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Haitian yellow unions are giving legitimacy to the unscrupulous Haitian dominant classes. CTH is one

category central america / caribbean | economy | opinion / analysis author Monday March 30, 2009 20:05author by Jan Makandal Report this post to the editors

In every social formation, the working class faces the daily ruthless exploitation and domination of the capitalist class. Other classes in capitalist society or capitalist dominated society also face the wrath of bourgeois domination but the working class is one of the classes that deals both with domination and exploitation, giving the working class an historical role in bringing humanity to a much higher form of social relations based on a classless society. This special relation of the workers to capital allows the working class movement to combat the petit bourgeois interpretation of bourgeois democracy.
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Haitian yellow unions are giving legitimacy to the unscrupulous Haitian dominant classes. CTH is one example.

THE BATTLE FOR THE MINIMUM WAGE ADJUSTMENT AND WAGE HIKE IN HAITI



In every social formation, the working class faces the daily ruthless exploitation and domination of the capitalist class. Other classes in capitalist society or capitalist dominated society also face the wrath of bourgeois domination but the working class is one of the classes that deals both with domination and exploitation, giving the working class an historical role in bringing humanity to a much higher form of social relations based on a classless society. This special relation of the workers to capital allows the working class movement to combat the petit bourgeois interpretation of bourgeois democracy.

The daily struggle of workers permits us to expose the empty phrases of liberty and equality. These empty bubble phrases constantly bursting in the faces of demagogues and those of us who are falling for them, are only veils in our faces insisting that the only liberty, we the dominated and exploited have, if we do not resist and struggle, is the freedom to die of hunger or the equality of the production agent who sells his/her labor power to the bourgeois in his free market. In all fairness, would a capitalist agree to sell his goods at a cost lower to their real value? Why should workers then be forced to sell their labor power to capital for less than what it produces? In capitalist societies, especially those dominated by a deformed, very dependent form of capitalism, the working class is mostly denied that right of collective bargaining and if it gained that right thru struggles, capital will do it utmost best to recuperate it by an increase in the cost of living or by repression. Bourgeois democracy is the embodiment of bourgeois dictatorship, the enforcement of the right of capital to exploit labor.

Yellow unionism is a manifestation of a contradictory reality of class dictatorship and class democracy. Its role is to maintain a level of disorganization, disunity and appeasement among workers, at the same time keeping the dominant classes, mainly the bourgeoisie, in their dominant role. Clearly, the role of yellow unions varies in different social formations due to different levels of class struggle and the differences in structural strength of the bourgeois democratic structure. In many cases we have seen these types of unions maintain a level of combativeness in the working class struggle only to finally hand over the working class and its struggles, and all its demands on a silver platter to the dominant classes.

In Haiti, one of the yellow unions that has been well exposed in the battlefield as such is being revamped by reactionary forces as well as pro-imperialist, pro-Lavalas forces, (for whom many are paid consultants), to offer an alternative to combative and militant autonomous working class organizations and also to promote a particular concept of a collaborative union with its fundamental enemy, the capitalist class and the State Apparatus in which the central role is to maintain bourgeois dictatorship. In imperialist social formations, yellow unions also play the same role in their own setting. Haiti has plenty of yellow unions aligned with different fractions of the dominant classes, such as FOS [Federation of Syndicated Workers, CTH [Federation of Haitian Workers], and the Transport Union just to name a few.

The working class, in its perpetual antagonistic relation with capital, historically, constructs many organizations in the battlefield against the bourgeois class. In the perennial struggle against capital, workers have built, in many cases with a lot of bureaucratic confusion and disorientation, two levels of organization, at a revolutionary level and at a democratic/mass level. Bureaucratic practices have plagued each level and the relation of these two levels. A lot of lessons need to be learned in order to systematically rectify so we don’t keep repeating and reproducing the mistakes of the past in order for our class to advance effectively in its historical task to bury capital and offer a new alternative for a new society.

