Thursday May 7th 2020
By Joe Hill
“While I was in the boat, I captured a very beautiful Carib woman, whom the said Lord Admiral gave to me. When I had taken her to my cabin she was naked as was their custom. I was filled with a desire to take my pleasure with her and attempted to satisfy my desire. She was unwilling, and so treated me with her nails that I wished I had never begun. But to cut a long story short I then took a piece of rope and whipped her soundly and she let forth such incredible screams that you would not have believed your ears. Eventually we came to such terms, I assure you, and that you would have thought she had been brought up in a school for whores.” – Michele da Cuneo, childhood friend of Christopher Columbus and solider among the first landing in the Americas.
When Europeans first landed in the Americas, in what is today known as Haiti which would be the first European colony, they quickly learned of what awaited them. Columbus wrote in his diary days after landing in Haiti, “They willingly traded everything they owned…They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features…They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They have no iron. Their spears are made of cane…They would make fine servants…With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.”
And so Columbus and his men did make the natives do whatever they want. As Howard Zinn described in his book, A People’s History of the United States, Columbus and his men quickly began to enslave anyone in sight, pillaged their societies for gold, raped women and children as they pleased, and even “rode the back of Indians if they were in a hurry“. Zinn continued further stating, “In two years, through murder, mutilation, or suicide, half of the 250,000 Indians on Haiti were dead. When it became clear that there was no gold left, the Indians were taken as slave labor on huge estates, known later as encomiendas. They were worked at a ferocious pace, and died by the thousands…from 1494 to 1508, over three million [Indians] had perished from war, slavery, and the mines.”
Spain would rule over Haiti for the next 133 years in a reign which could only be characterized by rape, murder and slavery. In the early 1700s the French would gradually take greater control over Haiti, and flooded the country with African slaves (seeing as all the native slaves had been butchered), and would dominate the country for 100 years much in the same way the Spanish did, through rape, murder and slavery.
Beginning around 1790, Haitian slaves began forming armies and coalitions, inspired by the French Revolution. By 1803 the slave revolt successfully defeated the French and established their own independent state. This was the first instance of a nation to gain independence through a slave revolt. The next 20 years would see repeated attempts by the French and Spanish to regain their lost colony, with hundreds of thousands of lives lost. In 1825, under immense pressure, former slave and then ruler of Haiti, Jean-Pierre Boyer, agreed to a deal with King Charles X of France that, “in exchange for diplomatic recognition from France, the new republic was forced to pay enormous reparations: some 150m francs, in gold.” And so Haiti would get its first experience of the magic of black alchemy, purchasing what they believed to be their country’s freedom, but instead receiving the insidious slavery of debt.
“The long and the short of it is that Haiti was paying reparations to France from 1825 until 1947,” says [Alex] Von Tunzelmann, historian. “To come up with the money, it took out huge loans from American, German and French banks, at exorbitant rates of interest. By 1900, Haiti was spending about 80% of its national budget on loan repayments. It completely wrecked their economy. By the time the original reparations and interest were paid off, the place was basically destitute and trapped in a spiral of debt. Plus, a succession of leaders had more or less given up on trying to resolve Haiti’s problems, and started looting it instead.”
Von Tunzelmann’s last point about leadership who had given up on their own country is quite a dubious explanation on the post-French-debt Haitian political situation. Haiti experienced a long series of covert and overt political disruptions from French, German and American forces over the 90 years since the 1825 debt agreement with France, until finally in 1915 the United States under President Woodrow Wilson sent in marines and overthrew the existing government, installing a US friendly dictator. This move opened up Haiti for US corporate interests, and Haiti’s debt positions would take an American turn.
In 1957, Haiti ‘elected’ Dr. Francois Duvalier, after an American sponsored political intervention. A violent and cruel dictator, ‘Papa Doc’ Duvalier ruled Haiti with an iron fist, utilizing his Tonton Macoutes ‘Boogeymen’ to murder and terrorize political opposition, from journalists to religious leaders. Papa Doc Duvalier was succeeded by his son, Jean-Claude Duvalier in 1971. ‘Baby Doc’ would rule Haiti much in the same way as his father, if not worse.
