Labor, Neoliberalism, and the 2004 Coup in Haiti

By: Jeb Sprague – HaitiAnalysis
paper was originally prepared for a presentation at the 32nd Annual
of the South-West Labor Studies Association, Mach 10-11,
2006 at UCLA. Earlier rough draft versions were published in Labor Notes
in 2006 and on the Narco
News website in 2007. Here is the final version of the paper (which appears only on HaitiAnalysis).

February 2004 overthrow of Haitian democracy was often portrayed in the
mainstream media as the result of a popular uprising, driven by a civil society
that harnessed widespread discontent with the government of President
Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Such characterizations not only mischaracterize the local situation, but also turn a blind eye to the role
that foreign states as well as transnational donor institutions and NGOs played
in fomenting conflict and amplifying the political weight and international
profile of the groups calling for an ouster of Haiti’s constitutional
government. Just one segment of this multi-faceted donor influenced discourse
involved early on the issue of labor and the Aristide government’s policies
toward trade unionists and workers.
paper will argue, through the example of labor in Haiti, that elite-oriented
institutions (with deep pockets) from DC to Brussels, helped to facilitate the
undermining of Haiti’s popular Lavalas movement and elected government. This occurs during an era of neoliberalism (neoliberalism  being the project of leading dominant groups to bring everything under the logic of the market: to bring their proxies into power, to promote the privatization of state assets, the rolling-back of labor, and the undermining of regulations on capital).
paper will draw for its theoretical approach on the global capitalism school of thought
(associated with scholars such as sociologists William I. Robinson and Leslie Sklair) and the marxist philosopher Antonio
Gramsci’s idea of an extended state in which ‘civil society plus political
society’ forms the state proper.[1] In a capitalist society, the
legitimacy of the “state proper” clearly rests upon the backs of civil society. In this vein, Robinson argues that over the last twenty-five years polyarchic donor backed
programs–worth hundreds of millions of dollars–have worked to build up
like-minded civil societies and political parties across the developing world in order to secure apparatuses of the state for elites. Polyarchy refers to the limiting of democratic
elections to selecting between different groups of elites and their parties.  U.S. foreign
policy in the 1970s and -80s and an increasingly wide array of agencies (from
the EU, UN, etc.) have come to promote polyarchic policies.
By the late 1980s the Cold War came to an end and a new era of neoliberal globalization began.  Rising democratic movements posed a new challenge for elite policymakers. One DC “democracy promotion” expert that I spoke with has explained how Haiti was one of the first crises that they faced, with the rise of a grassroots democratic movement upon the fall of the Duvalierist regime in 1986.
Rather than the Cold War strategy of propping up authoritarian regimes, more enlightened U.S. and other powerful policymakers sought now to influence a broader array of
civil society, to create more palatable “democratic” allies in the developing world (Robinson, 1996).  

Quasi-government agencies
from core countries “provide funding, guidance, and political sponsorship to a
host of organizations’ in the intervened countries. They target ‘local
political parties and coalitions, trade unions, business councils, media
outlets, professional and civic associations, students and woman’s groups,
humans rights groups and so forth.”[2]

observes that “these local groups brought into the democracy promotion program
are held up in the public and international spotlight as independent and as
non-partisan…” On the one hand there is often a transnational convergence of
interests’ observes Robinson. They have an affinity of interests. At the same time, “it
is vital that groups receiving US [or core donor] support act autonomously or
this defeats the whole purpose.” Through gaining these agents of influence, a
civil society that is non-threatening and palatable to donors is amplified.
regards to Haiti, throughout the 1990s and into the 2000s democracy promotion
program monies through US, Canadian and European aid agencies were channeled
nearly exclusively to anti-popular civil society, such as the anti-Lavalas
organizations that will be discussed below.
some cases this took the form of actively building the political opposition,
such as many of those within the opposition to Haiti’s popular government; in
others it was simply supporting and funding sectors and leaders who were sharp
critics of the Haitian government.[3] In Haiti during the lead
up to the 2004 coup, the fractious opposition coalesced into a political bloc
with the support of transnational elites. 

As this paper will show,
a number of local and transnationally oriented labor leaders took on a clear anti-popular
strategy before and after the 2004 coup; this is linked I argue to not just the
politically fractious situation in the country but also the overwhelming
resources that elites and powerful institutions can bring to bear in order to
undermine resource starved popular movements and governments. Within the country many groups exist in desperate situations, so the allure of foreign backing and recognition is strong. While the elected Haitian government (also in a desperate situation) made many compromises (even angering some of its previous supporters), it also promoted policies of justice (for paramilitaries and their backers) and social investment projects that clashed with the interests of some powerful groups. It thus became a ripe target for Washington and others seeking regime change. In this paper I will look at how this process played out, and specifically with regards to labor.

February 16, 2004, a group of foreign trade union officials arrived in
Port-au-Prince, Haiti, amongst them Inter-American Regional Labor
(ORIT) General Secretary Victor Baez, International
Confederation of Free Trade Unions
(ICFTU) Assistant General Secretary
Mamounata Cissé, Fernand Daoust of the Fonds de solidarité’s (FTQ) and
other union leaders from France, Guyana and the Global Union Federation. The
purpose of the delegation was to assist eleven recently arrested trade
unionists of the Coordination syndicale haïtienne (CSH), accused by
Haitian authorities of carrying arms and working to bring down the government.
The CSH was notable for its anti-Lavalas politics (the political movement of
Aristide) and for its connection with Haiti’s elite opposition organizations.
labor delegation drew international media coverage. Katia Gil a member of the
delegation and the general coordinator of programs at ORIT explained, ‘We went
to visit them in jail. We went with many newspapers and press, local and
international agencies.’[4] Not long after it had
arrived the transnational labor delegation was able to secure the release of
the eleven trade unionists who had been briefly held by authorities.
sort of public displays of international labor solidarity gained speed in the
last few months of Aristide’s tenure, as conflict between pro-government and
anti-government groups heightened.
just thirteen days after the delegations arrival Haiti’s popularly elected Fanmi
(FL) government was overthrown. President Jean-Bertrand Aristide,
after being flown aboard a plane to the Central African Republic, declared U.S.
marines had kidnapped him. Most significant, the resulting mass post-coup
persecution of Haitian trade unionists and especially public sector workers was
almost entirely ignored by the same labor groups that took part in the
boisterous campaign against the Aristide government. Thousands would die in
some of Haiti’s poorest neighborhoods during the post-coup campaign of
repression, launched by an unelected regime supported by the U.S.
‘Following the coup, more than 12,000 public sector employees who had been
hired under the Aristide government were immediately fired without
compensation’, wrote Isabel Macdonald, a Canadian journalist and academic.[5] The Associated Press
reported on May 12, 2004 that Telecommunications d’haiti (Téléco), the 90%
government owned public telephone company, had announced plans to lay off 2,000
workers amounting to half its workforce. In response, ORIT, the ILO, the ICFTU,
and CSH were completely silent.