The mass democratic level can’t be a service organization, like many yellow unions identify themselves. The mass democratic level needs to be a combative organization of the dominated and exploited classes, constantly fighting to conquer new demands. The mass democratic level should not be a link that guarantees collaboration, a peaceful coexistence of two classes that are fundamentally antagonistically opposed. Life lessons have already proven to us that with any attempt, any application, of a non-antagonistic relation, the workers always end up with more shackles. In fact, the more our organization is non-combative, the less we will accomplish, the more the capitalist class will take back from us. The capitalist class will not hesitate for a second to strip us of all our gains, so valiantly fought for by our brothers and sisters. One of the examples is the eight hours struggle that we have gradually conceded to our exploiter. One of the objectives of May Day was for workers to sell their labor for a time and be able to reproduce their strength. Nowadays many of us need to work more hours and still can’t face life’s demands created by the capitalist class. The more we remain non-combative, the more they will take away from us, with the complicity of yellow union leadership.

The problem of workers is not only a national question but also an international question. This is the importance for workers to rebuild, retake an international structure where they can organize their battles against a common enemy. The paid lobbyists of the Lavalas movement, in their fishing escapade to offer an alternative to one of the most militant workers organizations, Batay Ouvriye, hooked in their fishing rods one of the most controversial and questionable service unions, the CTH. They claimed that organization is about a hundred thousand strong. That would have made it the most powerful labor organization in Haiti. It is not clear if this demagogic claim is really in favor of CTH, unless they think we are politically challenged and mentally deficient. To be that strong and have so little to show for in term of labor gains, at the democratic level, in Haiti is very telling of why we should not be a service union. They are part of many class collaboration institutions that are serving the interest of the dominant classes. At the same time, the need to recognize the limit of combative worker organizations is very important. The militancy of combative workers organization in Haiti is important in defining the level of struggle. The level of political consciousness and the dialectical relation between the subjective/objective factors are indicators of the task ahead. The working class will not be able to offer a viable alternative to capital at any level nor will it be able to unify other dominated classes outside an intransigent anti-opportunist struggle in its midst.

There is a subservient ideological mentality being propagated in the masses to disrobe of any remnant of nationalism left to us by our combative and revolutionary forefathers. This mentality of dependency tends to penetrate the Haitian social formation at all social levels. At the level of the dominant classes and the State Apparatus, it is manifested in reality by the politics of misery management. To be an efficient beggar, such as the Duvalier, Aristide, Latortue and now Preval governments, one has to be able to convince everyone that we are poor, we have to be able to show that we are powerless even when facing natural disasters and that without foreign help, we cannot achieve anything. Even our independence has to be celebrated with foreign aid.

Although the CTH sometimes articulated an anti-occupation position, they said nothing when Aristide was returning with American troops, they only protested when he was not favored in the third occupation. Now they are part of the political trend asking for his return, knowing clearly that to have Aristide return, imperialism needs to guarantee it, imperialism has to underwrite it. Basically, there is no dialectical relation between their anti-occupation rhetoric and their praxis.

The class collaborationist approach of all yellow unions, including the CTH, is reflected in their remunerated participation in many tri-lateral committees spearheaded by the government. The fact is there have no combative approach to defend workers’ interests and to use the platform of these tri-lateral commissions to expose the bourgeoisie and its state and to prove to the workers that nothing good will come out of these commissions if we do not struggle, if our voices are not being heard. One can take part in negotiations in a very opportunistic or in a very combative manner. One of the main objectives of negotiation, from a popular perspective, is not only to force concessions from the bourgeoisie, but also to continuously expose them. Negotiation is a very important tool of class struggles, while the working class is accumulating its forces. One needs to ask why this bourgeoisie who is denying the basic democratic rights of a worker to reproduce his labor power is at the same time spearheading efforts to find humanitarian help to help the poor potential workers, in periods of natural disaster.

The CTH is part of a trilateral commission on the HOPE and HOPE VI agreements. The trilateral commission is composed of institutions of the State apparatus, the capitalist class and Trade Unions. One of the tasks of this commission is to promote the development of the Assembly Industry, mainly or exclusively textile, in industrial parks and Free Trade Zones in Haiti. Basically, it is to favor a neo-liberal economic political plan for Haiti in the interest of the Haitian bourgeoisie and Imperialism. This plan, that is part of a structural adjustment plan and of a general economic orientation, has so far been implemented in dominated social formations. The HOPE and HOPE VI are anti-national and anti-popular. There are no justifications for a Trade Union, (even if you are bright fluorescent yellow ) to be part of such a plan.

