by Ashley Smith
Bill Clinton is no friend to Haiti. The former president, who inflicted great harm to the Haitian people while in office, now acts as a kind of regent, “promoting sweatshops, tourism, and export-oriented agriculture.” A primary actor in stripping Haiti of its sovereignty, Clinton “is putting Haiti up for sale to multinational capital.”
Bill Clinton: Haiti’s Neo-Colonial Overlord
by Ashley Smith
Ashley Smith is a featured speaker at a “Day of Outrage in Harlem” rally and march in support of the people of Haiti, on November 20. The theme of the protest is, “U.S. Out of Haiti – Clinton Out of Harlem.”
“Clinton has betrayed all his humanitarian promises and failed to collect even a fraction of the promised $10 billion for reconstruction.”
The corporate media portrays former President Bill Clinton as a great humanitarian friend of Haiti. The truth could not be more different. He has always supported policies in the interests of multinational corporations and the Haitian ruling class at the expense of the country’s workers, urban poor and peasantry.
After the 1991 coup that toppled Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide, Clinton as President did maintain relatively ineffective sanctions. But he violated his campaign promise and continued George Bush Sr.’s policy of jailing Haitian refugees in Guantanamo. He also pressured Aristide to adopt free market economic policies as the condition of restoring him to power in 1994.
Clinton succeeded in getting Aristide to moderate his program of social reform and drop tariffs on rice to the advantage of U.S. Agribusiness. He then compelled Aristide’s successor, Rene Preval, to further deregulate the economy successfully turning Haiti into the most free market economy in the Western Hemisphere, and consequently its poorest.
“Clinton pressured Aristide to adopt free market economic policies as the condition of restoring him to power in 1994.”
Confronted with this evidence, he recently apologized for impoverishing the lives of peasant farmers in Haiti. But as always with Clinton, his rhetoric could not be more different than his policies. After the second U.S.-backed coup against Aristide in 2004, Clinton has worked with former World Bank employee Paul Collier, multinational corporations and the Haitian elite to impose another free-market plan on Haiti. While U.N. troops have occupied Haiti since 2004, Clinton and Collier toured the country promoting sweatshops, tourism, and export-oriented agriculture.
After the devastating January 2010 earthquake in Port au Prince, Clinton became co-chair of Interim Haiti Recovery Commission. He is now the country’s neo-colonial overlord. He has betrayed all his humanitarian promises and failed to collect even a fraction of the promised $10 billion for reconstruction. And his reconstruction plan is the same free market plan he has been touting since 2004. He is putting Haiti up for sale to multinational capital.
The last thing Haiti needs is more “help” from Bill Clinton and the U.S. Instead, the U.S. and other imperial powers including the U.N. should get out of Haiti and pay reparations so that Haitians can rebuild their country in their own interests.
Ashley Smith can be reached at: [email protected]. For information on the November 20 “Day of Outrage in Harlem,” contact Nellie Bailey at [email protected].