Posts Tagged ‘aristide’

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Haiti: further background reading

January 20, 2010

China Mieville penned a lengthy critique of international law last year that took the 2004 coup, and subsequent occupation, as its starting point. It’s an under-considered angle, and China is particularly sharp at pinning down the omissions, unstated assumptions, and plain misrepresntations of much subsequent reportage. Pashukanis at Law and Disorder also has a reflection on the international law’s complicity in the catastrophe, and some reflections on recent critical writing.

Peter Hallward’s 2004 New Left Review essay is available in full on the NLR site. Written in the coup’s immediate aftermath, it provides a valuable precis of Haitian history and its continued depredations at the hands of successive imperial powers.

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Haiti: required reading

January 14, 2010

Peter Hallward, in the Guardian, if you haven’t seen it. Sample:

Haiti is now a country where, according to the best available study, around 75% of the population “lives on less than $2 per day, and 56% – four and a half million people – live on less than $1 per day”. Decades of neoliberal “adjustment” and neo-imperial intervention have robbed its government of any significant capacity to invest in its people or to regulate its economy. Punitive international trade and financial arrangements ensure that such destitution and impotence will remain a structural fact of Haitian life for the foreseeable future.

It is this poverty and powerlessness that account for the full scale of the horror in Port-au-Prince today. Since the late 1970s, relentless neoliberal assault on Haiti’s agrarian economy has forced tens of thousands of small farmers into overcrowded urban slums. Although there are no reliable statistics, hundreds of thousands of Port-au-Prince residents now live in desperately sub-standard informal housing, often perched precariously on the side of deforested ravines. The selection of the people living in such places and conditions is itself no more “natural” or accidental than the extent of the injuries they have suffered.

Hallward interviewed former president, the liberation theologian Jean-Bertrand Aristide, overthrown in a US-backed coup, for the London Review of Books back in 2007.