It is anti-national: The assembly industry in Haiti is totally unproductive if we look at it from the standpoint of national interest. It is not connected to agriculture or any other kind of production. All the materials needed are imported, based on the imperialist international division of labor, to be assembled in Haiti. Haiti “is” mostly agriculture: no land is used to grow cotton; no other national industries are used even peripherally to feed this industry. Such an orientation will not help build the national economy. In fact, the opposite is happening. The land conceded in Ouanaminthe for the Free Trade Zone is very arable land, conceded to Groupo M, taken from peasants by the Lavalas regime, most of whom are still struggling to get paid for their land. The only thing the proponents of HOPE are marketing is that both will create jobs. But even if we accept that logic, we have already seen Disney and others in Haiti. Creating jobs where workers can’t even reproduce their own labor power is basically promoting Slave Labor. The attitude of the genuine autonomous workers movement, at both the democratic mass movement and revolutionary level, will depend on the relation of power.

The assembly industry is anti-popular: since the first occupation, imperialism took measures to destroy the Haitian national economy, objectively creating conditions to make the Haitian social formation and the dominant classes totally dependent. In order to prepare for the assembly industry, the repressive government of Francois Duvalier organized periods of heightened repression on the progressive and revolutionary movement in 65/66, 68/69, and in 1970. Its objective was to break the back of any form of resistance from the popular camp to the politics of structural adjustment. Combative worker organizations such as the “Inter-Syndicale” were severely repressed. Members were jailed, forced into hiding or forced into exile. The only Trade Union permitted to function was F.O.S., affiliated with the AFLCIO. One of unions belonging to FOS was the tourist taxi driver union, basically a network of spies. This aggressive form of finance capital investment in Haiti needed two things: a high level of organized repression and the politics of misery management. The dominant classes and their State apparatus needed a certain level of misery in the country; even a natural disaster would be welcomed. It would only add to the level of misery in order to implement their politics of begging. In the early 1970’s, right before a quantitative infusion of assembly industry under the leadership of imperialism and the Haitian state apparatus, led by J.C. Duvalier, the slaughter of Creole pigs was organized throughout Haiti under the guise of fighting an epidemic of porcine fever, thus landing a deadly blow to the peasant economy and finance. Two types of migrations begun to massively happen, one inside Haiti and the second primarily to the shores of the US and the Bahamas.

The downward spiral of Haiti’s economic crisis accelerated more rapidly. The countryside was depleted and the main cities received an increase of potential labor force. A high level of competition was created. The working class grew to about 600,000 strong with millions more ready to replace it. The management of misery in Haiti is one of the greatest assets of the Haitian bourgeoisie and the state apparatus. In fact, the center of their marketing endeavor is the cheap labor that Haiti can offer. Representatives of different bourgeois associations promote not only the viability of labor but also its cheapness. The different governments from J.C. Duvalier, to Aristide, Latortue and now Préval, are advertising the same thing: cheap labor. The fact is, to have a labor force ready to accept such conditions, the existence of misery and its management has to be institutionalized, and repression institutionalized, organized by the state, by imperialism or through widespread insecurity by stateless disorder and the rule of gangs.

This is the general condition under which working class mass democratic organizations are functioning. These conditions do not pertain only to Haiti. They are endemic to the capitalist mode of production in social formations dominated by imperialism. The extraction of abundant levels of surplus value at the expense of labor is accruing. And capital needs to devote all its satanic creativity to find more ways to reach its goal. The working class mass movement needs to respond in a combative political orientation to the maneuvers of capital. Working class organization can’t be service unions, especially in social formations where class antagonism is very acute. We need to plan and organize our battles to resist the bourgeoisie inside their factories, in our neighborhoods, where our children go to school and in the streets.

The assembly industry, textile or otherwise, has to be confronted on the battlefield, based on the combative capacity of the Haitians working class, not by planning and collaborating with the bourgeoisie and their State Apparatus.

Again, the yellow unions belong to a trilateral committee over the Minimum Wage. The position of the bourgeoisie is an adjustment of the daily minimum wage to 77 gourdes from its current level of 70 gourdes (less than $1.80). Some of the yellow union proposed 200 gourdes, to finally accept the government’s offer of 150 gourdes. On Thursday, February 5, 2009, after intense political maneuvers by the government and some deputies and senators to block this proposed law, the Haitian Chamber of Deputy voted a minimum wage bill of 200 gourdes per day, introduced by the representative of Pétion-Ville, Steven Iverson Benoit. This bill will have to be approved by the Senate and be published in the official government newspaper, Le Moniteur, in order to become law.

