Democracy Enhancements'-U.S. Style

September 25, 2007

The U.S. government saw the emergence of Haiti's popular movement as a threat, which it attempted to contain and counter using the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the United States Agency for International Develop- ment (U.S.AID) and the Central Intelli- gence Agency (CIA). Under the guise of "democratization," "develop- ment," and "the war on drugs," these agencies have funneled millions of dollars to military and intelligence agencies, political parties, and non- governmental organizations within Haiti in order to destabilize genuine popular organizations and build con- servative alternatives. An April 1992 report on Haiti from An effigy ofUncle the Inter-Hemispheric Education "necklaced." Resource Center details how "NED and AID have tried to craft a carefully tailored electoral democracy based on conservative interest groups." 1 Funding for such activities began in earnest with the fall of the Duvalier dictatorship in 1986 and increased sharply in 1989-1990 in preparation for the elections. After President Aristide's victory, support for political projects in Haiti soared again with the addition of a five-year, $24 million package for "Democracy Enhancement." Democracy-enhancement programs try to strengthen conservative forces within the legislature, the local government structures, and civil society at large. Their aim is, as summed up by the Resource Cen- ter report, "to unravel the power and influence of grassroots organizations that formed the popular base of the Aristide government." The U.S. government went to special lengths to counter the demands of Haiti's labor movement. According to research con- ducted by the National Labor Committee, "U.S.AID used U.S. tax dollars to actively oppose a minimum- wage increase from $33 to $.50 an hour proposed by the Aristide government. " 2 The main conduit for democracy-enhancement fund- ing in Haiti is the Integrated Project for the Reinforce- ment of Democracy in Haiti, or PIRED. Established by the United States in 1991, PIRED is directed by U.S. anthropologist Ira Lowenthal. Lowenthal maintained in an interview that PIRED does not oppose the Aristide Sa government, but he confessed that he believes the U.S. government does. He gave three reasons: "a basic U.S. reflex against populism; the U.S. does not like Aristide's vision of redistribution; and Aristide is a small black man talk- ing trash." 3 Although evidence has yet to be unearthed proving U.S. involvement in the coup which ousted Aristide, the list of junta members or supporters who received substantial amounts of U.S. funding is rapidly growing. Recent reports in the New York Times have exposed the CIA's nefarious role in propping up Haiti's corrupt military rulers. 4 Not only did the CIA and the U.S. military establishment forge ties m issymbolically with the most anti-democratic ele- ments of Haiti's military-training these officers and paying them for informa- tion-but the agency also actively participated in estab- lishing and maintaining repressive structures inside Haiti. In 1986, for example, the CIA set up and provid- ed funding for the National Intelligence Service (SIN) under the guise of fighting narcotics. Yet, according to a U.S. embassy official cited by the New York Times, SIN "never produced drug intelligence" but rather used the $500,000 to $1 million they received annually from the United States "for political reasons, against whatever group they wanted to gather information on." A Hait- ian official concurred, saying SIN was "heavily involved in spying on so-called subversive groups.... They were doing nothing but political repression.... They targeted people who were for change." After the coup d'etat, the CIA used the distorted data it obtained in a vocifer- ous attempt to discredit President Aristide and his sup- porters in the popular movement. -M.V.A. & L.R. 1. "Populism, Conservatism and Civil Society in Haiti," NED Back- grounder (Albuquerque, NM: Inter-Hemispheric Education Resource Center, April 1992). 2. "Haiti After The Coup: Sweatshop or Real Development?" The National Labor Committee Education Fund in Support of Worker and Human Rights in Central America, New York, 1993, p. 17. 3. Interview with Marx Aristide, September, 1993, Port-au-Prince. 4. "Key Haiti Leaders Said To Have Been In The CIA's Pay," New York Times, November 1, 1993. Also, "CIA Formed Haitian Unit Later Tied to Narcotics Trade," New York Times, Novem- ber 14, 1993.

Tags: Haiti, USAID, development, foreign investment, labor rights

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