Book by John Maxwell
How to Make Our Own News: A Primer for Environmentalist and Journalists
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Basket to Carry Water
In a well ordered world, Gerard LaTortue
should now be sitting quietly in jail in the Hague, preparing to
defend himself against charges of treason, terrorism, murder,
false imprisonment and malicious prosecution and, possibly,
Instead, on Wednesday this week, he was
sitting, immaculately tailored, as always, in a conference room
at United Nations headquarters, as the Assistant Secretary
General of the OAS vainly attempted to give a decent burial to
US government policies in Haiti.
It was a farce.
Officiating at the obsequies was the Guyanese-born
Assistant Secretary General of the OAS, chosen, one imagines,
because his clean hands distinguished him from a motley
gang of bloodstained bureaucrats who have for two years connived
at one of the most blatant and infamous rapes of human rights in
The occasion was a meeting of the so-called
Haitian Core Group of the UN—nations which over the past two
years have been involved in the murderous suppression of Haitian
democracy and the denial of the Rights of Man to the first
people ever to have implemented those Rights.
Mr Ramdin said the exercise was "closing
a difficult chapter which emanated in part from the dispute
surrounding the year 2000 legislative elections".
What Ramdin was unable to say was that that
dispute was an artificial and unnecessary quarrel, fomented by a
small, selfish cabal of rich Haitians, fostered and amplified by
a witless and gutless American press encouraged by a
cynical and amoral US Administration. Like a bunch of juvenile
delinquents, the elite sulked and screamed until they got their
On the day following the memorial service,
the President of the United States performed what must have
been, even for him, the supreme test of hypocrisy, telephoning
Rene Preval, the President of Haiti, to convey his
congratulations, good wishes and hopes for cooperation in the
war on drugs and pledging "a continuing interest in the
democratic and economic success of Haiti."
For a man whose previous encounters with
democracy have left that institution bruised and unstable, Mr
Bush had a nerve. Two years ago his soldiers and diplomats, had armed
and provisioned a criminal aggregation of rapists, mass
murderers and putschists to go into Haiti to finish what all the
American NGOs and enhancers of Democracy had not been able to
do: to subvert the lawfully and overwhelmingly elected President
When the mercenaries proved unable to do that
job, the US itself stepped in with its Ambassador and its
Marines making a predawn call on the President to inform him
that if he didn't leave the country his life was worthless. They
put him on a cargo plane and rendered him to Africa.
It was not only Aristide and his family who
were taken for a ride. The world was conned by official
propaganda and journalistc pimps, which managed to paint a
picture of the mild-mannered slum priest as a violent, corrupt
demonic oppressor of his people. The US Secretary of State was
reported to have warned Ron Dellums, a former US Congressman, a
friend of Aristide's, to tell the President that he was going to
die and that the US would do nothing to save him.
President Bush Feb 29, 2004: "President
Aristide has resigned. He has left his country, The Constitution
of Haiti is working. This government believes it essential that
Haiti have a hopeful future. This is the beginning of a new
chapter in the country’s history."
What a chapter it has been!
The new harbingers of democracy looted the
Presidential Palace, burned museums, shut down radio and
television stations and terrorised the country, murdering anyone
who they considered to be a loyalist of the ancien regime—a
chimere. The OAS's man in Haiti, a Canadian, travelled to
celebrate with the imposed Prime Minister, Mr La Tortue, as he
declared the sanguine gang of murderers and rapists to be
Caricom, whose representatives had completely
surrendered to US propaganda and tried to get Aristide to
surrender to his elite tormentors, were left up the creek,
without a paddle, trying to figure out what day it was and which
way the wind was blowing.
The then OAS Assistant Secretary General, one
Luigi Einaudi, an American, had been heard to say at Haiti's
bicentennial celebrations two months earlier that Haiti's only
problem was that it was being run by Haitians. The elite with
the help of the gangsters and murderers soon changed that. In
concert with the United Nations, the Americans, the Canadians,
the French, and latterly the Brazilians, no Haitian chimere
would be allowed to bark unpunished and thousands died,
thousands of them murdered, plus 3000 suffocated by
malign incompetence and floods.
The next two years are a chronicle of
murderous mismanagement, cruelty, repression and incompetence.
