of the people in the rich countries. Such a fantasy - that loyal US guardians in Haiti, even new so-called reformers, could somehow reverse the imperialist domination of the country - is as ridiculous as it is impossible.

But it is possible for the people to rise up and liberate themselves, and this is what they must do: make revolution - New Democratic Revolution. This requires developing a Marxist-Leninist-Maoist party that can lead an alliance between the proletariat and Haiti's majority peasant population with other progressive classes to wage a protracted people's war. Such a revolutionary war, like the one the people of Peru are waging today under the leadership of the Communist Party of Peru, aims to overthrow bureaucrat capitalism and semi-feudalism in Haiti and break free of imperialism's grip. Only this type of revolution can begin to give real political power and genuine democratic rights to the masses oppressed by the old society, such as the central demand for land to the tiller, by mobilizing the peasants to seize back their land, while paving the way for socialist revolution.

The Haitian masses have a wealth of experience of fighting against US imperialism and Haiti's reactionary classes. Many will learn through this occupation just who they are up against, that these are the very same enemies who have raped their country and its labouring people for a century and whose own "attachés" - the whole class of US-dependent comprador and feudal rulers - have drowned their many heroic struggles in blood. A significant section of the people already know this and have a deep hatred for the US. Most of all, the Haitian people can learn that it is only the proletariat guided by its science of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism that can create a peasant guerrilla army and unite the broadest ranks of the people to transform Haiti into a stronghold of liberation.

Although the Haitian people's enemies are trying to replace the lid on their struggle with another tighter fitting one, the imperialists are playing with fire - and they know the lid could blow off altogether: the fact is that the people are aroused to deal blows to their oppressor and can rapidly become an unpredictable factor exploding in the US' face. People around the world must expose and loudly denounce this latest invasion by the Yankee marauders and firmly support the struggle of the people against them. Dechoukage of the old order is fine - let it go all the way and prepare to uproot reaction and imperialism from Haiti altogether!