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Dear Comrades,

A while ago (July 8th, 2006), your site, Rebelión, as well as others, reproduced an article by Jeb Sprague (“El Fracaso de la Solidaridad: La CIOSL, AFL-CIO, OIT y ORIT en Haití”). In it, the author put out deliberate confusions, lies and false accusations concerning our movement, Batay Ouvriye . Given the right to an answer we believe we hold in such circumstances, we’re requesting you also publish our version.

While thanking you beforehand, we’d like to clarify, in starting, that this isn’t the first time this student, who would like to be a “militant of the Haitian situation” – although certainly from very faraway –, is hurling these libelous allegations. We’ve never considered answering him, nor the team upholding him, worthwhile, since we’ve determined that we play a part in the role he’s carved out for himself amidst the international left:  with sensationalistic titles and statements, he is attempting to call attention to himself (with the individualism characteristic of the American petty bourgeois) and, especially, disparage organizations like ours which are in the field of combat, daily confront concretely the ruling classes and their rotten State. This can be verified on our website (http://batayouvriye.org) or, better yet, if one really wishes to be serious, in the field of the struggle itself, in Haiti .

 We’ve chosen not to answer these people, ever calling for them, rather, to meet with us, precisely, in the field of struggle, opposing the bourgeoisie and the landowners… which, up to now, doesn’t seem to be happening. We won’t answer them because in spite of all possible demonstrations proving the falsehoods and weaknesses of their arguments, they always pretend to agree (as was evident in a San Francisco debate we participated in), but as soon as they address a different audience or people yet unaware of the depth of the debate, they return to the same maneuvers. This is a systematic disinformation campaign. Most important would be determining who is backing them, who they’re “working” for, what they’re really promoting.

We aren’t answering them directly because they’re using the characteristically bourgeois method of spitting lies and leaving the burden of proof to the victim party. This is a typical capitalist tactic, worldwide, to fire factory workers, for example.

However, we’ve always felt it necessary for us to clarify our positions before comrades potentially misled by the “revelations” of these students seeking recognition. And thus, once again, we will do so this time.

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To begin with, we’ll clearly state: the financial sum advanced by Sprague is totally false. We have obtained funds from the Solidarity Center, first, following an public appeal (to which many others also similarly responded) and later with a financing of roughly $100,000 total for struggles in the free trade zones which, given the delocalization currently occurring in the global industry, in effect destabilizes employment within the United States itself. This logic of support, we understand it as such and all can also understand it so, insomuch as they think a little, if they can think a little. Ourselves, we use it. Furthermore, several times, we’ve repeated that as long as we can draw funds from wherever, we’ll do it. A militant criticism, at this point, might be threefold: to what use would these funds be put? According to what line of functioning, of struggle, would they be employed? What degree of independence might such a relation allow? In our case, it is with TOTAL independence that we function, in which the workers’ interests, and, more largely, those of the people, are the only pertinent criteria for us. Anyone can verify this. Further yet, we’ve openly and even in meetings organized by the Solidarity Center itself, criticized both its line and it past history in Latin America, as can be confirmed in our answer within this very debate, in a report on a meeting organized in Guatemala by the Solidarity Center itself  and in the “Letter” that, after the event, we sent to the participants. In the same way, our position concerning the NED is also equally clear.

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In his more recent pieces, once again without any real proofs, Sprague continues to uphold his positions, alleging that those concerned in the Solidarity Center haven’t denied his assertions. We understand perfectly that virtually no one sees answering Sprague. However, since he believes his position is confirmed for this reason, we requested a clarification from this Center. Which we finally received and decided to include directly below – it can easily be confirmed with the author of these lines, Teresa Casertano, Americas regional program director at the Solidarity Center . When we asked about the $350,000 or $450,000 mentioned in the article in question, the answer was the following:

This sum isn’t a grant to Batay Ouvriye . It’s a grant to the Solidarity Center and with this money we’ve covered Evelyn’s ( Solidarity Center employee in the Dominican Republic ) expenses and the agreement for the work in Ouanaminthe. He (Sprague) is referring to this grant when he asks about 12 or 18 months. The point in this is that it is a large amount of money and the Center requested that it not be used in only 12 months since it doesn’t make sense to spend money unnecessarily simply to spend it, but rather it should be used with moderation for needed things. The government told us we could use the same quantity in 18 months instead of 12 months and we accepted these 18 months because it was more sensible to have more time.” (June 23rd, 2006).