But the Americans, scattering democracy like
manure across the Middle East, had to be seen to be doing
something useful in this hemisphere. Elections were all
important. Mr Roger Noriega said so, (his mentor Jesse Helms
must have told him that) Mr Einaudi said so and to top it all,
Dr Condoleezza Rice, the US Secretary of State said so.
Unfortunately, for the newly arranged
democracy to be, Haiti's poverty and lack of electricity make it
impossible for voting machines to be used and the recent
elections had to be carried out the old way, un-hackable except
by machete. There were neither computers nor machetes, just lots
and lots and lots of 'dirt poor' Haitians smart enough to figure
out how to get their democracy and their leaders back. Despite
all the plots and stratagems their will was made manifest and
the electoral authority and the US government have been forced
to admit that the people of Haiti have elected in one go, the
president they can get if they can’t get the one they want.
But this is just the start of another black
farce, unless Jamaica's next Prime Minister and her Caricom
colleagues intervene decisively with the support of the South
Africans and the Brazilians and any others who respect Haiti.
Preval has been given a basket to carry
His country is still run by criminals, the
leaders of the people are still in exile or in prison and
thousands of crimes need to be prosecuted and criminals brought
to justice. And then the job of development will need to be
To do any of this Haiti requires money and
help. Some of the help will come from the millions of Haitians
driven out of Haiti in the past. At this point it may be useful
to remember some of the argument before the coup in 2004. Just
before the coup I wrote in this column:
twentieth century story of Haiti is one of economic and
social strip-mining, of rapacious exploitation on
a scale that is almost incomprehensible. As one of
my correspondents says, Haiti is an international crime
scene. For decades the Haitian people have been driven
abroad to seek some sort of dignity, livelihood
and an end to suffering. The brightest people including
journalists, have been murdered or are in
voluntary or involuntary exile.
Haiti needs help, not interference. The
people of goodwill, in Haiti or outside, must be brought into a
dialogue of respect for each other, to devise solutions, made by
Haitians for Haitians. But they need help, simply to build the
basic infrastructure for dialogue, for communication, for
education and for health. Haiti is a war zone, where the
rich have scorched the earth so thoroughly that the
emotional landscape seems to have been sown with salt."
I then reported on a fact which has obviously
long been forgotten:
week, Haitians in the United States were asked for their
opinions on what should happen in Haiti. A poll among
Haitians across the United States was done by the
New California Media Coalition, an association of
ethnic media companies .
More than half (52%) of those polled said they believed
President Aristide should stay in office in the interest
of democracy. Just over one-third (35%) believed he
should resign. More than half - 55% - felt the
Haitian Opposition was fighting for 'power'; only 22%
believed [they were] fighting for 'democracy"'.
these figures and the facts reported elsewhere, it would
seem a little crazy for CARICOM/OAS to be putting
pressure on Aristide to dismantle his government to give
power to an opposition which refuses even to discuss its
differences with Aristide.
I repeat these statements because very little
has changed in the Haitian reality since then. Aristide's
support has probably risen.
But the power elite are still there, elected
by no one, responsible to no one but their bankers and clearly,
totally contemptuous of the people upon whom they feed.
The Prime Minister is still in jail. The
Americans, in a demonstration of remarkable stupidity, are still
demonising Aristide and purporting to be able to direct Haitians
in the solutions of their problems.
What has been clear for two hundred years is
that Haiti's main problems have been and are, in order, the
United States of America and France, joined now by Canada.
The recent apparent suicide of the Brazilian
general commanding the United Nations Mission in Haiti –
MINUSTAH – occurred shortly after he had met with the two most
prominent members of the elite. One wonders what they could have
said to him and what drove him to take his own life, if indeed
If he did take his own life one imagines that
confronted by the intransigent stupidity, greed, and racism of
the elite he was so depressed that he could see no way out. But
we are faced with a holocaust, which must be ended. We can no
longer connive at the slow motion genocide of the Haitians. If
you believe that my use of the word genocide is overblown,
please consider the meaning of it.
Article III of the convention against
means any of the following acts committed with intent to
destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical,
racial or religious group, as such:
(a) Killing members of
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of
Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life
calculated to bring about
its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures
intended to prevent births within the group;
transferring children of the group to another group.
IV: Persons committing genocide or any of the other acts
enumerated in ARTICLE III shall be punished, whether
they are constitutionally responsible rulers, public
officials or private individuals.
