Varieties of eating dirt: US, Haiti & Nicaragua
Varieties of eating dirt: the United States, Haiti and Nicaraguaby Toni Solo, January 22nd 2010
The US government and its international and regional allies view real autonomy and independence for Caribbean nations and for Central and South American countries as a threat. The US government response has been to militarize Latin America and the Caribbean with new bases, principally in Panama and Colombia. Now, President Obama's administration has exploited the catastrophe in Haiti to militarize that country under the pretext of providing security for humanitarian relief operations.
Governments in the region see straight through that pretext to the menace behind it. Within Haiti, the US military occupation enables the US government to suppress any resurgence of the virtually banned, but widely popular, Fanmi Lavalas political movement, Haiti's largest. It also makes less likely a return from his involuntary sojourn in South Africa by Fanmi Lavalas leader, the exiled ex-President Jean Bertrand Aristide.
Cuban and Venezuelan support for vital medical, education and other development cooperation programmes in Haiti puts US government aid to shame. The US occupation is likely to hinder Cuban and Venezuelan development cooperation to Haiti. It also gives the US government another base from which to menace Cuba and Venezuela while warning off other countries in the region anxious to benefit from extremely successful Venezuelan-led development cooperation programmes like Petrocaribe or ALBA (the Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas).
History the corporate media cover up
Much comment on the terrifying catastrophe in Port-au-Prince has referred in passing to Haiti's history. Virtually no reports mention that the United States occupied Haiti for almost 20 years between 1915 and 1934. From 1917 to 1919, patriotic Haitians in the north of the country resisted the US occupation under the determined leadership of Charlemagne Peralte. Back then, Peralte wrote,
“For four years the [American] Occupation has been insulting us constantly. Each morning it brings us a new offense. The people are poor and the Occupation still oppresses us with taxes.......Let’s get rid of those savage people, whose beastly character is evident in the person of their President Wilson—traitor, bandit, trouble maker, and thief.”
Peralte was killed when he was betrayed to a US Marines murder squad. With the US government's latest military takeover of Haiti, President Obama follows in the footsteps of President Woodrow Wilson, also a Nobel prize winner. Like the Honduran military coup, Haiti's recent history is a solid refutation of the big lie that the US government promotes democracy in Latin America and the Caribbean.
In the national elections scheduled for early 2011, as in past elections, the Haitian authorities, have deliberately blocked the participation of Fanmi Lavalas. The US government and its allies are also determined not to allow President Aristide to return from the exile imposed by them during the 2004 coup. President Aristide was kidnapped by US military and dumped in the Central African Republic before finding refuge in South Africa.
Western Bloc countries – the US, Canada, the European Union and its Pacific allies - deliberately drove Haiti and its people down into the privatized neo-liberal dirt. Now those rich countries' leading politicians lament the Haitian government's inability to respond to the disastrous earthquake. One wonders what they expected. A report by US writer Greg Palast noted that in all of Haiti – a country of around 10 million people – there were only two fire stations.
Rampant US crony corruption
People in the US might well look long and hard at what has happened in Haiti. A wealthy, mediocre, corrupt, greedy oligarchy leeched the country for all it was worth, facilitated the destruction of its environment and abandoned the great majority of the population to economic indigence and political impotence. The same process is well under way in the United States.
Nothing could be clearer after the systematic betrayal of the majority of people in the US by the gang of plutocrat grifters who have sacrificed a productive US economy in favour of its elite financial sector. Consider the fate of Federal Accounting Standards Board Rule 140. Originally scheduled to take effect in July 2008, it was meant to force transparency on too-big-to-fail banks by bringing onto their books multi-billion dollar losses hidden away – Enron style - in off-shore special purpose investment vehicles.
In 2008, Rule 140's implementation was postponed until November 2009. Now the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation is caught up in a deal proposing that the FASB's Rule 140 be postponed again, possibly for years. Bloomberg on December 15th 2009 reported:
“Executives from Citigroup, JPMorgan, Bank of America, Wells Fargo & Co., Capital One Financial Corp. and the American Securitization Forum met FDIC officials Dec. 2 to discuss capital requirements related to the FASB measure.
