Not liberty

Lets take a look at Haiti.
(Cf. Thomas Piketty, Capitalism and Ideology, Chapter 6).

Slavery was abolished for the first time in modern times, not in England, but in Haiti, and by former slaves.

In 1780, there were 470,000 slaves in Haiti (90 % of the total population). They rebelled in 1791 and, not surprisingly, their French owners fled. Haiti was free. To cut a very long and painful story short, the rebels (i.e. former slaves) had to resist repeated attacks by the French army until they agreed, in 1825, to pay compensation to their former owners for their liberty. The payment demanded by France on behalf of their owners amounted to 2 % of France’s national income, 300 % of Haiti’s national income.

What with interest rates and the French banks’ commissions, Haiti (a population of, I repeat, former slaves) annually paid 5 % of the country’s national income from 1849 to 1915. Nevertheless, the French banks found payment lax, and begged the USA to intervene. The USA kindly agreed to occupy Haiti from 1915 to 1934 to “restore order”, which they did, killing thousands and more or less reintroducing slavery.

Haiti’s debt to the former slave owners was finally settled in 1950. For 125 years, the former slaves and their offspring had been paying for their freedom!

Thus, Haiti never had even the remotest chance of becoming a proper nation. No wonder the country is still struggling!


You might argue that this all happened a long time ago and that things have changed for the better. Have they?

A US company is just now suing Guatemala for “failing to protect” its (the US company’s) illegal gold mining activities. The company demands 400 million USD to cover lost investments and “future earnings”.

Now, Guatemala is one of the countries to which the USA has devoted particularly loving care and attention, not least since 1944 when the then dictatorship was replaced with a social democratic government. The new government’s popular reforms were:

disliked by the United States government, which was predisposed by the Cold War to see it as communist, and the United Fruit Company (UFCO), whose hugely profitable business had been affected by the end to brutal labour practices. The attitude of the U.S. government was also influenced by a propaganda campaign carried out by the UFCO. (Source: Wikipedia as at 07/12/2022)

Quoting Chomsky, in What Uncle Sam Really Wants, 1993:

In 1954, the CIA engineered a coup that turned Guatemala into a hell on earth. lt’s been kept that way ever since, with regular US intervention and support, particularly under Kennedy and Johnson.

Under Reagan, support for near-genocide in Guatemala became positively ecstatic. The most extreme of the Guatemalan Hitlers we’ve backed there, Rios Montt, was lauded by Reagan as a man totally dedicated to democracy. In the early 1980s, Washington’s friends slaughtered tens of thousands of Guatemalans, mostly Indians in the highlands, with countless others tortured and raped. Large regions were decimated.

To substantiate Chomsky’s opinion of Montt I’m including a few figures from the International Justice Monitor:

The short 17 months in which Ríos Montt ruled Guatemala were the most brutal of the conflict. Human rights organizations estimate that 10,000 people were killed in the first three months of his government alone. During the first eight months of his government, … more than 400 indigenous communities were destroyed.

Not until May 10 2013, was he finally found guilty of genocide and sentenced to 80 years’ imprisonment, but the verdict was vacated by the constitutional court, presumably due to pressure from you know who.

Speaking of Chomsky, I should add for the record, that he admitted that

the United States was not, however, lacking in compassion for the poor. For example, in the mid-1950s, our ambassador to Costa Rica recommended that the United Fruit Company, which basically ran Costa Rica, introduce “a few relatively simple and superficial human interest frills for the workers that may have a large psychological effect.” Secretary of State John Foster Dulles agreed, telling President Eisenhower that to keep Latin Americans in line, “you have to pat them a little bit and make them think that you are fond of them.”

More quotes from What Uncle Sam Really Wants:

We’ve [i.e. the USA] consistently opposed democracy if its results can’t be controlled. The problem with real democracies is that they’re likely to fall prey to the heresy that governments should respond to the needs of their own population, instead of those of US investors.

Throughout this process, the US press followed Washington’s lead, selecting villains in terms of current needs. Actions we’d formerly condoned became crimes. … The press also began passionately denouncing human rights violations that previously didn’t reach the threshold of their attention. .

If you want a global system that’s subordinated to the needs of US investors, you can’t let pieces of it wander off. It’s striking how clearly this is stated in the documentary record – even in the public record at times. Take Chile under Allende. Chile is a fairly big place, with a lot of natural resources, but again, the United States wasn’t going to collapse if Chile became independent. Why were we so concerned about it? According to Kissinger, Chile was a “virus” that would “infect” the region with effects all the way to Italy.

What Uncle Sam Really Wants was published in 1993, and those of you who have lived all your lives in the USA may not even believe its descriptions about US activities in Nicaragua, Panama and el Salvador. But here in Europe the events referred to in the book were known at the time.

You may want to believe that things have improved since 1993. Maybe they have, though I very much doubt it. With Julian Assange behind bars, the cowed Western press has been brought to heel and obediently trots alongside its masters. Their job is no longer to expose but to justify US activities, and to kowtow to US global leadership, whatever that leadership may involve. So we don’t know, do we, what is going on behind the scenes.

I conclude by adding two items from today’s news (i.e. 7 December 2022):

The Biden administration told a US judge last week that Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince, should be granted immunity in a civil lawsuit over his role in the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. That decision effectively ends one of the last efforts to hold the prince accountable for Khashoggi’s assassination by a Saudi hit team inside the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul in October 2018. (Source: Guardian)

The United States is opposed to the International Criminal Court’s proceedings against Israel, State Department Spokesman Ned Price said after Al Jazeera filed a legal brief asking the Hague to include the shooting death of its veteran Palestinian-American correspondent Shireen Abu Akleh within its larger investigation against the Jewish state. “When it comes to the ICC, we maintain our longstanding objections to the ICC’s investigation into the Palestinian situation,” Price said told reporters in Washington in response to a direct question about Abu Akleh’s death. (Source: Jerusalem Post)

Rule-of-law, US style, as usual.