May 2004 an investigative report from a labor-religious delegation to Haiti
initiated by the San Francisco Labor Council spoke of a witch-hunt against
supporters of the former government and reports from the ‘FTPH (Fédération
des Transporteurs Publics Haïtiens
), of criminal attacks on over 100 of the
buses that they had purchased for use in the bus cooperative operated by the
union.’[6] Sasha Kramer, a PhD student from the United States, took photos
of the damaged public buses. With death threats and arbitrary placements on
police ‘wanted’ lists, numerous public sector employees and trade unionists,
such as teachers, port workers, and bus drivers, were targeted. The 26-month
rule of the foreign backed interim government that followed the 2004 coup
resulted in an untold number of dead victims and political prisoners. Numerous
human rights investigations (Harvard Law, Miami University, Lancet Medical
Journal, National Lawyers Guild, and the Quixote Center) documented and decried
the mass state sponsored campaigns of violence and persecution but ironically
the donors and mainstream media that were so often critical of Aristide now
exhibited restraint and silence.
contrast to the Aristide period, in which the government instituted numerous
popular programs but suffered from a deficiency in security and stability (with
a major lack of government resources due to the U.S. Bush regime initiated aid
embargo), the post-coup regime flushed with foreign cash launched a coordinated
campaign of mass layoffs, jailing and killings in which state security forces
were strongly engaged daily.
foreign labor institutions such as the ICFTU were vocal in their criticism of
the elected Aristide (some even before he was inaugurated in February 2001),
hardly a single critical statement was released from international labor over
the two years of a violent unelected interim regime (2004-2006).
first democratically elected president Jean-Bertrand Aristide was overthrown
for the first time in September 1991. A military junta took power as human
rights groups documented a huge wave of killings and repression directed
against Haiti’s poor majority. In order to gain the support of the
international community for the restoration of his government, Aristide’s
government-in-exile accepted austerity stipulations from the United States and
international financial institutions (IFIs). Upon his return to office in 1994
tariffs on imports were forced to drop causing further degradation to Haiti’s
rice productivity. But Aristide steadfastly refused to comply with the
privatization program demanded of him by donor states and institutions.
Although he made compromises in appointments to government office of
technocrats and others in the privatization camp.
the election of René Garcia Préval in early 1996, IFIs along with the more
middle class and professional oriented faction of Lavalas, the Organisation
du Peuple en Lutte
(OPL), were successful in pressuring the new
administration–under Prime Minister Rosny Smarth–to begin a process toward
reaction to this, in November 1996, within the now dividing Lavalas
numerous popular organizations along with Aristide and ti legiz formed
the Fanmi Lavalas (FL) grouping as a reinvigorated popular and poor
based movement that put national sovereignty and national production at the top
of its agenda. Made clear at its founding in Jacmel, FL was to oppose the
privatization of public enterprises which they observed provided a valuable
source of jobs and national production. USAID through a National Democratic
(NDI) run program immediately began sponsoring political and
civil society groups that ran counter to the new FL.
FL faired well in the April 1997 legislative elections (which the OPL blocked
from being observed) and then again in the April 2000 legislative elections
(although that time 8 FL senate seats were contested due to vote counting
methods). But in November 2000 Aristide was again democratically elected to a
second term, inaugurated in February 2001. Economist Jeffrey Sachs explains that
from the start Aristide’s second administration was financially destabilized
from Washington DC; it began with the U.S. representative at the Inter-American
Development Bank
(IDB).[7] The Haitian opposition,
advised by handlers from the International Republican Institute (IRI),
refused to take part in negotiations with the new administration. Soon former
military men were launching violent raids across the country targeting FL
supporters and officials. Attacks were coming from all directions: “death by
one thousand cuts” as one Haitian social-justice activist described to me.
embargo on aid to Haiti’s government (backed by Canada, France, the United
States, and the IFIs) also led to a slow strangulation of the Haitian state,
starting first with its investment priorities, cutting off urgent medical loan,
and then a backlog and slowing in payments to government workers; with an
extremely large chunk of its national budget dependent on foreign aid.
the eve of Aristide’s second administration in early 2001 an IMF report
complained that ‘the slow pace of structural reforms in other crucial areas, in
particular the privatization of public enterprises’ has deprived ‘the
population of some of the benefits of the liberal trade policy.[8] Since FL’s inception its
popular organizations had opposed the privatization program advocated by the
IFIs and FL’s main opponent the OPL.
were intent on a total privatization without the numerous FL-proposed
constraints, such as a partial ownership by victims of the 1991 coup. IFIs and
transnational corporations active in Haiti also opposed numerous FL proposed
subsidies on gasoline and rice for the poor. With the Argentine crisis looming
at that time, donors clearly correlated the disbursement of aid and loans with the
acceptability and cooperation of a government on undertaking the ‘proper’
liberal policices. The IFIs and donors also surely remembered FL’s role in
halting the privatization plans in 1997 and Aristide’s own refusal of
‘untrammeled privatization’.
late 2002 with a fall in the value of the Haitian currency and a rise in
international fuel costs, Haiti complied with US embassy and IFI pressure to
end its fuel subsidies program. Neoliberal policies, promoting fiscal rectitude
(cutting state expenditures) and privatization, clashed with the sovereign and
popular agenda promoted by FL. At the same time FL constantly accepted
compromises and promoted many market reforms, such as the opening of a free
trade zone in the north of country. Yet, government spending on fuel subsidies
and literacy programs were seen as essentially wasted money by donors. Aristide’s
mobilization of the poor and the concerted effort to hold accountable
paramilitary gunmen and their elite financiers in a court of law, were seen by
powerful elites as unacceptable. To rectify the situation powerful local elites
treated the elected government as an enemy, and found allies among the powerful
foreign embassies in Port-au-Prince. The opposition political class drawn from
the middle class and elite circles benefited.
previously mentioned CSH labor confederation began in the late 1990s to
organize labor towards an anti-Lavalas platform, tied closely with foreign
donors and the private sector. The CSH included the formerly
Duvalier-sanctioned and U.S. government-funded Fédération des ouvriers
(FOS), as well as the anti-Lavalas and heavily U.S.-financed Centrale
autonome des travailleurs haïtiens
(CATH). By 2002, the CSH, the ‘ICFTU/ORIT’s
fraternal organization in Haiti’ according to Victor Baez, formed the labor
contingent within the Group of 184.[9]
Group of 184, a coalition of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), business
elites, and foreign financed human rights groups, was the principal civil
society organization that agitated for the downfall of the elected Aristide
government. Similar to the CSH coalition for labor, for the media foreign
donors backed the creation of the Association National des Medias Haitiens (ANMH)
which brought owners of the largest Haitian commercial media stations in
Port-au-Prince together against the government.
though the Group of 184 was headed by one of Haiti’s most notorious sweatshop
owners, Andre Apaid, Jr., the Secrétaire general of CSH, Fritz Charles,
observed that, ‘We adhere to the Group of 184 because it is a broad
organization of the civil society which preaches a social pact where we want to
play our part, where we want to also support the claims present in our
trade-union agenda, ratified by our general assembly.[10]
2000, the CSH and opposition political parties had grown to dominate much of
the foreign discourse in regards to civil society in Haiti. From Brussels, the
ICFTU played the leading role in circulating reports within the European labor
ICFTU statement on November 23, 2000, over two months prior to Aristide’s
inauguration, titled ‘Return To Dictatorship?’ relied on sources from the OPL
and labeled FL as ‘much feared.[11] Another deeply partisan
ICFTU Bulletin in May of 2001, without actually discussing labor, cited OPL
leaders Sauveur Pierre Etienne, Gérard Pierre, and Paul Dennis, as well as a
leader of the Convergence Démocratique, Evans Paul. The ICFTU strangely relied
on opposition political leaders from Haiti’s elite as opposed to trade union
Charles explained that the CSH received assistance, support, and computers from
ORIT and the International Labor Organization (ILO), which, though viewed as a
labor organization is in fact a tri-partite body of the UN that groups together
trade union bodies, employer organizations and governments.[13] Katia Gil of ORIT
recalled, ‘Since 2000, we have had support from international solidarity funds
from the ICFTU to help in a trade union education program, organizing workers
in Haiti…we helped to build the CSH, and we provided part of the support for
the CSH infrastructure, in order to create a place where the Haitian workers
[the CSH] could plan and manage their own process.[14]
ILO financed six seminars for the CSH conducted by André Lafontant Joseph,
Secrétaire general of the private school teachers union, the Confédération
nationale des educateurs d’Haiti
(CNEH).[15] Joseph was also the author
of a major research report funded by the ILO on the Haitian labor movement.[16] According to the report,
ORIT amongst others ‘encourage[d] more than about fifteen organizations to
constitute the trade-union Coordination Syndicale Haïtienne (CSH).[17]
the ICFTU and ORIT would not reveal their financing amount for the CSH,
according to Ana Jiménez of the ILO’s San Jose office, the ILO provided
‘technical cooperation…. a program that has the objective of fortifying the
Haitian union movement, in particular the Coordination syndicale haïtienne
(CSH). This program is assumed within the ordinary budget of the Office…which
does not surpass US $70.000.[18] The ILO also ran two
outside funded projects in Haiti–a project in Gonaïves worth US $413,00 and a
Canadian government financed project worth US$ 382,374.[19]
American Federation of Labor (AFL-CIO) also worked closely with the ILO.