As my correspondent said two years ago, Haiti
is an international crime scene, and the crime is genocide.
Certainly, what has happened in Haiti is genocide as described
in the first three sub-clauses of Article III.
Haiti's 8 million people may be luckier than
the 6 million Jews, gypsies, blacks, homosexuals and other 'untermenschen'
killed by the Nazis; they are at least, still alive.
But life in Haiti is clearly not life as most
people anywhere else understand it, with the exception of Darfur.
The major actors in this crime may make
amends to some extent, by paying reparations to Haiti for their
misdeeds over nearly two centuries. But what they can do which
would have the most beneficial effect is to extricate themselves
from the affairs of Haiti.
Nation states are generally formed by groups
of people wanting to preserve their common culture. The
Haitians, with the exception of the Elite, transcended that when
they abolished slavery and declared independence in 1804. Their
shared culture was the desire for freedom, for which they had
fought so long and hard. Rising out of the most cruel and
barbarous slavery, they extended the hand of friendship to
everyone, black and white alike. They financed Simon Bolivar and
sent him off to liberate South America.
If only for this reason, we, the world, owe
them the most profound respect.
The best way of paying that respect is that
we should respect and guarantee their freedom, their human
rights and celebrate their unquenchable dignity under the most
Copyright©John Maxwell email@example.com
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the massacre of the poor that the world ignored
The US cannot accept that the Haitian
president it ousted still has support
July 18, 2005
When terror strikes western capitals, it doesn't just blast
bodies and buildings, it also blasts other sites of suffering off
the media map. A massacre of Iraqi children, blown up while taking
sweets from US soldiers, is banished deep into the inside pages of
our newspapers. The outpouring of compassion for the daily deaths
of thousands from Aids in Africa is suddenly treated as a
In this context, a massacre in Haiti alleged to
have taken place the day before the London bombings never stood a
chance. Well before July 7, Haiti couldn't compete in the
suffering sweepstakes: the US-supported coup that ousted President
Jean-Bertrand Aristide had the misfortune of taking place in late
February 2004, just as the occupation of Iraq was reaching a new
level of chaos and brutality. The crushing of Haiti's
constitutional democracy made headlines for only a couple of
But the battle over Haiti's future rages on.
Most recently, on July 6, 300 UN troops stormed the pro-Aristide
slum of Cité Soleil. The UN admits that five were killed, but
residents put the number of dead at no fewer than 20. A Reuters
correspondent, Joseph Guyler Delva, says he "saw seven bodies
in one house alone, including two babies and one older woman in
her 60s". Ali Besnaci, head of Médecins Sans Frontières in
Haiti, confirmed that on the day of the siege an
"unprecedented" 27 people came to the MSF clinic with
gunshot wounds, three-quarters of them women and children.
Where news of the siege was reported, it was
treated as a necessary measure to control Haiti's violent armed
gangs. But the residents of Cité Soleil tell a different story:
they say they are being killed not for being violent, but for
being militant - for daring to demand the return of their elected
president. On the bodies of their dead friends and family members,
they place photographs of Aristide.
It was only 10 years ago that President Clinton
celebrated Aristide's return to power as "the triumph of
freedom over fear". So it seems worth asking: what changed?
Aristide is certainly no saint, but even if the
worst of the allegations against him are true, they pale next to
the rap sheets of the convicted killers, drug smugglers and arms
traders who ousted him. Turning Haiti over to this underworld gang
out of concern for Aristide's lack of "good governance"
is like escaping an annoying date by accepting a lift home from
A few weeks ago I visited Aristide in Pretoria,
South Africa, where he lives in forced exile. I asked him what was
really behind his dramatic falling-out with Washington. He offered
an explanation rarely heard in discussions of Haitian politics -
actually, he offered three: "Privatisation, privatisation and
The dispute dates back to a series of meetings
in early 1994, a pivotal moment in Haiti's history that Aristide
has rarely discussed. Haitians were living under the barbaric rule
of Raoul Cédras, who overthrew Aristide in a 1991 US-backed coup.