On 5 January 1958, feminist activist and anti-Duvalier journalist, Yvonne Hakime-Rimpel was beaten, raped and tortured after being abducted from her home by the Tonton Macoutes, Duvalier’s personal paramilitary group. Her bloodied body was later found discarded on an empty street. Soon after, she publically retracted her previous denunciations of the Duvalier Regime and discontinued her feminist journal Escale.Dr. Jennifer Garcon, Ph.D, University of Pennsylvania
What was the purpose of this violent regime supported by the United States? How could a country which had just endured 465 years of slavery at the hands of murderous rapist dictators, once again be put through such torture? For what reason? Confidential US State Department documents released by Wikileaks might explain:
THE GOVERNMENT OF PRESIDENT JEAN-CLAUDE DUVALIER COULD CLAIM SOME MAJOR ACCOMPLISHMENTS…HE REAFFIRMED HIS COMMITMENT TO “LIBERALIZATION AND DEMOCRATIZATION”…ALSO ENCOURAGING WITH RESPECT TO THE PRIMARY US GOAL IN HAITI: STIMULATING ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND ATTAINING MAJOR FISCAL AND ADMINISTRATIVE REFORMS…IN JULY, AT THE FOURTH MEETING OF THE JOINT COMMISSION REPRESENTING HAITI’S MAJOR DONORS, FINANCE MINISTER BROS DECLARED HAITI’S INTENTION TO UNDERTAKE MAJOR FISCAL REFORMS ALONG THE LINES SUGGESTED BY THE INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND…FINANCE MINISTER BROS RECEIVED THE GO-AHEAD TO SIGN AN AGREEMENT WITH THE IMF FOR AN EXTENDED FUND FACILITY (EFF). AND THE NEW CABINET ANNOUNCED ON NOVEMBER 3 APPEARED TO PUT PRESIDENT DUVALIER’S PERSONAL STAMP ON THE TOP GOVERNMENT LEADERSHIP AS WELL AS MODERNIZING THE CABINET SOMEWHAT BY EASING OUT A FEW MORE OLD-STYLE DUVALIERISTS AND REPLACING THEM WITH YOUNGER TECHNOCRATS…EXTERNAL MANIPULATION OF HAITIAN FINANCES, WHICH IS WHAT BOTH THE US AND IMF REQUIREMENTS LOOK LIKE TO MANY HAITIANS, CARRIES FOR HISTORICAL REASONS A VERY NEGATIVE EMOTIONAL CHARGE HERE…THE ELECTIONS WERE TIGHTLY CONTROLLED; INTERNAL SECURITY MEASURES WERE SHARPLY INCREASED IN RESPONSE TO A PERCEIVED THREAT; AND THE MEDIA, PARTICULARLY THE PRESS, HAS BEEN KEPT ON A TIGHTER LEASH SINCE LAST FALL.Leaked cable: 1979PORTA01460_e
Us embassy in Port au prince, haiti to us department of state, 1979
And suddenly all becomes clear. The enslavement of people is justified by the exceptionalism of United States corporate interests. For it is most important that President Duvalier, ‘reaffirmed his commitment to liberalization and democratization’. Liberalization being the foreign takeover of Haitian industry and real-estate, and democratization being the election of neoliberal US sponsored candidates.
The International Monetary Fund, headquartered in Washington D.C, was established in 1944 at the Bretton Woods Conference. In 1971, when Nixon ended Bretton Woods and decoupled the US dollar from gold, the position of the IMF pivoted significantly. Once responsible for overseeing the various exchange rates between countries, the IMF became a vehicle to aid in the ‘development’ of third world countries or ‘distressed’ economies.
Furthermore, this aid came with what the IMF describes as ‘conditionality’. As the IMF states on their website, “When a country borrows from the IMF, its government agrees to adjust its economic policies to overcome the problems that led it to seek financial aid. These policy adjustments are conditions for IMF loans and serve to ensure that the country will be able to repay the IMF.”
This confidential cable leaked by Wikileaks further vivifies the real purpose of the IMF:
NEW IMF RESIDENT REPRESENTATIVE SALVADOR UMANA…WAS PLEASED THAT [GOVERNMENT OF HAITI] WAS BEGINNING TO TAKE NECESSARY STEPS TOWARDS FISCAL REFORM. HE FELT THAT PROGRESS (WHICH HE WOULD NOT SPELL OUT) WAS SUFFICIENTLY GOOD TO ENSURE THAT JOINT COMMISSION MEETING SCHEDULED FOR AUGUST WOULD TAKE PLACE…HE HAD MADE IT CLEAR TO GOH THAT HE WAS DOWN IN HAITI ON A SHORT TOUR SIMPLY TO SEE THAT REFORMS WERE ACTUALLY CARRIED OUT. HE HAD INDICATED TO GOH THAT IF REFORMS WERE NOT CARRIED OUT AND SOON, IMF WOULD HAVE NO CHOICE BUT TO TERMINATE ITS EFF.LEAKED CABLE: 1979PORTA02696_e
US EMBASSY IN PORT AU PRINCE, HAITI TO US DEPARTMENT OF STATE, 1979
So what are some examples of these ‘reforms’ and ‘policy adjustments’ the IMF requires of countries in order to receive loans?
