Friday, September 17, 2010

Suffocating the poor: a modern parable

They democratically elected a president to stand up to the rich and multinational corporations - so our governments have him kidnapped

By Johann Hari
The Independent

"Today, I want to tell you the story of how our governments have been torturing and tormenting an island in the Caribbean – but it is a much bigger story than that. It's a parable explaining one of the main reasons how and why, across the world, the poor are kept poor, so the rich can be kept rich. If you grasp this situation, you will see some of the ugliest forces in the world laid out before you – so we can figure out how to stop them......

The next President, Rene Preval, learned his lesson: he has done everything he was told to by corporations and governments, privatizing the last remaining scraps owned by the state, and using tear gas to break up strikes for higher wages. The Haitian people rejected the whole rigged electoral process, with turn-out falling to just 11 per cent. Today, Aristide is a broken man, living in exile in South Africa, studying for a PhD in linguistics, banned from going home.

This is part of a plain pattern. When poor countries get uppity and tried to ask for basic justice, our governments have toppled them, from Iran wanting to control its own oil in 1953 to Honduras wanting its workers to be treated decently in 2009. You don't have to overthrow many to terrify the rest.

It doesn't have to be this way. This is not the will of the people, in the US or Europe: on the contrary, ordinary citizens are horrified when the propaganda is stripped away and they see the truth. It only happens because a tiny wealthy elite dominates our foreign policy, and uses it to serve their purposes – low wages and control of other people's economies and resources. The people of Haiti, who have nothing, were bold and brave enough to campaign and organize to take power back from their undemocratic elites. Are we?"

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