Aristide was in Washington and, despite popular calls for his
return, there was no way he could face down the junta without
Increasingly embarrassed by Cédras's abuses,
the Clinton administration offered Aristide a deal: US troops
would take him back to Haiti - but only after he agreed to a
sweeping economic programme with the stated goal to
"substantially transform the nature of the Haitian
Aristide agreed to pay the debts accumulated
under the kleptocratic Duvalier dictatorships, slash the civil
service, open up Haiti to "free trade" and cut import
tariffs on rice and corn. It was a lousy deal but, Aristide says,
he had little choice. "I was out of my country and my country
was the poorest in the western hemisphere, so what kind of power
did I have at that time?"
But Washington's negotiators made one demand
that Aristide could not accept: the immediate sell-off of Haiti's
state-owned enterprises, including phones and electricity.
Aristide argued that unregulated privatisation would transform
state monopolies into private oligarchies, increasing the riches
of Haiti's elite and stripping the poor of their national wealth.
He says the proposal simply didn't add up: "Being honest
means saying two plus two equals four. They wanted us to sing two
plus two equals five."
Aristide proposed a compromise: Rather than
sell off the firms outright, he would "democratise"
them. He defined this as writing anti-trust legislation, ensuring
that proceeds from the sales were redistributed to the poor and
allowing workers to become shareholders. Washington backed down,
and the final text of the agreement called for the "democratisation"
of state companies.
But when Aristide announced that no sales could
take place until parliament had approved the new laws, Washington
cried foul. Aristide says he realised then that what was being
attempted was an "economic coup". "The hidden
agenda was to tie my hands once I was back and make me give for
nothing all the state public enterprises."
He threatened to arrest anyone who went ahead
with privatisations. "Washington was very angry at me. They
said I didn't respect my word, when they were the ones who didn't
respect our common economic policy."
The US cut off more than $500m in promised
loans and aid, starving his government, and poured millions into
the coffers of opposition groups, culminating ultimately in the
February 2004 armed coup.
And the war continues. On June 23 Roger Noriega,
US assistant secretary of state for western hemisphere affairs,
called on UN troops to take a more "proactive role" in
going after armed pro-Aristide gangs. In practice, this has meant
a wave of collective punishment inflicted on neighbourhoods known
for supporting Aristide, most recently in Cité Soleil on July 6.
Yet despite these attacks, Haitians are still
on the streets - rejecting the planned sham elections, opposing
privatisation and holding up photographs of their president. And
just as Washington's experts could not fathom the possibility that
Aristide would reject their advice a decade ago, today they cannot
accept that his poor supporters could be acting of their own
"We believe that his people are receiving
instructions directly from his voice and indirectly through his
acolytes that communicate with him personally in South
Africa," Noriega said.
Aristide claims no such powers. "The
people are bright, the people are intelligent, the people are
courageous," he says. "They know that two plus two does not
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* * * * *
The New Jim Crow
Mass Incarceration in the Age of
By Michele Alexander
Contrary to the
rosy picture of race embodied in Barack
Obama's political success and Oprah
Winfrey's financial success, legal
scholar Alexander argues vigorously and
persuasively that [w]e have not ended
racial caste in America; we have merely
redesigned it. Jim Crow and legal racial
segregation has been replaced by mass
incarceration as a system of social
control (More African Americans are
under correctional control today... than
were enslaved in 1850). Alexander
reviews American racial history from the
colonies to the Clinton administration,
delineating its transformation into the
war on drugs. She offers an acute
analysis of the effect of this mass
incarceration upon former inmates who
will be discriminated against, legally,
for the rest of their lives, denied
employment, housing, education, and
public benefits. Most provocatively, she
reveals how both the move toward
colorblindness and affirmative action
may blur our vision of injustice: most
Americans know and don't know the truth
about mass incarceration—but her
carefully researched, deeply engaging,
and thoroughly readable book should
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Blacks in Hispanic Literature: Critical Essays
Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a
collection of fourteen essays by scholars and
creative writers from Africa and the Americas.
Called one of two significant critical works on
Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late
1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of
Carter G. Woodson and
Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as
well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations
were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early
essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish
medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an
historical context for understanding 20th-century
creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone
writers, such as Cuban
Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist,
Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the
significance of Negritude in Latin America. This
collaborative text set the tone for later
conferences in which writers and scholars worked
together to promote, disseminate, and critique the
literature of Spanish-speaking people of African
descent. . . .
Cited by a
literary critic in 2004 as "the seminal study in the
field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which
most scholars in the field 'cut their teeth'."
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posted 25 February 2005