In the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti, certain media outlets painted a picture of a country overrun by looters and at the mercy of gang members and other criminals, including thousands of prisoners jolted free by the quake. Relevant details were ignored, such as the contention by prominent Haitian human rights attorney Mario Joseph that 80 per cent of said prisoners had never been charged. The media effort perhaps aided in rendering less incongruous in the eyes of the international public the deployment of a sizeable US military force to deal with quake-affected people who did not seemingly require military attention.
Join Ronnie Kasrils, author of The Unlikely Secret Agent, anti-apartheid leader, and international solidarity activist, for a talk and book signing at The Riverside Church in NYC on Oct 22.
Join Monthly Review editor John Bellamy Foster for a discussion of his new book, The Endless Crisis: How Monopoly-Finance Capital Produces Stagnation and Upheaval from the USA to China, on October 20 at New York University.
Why write a book about class, cocaine, Colombia and the U.S.? Oliver Villar and Drew Cottle have an answer. In Cocaine, Death Squads, and the War on Terror: U.S. Imperialism and Class Struggle in Colombia they provide data and evidence to refute Uncle Sam’s official version of relations between both nations today and yesterday. To this end, the authors present a strong counter-narrative that begins with cocoa plants and continues with the capitalist production and distribution of cocaine.
Jeb Sprague is the author of Paramilitarism and the Assault on Democracy in Haiti, new from Monthly Review Press. He is currently on a North American book tour. This talk was recorded on September 15, 2012 at the University of Victoria in Victoria, Canada. The audio is on the website of Gorilla Radio, a show on Victoria Radio FM 102.1.
The following lecture was filmed on September 15th, 2012, at the Democracy Center in Cambridge, MA. It features Irv Kurki, coordinator for essential discussions, on “The Roots of Capital,” and Doug Enaa Greene, member of the Kasama Project and an activist at Occupy Boston, on “Overcoming Alienation.”
Jeb Sprague’s definitive Paramilitarism and the Assault on Democracy in Haiti (Monthly Review Press, 2012) is the product of seven years of research and writing. Since the 2004 Bush Administration-backed overthrow of the democratically-elected Jean Bertrand Aristide government, journalist and scholar Sprague has been investigating key players behind that coup. His work is especially strong on interviews with figures in anti-Aristide political and paramilitary networks, and on unearthing cables from the U.S. embassy in Port-au-Prince and other relevant documents through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. Sprague also combed through all the Haiti-related documents released through the activist project Wikileaks.
What has been your main motivation to spend 10 years of your life to the subject of the drug trade?
Oliver Villar: The main motivation goes sometime back. I think it has to do firstly with my own experiences in growing up in working class suburbs in Sydney, Australia. It always has been an area that I found very curious and fascinating just to think about how rampant and persuasive drugs really are in our communities, and just by looking at it in more recent times how much worse the drug problem has become, not just in lower socio-economic areas, but everywhere. But from then on, when I finally had the opportunity to do so, I actually undertook this as a PhD thesis. I spent my time carefully looking at firstly what was written on the drug trade, but as coming from Latin America, I was very interested in particular in the Latin American drug trade as well.
Haiti’s government is making plans to revive the country’s disbanded army, an institution guilty of many of the worst crimes ever perpetrated in the country. At the same time, special police units have been used to drive earthquake victims out of camps. While civil society and grassroots organizations in Haiti are campaigning against a return to the era of Duvalierist repression, people in the United States should be made aware of our government’s long history with that country’s military and security forces.
Larry Elliott, economics editor of the Guardian, sums it up: “The Marxist perspective, exemplified in a new book by John Bellamy Foster and Robert McChesney, is also useful. This argues that the strong western growth rates in the middle of the 20th century were something of a mirage, caused by high military spending, postwar reconstruction, higher welfare spending and the investment in road networks that allowed the full flowering of the age of the automobile. Since then, a number of things have happened. There has been a concentration of capital but a shortage of profitable investment opportunities. So far, there has not been a wave of innovations like the car, the plane, cinema and TV to give the global economy a shot in the arm, although it is possible that digital, robotics, genetics and green technology could act as a catalyst. The result has been a declining trend rate of growth, and the increased financialisation of western economies as the surpluses have been re-cycled through the banks in a search for yield. Hence the Latin American debt crisis. Hence the sub-prime mortgage crisis. Hence the inability of the global economy to emerge from its torpor.”
The world is not limitless, yet growth without limits is touted as a permanent economic elixir. But natural resources aren’t infinite, nor can demand be infinite. What happens when the limits of growth are reached? We aren’t supposed to ask that question about capitalism; the assumption is that economic activity will always grow. The insertion of China into the world capitalist system has created the opportunity for more growth as a country of 1.3 billion people has been thrown open to the world’s markets. But what if, rather than throwing capitalism a lifeline in the form of a vast pool of consumers who will drive demand, China instead will fatally destabilize an already weakened world economic system?
Join Irving Kurki and Doug Enaa Greene for an installment of the ongoing “Occupy Consciousness” lecture series, where they discuss the work of István Mészáros and its application to our time and the Occupy Movement.
Haiti’s brutal army was disbanded in 1995, yet armed and uniformed paramilitaries, with no government affiliation, occupy former army bases today. President Michel Martelly, who has promised to restore the army, has not called on police or U.N. troops to dislodge these ad-hoc soldiers. Given the army’s history of violent opposition to democracy, Martelly’s plan to renew the army “can only lead to more suffering”, says Jeb Sprague in his forthcoming book Paramilitarism and the Assault on Democracy in Haiti, to be released mid August by Monthly Review Press.
Join the author of Paramilitarism and the Assault on Democracy in Haiti, just released by Monthly Review Press, at an event near you! Jeb Sprague will discuss his new book, which investigates the dangerous world of right-wing paramilitarism in Haiti and its role in undermining the democratic aspirations of the Haitian people.
In this path-breaking book, Jeb Sprague investigates the dangerous world of right-wing paramilitarism in Haiti and its role in undermining the democratic aspirations of the Haitian people. Sprague focuses on the period beginning in 1990 with the rise of Haiti’s first democratically elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and the right-wing movements that succeeded in driving him from power. Over the ensuing two decades, paramilitary violence was largely directed against the poor and supporters of Aristide’s Lavalas movement, taking the lives of thousands of Haitians. Sprague seeks to understand how this occurred, and traces connections between paramilitaries and their elite financial and political backers, in Haiti but also in the United States and the Dominican Republic.