Publications Index | Encyclopedia of Trotskyism | Marxists’s Internet Archive

Socialist Review Index (1993–1996) | Socialist Review 180 Contents

John Barrie


Stolen jewel


From Socialist Review, No. 180, November 1994.
Copyright © Socialist Review.
Copied with thanks from the Socialist Review Archive.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


The Haiti Files
Ed. James Ridgeway
Latin American Bureau £9.99

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western hemisphere. The majority of workers in Haiti are on only 14 cents an hour. When a single parent was asked how she made ends meet on $1.11 a day she said that it cost her: ‘the US equivalent of 44 cents a day for transportation to and from work – there is no public transportation’. She also spent about 30 cents for lunch. This meant that she went home at the end of a nine hour day with the equivalent of 33 cents in her pocket.

The Haiti Files does more than just expose the dire poverty in the country. Through a series of articles it exposes the reason why that poverty exists. The history of Haiti is traced from its beginnings as a Spanish colony, when it was known as the Pearl of the Antilles because of the massive wealth produced there, to its fight for independence from France and its continuous struggle to remain independent from France, then Britain and then the US.

The United States has had the most influence in the history of Haiti. In the 1915 invasion by the US an internal US marines inquiry revealed the extent of the brutality involved: 3,250 rebels killed and 400 executed. When they finally left 20 years later the structures that maintained future regimes were set in place by the US. These were refined by US puppet Papa Doc Duvalier into his paid thugs the Tonton Macoutes.

This cycle of repression seemed to come to an end with Haiti’s first democratically elected president Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 1991. This was short lived. Seven months later the army took power. The coup exposed the inherent US hypocrisy. The then US secretary of state, James Baker, declared ‘this junta is illegal’, and an embargo was declared. The book exposes very well the contempt the US had for Aristide. At one point the junta had the main highway between Haiti and the Dominican Republic recovered due to the increased traffic that was breaking the embargo.

Aristide, instead of relying on the mass movement which helped him to power, decided to negotiate.

He struck a deal with the junta in which he would return to Haiti as president and the US would install their own puppet as prime minister. This tactic failed when the US failed to implement the plan.

The book also goes through the outrageous policy of the US government towards refugees, on the one hand attacking totalitarian regimes while at the same time using forced repatriation back to Haiti and locking up refugees in Guantanamo military base.

The Clinton administration’s policies continue the previous policy of preaching about democracy whilst using every means at their disposal to ensure bloodthirsty dictators remain in power, and promoting the interests of US big business in Haiti at whatever the human cost. This book is a brilliant exposure of American hypocrisy and brutality in Haiti and the failure of Aristide to use the only real weapon he had, the people of Haiti themselves.

Socialist Review Index   |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 5 November 2017