For Your Reference

U.S. Interference and Aggression in Haiti

March 9, 2004

Throughout the 20th century, U.S. imperialism has repeatedly invaded and occupied Haiti while robbing the resources and exploiting the labor of the people.

From 1915 to 1934, U.S. marines occupied and directly ruled Haiti. Before leaving the marines installed a puppet government, financed and armed by U.S. imperialism. In 1957, U.S. imperialism and the Haitian elite brought the Duvalier family to power in order to crush the rising democratic and social movements of the masses. Aided and trained by U.S. imperialism, the Duvaliers created their own fascist special police, the infamous Tonton Macoutes, to terrorize the masses and suppress any popular organization or struggle.

Through this fascist terror, the Duvaliers not only amassed huge personal wealth but also helped the U.S. multinational corporations mercilessly exploit the Haitian people. U.S. agro-businesses, producing coffee, sugar, cocoa, castor beans and other cash crops for export, all but laid waste to the fertile Haitian soil; U.S. aluminum producers completely pillaged the enormous bauxite deposits once found in the country.

After plundering the country's natural wealth, U.S. corporations poured in to set up branch assembly plants in such sectors as garments, electronics, baseballs, games, sporting goods, toys, footwear and leather. Under the special provisions of the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act, no tariffs are imposed on most products assembled in Haiti from U.S. components and re-imported to the U.S. Today some 150 U.S. corporations take advantage of Haiti's $1.60/day minimum wage to operate branch plants in the country.

In 1986, the Haitian people toppled the Duvalier regime. This revolution unleashed a tremendous democratic and social movement. In 1990, Jean Bertrand Aristide was elected President based on a program of democratic reforms.

U. S. imperialism responded by organizing a CIA coup d'etat and bringing to power a regime of former Duvalierists and other paramilitaries linked with the Haitian elite. For 4 years, a new reign of terror was imposed on the Haitian people. Finally, under intense international and internal pressure, the U.S. allowed Artistide to return to power although he was forced to disband the Haitian army and accept an economic program of "structural adjustment" dictated by the IMF and the international bankers. This included the requirement that the government's first budgetary priority remained paying interest on an external debt of $1.2 billion, contracted mainly during the Duvalier regime.

During his tenure, Aristide carried out certain reforms, including doubling the minimum wage and investing in schools and hospitals. He also resisted the privatization of state-owned resources.

All the time, the U.S. government carried on an overt and covert destabilization campaign against the country. The U.S. government prevented Haiti from receiving some $650 million in multilateral and bilateral aid earmarked for economic development, education, health care, water and road construction, etc. For example, the U.S. government prevented the Aristide government from receiving a previously approved loan of $193 million from the Inter-American Development Bank.

And while starving the Haitian people, U.S. imperialism - through the National Endowment for Democracy and the International Republican Institute - financed and organized opposition forces devoted to overthrowing the constitutional government.

The two main U.S.-organized opposition groups were the Convergence and the Group of 184.

The Group of 184 is composed of the Haitian elite and headed by Andy Apaid, a former supporter of the Duvalier dictatorship and the largest Haitian sweatshop owner.

The Convergence groups together various covert death squads, CIA operatives and paramilitary groups. These include Louis Jorden Chamblain, on the payroll of the CIA and a convicted killer of Aristide supporters, Guy Philippe, a member of the military government brought to power through the CIA-organized coup in 1991 and a leader of several armed attacks against Aristide supporters, Ernst Ravix, commander of paramilitary death squads, etc.

Since U.S. troops again invaded Haiti on February 29, these death squads have been given a freehand to hunt down and murder Aristide supporters and other social activists.