Dredging up Haiti’s past – thestar.com. – Sarah Barmak
I am utterly appalled at the reportage I found in today’s (January 23, 2011) Toronto Star. (I happened to pick up a hard copy. When I returned home later and looked it up on the Star’s website, I noticed the date for it was January 22. No online commenting was allowed in connection with it. I don’t know what the rules are for allowing commenting and not allowing commenting on articles printed in the Star.) It’s simply disgusting. I’m all for free speech, but there are ways to deal with free speech by hate mongers. I guess the Star doesn’t regard this hate monger as a hate monger and there’s nothing we can do about that.
I wouldn’t say that Sarah Barak should not be permitted to purvey such destructive propaganda. I would only say that it needs to be countered by those who disagree with her. Unfortunately, The medium that she presented her vile comments in supports her position and has subtly favored it by not making it clear to readers that Sarah’s is ‘one’ view and it’s a controversial view that happens to be held by elites, including those who own and are allies of The Toronto Star. The Star just lets Sarah’s vile reportage stand, taking the famous and discredited ‘objective’ view that mainstream journalism often takes when seeking to shield power and privilege from scrutiny and accountability.
This does not mean that our major media plays fair. Something like 59% of Americans favored a single payer health care system that, when Obama was huddled with movers and shakers who were deciding how to ‘reform’ American health care, he actively ignored, while major media did the same, as recounted by Isabel Macdonald in the FAIR blogs (See “Real Journalism: A Prerequisite For Real Debate On Healthcare.”) “For coverage of our delivery of FAIR’s ongoing petition demanding that the TV networks cover proposals for a single-payer or Medicare-for-all system to ABC News’ NYC studio, you can tune into Democracy Now! – a media outlet that could teach the networks a thing or two about how to contribute to, rather than interfere with, the public debate on healthcare reform. / If the public has managed to get any TV news at all about single-payer, or to hear the perspectives of the large numbers of physicians and citizens who support this proposal, it is thanks to outlets like DN! and shows like the Bill Moyers Journal on PBS. / Given that 59 percent of the public, and an equal percentage of physicians, support single-payer, according to recent polls, one would think that the inclusion of this proposal in the media debate would be a no-brainer for any self-respecting journalist.”
That’s our ‘free’ press. It’s free enough, but the intentions of it’s owners and most of it’s writers are not good. It’s ‘ours’ only in a limited, and not positive, sense. The free press, or media rather, that I care about is the alternative media. It’s freedom is not at all as great as that of the mainstream media, simply because it is more reflective of the needs and wants of the people, the majority, and those who own and support the mainstream media have the financial and political power to hinder it. In this upside down world, the power isn’t with the (not perfectly) law abiding people who are the majority. It’s with elites and all of their fascist tools. The people aren’t powerless. We are just much weaker than those – rightwingers, capitalists, imperialists, thugs – who break rules, written and unwritten, big and small, so as to gain advantages.
The following statement by Barmak is stunning:
“It would have been hard for Aristide to get his timing worse. Haiti is in the throes of a democratic crisis, with a potentially divisive runoff vote to be held as soon as this week and the surprise return of former dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier last week. Adding a former leader who still commands allegiance into the mix in the coming days could throw a wrench into Haiti’s precarious political landscape.”
There’s the Haitian people, as in the majority and not as in it’s tyrannical minority of elites who partner with imperial powers and their capitalist associates, who seek to keep Haitians repressed, good for nothing but slavery, and an example to other southern states of what it means to try to steer an independent course and then there’s Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Poor Aristide! He’s Haitian and somehow it’s become a big crime for this man, a hero to most Haitians, to reside in the country he struggled against all imperialist odds to lift up out of absolute poverty. It’s astonishing! But those, like Sarah Barmak, who spew hatred toward Aristide, not because of anything he’s done to her or Canada or anyone, but because she’s sold her soul for gain, to be blunt, do so because Aristide emboldens his people. The real target of Haitian elites and their foreign backers is Fanmi Lavalas, the political party that Aristide was from and which most Haitians supported.
“Haiti’s poverty, together with its alleged lack of natural resources and stategic significance, is often cited by analysts who prefer to understand US intervention in Haiti along more altruistic lines… A manufacturing sector in which sweatshop wages hover around $2 a day has obvious transnational uses, but the preservation of such a place is not by itself enough to warrant such assiduous imperial attention. The prospect of a social revolution that might look west to Cuba for inspiration and then spread east into the rather more profitable canefields and hotels of the Dominican Republic is perhaps another matter, especially for a government that is beholden to the South Florida lobby. Combine the prospect of such a revolution with the peculiar legacy of militant anti-slavery and the radical promise of liberation theology – arguably the greatest single challenge to US strategic interests in Latin America in the entire post-war period – and as far as the American empire is concerned you are talking about a specter that warrants exorcism by any and all available means. Throw in Aristide’s unsettling request that France should help Haiti celebrate its bicentennial in 2004 by repaying the enormous amount of money that it extorted from its old slave colony during the nineteenth century, and you are dealing with little less than a menace to postcolonial civilization itself. / There is nothing unfamiliar about the basic issues at stake in this sequence. As Noam Chomsky and others have argued for many years, “it is only when the threat of popular participation is overcome that democratic forms can be safely contemplated.” Back in the 1970s and 80s, in Haiti as elsewhere the prospect of popular political participation typically provoked an overtly coercive response: the general goal of the “bureaucratic-authoritarian” regimes that emerged with US support in much of Latin America during those years was “to destroy permanently a perceived threat to the existing structure of socioeconomic privilege by eliminating the politial participation of the numerical majority.”” -Introduction to “Damming The Flood – Haiti, Aristide, And The Politics Of Containment,” by Peter Hallward
“Fanmi Lavalas is the main obstacle to the elite’s political agenda. More than any other political organization or institution, it stands in the way of elite attempts to turn the clock back, to undo the revolution of 1990. Rather than Aristide per se it was this organization’s enduring strength in the poorer neighborhoods that was the real target of pro-coup forces in and after 2004.” -pg 140 of Damming The Flood
Sarah Barmak’s concern for Haitians is equal to her concern for Jean-Bertrand Aristide. She calls his statement hinting at a return to Haiti something coming at the worst possible time. Just when the people are at their darkest hour, defeated and with no saviour or hope on the horizon, The one man who, more than others, symbolized the successful – peaceful, democratic – struggle Haitians engaged in to better their lives and advance toward a better future becomes visible and it’s bad timing?!