Harry G Kamberis, senior advisor of the AFL-CIO’s Solidarity Center, recalls,
‘Through our representatives at the ILO we supported what the ILO tried to do
as well.[20] The CSH, like many other opposition groups affiliated with the
Group of 184, had something the Haitian government did not have–foreign aid.
Skerrett, a researcher at the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE)
who visited Haiti as a Canadian labor delegate in early 2004, observed:
is not much evidence to suggest that the CSH actually operates as a trade union
at all. I have not seen any reports that they have engaged in any collective
bargaining, or even have democratic meetings of affiliated unions during which
policy positions are democratically decided. A number of the trade unionists
that I spoke with in Haiti and in the post-coup exile-diaspora have suggested
that the CSH was only formed in the late 90s, and with significant involvement
of US and foreign agencies. While it continued to operate as a sort of
‘advocacy’ group for Haitian workers, it is not clear that they became anything
more than a small number of people that were part of the political opposition
first to the Préval (1996-2001) and then Aristide (post-2001) governments.”
CSH, promoted as a coalition of Haiti’s trade unionists, provided a key
platform for Haitian and transnational elites and donors in broadening the
anti-Lavalas coalition. The anti-popular labor contingent formed one important
column of the elite coalition.
most prominent criticism of the Aristide government’s labor policy came about
in 2002 when ‘landowner’s thugs’ in the rural area of Guacimal killed two trade
union supporters. The violence was not only exploited by anti-FL groups in
order to portray the national government as anti-labor but the negative
criticism it sparked vastly overshadowed the scant, if any, media coverage of
the numerous government sponsored projects that benefited workers in Haiti.
informing the public of some real ongoing human rights violations and labor
disputes, reports often overemphasized the level of control and responsibility
that the Aristide government would have had. For example the often-leveled
accusation was that the Aristide government was involved in anti-labor
activities because of the killing of two supporters of the labor organization Batay
in the rural area of Guacimal in 2002 near the northeastern town of
St. Raphael.[22] Two trucks filled with Batay Ouvriye organizers and
supporters, along with a few journalists, arrived in Guacimal apparently to
organize with local workers.
such as Alex Dupuy, Michael Deibert and the UK-based donor-support
organization, the Haiti Support Group, have all portrayed the two
killings at Guacimal as representative of an anti-labor policy on the part of
the Aristide government; not just a violent localized incident, but rather a
crack down backed by the Aristide government.
local FL mayor, Fernand Sévère, was accused of supporting anti-union
activities. However one government authority claims that Batay Ouvriye
arrived at the locality with ‘military weapons’; he adds that two local CASEC
and ASEC officials were wounded by gunfire.[23] Deibert later wrote that
the attack was carried out by ‘lavalas partisans,’ while Haïti Progrès who had
a reporter on the ground (that was injured) reported that an attack was carried
out by a local ‘landowner’s thugs.[24] It is clear that the local
police responded by immediately arresting over a dozen of those involved
including the two wounded journalists.
how ever the events transpired in Guacimal it can hardly be viewed as part of a
wider national government policy of labor-killings and violent anti-labor
persecution as there is no set of similar occurrences to point to or any
similar event for that matter even on a lesser scale. According to Reuters
journalist Guy Delva, who lambasted the actions of the local police in Guacimal,
the Aristide government was widely supportive of labor and concerned more so
than any other government prior-or-since with aiding workers.[25] To suggest that the
Aristide government sanctioned a campaign of anti-labor violence says more
about the political motivations of those making the accusations than actual
real events evidence supports.
Justin Podur, drawing on Hallward’s Damming the Flood: Haiti, Aristide, and
the Politics of Containment
explains how Batay Ouvriye and other transnational
donor oriented ‘progressives’ fell into the strategy of elites. Podur explains:
DTF [Damming the Flood] explores the question, raised by the peasant NGO PAPDA,
the Trotskyist NGO Batay Ouvriye and others, of Aristide and Lavalas’s capitulation
to neoliberalism. Aristide allowed the opening of free trade zones. He
acquiesced in some privatizations (and his Lavalas successor, Rene Preval, also
did so). Batay Ouvriye presents this as a betrayal. To Hallward, however, this
is a misreading of how much power Lavalas and Aristide had. Political action
has to be developed and understood in a context of the overall balance of
forces. Ignoring that balance can have perverse effects, as DTF argues about
Batay Ouvriye’s position on the coup: ‘It is one thing to criticize and protest
against a government elected by the great majority of the people, it is another
to denounce it as an evil to be destroyed at all costs. Although it is easier
to make certain criticisms when you have none of the responsibilities of power,
leftwing labor groups are clearly entitled to pressure any government to adopt
more progressive policies… But BO not only attacked Lavalas, they attacked it
in ways that played straight into the hands of their own worst enemies, and they
did so with a bitterness that can only be understood in terms of a distorted
sense of betrayal and resentment.”
[26] (pg. 188)
labor conditions in Haiti undoubtedly remained poor; the foreign embargo on aid
to Haiti plunged its economy into further abyss. Nonetheless, the Aristide
government made penny-pinching efforts toward backing programs that aimed to
provide the most basic necessities: a national literacy campaign, healthcare
programs, school construction and a subsidized rice program. The minimum wage
was increased in the face of great opposition from 36 gourdes to 70 gourdes a
day in early 2003; a provision of the labor code that sanctioned child domestic
service was repealed; legislation prohibiting human trafficking was passed with
an enforcement team on the job; numerous new schools and health facilities and
programs were instituted; Haiti’s first medical University was built.
former press secretary for the FL government, Mario Dupuy, explains that while
the embargo on aid ‘starved our budget, it allowed us the freedom to take a
sovereign independent course that was unprecedented.[27] But as the funding crunch
presented a dimming prospect for the government to properly function, Aristide
acceded to drop fuel subsidies in 2002 and in 2003 allowed the creation of a
free trade zone (FTZ) in a northern town along the Dominican border – hoping to
reengage the IFIs and unlock the desperately needed funds for health programs,
road construction and other projects. 

