Date: Wed, 17 Dec 97 16:48:48 CST
From: Haiti Progres <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Organization: Haiti Progres
Subject: This Week in Haiti 15:39 12/17/97
This Week in Haiti,
Henry Kissinger is one of the new directors of the Minoterie, Haiti's flour mill. That's right. The same Henry Kissinger who carpet-bombed Vietnam, who held Richard Nixon's hand through the Watergate scandal, who has been the leading ideologue of the Rockefellers and the Eastern establishment of the U.S. bourgeoisie for the past three decades. That Henry Kissinger.
He is a director of the Continental Grain Company, the U.S. agribusiness giant which purchased -- many Haitian parliamentarians say illegally -- 70% ownership of the state flour mill for $9 million in October in conjunction with another agro-behemoth, the Seaboard Corporation of Kansas (see Haïti Progres, Vol. 15, No. 31, October 22 - 28, 1997). Continental Grain is the 5th largest privately held company in the U.S. with sales last year of $16 billion, according to the Dec. 1 issue of Forbes magazine.
Continental Grain and Seaboard first teamed up in 1966 to buy a flour mill in Guayaquil, Ecuador. They are both now globe- straddling transnationals. Continental does business in over 100 countries throughout North American, Latin America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. Meanwhile, Seaboard has plants in 17 countries and total export sales in Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas of about $342.6 million in 1996.
Seaboard is primarily a pork and poultry producer, having its own
ocean-liners to export to the Caribbean. It is likely that the
Minoterie will be a beach-head for Seaboard's assault to become
Haiti's primary provider of
poule, the meat
dishes prepared from Haitian pigs and chickens.
It is therefore no surprise that Continental and Seaboard were held up
as models at the 21st Annual Miami Conference of Caribbean and Latin
American Action (CLAA), a gathering of U.S. businessmen held last
week. Symbolizing how U.S. capitalists are taking over the Haitian
economy, U.S. Ambassador William Swing became the de facto
spokesperson of the Haitian delegation during the session on Haiti, at
least in the eyes of Dr. Kelly Bastien, the president of the Chamber
of Deputies, who was also on hand.
Unfortunately, despite the
presence of representatives of the CMEP [Council for Modernization of
Public Enterprises] and the Secretary of Tourism [Maryse Pennett], it
was the American ambassador who gave the overview of the social and
political situation in Haiti, complained Bastien afterwards. To
rectify this irregularity, Bastien felt compelled to give another view
of Haiti's needs.
I didn't want to lie to them, Bastien said.
I told them that
there was a difference between economic growth and development... As
public officials, we don't want just any growth, where the population
doesn't benefit from the profits that come with growth. We need a
redistribution of wealth, and any economic program has to have a
social component for education, health- care, housing, etc., what we
would call the fundamental rights of all citizens.
Bastien might as well have read Marx's Communist Manifesto to the
suits in his audience. His statements so discomforted the CLAA
businessmen that Radio Metropole's resident neoliberal economist
Kesner Pharel rushed to the airwaves to scold the lawmaker on
The leader of the lower house contradicted in an unseemly
way the representatives of the [Haitian] executive branch by
presenting a very bleak picture of the economic situation, which his
colleagues in the parliament have greatly contributed to creating,
The specialist in medicine thought it appropriate to
give an economics lesson to the investors... Our country's officials
must understand that this type of forum is not a good place to express
their differences, and when they do it, they will never obtain the
development they so desire. In other words, all that is required
at a business meeting are pep talks about Haiti's
low wages, rather than a frank discussion
of its problems. These are the caring businessmen into whose hands
Pharel, President Rene Preval, and other neoliberals want to put
Haiti's economic future.
At the CLAA conference, officials from the CMEP said that the
to privatize key state-owned industries [in Haiti] should be complete
by the end of 1998 despite an ongoing political crisis, according
to Reuters. Never mind that the political crisis is precisely over
whether privatization should proceed at all. Preval's officials are
going to push ahead while trying to divert the attention of Haiti's
people to other things.
So diversion was largely the purpose of Preval's helicopter trip last
week to the town of Jean Rabel in Haiti's impoverished Northwest. He
came to promote his supposed
agrarian reform, which is really
nothing more than a make-shift arrangement whereby the State has
become a leasing agent and intermediary between small peasants, who
still work the land, and big landowners, who still own it.
started an agrarian reform in the Artibonite, Preval declared on
I have brought it pretty far, and now it can continue to
go forward by itself.
But the peasants of Jean Rabel -- many of whom belong to popular
organizations like Tet Kole -- told Preval that no kind of agrarian
reform was possible in their region without justice. Ten years ago,
big landowners formed goon squads which massacred and wounded hundreds
of peasants demanding land.
You can't do an agrarian reform like
the one in the Artibonite here in the Northwest, especially in Jean
Rabel, Tet Kole member Pierre Joseph told Preval.
real agrarian reform could be done here, the president would have to
order the authorities in [the nearby city of] Port-de-Paix to rearrest
all the people who participated in the massacre of July 23, 1987.
Meanwhile, a similar call for justice was coming from the town of Gonaves, where on April 22, 1994 at least two dozen fleeing men, women, and children were cut down by gunfire from Haitian soldiers and their paramilitary cohorts. Until now, the Haitian government has somehow managed not to bring to trial the criminals who carried out this massacre.
Worse yet, the U.N.
peace-keeping forces also fired on Haitians
in Gonaves on November 13, 1995, possibly killing 2 and wounding
several others, and nothing has been done about that either.
that day, the U.N. troops fired on the population, and that was right
in front of the offices of the MICIVIH [U.N. Civilian Mission in
Haiti], declared Father Daniel Roussiere of the Gonaves branch
of the human rights group Commission Justice et Paix. The MICIVIH,
which just had its mandate renewed for one year last week, is composed
observers who are supposed to monitor human rights
Until today, the MICIVIH and the U.N. have never
produced any report on this event, Roussiere said.
denounce human rights violations made by Haitians and tolerate those
made by the U.N. troops, while the MICIVIH remains silent. This is a
true injustice not only toward the victims but toward the Haitian
Roussiere also recalled that U.S. soldiers took 160,000 documents from
the headquarters of the Haitian Army and the CIA-backed death-squad
FRAPH in 1994 and have never returned them to the Haitian government,
despite repeated requests.
The Haitian people aren't stupid. If the
U.S. government really wanted to develop Haiti they would return the
documents that could help the Haitian government bring criminals to
justice, Roussiere said.
But it's clear, the U.S. government and the U.S. businessmen it represents don't want to develop Haiti. Men like Henry Kissinger, they just want to see growth.