“Haiti is in the throes of a democratic crisis, with a potentially divisive runoff vote to be held as soon as this week and the surprise return of former dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier last week,” writes Sarah.
Sarah there implies that the recent election in Haiti should not be discarded. An utterly fraudulent election needs to be treated not as important and something to attend to. It needs to be completely set aside!
As for the ‘surprise’ return of mass murderer Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, The surprise isn’t the only important point to be made here. What’s important is that he was clearly given the nod by higher powers to go to Haiti and it would be something he probably has to do for them, since they’ve been protecting him in France, as Kim Ives points out in his piece titled “A Class Analysis Of Baby Doc.” No doubt, One of the purposes of his visit, planned and backed by Sarah’s nice imperialists, is to cause chaos and confusion and fear, euphemistically called ‘surprise’ by Sarah, because that Fanmi Lavalas is darned hard to hush up. MINUSTAH-backed police killings of their members and any who might support that movement still hasn’t crushed the spirit of those rebellious slaves! Chaos is always good for the people. Keep them disorganized and weak and in that way reduce the threat that they may rebel somehow.
Congresswoman Maxine Waters, in fact, sees a specific, chilling possibility here. “In any case, it is now clear that no runoff can be held this month as previously planned, and no successor will be elected prior to February 7th, the last day of President Préval’s term in office under the constitution. Consequently, there is the possibility that Haiti could find itself with no President, thus creating a void and the opportunity for a dictator.” Read her entire statement on The Institute For Justice & Democracy In Haiti website: “Congresswoman Waters Opposes Plot to Control Haiti Urges Prosecution of Duvalier for Human Rights Violations and New Elections that Respect the Will of the Haitian People (U.S. Congresswoman Maxine Waters”).
Okay, Not ‘all’ politicians are corporatocracy tools. Regardless, They are surrounded by corporatocracy tools and not safe.
Who might that dictator turn out to be?, one wonders, especially as U.S.-directed OAS (Organization Of American States) officials were caught talking about the desirability of forcing Rene Préval onto an airplane and out of Haiti! The man who revealed that has since been attacked by the corporatocracy, as Ashley Smith reveals in her article titled “How Haiti Was Abandoned.” She writes: “An angry Ricardo Seitenfus, special representative from the Organization of American States (OAS) to Haiti, told the Swiss daily Le Temps, “If there is failure of international aid, it is Haiti.” For that moment of honesty, the OAS fired Seitenfus. But he was right. Haiti’s past year explodes the myth of imperial humanitarianism.”
“Adding a former leader who still commands allegiance into the mix in the coming days could throw a wrench into Haiti’s precarious political landscape,” writes Sarah Barmak. “Commands allegiance” could mean a little support or a lot of support. In this case it means A LOT OF SUPPORT. I guess “precarious political landscape” is another euphemism, this time for ‘plans for the proper consolidation of imperial power in Haiti’. Yep, We just can’t have the plans of cowardly, traitorous Haitian elites and their imperial and capitalist foreign allies and all the criminals they’ve done business with and rely on to keep ‘rebels’ in their place in Haiti upset by the desire of a small number of insignificant black slaves to be free. That just wouldn’t be right.
Shame on you Sarah Barmak. I’m going to share this last bit of scolding of you with Patrick Elie, a long time Lavalas activist who has this to say about his people’s resilience, about which Sarah is sooo concerned:
“Even the best of our political leaders have underestimated the resilience of the Haitian people and their will to hang tough, even under immense pressure. Our politicians need to know that if they pursue a courageous and independent course, a course that risks foreign retribution, then a sizeable minority of powerful individuals will indeed scream in protest and demand that the government back down. But not the majority of the people. The Haitian people are used to enduring enormous hardships, and if they know that they are being asked to endure hardship for the sake of their dignity and autonomy then they will readily endure it. Our leaders need to be more assertive, to be more in tune with the profound feeling of independence that animates the majority of Haitians. It has only ever been the elite who have been willing to cave in to foreign pressure. We need to trust the people’s determination to fight for their rights.” – pg 313 of Damming The Flood
Sarah concludes her article with: “Aristide may believe he can help his troubled country if he returns. But according to U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley the reappearance of former leaders is “last thing that Haiti needs.”” Well, That settles it. The U.S. has decided that what Haiti needs isn’t what it’s citizens want. End of discussion.
Cash that paycheque Sarah. Enjoy it and all those that follow.