Groups such as the Haiti Support Group
lambasted the Aristide government for allowing the creation of the FTZ but even
so the right of workers to organize in the FTZ was guaranteed and it brought in
jobs to the vulnerable economy which paid higher than the local-Haitian
elite owned factories. Paul Farmer commented at the time:

say Haiti would be better off without the IMF and the World Bank and the IDB,
but there’s no topsoil left in a lot of the country, there are no jobs, people
are dying of AIDS and coughing their lungs out with TB, and the poor don’t have
enough to eat. These are problems in the here and now. Something has to be
done. Haiti is flat broke, and I don’t see what else the government can do but
turn to the IFIs. It’s the job of the true friends of Haiti to protect it from
the hypocrisies of the IFIs.”
as the Aristide government grasped for an end of the aid embargo, the ICFTU and
others were broadly successful in portraying a repressive government at odds
with human rights. The February 2004 ICFTU delegation that arrived just prior
to Aristide’s ouster, as Katia Gil recalled, ‘visited many people, but only
those involved with the opposition to the government of course’.[29] Meanwhile the CSH leaders attempted to rally Haitian trade unionists in a call for Aristide’s
resignation.[30] Opposition oriented civil society groups also had excellent
access to the opposition dominated media, which Isabel Macdonald has shown to
have pre-planned a total blackout on the news coverage of pro-government
comparison organizers from the Confédération des travailleurs haitiens (CTH)
and other unions from the pro-government transport, educational and port
sectors were almost never quoted in the foreign press or donor reports; many
were instead marching in the streets to back the government they had voted for.
mid February 2004 large businesses and organizations associated with the
opposition had already sponsored a ‘general strike’. As sectors within the
formal economy, banks, gas stations, supermarkets, and specialty shops kept
their doors closed, according to one observer, the bustling informal economy
remained open and doing brisk business.[32] In an interview, Duclos
Benissoit, a founder of the Federation of Public Transport Workers
(FTPH) who fled into exile after Aristide’s overthrow, discussed the strike.
people who stick their necks out, vocal resisters were targeted first. I was
one of those people. I was opposed to any kind of ‘strike’ called by the
bosses. Unless called by labor, I told consumers to ignore the other ‘strikes.’
(Big business and national forces) didn’t like this.”
2004 the Haitian economy and the Aristide government were greatly weakened by
an ex-military assault, increasingly militant opposition and international
political pressure. Claiming to respond to the crisis, on February 29, 2004,
United States marines along with Canadian and French troops moved on key
facilities across Port-au-Prince, as US diplomats secured Aristide’s pressured
Aristide’s ouster, union leaders facing reprisals for their backing the elected
government were forced into hiding as death squad members of the former
military roamed the countryside and cities. But some foreign trade unionists in solidarity with Haiti and based outside of the country such as the Oilfield
Workers’ Trade Union
of Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean (OWTU)
were able to respond. Just two days after the coup Errol McLeod, President of
the OWTU, condemned the overthrow as it ‘was totally wrong for the US, France
and Canada to determine that President Aristide was ‘unfit to govern.’[34] The regional bodies, of
which CTH has representation within, the WCL and CLAT responded that even though
Aristide had committed errors, ‘he has been elected democratically and that he
has been driven away by an opposition supported by rebels who already have
caused serious troubles in the past.[35]

Yet many of the most powerful donor
groups active in Haiti (most of them from North America and the EU)  had one clear uniting factor: a
one sided support for the anti-popular  and pro-putschist forces.
March 1, 2004 the AFL-CIO released its sole statement on the overthrow of
democracy in Haiti, stating that the ‘current crisis in Haiti represents a failure
of U.S. foreign policy.’ However weeks later the AFL-CIO and its offshoot the American
Center for International Labor Solidarity
(ACILS), also known as the
Solidarity Center, began talks with the Batay Ouvriye (BO) worker’s organization, the same
anti-Lavalas group at Guacimal that was primarily active in the garment
industry and had agitated for the Aristide government to ‘leave the country.’[36]
U.S. labor solidarity activist James Jordan has explained (who has spent time
interviewing the BO leadership), Batay Ouvriye has been involved in many
important labor campaigns in the country and had legitimate criticisms of the Lavalas government, but at the same time they exist in an
extremely desperate situation. By joining the campaign to undermine Haiti’s
elected government, BO could gain powerful foreign institutional support. 
mid-2005, ACILS had won two grants for a program with the Batay Ouvriye.
The first grant for US $350,000 was awarded to ACILS in May of 2005 through the
United States Department of States’ Democracy Rights and Labor Department,
while the second grant for US $99,965 came in September of 2005 from the National
Endowment for Democracy
(NED), which in turn receives its funding also from
the State Department.[37] Teresa Casertano, regional
director of the Americas for ACILS, managed the grants. She explained, ‘We
provide a service that is an educational service, to train them, to share with
them our knowledge and skills on trade union organizing…Organizing members,
doing new member orientation, collective bargaining, contract enforcement, shop
part of the grant requirements ACILS was to submit quarterly evaluation reports
to its funding sources the NED and U.S. State Department. Casertano recalled,
‘We wrote a proposal that was submitted. A very standard format with objectives,
activities and evaluation procedures…So there was a grant agreement based on
that, the State Department dispersed funds for those activities described…The
specific grant has a quarterly reporting requirement…We then write that up and
we submit it as a quarterly report.’ In this particular program with the Batay
, the U.S. State Department asked to extend the program, as
Casertano observed, ‘They did ask us to extend it from a year long to 18 months
with the same amount of funding and we agreed.[39]
further explained the cooperation between the State Department and ACILS: ‘The
State Department has annually a labor officer conference that we are invited to
come and speak at and also when they have labor officer training programs they
send the officers over to speak with us. We design our own programs and run
them. But we do talk with the State Department. We exchange information and we
help them with information on their annual labor and human rights reports.[40]
predecessor also run through the AFL-CIO, AFILD, was a well known participant
in United States campaigns against adversary governments and labor movements
during the cold war, promoting labor movements that were acquiescent to US
backed dictatorships. However, Kamberis argued that there is a difference today
between the activities of ACILS and its Cold War predecessors:
the end of the cold war the global trade union movement has become less
ideological. What you see in Haiti [the support for opposition labor organizations]
is just a coincidence…We are supporting the efforts of workers to organize.
For example with the World-Bank, we worked to build labor rights
conditionalities and that’s what we have achieved in Haiti to help workers…I
would say that working with the Batay ouvriye does advance U.S. Strategic
interests, because it helps to advance freedom of association in Haiti and that
is a U.S. government objective, to allow workers to freely associate.”
AFL-CIO has a long history of active engagement with unions in Haiti, going
back to the Duvalier era. In June of 1986, the State Department, at a White
House briefing for the chief executive officers of major corporations,
requested AIFLD’s involvement in Haiti because ‘of the presence of radical labor
unions and the high risk that other unions may become radicalized.[42] Members of Duvalier’s
secret police and the Tonton Macoutes heavily infiltrated unions such as
the AFL-CIO backed FOS. Kamberis recalls, ‘We had programs under the Duvalier
government that addressed the same thing: worker exploitation whether they were
or were not Anti or Pro-Duvalier. That was not for us the issue.[43]
regards to labor during the Aristide period, one high level ACILS official
described the unions who backed the democratically elected Aristide government
as ‘revolutionary ideologues.’ No such terminology or opinions halted the
AFL-CIO from backing pro-Duvalier, pro-Cedras or pro-Group of 184 labor, or, on
the ultra-left, anti-Lavalas trade unions such as Batay Ouvriye. AFL-CIO
programs in Haiti financed by the U.S. State Department have long only
sponsored labor groups or factions seen as being either overtly pro-US or
groups whose activities can suit U.S. interests in the country.
donors regularly condemned the Aristide government, the opposite was true for
its unelected successor, the interim government of Gerald Latortue and former
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Boniface Alexandre. The interim authorities
were installed with huge financial backing from the United States, Canada,
donors and international financial institutions such as the World Bank
and Inter-American Development Bank.
officials quickly discharged Haiti’s large businesses from paying many of their
taxes and launched the Cadre de Coopération Intérimaire (CCI), a
macro-economic adjustment program largely formulated by international donor
institutions and the local groups they back. According to Mark Schueller at the
University of California, Santa Barbara who studied the CCI, it was
created by 250 mostly foreign experts in Washington DC and committed the new
government to a neoliberal agenda of economic austerity measures.[44] Meanwhile Haiti’s
government ministries were placed under foreign financial supervision.