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Thus, based on the principle of complete political independence which is for us uninfringeable and which, worldwide, drastically differentiates currents in struggle (the Cuban example is a quite clear one), that we say (and have said) that whatever sum is welcome. In a statement of position opposing other lies of another journalist of this same team, we referred, once again, to our “Clarification” and, without hesitation, answered in point 3: “For example (and this will probably be his next "revelation") Sprague forgets to mention that, our position and our concrete struggles being crystal clear, we also informed the undercover agent-reporter Fenton that the rumor (or error) leading to believe that a million dollars were in question (rather than $100,000) was of no interest for us, simply because it this had been the case, we also would have taken it!” (Corbett List, # 27115, Jan. 2006).

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Thus, ALL has already been said by us concerning this theme. Why, then, are these professional denigrators returning once again to forever set it on the table, using the ignorance of militants who perhaps might be greatly interested by such a debate?

First, to continue with their screaming headlines, in an attempt to assimilate us with the bourgeois-led movement that rose up against Aristide. Which we categorically refute. And no false speculations or deliberately and maliciously conjectured mishmash can prove the contrary. A flier of ours (our only participation, from afar, in the 2003 movement) quite clearly established our position.

The feeble argument of attempting to assimilate us with the bourgeoisie-led anti-Aristide movement actually walks hand in hand with another, much more important, one, in which this league endeavors to pass the Lavalas government and its “big-eaters” clan (“gran-manjè", as the people named them) as the peoples’ choice. Which, once again, we clearly countered in our analyses and concrete struggles.

We’ve come to realize that Sprague and those sending him to the front line have always refused to seriously debate this theme, hiding behind such limited arguments as the Aristide government’s democratic election, the attacks it underwent due to this origin, even going so far as to attempt comparisons with Chavez and Castro (this being the farce’s key argument). Beyond our clear rebuttals on this subject, clarifying for the public that is was Aristide himself who allowed (worse: worked for!) the first American intervention in 1995 and the following one, in 2004, which he signed just as well (the only difference amongst  the various reactionary currents involved in this practice being that, this time, the imperialists kicked Aristide out)… beyond, therefore, our clear refutations on this subject, we should add that the lavalas government also received finances (from the IMF, the World Bank…) upheld by the extraordinary development wave of financial capital and the unsurpassed renewal of the banking system, both national and foreign (principally American). But the worst is that once this relationship was established, NEVER again did the people hear mention of “imperialism” or capitalist domination! Quite the contrary, the balance sheet of this government reveals its basic craving to serve the national and international ruling classes. NEVER, indeed, was there space or even a glimmer of support for the workers in the registered conflicts of this period.

Presently, the leading core of Lavalas isn’t directly in power. It’s useful – and possible – for it to use the basic popular demands anew to fool the people again, just as they had done when they felt attacked in 2003. This is a classical attitude of this populist movement which, in fact, never (ever since, and once at the head of the State) left the slightest leeway for the people and the workers’ demands, faced with their class enemies.

Analyzing, – better – seriously and scientifically, the historical process presently occurring in this Caribbean country, to precisely know how to proceed (in order therefore to advance consequently) towards the true emancipation of the workers and, with them, the entire people... Such is our objective. An analysis to which we invite all militants, internationally, instead of stagnating in the populist miasma. To leave the speculations of these small opportunists for whom the goal has always been to slip into the ruling classes, bureaucratic big shots first, the landowners and bourgeois of tomorrow.

Batay Ouvriye

Port-au-Prince , Haiti , Oct. 15th, 2006

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