Haitian workers are paid the lowest wages in the Caribbean. Combative and militant worker organizations are organizing and are struggling for more. Of course, under the principle, We Will Never Be Satisfied under Capitalism, they should take any adjustment and continue their fight. Since 2003, Batay Ouvriye has proposed a minimum wage of 350 to 450 gourdes. Batay Ouvriye also denounced the attitude of the government that did not take into consideration the proposal of some workers that were asking for 2,000 gourdes as a minimum wage. Batay Ouvriye has always insisted on a minimum wage proportional to the cost of living, according to article 137 of the labor code enacted under the government of Francois Duvalier. This code was basically another maneuver of Duvalier, in the interest of the bourgeoisie, to legally block increases of the minimum wage. Article 137 stipulates that the minimum wage should be adjusted for each 10 per cent rise in the cost of living within a fiscal year. Back then, inflation never went above that mark, but because of rampant inflation, this article came to bite them in their Asses. The anti-national, anti-popular policy of the dominant classes produced an inflationary spike over the limit stipulated by article 137. The structural adjustment economic policies also contributed to this inflation. The 2,000 gourdes demanded by some of the workers might be one of the demands that best correspond to a minimum wage hike in the relative interest of the workers. In fact, this is one of the limitations of BO. In bargaining and negotiating with your exploiter, you never demand exactly what you want. BO protested that the 150/200 gourdes proposal of the yellow union was illegal. Even the proposal by deputy Benoit was also illegal, in a sense, because it completely disregarded article 137 of the Labor Code. When the government of Aristide signed into law a minimum wage adjustment [not an hike] of 70 gourdes, based on article 137 it was supposed to be 300 gourdes.

In a study made by an institution of the State Apparatus, the Department of social affairs, for a family of 4 to socially reproduce itself it needed at least 300 gourdes per day. So how could the government and the so-called biggest trade union propose a minimum wage of 150 gourdes?

In the battlefield some gains have already been achieved: in the North, workers from Manier Lapostole, thru their struggles, were being paid from 354 gourdes a day in 2007 and won an adjustment to 380 gourdes after negotiations. The battle for a minimum wage adjustment will be won or lost depending of the level of combativeness of the workers and the unity in the people’s camp, either for the implementation of the reactionary article 137 of the labor code, for a “real” adjustment of the labor code or for a minimum wage hike. The only way this will be addressed and resolved is thru the affirmation and consolidation of the autonomous combative organizations of workers. This struggle should be waged nationally. The negotiations should the product of the resistance of workers in their factories and in our neighborhoods. The Haitian working class should remain independent and autonomous from any form of association with bourgeois organizations. In fact, the workers should expose their empty promises of a new social contract as only a ploy to bring them under the leadership of another bourgeois fraction. The struggle for the minimum wage also should be connected with the struggle against the high cost of living and also against all maneuvers of the bourgeois class to organize high intensity exploitation. We should not forget the struggle for arrears since inflation passed the mark defined by article 137.

Lastly, The CTH belongs also to the Trilateral Commission on Competiveness, a commission in charge of defining how Haiti can be more competitive in comparison to other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Now, what more do they want? Haiti already has the lowest wages and the highest cost of living in this hemispheric corner. The basic ability for a human being to reproduce herself or himself is nil or totally inadequate. The Haitian bourgeoisie will not provide, in most sweatshops, a decent place for workers to eat at lunchtime. There are no adequate systems for preserving the labor force or even to provide the most basic healthcare. In some factories, workers are forced to clean their wounds with battery acid and constantly reminded, by their supervisors, of their manhood or lack of it if they don’t clean their wounds in such a barbaric way.

Traditionally, the popular masses in Haiti are treated as non-existent and very much expendable by bourgeois and petit bourgeois populist politicians who use them for their own benefit and totally disregard their most basics demands. Duvalier, Aristide and Préval are the latest politicians, in our history, that have used the masses and have been totally indifferent to their basic demands.