CTH and other trade union organizers spoke of a mass wave of repression and
firings. Workers and core organizers of unions associated with the civil sector
or backing the government such as the CTH, the Fédération des transporteurs
de poids lourds en haiti
(FTPH) and public teachers organizations, such as
the Federation of associations of teachers in the north and northeast
(FAENNE), were specifically targeted.
Apollon, head of CTH national commission on women, recalls, ‘Latortue’s police
came after us. They broke into our offices and arrested a dozen of our
members.’ Many trade unionists were arrested and some killed, she explains.
Months after the end of the interim government, in August of 2006, some CTH
workers remained in jail without being charged. ‘They were arbitrary arrests
persecuting workers who opposed the coup,’ she observes, ‘The judiciary has
been stacked with illegal appointees.’[45]
Chéry, Secrétaire general of the CTH, remembers how he was forced into hiding
after armed men from the interim government threatened him ‘with death threats
in front of [his] children.’[46] In the north of Haiti,
public school teachers were targeted. Jacob Jean François, a organizer with
FAENNE, observed that members of the ex-military and the OPL intimidated and
assaulted public school workers.[47]
the ICFTU, ORIT, ILO and the AFL-CIO, much like their counterparts in other
donor fields, chose not to investigate the mass persecution carried out by the
interim authorities. When questioned on their failure to investigate the mass
layoffs and repression, Casertano of the ACILS responded, ‘We make public
statements. We make plenty of statements.’ Gil of ORIT commented, ‘We have not
looked into that.’[48]
Canada, while the Canadian Labor Congress (CLC) denounced its
government’s role in legitimizing the 2004 coup d’état, it failed to
investigate the massive layoffs and persecution of public sector workers and
trade unionists.[49] An April 2004 statement
from the CLC committed itself to ‘monitoring’ the human rights and workers
rights situation in the coming months in Haiti, something that never occurred.[50] Rights & Democracy,
a Montreal-based political group funded almost entirely by the Canadian
government, were extreme critics of the labor situation in Haiti under Aristide
but went completely silent on the interim government’s mass persecution and
blind eye turned towards the repression of the interim government might be
partially explained by the vested interests that donors had in many of the
opposition groups and the programs and policies that the Aristide government
stood for and carried out. For example, political parties of western Europe had
strong ties to their countries large and influential trade unions, such as
Germany’s Social Democratic Party, continuously sponsored opposition
political parties in Haiti such as the OPL.[51] Similarly in the Dominican
Republic, Haiti’s only land neighbor, the governing Partido Revolutionario
Democratico (PRD) allied itself in Haiti with small Haitian opposition parties
such as Congrés National des Mouvements Démocratiques (KONAKOM) led by
Victor Benoit.[52]
probably the most bizarre relationship, a Canadian labor union the Fonds de
(FTQ) and one of its top officials Fernand Daoust aligned
themselves closely with Andre Apaid, Jr. and the Group of 184. By mid-2007
Apaid was publicly fingered by the former head of the ex-military death squads,
the Front pour la Libération et la Reconstruction Nationales (FLRN), of
financially backing their 2004 invasion.[53]
Québec Federation of Labour (FTQ) and the Centrale des syndicats du
(CSQ) heavily supported anti-Aristide labor and passed resolutions condemning
the Aristide’s governements alleged anti-union activities. Journalist Yves
Engler writes, ‘The FTQ and CSQ union federations and a half dozen NGOs are
part of an informal group known as the Concertation Pour Haiti (CPH). Prior to
the coup, they branded Aristide a ‘tyrant’ and his government a ‘dictatorship’
and a ‘regime of terror.’ In mid-February, 2004, CPH representatives told the
Canadian Press, ‘We think there will not be a solution without Aristide
Engler observes that the demand was made as ex-military Haitian
death squads swept across the country to depose Aristide.[54]
FTQ official and one-time president Fernand Daoust led an obsessive campaign
against Haiti’s elected President. In February 2004 Daoust as a member of the
ICFTU delegation attended a Group of 184 demonstration.[55] Astonishingly the FTQ owns
twelve percent plus stock options of Gildan, a Canadian clothing company
whose main subcontractor is Apaid.[56] Both Gildan and
Apaid were publicly angered with Aristide over his raising the minimum wage.
FTQ and Daoust’s power within Canadian and international labor circles seems to
have played a key factor in silencing dissent over the coup and heightening the
ICFTU’s own rhetoric. The FTQ was also a member of an informal coalition of
development agencies known as the Concertation Pour Haiti (CPH), which
received backing from the Canadian International Development Agency
(CIDA).[57] CPH called for the overthrow of Aristide on Feburary 16, 2005.[58] Daoust sits on both the
board of the Paul Gérin-Lajoie Foundation (named after the former head
of CIDA) and on the Conseil de l’Université de Montreal with Bernard
Lamarre of the company SNC-Lavalin.[59] SNC-Lavalin is a
business partner of the FTQ and has been a major beneficiary of post-coup
reconstruction contracts in Haiti.[60] Following the 2004 coup
the FTQ and Daoust were able to block the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC)
from passing resolutions against the coup.6[61] Most scandalously the FTQ
sent out a press release on 1 March 2004 the day after the overthrow of
democracy in Haiti, in which FTQ general secretary said ‘Helping Haitians building
democracy in their country now has to be the prime priority of the
international community.’[62] Not only did the FTQ aid
in the destabilization of Aristide, they helped in the post-coup whitewash
the international community and elite donors ignored the repercussions of the
coup on Haiti’s poor, massive layoffs and persecution at the hands of the
interim government had a severe social impact. Thousands of civil enterprise
workers were laid off, accused of working under patronage ‘ghost’ jobs for a
corrupt Aristide government. But months after the installation of the interim
government, Anoop Singh, Director of the Western Hemisphere Department
at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), conceded that that expenditure
cuts, supported by the IMF, had in fact ‘adversely affected the ability of the
authorities to deliver basic public services.’[63] The austerity measures
meant a mass lay off that had real and ascertainable effects upon the
functionality of state services.
regards to mass layoffs in the post-coup period, Leslie Voltaire, a former
government minister, observed that, ‘The interim government lays off two
thousand or three thousand [government workers] and puts five hundred of their
own partisans into jobs. So they satisfy both the international community and
they put their own people, their students and militants that work for them into
jobs. The partisans of the Group of 184, they give them jobs.’[64] Voltaire acknowledges that
there were patronage jobs under Aristide but that many people fired were
working real jobs that poor communities relied on for income and training.