The executives proposed that “the transition period should extend beyond 2010 to a point in the economy where unemployment is lower and issuers are less capital-restrained from growing their balance sheet and providing credit,” according to a paper the ASF presented the FDIC.”
The too-big-to-fail Wall Street Banks are insolvent. They do not have sufficient reserves to pay liabilities hidden away in mark-to-model junk, much of which they swapped with the Federal Reserve, and also in their off-shore special purpose entities. Even a cursory glance at the Federal Reserve balance sheet is enough to show this up.
At December 31st 2009, the Federal Reserve had over US$900bn of mortgage backed securities on its books, and US$88bn of preferred interests in Bear Stearns/AIG bailout spin-offs. Those assets are actually worth a fraction of their bogus mark-to-model valuations dreamt up by creative accountants and dodgy auditors. The Federal Reserve balance sheet does not give a true and fair view of the US Central Bank's finances.
All this comes after government sponsored entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have taken on mortgages and mortgage backed securities nominally valued at billions of dollars, many in fact worth a few tens of cents on the dollar. Similarly, the US Treasury and the Federal Reserve made it possible for too-big-to-fail banks to recoup losses from the American International Group at 100 cents on the dollar – far in excess of their true value. Amazingly, in that context, plenty of economists – even progressive economists – have publicly agreed with Dick Cheney's idiotic remark that “Reagan proved deficits don't matter”.
This consensus has fomented a policy climate tolerating unjustifiable bail-outs benefiting a bankrupt, crooked finance sector so as to blow up yet more speculative bubbles. It is only a matter of time before the next crony casino-capitalist crisis again crashes a finance-skewed system that fails to produce wealth for the United States people, let alone allocate it appropriately. The latest Obama-Volcker froth about “taking on the banks” - the very banks that bought Obama his Presidency - will quickly evaporate in Washington's corrupt corporate-owned hot-house legislature.
The US, Haiti and Nicaragua
Back in January 2008, AP reporter Jonathan Katz wrote of Haiti, "...in places like Cite Soleil, the oceanside slum where Charlene shares a two-room house with her baby, five siblings and two unemployed parents, cookies made of dirt, salt and vegetable shortening have become a regular meal..."When my mother does not cook anything, I have to eat them three times a day," Charlene said.”
Eating dirt is where the too-big-to-fail elite and their political cronies are driving the people of the United States. The only difference between Haiti's corrupt ruling class and that of the United States is the scale of the resources they have wasted. They share exactly the same mentality.
Nicaragua has narrowly managed to escape Haiti's fate. The country's corrupt oligarchy tried for 16 years to sink Nicaragua's people into hopelessness very similar to that endured by the people of Haiti. Western Bloc governments – of the US and Canada, the European Union and their Pacific allies – approved, oversaw and facilitated that social and economic debacle. They imposed privatization of vital public resources, suppression of domestic agricultural production, cuts in education and health care and deregulation in favour of rapacious, environmentally destructive foreign investors.
Just in time, after taking office in January 2007, Nicaragua's FSLN government confronted the failure of that model and turned Nicaragua's economy around. Under President Daniel Ortega, domestic agricultural production and exports have reached record levels while his government has simultaneously funded free education and health care. Nicaragua's economy coped with the global economic crisis better than other countries'.
It did so through astute coordination of private sector capacity and public sector spending judiciously distributed between social spending, infrastructure investment and support for small and medium-sized businesses. Contradicting the stupid, barbaric neoliberal consensus, Nicaragua's government prioritized agricultural production, dramatically improving food security and winning new export markets.
Without doubt, access to resources from the ALBA regional economic and development cooperation bloc greatly increased Nicaragua's options. Greater policy choices made possible by ALBA portend greater independence for countries formerly dominated by the United States. That is why the US government facilitated the military coup and the subsequent electoral farce in Honduras. It is why the US military is occupying Haiti.
Having crushed democratic politics in Haiti and in Honduras, the continuing regional deployment of US military resources demonstrates that President Obama intends to keep things that way. ALBA governments like those in Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Venezuela have made significant progress on behalf of their peoples by rejecting US economic and diplomatic bullying. Now, more than ever, they are targets of the corrupt, failed-state US gangster plutocracy and its Western Bloc cronies.
Toni writes for http://tortillaconsal.com/