In fact, for Haiti to be more competitive from where we are today is to abdicate our right to exist and to accept even worse living conditions. Mankind hasn’t come up yet with a concept that explains in full detail the new conditions the Haitian masses need to be in for Haiti to be more competitive. Let’s be clear, for Haiti to be more competitive it would only be beneficial to the bourgeoisie and to international finance capital. The participation of any trade union in such project, in any condition, is basically unacceptable.

The Lafanmi Lavalas political party headed by Aristide, supported by CTH, already articulated such a policy in their program. Their view is that wages should reflect the demands of the market, giving legitimacy and legality to the concept of slave labor. This political orientation can’t be implemented outside of a repressive political orientation and line. Dictatorship is not limited to repression or repressive acts. Such articulation will only reduce dictatorship to its lowest common denominator. Dictatorship is structural. It is a system of structures aimed to dominate as well as to unify those who dominate. We should not confuse structure and practice. In the structural complex reality of domination two important structures exist in a contradictory reality, democracy and dictatorship, each with their own set of practices, their own rules and laws. Elections and physical acts of repression, in a capitalist society, do share a level of common ground: KEEPING THE POPULAR MASSES DISORGANIZED and under the leadership of the dominant classes. The bourgeois class is the builder of capitalist society. The only class capable of replacing the bourgeoisie will have to face its dictatorial structure more abruptly and expose the empty phrase of bourgeois democracy.

The struggle for wages for the working class and for the popular masses is a popular struggle. In the US, instead of supporting the bail-out, because it is going to create jobs, combative working class organizations should come with their autonomous demands such as: to quadruple the minimum wage and to lower the cost of living. This is our battle. This is our battlefield. Combative working class organizations are not meant to play a referee role, and or to accommodate the bourgeoisie in periods of crises created by them, but rather in any given situation, in any conjecture, based on the balance of powers, to put forward the most advanced autonomous demands of the class. We need to support the struggle waging now in Guadeloupe by initiating our own. This is the internationalist thing to do, not to find ways to be more competitive. The workers need to find ways they can coordinate and build a Unitarian platform of struggle against their common enemy instead of collaborating with them in finding ways to be more exploited.

THE STRUGGLE AGAINST INTERNATIONAL CAPITAL IS ALL ONE STRUGGLE

WE WILL NEVER BE SATISFIED UNDER CAPITALISM!

author by Anti-Coup Collaborationpublication date Tue Mar 31, 2009 09:48author address author phone Report this post to the editors

This article smells like a provocation, and appears to represent the opposite of what the author would like us to believe. Let us not forget that Batay Ouvriye were supporters of the coup in 2004 and since then have collaborated closely with key organs of the US Empire - namely the ACILS and National Endowment for Democracy. Any explanations they have tried to make about these collaborations have been inept. It is laughable (and, of course, hypocritical) that they accuse others of not taking strong enough 'anti-occupation' positions when they themselves helped bring about the occupation in the first place.

...

http://www.ned.org

Grantor: NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR DEMOCRACY (NED)
Grantee: American Center for International Labor Solidarity
Country(ies): Haiti
Region: Latin America and the Caribbean
Subject(s): Labor
Grant Awarded: 2005
Amount: $99,965
Program Summary: To promote the development and capacity of democratic unions in free trade zones. ACILS will work with the May 1st Union Federation, Batay Ouvriye, to train workers to organize and educate fellow workers. Training will include how to develop organizational plans, network with workers outside their factories, form community and factory unions, and research and monitor working conditions. Finally, NGOs and trade unions from the United States and Canada will visit to discuss working conditions in Haiti.

Related Link: http://www.solidaritycenter.org/content.asp?contentid=532
author by CTH Organizers went into hiding during post-couppublication date Tue Mar 31, 2009 11:15author address author phone Report this post to the editors

This article spreads so many lies on so many different levels.

It would do organizers and solidarity activists good to remember what trade unions the coup installed government targeted..

The coup regime did not target Batay Ouvriye (who was getting funded by the backers of the coup (US State dept) during the interim period.

In fact it was the CTH that was targeted by the coup government. Thousands of workers fired, CTH organizers attacked, forced into hiding. Death squads showing up at the homes of CTH organizers.