According to some Haitian labor leaders, the interim government laid off
between eight and ten thousand civil sector workers, many from the poorest
slums of Port-au-Prince.[65] However, this does not
include the thousands of elected officials (often with staff) that also lost
their jobs following the coup.
former police officer with the Unité de sécurité présidentielle (USPGN),
Guy Edouard, provided the author a detailed list of nearly five hundred police
officers that lost their jobs following the coup because of their loyalty to
the elected government.[66] Edouard believes that
Youri Latortue, a former police chief and nephew of the interim Prime Minister,
led an effort to vet out, persecute and kill members of the police force that
were loyal throughout to the elected government.
under these conditions workers continued to collectively organize. Agence
Haitïenne de Presse
reported on a number of demonstrations that
dismissed-civil sector employees launched:
who were ‘unjustly dismissed’ from public administration over the last two
years organized a non-violent march in the streets of Port-au-Prince to urge
the new authorities to reintegrate them and to liberate all political
prisoners…These citizens were fired solely because they were deemed partisan to
the Aristide government following his forced departure on February 29, 2004,
the demonstrators said. Several of those dismissed from their positions with
the national telephone service (Téléco), the national old-age insurance office
(ONA), and the national port authority (APN) were subsequently arrested when
they asked for damages.”
the numerous small but heavily foreign donor backed labor groups (that took
part in the protests against the Aristide government), the groups that opposed
Aristide’s removal, the CTH, transport unions and civil sector workers such as
the Syndicat des ouvriers et employés de la Téléco (SOETEL) received
virtually no attention from foreign donor agencies and only rarely from the
Haitian trade unionists interviewed for this piece viewed the 2004 coup d’état
and the post-coup repression as part of a larger neoliberal program, meant to
promote the policies of multinational companies, privatization and dependency.
They recognize a clear political consensus between transnational donors and
civil society elites in Haiti.
around Port-au-Prince, CTH organizers point to the various hospitals and
schools constructed by the Aristide government. ‘This is the story that was
never told,’ observes a female organizer with CTH.[68] Although their voices and
opinions have rarely been heard or discussed in mainstream discourse, much of
Haiti’s grassroots labor movement–with few resources at their disposal–continue
to organize independently.
return of elected government, with a second term for Préval in 2006 brought
some respite. By mid-2007 CTH had re-launched organizing campaigns in Haiti’s
ports and a new effort in the garment sectors, hoping for a sustained period of
peace and stability.
June of 2007 transport workers formed the Initiative de Secteur de Transport,
an ad hoc strike committee representing 18 transport unions. They launched a
two-day nation wide strike protesting measures of the Preval government to
increase their registration sticker tax and fine fees as well as the
non-subsidization of fuel, which they say is making living costs unbearable.[69] Spokesmen of the ad hoc
group criticized the Préval government for becoming too close with big business
and ‘the people that supported the de facto government and 2004 coup.’[70] The strikers gained wide
support with the Fédération des Transporteurs du Nord, the Fédération
des Transporteurs de l’Artibonite
and the south based Association des
Propriétaires de Conducteurs du Haïti
behind them.
2007 the Preval government began financial compensation for former Téléco
employees illegally fired by interim authorities, albeit while moving forward
on its own new privatization plan. On June 23, 2007 Préval announced his
support for the privatization of Téléco, APN and various other civil sectors,
which have been targeted for privatization by the IFIs for many years now.[71] A government group that
studies and promotes privatization, le Conseil de Modernisation des
Entreprises Publiques
(CMEP), led by Michel Presume, has resurfaced.
has criticized the APN for putting too much of its budget towards its employees
and keeping shipping costs too high; Téléco for not being able to compete with
multinational telecommunication companies.[72] But Téléco workers say
that the interim government had them provide early on the resources and
infrastructure for the launching of competitors in Haiti, such as the Digicel
Caribbean group
, and that their has been a long term campaign to ‘sabotage
public institutions to justify their privatization and then sell at a cheap
price.’[73] Through the combined factors of corruption, coup d’etats, aid
embargos and lack of funds Haiti’s civil enterprises have clearly suffered and
have again been put on the chopping block. In early July 2007 over a thousand
workers from Téléco were fired from their jobs as IFIs and powerful players in
Port-au-Prince push now hard for full privatizations.
history in Haiti confirms that there exist acceptable civil societies and
government bureaucrats that benefit from donor clientilism, and then on the
other hand their exist popular political projects and grassroots organizations.[74] In an era of global
capitalism, where political intervention and polyarchic processes are becoming transnationalized
(operating functionally across borders), new relationships and conflicts arise.
economic dependence make these relationship and conflicts all the more desperate
and provocative (for instance with all major foreign donor backed labor
programs going toward anti-Lavalas groups during the 1990-2006 time
period). As donor-backed elite civil society benefits from an out of
proportional weight of prestige and power, contraire to their actual popular
standing amongst the population, those popular groups working outside the
hegemony of middle strata and elite donor/NGOs are rarely heard of or even
acknowledged in mainstream media.
organizers in Haiti are constantly presented with new dilemmas. In November
2006 the World Confederation of Labor (which the CTH is a member of) and the
ICTFU both dissolved and joined together to form the International Trade Union
Confederation (ITUC). While it is unlikely this transnational labor federation
will do much advocacy for grassroots labor in Haiti, organizers from Haiti’s
labor unions face significant pressures and the allure of foreign aid if they
take up a position aligning with transnational elite interests. With the
constantly in flux situation of Haitian labor, these desperate conditions look
set to continue. An array of popular grassroots organizations exist in Haiti; a
clear challenge is for their story to be told and cross-border solidarity to be
Acknowledgment: I wish to thank for their feedback and comments CSULB History Professor’s Dr. Kaye Briegel and Dr. Dennis Kortheuer.

[1] William I. Robinson. A
Theory of Global Capitalism: Production Class, and State in a Transnational
. (Baltimore and London: John Hopkins University Press, 2004); Antonio
Gramsci. Selections from the Prison Notebooks. London: Lawrence and Wishart,
[2] William I. Robinson.
‘Democracy, Polyarchy, and U.S. Policy Towards Latin America’. Yale University,
7-8 April 2006.
[3] Anthony Fenton.
‘Declassified Documents: National Endowment for Democracy FY2005’. Narco News.
15 February 2006. Fabiola Cordove, a program officer at the NED (NED) in
Washington D.C. observed, ‘Aristide really had 70% of the popular support and
then the 120 other parties had the thirty per cent split in one hundred and
twenty different ways, which is basically impossible to compete [with]’;
Following the 1991 military overthrow of Aristide’s first Administration in
1992 and 1993 The American Institute for Free Labor Development (AIFLD),
financed by the US Department of State, ran a program worth $900,000 in funding
that supported the CATH and other conservative unions in Haiti.
[4] Katia Gil. Interview with
author, telephone. March 6, 2006.
[5] Isabel MacDonald. ‘DDR in
Haiti: The UN’s cleansing of Bel Air ahead of elections’. Haiti Action
Committee, 2005; Isabel MacDonald. Interview with wakeup with co-op radio.
[6] ‘Statement on the Current
Situation of Workers, the Labor Movement, and Human Rights in Haiti’. Dominion,
2004. Jeffrey Sachs. ‘The Fire This Time
[7] Jeffrey Sachs. ‘The Fire
This Time in Haiti was US-Fueled’. CommonDreams. 1 March 2004; Leslie Voltaire.
Interview by author. Port-au-Prince, August 2006. Voltaire, a former Minister
for expatriates under the Aristide government, explains that the Aristide
government lost what should have been at least a fourth of its annual budget
because of the government aid embargo backed by the United States and IFIs.
From looking at national budgets from the time it appears that the percentage
was even higher.
[8] ‘Haiti: Selected Issues’.
IMF. 2001. Pg. 41.
[9] ‘ICFTU/ORIT Urgent
International Mission will go to Haitï on 16 and 17 of February’. ICFTU. 9
February 2004.
