Kim Ives

Haiti exploded in early July in a nationwide uprising whose Kreyòl watchwords are nou bouke — we are fed up, writes Kim Ives.

The images and accounts of Haiti’s devastation following Hurricane Matthew’s passage on October 4 are gut-wrenching. The death toll is in the hundreds and continues to rise. Entire villages in the country's southwest were obliterated. The response of a Haitian government, left besieged and without resources by decades of foreign plunder, is anaemic. The victims’ anguished appeals for help are heart-rending. The United Nations now says 1.4 million people are in need of assistance, urgent and immediate for half of them.

Tens of thousands of Haitians spontaneously poured into the streets of the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, on the morning of March 12, 2007. Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez had just arrived in Haiti all but unannounced.

A multitude, shrieking and singing with glee, joined him in jogging alongside the motorcade of Haiti’s then President Rene Preval on its way to the National Palace (later destroyed in the 2010 earthquake).

People and governments across Latin America are rising up against foreign mining companies in a wave of revolt generating alarm among investors and their political operatives in the imperialist governments.

In Haiti, United States and Canadian gold mining companies are rubbing their hands over the riches that they believe await them. A recent study by Haiti Grassroots Watch estimates up to US$20 billion, at gold’s current price of $1600 an ounce, lies in the ground.

United States officials led a far-reaching international campaign aimed at keeping former Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide exiled in South Africa, secret US State Department cables show.

Aristide, who won the 2000 presidential elections, was rendered a virtual prisoner for the past seven years.

Aristide was overthrown in a bloody February 2004 coup supported by Washington and fomented by right-wing paramilitary forces and the Haitian elite.

Disaster capitalists flocked to Haiti in a “gold rush” for contracts to rebuild the country after the January 12, 2010 earthquake, wrote the current US ambassador Kenneth Merten in a secret Febuary 1, 2010 cable obtained by WikiLeaks and reviewed by Haiti Liberte.

“THE GOLD RUSH IS ON!” Merten headlined a section of his 6pm situation report ― or Sitrep ― back to Washington.

The United States embassy in Haiti worked closely with factory owners contracted by Levi's, Hanes, and Fruit of the Loom to aggressively block a paltry minimum wage rise for Haitian assembly zone workers.

The moves to block a wage rise for the lowest paid in the western hemisphere were revealed by secret US State Department cables obtained by Haiti Liberte and The Nation magazine.

The factory owners refused to pay $0.62 an hour, or $5 per eight-hour day, as mandated by a measure unanimously passed by Haiti’s parliament in June 2009.

The president of Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) announced on May 24 that presidential and parliamentary elections would be held on November 28, the constitutionally prescribed date.

“The CEP is up to the task of organising general elections in the country”, said Gaillot Dorsinvil, who is also the handicapped sector’s representative on the nine-member council, handpicked by President Rene Preval.

But tens of thousands of Haitians don’t agree and have been demonstrating in the streets in recent weeks to demand a new CEP — and Preval’s resignation.

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