Batay Ouvriye are ultra left opportunists , bankrolled in the recent past by the US STATE DEPARTMENT with SOLIDARITY CENTER FUNDS, they will stop at nothing to undermine and attack popular democracy and revolutionary politics that are not led by them.

author by nicolas nappalospublication date Wed Apr 01, 2009 01:56author address author phone Report this post to the editors

To the CTH supporters. I have heard all the mudslinging about batay ourviye, but those questions have been answered innumerable times. I am curious what you think about what the author states? If you disagree with his position, then respond in a debate and explain what you believe occured. Defaming another organization is a poor way to have comradely debate, it serves only to distract from the issues the author raises.

Personally I think any organization that creates an alliance with the ruling class of their nation is questionable. Aristide repressed the working class, brought in the free trade zones, and consolidated power in the ruling class. To be an ally of that puts you at odds with your own members, so I am not sympathetic at all to slander that opposing the ruling class=supporting the invasion.

author by one responsepublication date Wed Apr 01, 2009 03:59author address author phone Report this post to the editors

1) Aristide was popularly elected by the largest mobilizaiton of the poor in the history of Haiti.
2) He remains highly popular with the poor.
3) This is because his government for the first time developed literacy, healthcare, and support projects for the poor living in the slums.
4) His government lost over 80 percent of its budget due to a US/Canada/France backed embargo. It had no choice but to cut deals. The elected government refused privatization and was attempting to chart a sovereign course for the country.
5) The ruling class hated Aristide, it always did. He was developing a university and other structures so that the poor could have access - like the bolivarian university in caracas.
6) His government was not repressing labor- even according to Guy Delva (a critical haitian journalist) it was the most pro-labor government in the history of Haiti. For the first time, the minimum wage was increased but often the government could do little- it had no resources, no enforcement, undermined from all sides.
7) The incident in which 2 BO supporters were killed (during the Aristide era) was a horrible incident but that did not represent a systematic government sponsored campaign (it was an isolated event). Although the pro-coup interim regime's policy of mass layoffs and persecution, jailing and killing of labor unionits was systematic.
8) The defamatory campaign by BO and other tiny foreign government sponsored NGOs (such as CIDA) has lead to the demonization of the mass organizing of the poor in Haiti. This has created an international and media environment where the systematic slaughtering and persecution of the poor Lavalas supporters in Haiti is ignored and trivialized.

author by Question for BO Supportpublication date Wed Apr 01, 2009 04:03author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Why do you think ACILS chose to sponsor BO and not CTH?

It is because CTH represents a threat- as they work with the mass organizing of the poor for a political project that would actually threaten the hegemony of national and multinational capitalists present in Haiti.

BO on the other hand provided a highly useful ally for attacking popular democracy from another approach. This strategy of using the ultra left to undermine radical democracy is ongoing in other places as well, such as in Venezuela and Bolivia.

author by Kevin S.publication date Wed Apr 01, 2009 09:59author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Before addressing the "debate" at hand (if it is seriously that, and not simply "piping in" by a couple nameless "activists"), let me mention that this is an excellent article and a needed contribution. Possibly its only weakness is over-specifying the CTH in particular in the title, only because it appears like "mudslinging" of its own -- which it is not at all, in fact. But as for this "debate" .... It seems there is no limit to the self-contradictions and ironies that some "solidarity activists" will expose in themselves whenever they are confronted (not to say, "confounded") by, as one above commentator put it (again, ironically), "revolutionary politics that are not led by them." For instance, the ever-used label of "ultra left," as old as revolution and used by every "leftist" government (Jacobins, Bolsheviks, even U.S. Democrats!) to "undermine and attack" disobedient or overly-critical elements.

There has been quite a load of finger-pointing paranoia to come out of the pro-Aristide "solidarity movement" that somehow doesn't notice obvious contradictions. For example, they are keen to denounce flat-out a struggling group like Batay for accepting money from "imperialist agents" (AFL Solidarity Center, who received money from the NED) for organizing in the free trade zone -- but so quick to make excuses for Aristide who helped make the free trade zone, as a concession to foreign imperialists from he was begging for money! Indeed, the withholding of imperialist money is the very reason they point to as excuse for Aristide's outright betrayal of "popular democracy." As the poster "one response" wrote: "His government lost over 80 percent of its budget due to a US/Canada/France backed embargo. It had no choice but to cut deals." But to avoid the necessary implications, s/he then lies and claims: "The elected government refused privatization and was attempting to chart a sovereign course for the country." (So apparantly selling off Haitian territory as a "free trade zone" exempt from state-regulation, is "refusing privatization"? But it is "charting a sovereign course"?)