[10] Translated from the ‘CSH:
Reporte de actividades por la CSH: Haiti (2002-2003)’. January 10, 2003; Andy Apaid
Jr., ‘owns Alpha Industries, one of Haiti’s largest cheap labor export assembly
lines established during the Duvalier era. His sweatshop factories produce textile
products and assemble electronic products for a number of US firms including
Sperry/Unisys, IBM, Remington and Honeywell. Apaid is the largest industrial
employer in Haiti with a workforce of some 4000 workers. Wages paid in Andy
Apaid’s factories are as low as 68 cents a day. (Miami Times, 26 Feb 2004). The
current minimum wage is of the order of $1.50 a day.’
[11] Haiti: From Bad to
Worse’. ICFTU. 5 February 2001. In comparison to its overtly critical stance
during the second Aristide Administration (2001-2004), not a single ICFTU or
ORIT bulletin decried the huge amount of labor rights violations at the hands
of the Boniface-Latortue interim government (2004-2006).
[12] ‘Tripartite Declaration
of Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy’.
International Labor Organization.
[13] Kim Scipes. Interview
with author. March 2006.
[14] Katia Gil. Interview with
author. Telephone, March 6, 2006.
[15] Fritz Charles. ‘Bref
Rapport des activités du secretariat executif de la Coordination syndicale
haïtienne (CSH) pour la périod allant de mars 2002’. ORIT. July 2003.
[16] André Lafontant Joseph.
‘Le Mouvement Syndical Haitien’. ILO. 2003; Evel Fanfan. ‘Proposal: Community
Based Human Rights Advocacy in Haiti’. AUMOHD. January 2006; Tom Luce. Interview
by author. Telephone, January 2006; Following the 2004 coup, Joseph’s union
allegedly worked to undermine the public school teacher’s union (of the CTH) in
the north of Haiti.
[17] André Lafontant Joseph.
‘Le Mouvement Syndical Haitien’. ILO. 2003. Pg. 53. «53 La première est à
l’actif de l’ORIT, de la Fondation Friedrich Ebert et le Centre Pétion Bolivar
qui à la faveur d’un processus de dialogue et de réalisation d’activités
conjointes, ont pu encourager plus d’une quinzaine d’organisations à constituer
la Coordination Syndicale Haïtienne.»; Ginette Apollon, Paul Chéry, Interview
with Author, Port-au-Prince, August 2006. Some Haitian labor leaders decry the
ILO study, which they say was filled with political bias and was manipulated to
make it appear on paper that smaller opposition oriented unions (within the
CSH) appear as if they had much larger numbers of workers than they really do.
[18] Ana Jiménez. E-mail to
author. 2006.
[19] Ibid.
[20] Harry Kamberis. Interview
with author. Telephone, February 2006. Kamberis headed ACILS at its founding
from 1997 to 2004 after which he moved to Senior Advisor status. He retired in
2007. Barbara Shailor replaced Kamberis in 2004 as head of ACILS. For a recent
analysis of the AFL-CIO’s foreign policy, see Kim Scipes. ‘Labor Imperialism
Redux? The AFL-CIO’s Foreign Policy Since 1995’. Monthly Review. May 2005:
[21] Kevin Skerrett. Interview
with author. Telephone, February of 2006.
[22] Ibid.
[23] Bel Angelot. Interview
with author. August 2006.
[24] Michael Deibert. ‘Time to
Support Haiti’. Henry Jackson Society. 25 April 2006; Haiti Progres. June 6,
2002; Alex Dupuy. The Prophet and Power (Rowan & Littlefield Publishers,
Inc, 2006); Peter Hallward, Damming the Flood: Haiti and the Politics of Containment
(Verso, 2007). While trade unionists would surely of had legitimate complaints
during the tenure of Aristide and any other Haitian government, Dupuy provides
an uneven analysis similar to that of the ICFTU. He makes no mention of the
wide scale and systematic interim government backed persecution and firing of
workers following the coup d’état, nor the effect that the interim government’s
austerity measures had on the public sector work force. His sole point that he
raises in regards to labor, is that ‘FL supporters also attacked and threatened
members of several independent union who had grievances against the government
for violating workers’ rights.’ (Pg. 161-162) For a more even handed analysis
see Hallward’s book.
[25] Hallward. Damming the
[26] Justin Podur. ‘Bursting
the Dam of Containment’. Znet. 14 June 2008.
[27] Mario Dupuy. Interview
with author. Miami, August 2007; ‘3000 logements sociaux avant 2004’. L’Union.
21 November 2002; ‘Inauguration de 48 centres Alpha a Trouin’. L’Union. 31 July
2003; ‘Coopération haitiano-Cubaine: un modèle dans la Caraïbe!’. L’Union.
14-16 November 2003. Rarely covered in the foreign media, the Aristide
government launched a round of social investment initiatives known as the Alpha
programs. The first alpha program based around literacy had begun in 1991 and
was reinstituted in 1994. In 2001 the program was strengthened to become
nationally cohesive. At the start of Aristide’s second administration L’Union,
the Fanmi Lavalas government newspaper, reported on the construction of
thousands of homes for the poor and the launching of a large literacy program
run with the support of Cuban instructors and material.
[28] Let Haiti Live: Unjust
U.S. Policies Towards its Oldest Neighbor (Coconut Creek, FL: Educa Vision, 2004).
[29] Katia Gil. Interview with
author. Telephone, March 2006.
[30] Secrétaire general Fritz
Charles. ‘Communique de la Coordination Syndicale Haitienne (CSH): Le
terrorisme d’Etat en Haïti’. Coordination syndicale haïtienne. 28 February
[31] Isabel MacDonald. ‘The
Freedom of the Press Barons’. The Dominion. 1 February 2007.
[32] Kevin Pina. ‘Haiti’s
Large Businesses Shutter Doors as the Poor Markets Remain Open’. 2004.
[33] ‘Journeying in the
struggle together: An Interview with Haitian labor leader Benissoit Duclos’. SF
Bay View. 2006.
[34] ‘No to U.S. Intervention
in Haiti’. Oilfield Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU). March 1, 2004.
[35] ‘The WCL Calls for Rapid
Stabilisation of the Situation in Haiti’. Infor Caribe Newsletter of the
Caribbean Workers Council CWC. March 2004.
[36] ‘Crisis in Haiti’. 11
March 2004. AFL-CIO Executive Council; Jeb Sprague. ‘Batay Ouvriye’s Smoking
Gun’. Znet, June 2006; Joe Emersberger, Jeb Sprague. ‘$449,965 in NED/State
Department funding for ACILS ‘Solidarity Center’ Program with Batay Ouvriye’.
Znet. 30 September 2006. Batay ouvriye had some legitimate complaints in
regards to the Free Trade Zone (FTZ) but the IFIs strategy of using an aid
embargo to force its policies (FTZ, et cetera) upon the Haitian government is absent
from their analysis. Batay Ouvriye has also spread the false claim that CTH was
a member of the CSH and labeled Aristide a ‘dictator’.; Ginette Apollon, Paul
Chéry, Interview with Author, Port-au-Prince, August 2006. CSH officials
attempted to recruit one CTH official during the 2002-2003 period and in one
Group 184 declaration included CTH as a member. However, CTH officials say that
their confederation was never a member of the CSH or the Group of 184. They say
that the G184 often portrayed groups as members that were not members or just
had a few dissident members that attended. They explain that the majority of
CTH backed the government and many marched in pro-government demonstrations in
February 2004. In any case by the end of 2003 the CSH/Group 184 list no longer
included the CTH.
