[ Here I propose a possible explanation as to why the U.S. might have supported coups in Haiti and Venezuela — an explanation of which I hope scrutinizing readers will disabuse me if I am off-base. –doclalor ]
by Brendan Lalor, thereitis.org
If democratically elected Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was kidnapped by the U.S., it’s worth asking, Why little Haiti? I propose a two-part explanation here, as to why the U.S. supported or pandered to the anti-government forces in Haiti, and pressured Aristide out — an explanation which will, in turn, be extended to cover Venezuela, too:
- The minor component of the explanation is this: There is anti-Aristide residue in the State Department on the part of forces like Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Roger Noriega, who has opposed Aristide’s socialism for years, desiring to destabilize his government and remove him. Even many Republicans may agree that this attitude is based on Cold War fears out-of-place in the 21st century.
- The major component of my explanation runs like this: Aristide poses a threat to Washington’s “Operation FTAA,” a plan to extend the hemispheric dominance of largely U.S.-based multinational corporations. The Bush-pushed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) would transfer even more wealth to the coffers of multinational corporations while forcing Latin American countries to accept economic policies that undermine any attempts they might make to help their poor.
Bush’s FTAA goals will be hindered by any successful socialist democracy whose anti-privatization policies put the needs of its people above the interests of multinational corporations. If Aristide were to succeed in Haiti, it might even inspire an “uppity” movement among Latin American nations; next thing you know, they will be enforcing protections for workers, including living wage laws, and capturing more profits for domestic social programs.
Of course, the Bush Administration guaranteed Aristide’s failure when it halted aid to Haiti upon gaining power in the U.S. (And this in spite of Aristide’s good faith efforts to satisfy stipulated requirements for the aid.) But Haiti was still a threat insofar as it might have joined its little mass to that of a Hugo Chávez in Venezuela, a Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva in Brazil, a Nestor Kirchner in Argentina — socialists all — to form a block of nations opposed to the FTAA. By undermining the socialist democracy in Haiti, the Bush Administration sends a chilling message through Latin America: “Resistance is futile; you will be assimilated or crushed.” (The Administration has arguably used the chilling-effect strategy before: that was probably the goal of its illegal “outing” of CIA agent Valerie Plame; surely it wasn’t mere revenge against her husband, former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson, who debunked the Administration’s false claim that Saddam Hussein had tried to purchase uranium from Niger for use in nuclear weapons.)
Nor has Aristide been the only recent FTAA-related target of the Bush Administration. It has been actively trying to oust Chavez of Venezuela, too. Chavez has, after all, shown himself to be the kind of leader to oppose the FTAA. Recently, the New York Times reported that the U.S. government helped fund the effort to recall Chavez; and the (ironically named) National Endowment for Democracy has funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars to Chavez’ opponents. This is part of a larger pattern of the Administration’s behind-the-scenes undermining of democracy in Venezuela. In 2002, the Administration supported, and perhaps helped facilitate and even plan, the coup d’état that briefly deposed Chavez. (It wasn’t just Washington that embraced the coup publicly; the mainstream U.S. corporate media, the supposed counter-weight of the government, cheered, too.)
In the case of Venezuela, there is also the oil factor. The U.S. imports much of its oil from Venezuela. Chavez’ attempt to attempt to capture more revenue from his nation’s oil sales for social programs cannot have helped win points in Washington.
My major proposal, then, is that Aristide and Chavez have been targeted by the Bush Administration because of their potential to foil Operation FTAA. If that’s correct, and if the Administration does not succeed in toppling Chavez, expect to see Team Bush trying out unfair plays to crush or assimilate Brazil and Argentina.