There are other ironies too, more specific. For instance, that the CTH along with nearly every other union signed on the so-called "Group 184" (opposition) in 2002 (see http://www.alterpresse.org/article.php3?id_article=336 ), which Batay Ouvriye however had nothing to do with! (see http://www.batayouvriye.org/English/Positions1/smokingg....html ) This being the "threat" the CTH and other unions supposedly represented. I suppose the AFL-CIO (imperialist agents that they are!) also "represents a threat" since they are still hated by the right-wing Republicans and big corporations! So clearly people who denounce them as capitalists or imperialist agents must be ultra left! As for the occupation and Batay's supposed "hypocrisy" ... Aristide himself publically requested foreign intervention shortly before the coup, so there it hardly seems hypcritical for Batay to denounce the occupation and Aristide together. Besides which, again, denouncing the old government does not equate to supporting either the coup, the right-wing opposition, or the foreign occupation. (By that logic, anyone who denounced Saddam Hussein must be hypocrits if they opposed the invasion of Iraq in 2003!)

Consider another irony. As is well-known, the main source of leftist news from Haiti is the newspaper "Haiti Progres" -- mouthpiece of the PPN (a supposed Marxist-Leninist party) -- who also were the most noted group denouncing Batay Ouvriye based on Jeb Sprague's article. (Indeed, their participation almost certainly led to the massive publicity of Sprague's accusations.) But before the coup, in 2002-2003 Haiti Progres was also denouncing Aristide and the Lavalas government for the same reasons as Batay, including the free trade zone and also the Guacimal incident (where two peasants were murdered and nine others were illegally detained for several months), and even reported Aristide's government systematically cracking down on the popular organizations and slum groups who supported Lavalas, as part of their concessions to the U.S. and the opposition -- accusing Aristide & Co. of being Washington puppets! So you can see these for yourself, I will post links and some quotations from these in a separate post. Anyone who reads these will not help but notice a shameful level of opportunism in their later move to denouncing Batay and supporting Aristide.

author by Jan Makandalpublication date Fri Apr 03, 2009 07:13author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Kevin,
First, your assessment over focusing on the CTH is shared by other comrades of the political current I belong to. My attempt to rectify this approach wasn't sufficient. For this I think more effort should be made on my part to rectify in the future. Although mudslinging wasn't my objective, the result partially turns out to be such. I think the CTH supporter/organizer citing the same limitation is also correct.
I am a proponent of the need for criticism, self-criticism and rectification, even when dealing with criticism coming from our enemy, in order to improve our ability to struggle against our class enemy. My intent, in publishing this text, is primarily to outline a combative concept of what a mass working class organization should be and at the same time, due to the nature of the Haitian social formation, show the role of yellow unionism in serving the agenda of the dominant classes. Furthermore, I vow never to fight in a battlefield where the enemy is proven to be an expert. To mudsling, ones need to get into the mud. The possibility of slipping, because of the slippery nature of the terrain and of remaining there, is far greater than to be able to stand on our own two feet. I always choose the terrain of ideological, political and theoretical struggle, as the unique battlefield to combat our class enemy and at the same time construct political rapprochement in our midst to solidify our strength to defeat our fundamental enemy. I guess, in this case, my approach was faulty and because of that, it did not allow me to fully achieve my goal. I am in total solidarity and in agreement with your approach of pointing it out and delimitating yourself from such an approach while at the same time unifying and pointing out the validity of this text. I will rectify...
I did mention other labor organizations such as FOS. I think, after reviewing my text based on your reflection, it was also limitative since FOS now is also is trying to articulate an anti-occupation position after repeatedly backstabbing the working class movement. If my intent was to mudsling the CTH primary, my approach would have been very different. There is lot more information available: collaborating with previous military governments and their denunciation by peasants groups in the North West of Haiti, since the early 80's, and their support for the pro-imperialist governments of Aristide… Instead I chose to look at their participation in various trilateral commissions in a very collaborative manner against the interest of the workers. As a labor organization, to be part of a commission aimed to define the pathway for Haiti to become more competitive is very telling. There is a need to expose this practice. Many progressive and some labor currents such IWW, which I greatly regard, are very uncritical of the CTH...

author by Kevin S.publication date Fri Apr 10, 2009 16:14author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Sorry for the delay, I have been busy.