Above is a brief clip from an essential economic documentary called, Life and Debt, which is essentially a visual case study on the true effect of the IMF on developing countries, in this case Jamaica. Here we have Stanley Fischer then Deputy Director of the IMF and former Federal Reserve Board Governor, former Vice Chairman of the Federal Reserve and former Governor of the Bank of Israel, describing an example of ‘conditionality’,
“Typically what you’ve got to do is to cut back your spending in some way…Then we reach agreement on the set of measures on the budget, on the exchange rate, on monetary policy, on interest rates,” says Fischer. “They needed to expand their exports and diminish their imports, and the best way of doing that is to make foreign currency more expensive.”
‘Making foreign currency more expensive’ is a polite way of saying devaluing domestic currency. How does a devalued domestic currency relate to expanded exports?
The US Department of Exports estimates 90% of all Haiti’s exports come from the textile industry. Haiti produces many products that end up in Walmart and Target. As of 2019, the average wage for garment workers in Haiti was around $5.00 per day. According to a report by Solidarity Centre, this wage “for export apparel workers in Haiti is more than four times less than the estimated cost of living.”
The report continues, “Consequently, workers—the majority of whom are women supporting families—are forced to toil longer for less due to diminished purchasing power and are unable to cover daily necessities, including food.” According to the United Nations Development Program, Haiti’s Human Development Index value ranks 169th out of 189 countries globally.
What does the IMF have to say today in regards to Haiti? In their latest report from April 2020, the IMF states, “Broader structural reforms are needed to improve the economy’s competitiveness, including efforts to streamline regulations, remove infrastructure bottlenecks, strengthen property rights, and enhance governance.”
The IMF reports continues, “Driven by popular frustration with high levels of corruption and inequality, Haiti has been experiencing a protracted political crisis and prolonged civil unrest. The crisis has taken a toll on the economy and an already vulnerable population…The challenge is to stabilize the macroeconomic situation in an unstable political context. Staff encourage the authorities to continue their efforts to contain the fiscal deficit and its monetary financing by the central bank. Improving domestic revenue collection and redirecting current spending would help…”
The United States Congress in 2007 implemented the Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement, or HOPE (yay!), which “provided duty-free entry to the United States garments manufactured in Haiti.”
“This legislation was aimed at progress toward a market-based economy, increasing employment, enhancing the rule of law, eliminating barriers to U.S. trade, combating corruption, and protecting internationally recognized human and worker rights.”
And HOPE would help combat corruption and protect worker’s rights through, “an extension of duty-free access to the U.S. market for the next 10 years, effective October 2008…an extension of eligible woven products from three years to 10 years…co-production with and direct shipment from the Dominican Republic…and the inclusion of luggage, headgear, and sleepwear.”
So here we see the euphemisms, doublespeak, and manipulation of language and reality to justify the alleged scientific validity of this brand of economics. ‘Democracy’ means the right for US corporations to own huge swaths of property in Haiti. ‘Market based economy’ means the right for US corporations to own sweat shops in Haiti which pay workers $5.00 per day to ship clothes duty-free (which means no money going back to Haiti) into America to be sold to Americans at 10,000% mark up.
Next Billion, a pseudo-news site based out of the William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan, which provides information on ‘entrepreneurial opportunities’ in emerging markets, published an article called, “How Haiti is Becoming a Leader in the Production of Quality Clothing.”
In this article it describes how Joelle Adler, CEO of Diesel Canada, self described ‘passionate humanitarian’, Richard Coles, owner of one of the largest sweatshops in Haiti, and Rob Broggi, a former hedge fund executive, started an ‘environmentally friendly, higher-priced, high-quality clothing’ manufacturing company in Port Au Prince, Haiti. They brag about how high priced, high quality clothing can be made in Haiti. The also claim to reinvest 50% of all profits back into the workers, but provide no details to back up the claim in the article, the company site, or on any of their personal sites. However, they do boast that,
“The sustainably-constructed factory include several novel features:
- Lights have been installed to provide optimum conditions in the work area
- Large ceiling fans attached to the high, V-shaped ceiling create an airy, comfortable environment
- Bathrooms are up to U.S. standards
- A lunchroom for employees provides a space for breaks
- State-of-the-art sewing machines can trace life-size patterns from digital files sent by potential clients
- A digital printer – the piece de resistance imported for the first time into Haiti – can, in a matter of seconds, print intricate patterns on T-shirts”
After considering all of this information, what do we make of this brand of ‘economics’? Remember, economics is supposed to be the objective study of markets. Economists are supposed to behave as scientists, studying autonomous forces in reality, much like physicists study gravitational waves. But is the IMF studying autonomous forces, or are they the dominate force creating the economic reality? Stanley Fischer tipped us off as to what’s really the case, when he said, “We reach agreement on the set of measures on the budget, on the exchange rate, on monetary policy, on interest rates…”.
Countries reach an agreement with the IMF. Exchange rates and interest rates are pitched to the general public as if ‘market forces’ determine these rates, like high and low pressure systems determine hot or cold weather. But here Stanley Fischer is admitting the IMF, and by extension the United States military, is the market force.