[37] Harry Kamberis, Teresa
Casertano, Barbara Shailor, Interview with author, Telephone, February 2006;
NED grants for FY 2005, In The Name of Democracy. For an in-depth analysis of
the relationship of the ACILS with the NED, see Kim Scipes. ‘An Unholy
Alliance: The AFL-CIO and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) in
Venezuela’. ZNet. July 10, 2005.
[38] Ibid.
[39] Ibid.
[40] Ibid.
[41] Ibid.
[42] Beth Simms. ‘Populism,
Conservatism, and Civil Society in Haiti’. Policy Report. April 1992. By the
early 1990s there was a concerted U.S. effort to influence the CTH and CATH. As
a result there was a split within CTH, the group that opposed the U.S. backed
anti-Lavalas push formed what is today the current CTH.
[43] Harry Kamberis. Interview
with author. February 2006. The estimates on the total amount of state
sanctioned killings under the Duvalier Regimes (1957-1986) that I have found
range from 30,000 to 60,000; Kim Scipes. ‘AFL-CIO Foreign Policy Leaders Help
Develop Bush’s Foreign Policy, Target Foreign Unions for Political Control’.
Labor Notes. March 2005; Tim Shorrock. ‘Labor’s Cold War’. The Nation. May 19,
[44] Mark Schueller. ‘Haiti’s
CCI: The Tail Wagging the Dog?’. HaitiAnalysis. 2007.
[45] Ginette Appollon.
Interview with author. Port-au-Prince. August 2006.
[46] Ginette Apollon. Paul
Chéry. Interview with Author. Port-au-Prince. August 2006. The author has
conducted Interviews with various other labor organizers from unions that were
persecuted following the coup; Kevin Skerret. ‘A Situation of Terror: Haitian
Union Leader on the 2004 coup’. Znet. 4 November 2005.
[47] ‘Teachers Persecuted by
Private School Propoents AUMOHD Staves off Bogus Arrest Warren Against Union
General Secretary’. AUMOHD-HURAH. 26 November 2005; Tom Luce. Interview by
author. Telephone, January 2006.
[48] Katia Gil. Interview with
author. Telephone, March 6, 2006; Harry Kamberis, Teresa Casertano, Barbara
Shailor. Interview with author. Telephone, February 2006.
[49] Executive Vice President
Marie Clarke Walker, Speech for Canadian Labor Congress.
[50] ‘CLC Statement on Haiti’.
1 April 2004.
[51] Throughout 1996-1997 the
OPL was the primary political party backer of a privatization program. In
February 2001 as Aristide was being inaugurated, the OPL hosted a
‘counter-inauguration’ in front of opposition officials in which Gerard
Gourgue, a 75-year-old lawyer, was dubbed ‘provisional president’; Dominique
Esser, Email to author, May 2006. Dominique Esser, a New York based human rights
advocate, argues that the persecution of workers ‘is a non-topic if it happens
to elements of society that are not supported by those wealthy parties that are
strongly intertwined with international union heavyweights.’
[52] Hugo Tolentino. Interview
with author. Santo Domingo. August 2007. Tolentino was one of the PRD’s current
Vice Presidents and served as Foreign Minister during the majority of Hipolito
Mejia’s administration.
[53] Betrayal and
Insurrection: Guy Philippe Interview with Peter Hallward, HaitiAnalysis, 2007.
[54] Yves Engler. ‘The
Politics of Money: Haiti and the Left’. February 2006
[55] Yves Engler. Interview
with Fernand Daoust. Montreal. September 2007.
[56] Montreal la presse.
business section. 2004. Gildan was about to go bankrupt in 1994 but the FTQ,
which sees itself as having an investment arm, . The a Quebec nationalist
identity union, work to protect and invest in Quebec companies. In late 2003
FTQ made a big announcment that they would sell all their stock because Gildan
had left Montreal and was now operating factories with poor worker rights in
Honduras and Haiti. But as of 2007 FTQ still owns a huge percentage of the
stock of Gildan (La Presse Montreal, February 2007)…
[57] Alterpresse. Concretation
Pour Haiti.
[58] Alterpresse
[59] Paul Gérin-Lajoie
Foundation website and University of Montreal website.
[60] Yves Engler. E-mail to
author. 2007.
[61] Kevin Skerret, Interview
by Yves Engler, March 2004.
[62] The FTQ rejoices at the
liberation of imprisoned trade unionists and wants to help Haitians construct
democracy in their country. According to the Yves Engler who has researched the
FTQ extensively this is the only time the FTQ has ever in its history advocated
the overthrow of the government. FTQ has permanent organizers circulating into
Haiti doing delegations and training for long periods of time working with.
FTQ’s Gangon explained that ‘In a meeting with Batay Ouvriye they asked us for
money and did not want any interaction outside of money.’ CISO, a CIDA funded
organization, is close to starting a financial relationship with Batay Ouvriye.
CLC does not do projects in Haiti, specifically because the FTQ is supposed to
head up policy toward the francophone countries. But in Haiti the French
language is spoken by the elites, so inherently FTQ is working with french
speaking labor elites as opposed to the kreyol speak trade unionists. For three
reasons FTQ also had opposition to Arisitde: (1) Aristide was promoting Kreyol,
(2) FTQ was getting money from CIDA/via CISO, (3) FTQ is connected in with the
Catholic church whose elite hierarchy opposed the liberation-catholicism and
recognition of voodoo by the Aristide government.
[63] Anoop Singh. ‘Statement
of Anoop Singh Director Western Hemisphere Department International Monetary
Fund at the Donors. Conference on Haiti Washington D.C., July 20, 2004’.
International Monetary Fund, 20 July 2004.
[64] Leslie Voltaire.
Interview with author. Port-au-Prince. August 2006.
[65] Wadner Pierre, Jeb
Sprague. ‘Haiti: Capital Residents Describe a State of Siege’. Inter Press
Service, February 2007.; cf. Jeb Sprague, Wadner Pierre. ‘HAITI: Pain at the
Pump Spurs Strike Actions’. 19 June 2007.; Jeb Sprague, Wadner Pierre. ‘HAITI: Workers Protest
Privatisation Layoffs’. Inter Press Service, 24 July 2007.; Jeb Sprague. ‘Invisible Violence: Ignoring murder in
post-coup Haiti’. FAIR. July/August 2006.
[66] Guy Edouard. Interview
with author. Port-au-Prince. August 2006.
[67] ‘Haiti: Civil servants
unjustly fired take to streets of Port-au-Prince to call for their
reintegration,’ L’Agence Haïtienne de Presse, July 10, 2006.
[68] Port-au-Prince, August
[69] Changeux Méhu, Benissoit
Duclos. Interview with author. June 2007; Jeb Sprague, Wadner Pierre. ‘Haiti:
Pain at the Pump Spurs Strike Actions’. Inter Press Service. 19 June 2007.
[70] Ibid.
[71] ‘René Préval confirme
l’application de mesures de redressement dans les entreprises publiques’.
Agence Haitïenne de Presse, 25 June 2007.
[72] ‘Privatisation prochaine
de 3 instiotutions publiques autonomes et formation d’une commission pour
étudier la situation des institutions s’occupant de sécurité sociale’. Agence
Haitïenne de Presse. 25 June 2007.
[73] ‘Débat autour de la
privatisation de la Téléco.’ Agence Haitïenne de Presse. 26 June 2007.
[74] I would argue that
grassroots civil society threatens the interests of elites and transnational
capital through it’s unpredictable and popular based organizing.