Jan, I also agree on the need for criticism, etc. etc. (as I brought in my article on anarchist debate, that could apply equally to any comradely revolutionary debate), and I agree that "mudslinging" and personal accusations are a slippery and dangerous slope to engage on in such a complicated issue as unions in Haiti, the popular movement, the occupation etc. For this reason, and also because I am familiar with and sympathetic enough to the popular movement that supported Lavalas and especially Aristide, that I dislike spending too much time denouncing Aristide and the like. Indeed, in their own words Batay Ouvriye have made it clear their priority concern is not to point fingers, but rather, to confront the class enemy in struggle on field. But also, I agree with on the importance of theoretical struggle, at the political level, and that alone is where it is relevant and necessary for revolutionaries to criticize the limitations, betrayals and failures of the popular movement under Aristide. Sadly -- and I say that in all sincerity -- a lot of sincere activists who are sympathetic to the democratic movement, unwilling to criticize too harshly the "popular government" of Aristide, instead divert their attentions to denouncing "ultra leftists" of Batay Ouvriye while never realizing such obvious contradictions and hypocrisies as I mentioned above.

Here are a few articles from Haiti Progres (who, since the February coup, have been Aristide's most valuable ally in terms of mobilizing international support and countering the U.S.-French imperialist propaganda) from 2002, in which one can see the level of hypocrisy, opportunism and revisionism in their later attacks against Batay. But more importantly for me, one can see clear and plain as daylight the consistency and merit of Batay's attitude about Lavalas. Again, this is really secondary of an issue compared to the concrete problems of union-organizing in Haiti, militancy on field and putting a coherent program other than denouncing others, but it seems necessary given the persistance of some mistaken ideas about Aristide's government and attempts to single out Batay Ouvriye as agents of imperialism:

"Haitian Government Supports Big Landowners in Clash with Peasants" - http://www.haitiprogres.com/2002/sm020605/eng06-05.html
In here they explicitly denounce the government in terms as strong as Batay has ever used, quoting one member of the PPN (National Popular Party, to who Haiti Progres is affiliated): "He denounced the emerging 'facade democracy, a democracy which rests on words and on the same old methods as the former Macoute regime.'" They also mentioned there and in the following week's article ( http://www.haitiprogres.com/2002/sm020612/eng06-12.html ) continued, systematic persecution by the local authorities, including the Lavalas mayor. They even then signed a joint press statement ( http://www.haitiprogres.com/2002/sm020626/eng06-26.html ) against the persecution, along with Batay Ouvriye and several other groups (including NCHR, a human-rights group who also supposedly had a questionable role during the coup) -- something that, by the logic they used regarding AFL "solidarity" funding, should put Haiti Progres in the camp of "unwitting imperialist agents" !

Then it is worth referring to their consistent denunciations against Aristide regarding the free trade zone:
"Aristide Trying to Sell 1875 Km2 of Haiti" (July 10, 2002) - http://www.haitiprogres.com/2002/sm020710/eng07-10.html
In the article of Sept. 11, 2002 Ben Dupuy (leader of PPN and Haiti Progres) himself is quoted noting "that both the Convergence [opposition] and FL [Lavalas] were falling over each other to do the bidding of Washington, which 'one day favors one, one day favors the other, pitting them against each other to further its own agenda.'"
On the Sept. 18 article ("Dismay from Popular Organizations"), they write: 'Generally, disillusioned popular organizations place the blame for the government’s "betrayal" of their demands on Aristide’s entourage and appointees, rather than on the president himself. "For a president who has overseen the sale of Haitian territory to build free trade zones and the repression of peasants, who has defended the interests of Washington and the bourgeoisie, do they really think Aristide is going to return to his base?" a Haïti Progrès columnist asked. "That would be a miracle!"'

So it seems, that according to the very same people who later took up the attack against Batay Ouvriye as "ultra-leftists" were saying the exact same things as these "ultra-leftists" back in 2002, and sometimes even more, and indeed supporting Batay militants at Guacimal! This gives some extra legitimacy to Batay's statements but does nothing to help the credibility of those denouncing them.

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