On the Federal Reserve Bank of New York website, it states that,
Devaluation, the deliberate downward adjustment in the official exchange rate, reduces the currency’s value…When a government devalues its currency, it is often because the interaction of market forces and policy decisions has made the currency’s fixed exchange rate untenable…suppose a government has set 10 units of its currency equal to one dollar. To devalue, it might announce that from now on 20 of its currency units will be equal to one dollar. This would make its currency half as expensive to Americans, and the U.S. dollar twice as expensive in the devaluing country.Currency devaluation and revaluation, federal reserve bank of new york
This is clearly not a system of autonomous forces operating in a platonic superspace. The might and power of the United States military in conjunction with the IMF, World Bank and various United Nations related branches are the forces, is the superspace reality. And they decide through the backing of violence what the economic ‘reality’ will be.
After 494 years of objective slavery at the hands of various Western rapist murdering rulers, the Duvalier regime was finally ousted in 1986. A humble and inspiring Catholic priest, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, quickly gained a mass following during the ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier regime, continually growing in popularity. A proponent of liberation theology, Aristide believed Christian morality should be extended to economics and social justice.
Father Aristide delivered many powerful sermons, quoted as saying, “The path of those Haitians who reject the [Duvalier] regime is the path of righteousness and love…The crime of which I stand accused is the crime of preaching food for all men and women…The solution is revolution, first in the spirit of the Gospel; Jesus could not accept people going hungry. It is a conflict between classes, rich and poor. My role is to preach and organize….”
Aristide would win the 1990 general election with 67% of the popular vote, marking the first true democratic act in Haiti since the 1803 slave revolt which seized Haitian independence. However, by September 1991 Aristide would be overthrown in a military coup by General Raoul Cedras, who had support by the Haitian elite and covert support by the CIA. The United States government under then President Bill Clinton would publicly denounce the coup, and aided his release from the military regime so Aristide could live in exile abroad. However, this was merely an optics strategy in response to the massive outrage by the public in the United States over the brutality inflicted on a Catholic leader. There is ample evidence that the CIA supported the coup against Aristide. As a 1993 article in The New York Times explains,
The Central Intelligence Agency created an intelligence service in Haiti in the mid-1980’s to fight the cocaine trade, but the unit evolved into an instrument of political terror whose officers at times engaged in drug trafficking, American and Haitian officials say…The agency paid key members of the junta now in power for political and military information up until the ouster of Father Aristide in 1991. A review of the C.I.A.’s activities in Haiti under the Reagan and Bush Administrations, based on documents and interviews with current and former officials, confirms that senior C.I.A. officers have long been deeply skeptical about the stability and politics of President Aristide, a leftist priest…Senior members committed acts of political terror against Aristide supporters, including interrogations that included torture…Senator Christopher J. Dodd, a Connecticut Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who received extensive briefings from the agency, asserted last week that the C.I.A.’s view of Haiti was distorted by its ties to the Haitian military. “A lot of the information we’re getting is from the very same people who in front of the world are brutally murdering people,” Senator Dodd said…One crucial source of information for American intelligence over the years, according to two Government officials, was Lieut. Gen. Raoul Cedras, who leads the Haitian armed forces. The officials said he provided the United States Government with reports critical of Father Aristide…“C.I.A. Formed Haitian Unit Later Tied to Narcotics Trade”, Nov 1993, the new york times
Another little tidbit of revealing information in regards to the Duvalier regime is also thrown in towards the end of the article which states,
On his death in 1971, Mr. Duvalier bequeathed his regime to his son, Jean-Claude, who received nearly $400 million in American economic aid…“C.I.A. FORMED HAITIAN UNIT LATER TIED TO NARCOTICS TRADE”, NOV 1993, THE NEW YORK TIMES
Much of the debt Haiti took on was from agreements formed between the Duvalier family, a regime put in place by the United States military and CIA, who received covert support through training of mercenaries and overt support through arms sales, and the IMF and other international lenders. And as I outlined in the first two Money Creation As Master articles, this was all to receive money from the IMF which is created out of thin air, created from a transfer of wealth, in this case, the Haitians who have their money, their lives, devalued, and the American corporations and business leaders who create the new money and give that value to themselves.
Just like private banks and central banks, the IMF does not have the money it ‘lends’ to these countries. It creates that money as it is needed. And it is only needed because the might of the United States military and CIA requires it, otherwise leaders will be disposed.
Haiti is a case study whose story translates seamlessly across the globe. The stories of Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Panama, Chile, East Asia, Africa, all follow this same template. In Money Creation As Master: IV, we will explore what measures financial institutions take to bend Western governments, such as Canada, to the black alchemists’ wishes. As we continue along in this series, we will see how nation states and democracy are largely optical illusions. The real dominating forces are the marriage between financial institutions, international corporations, and the military.