On September 25th, 2005, we, at Batay Ouvriye, learned that a supposed “tribunal” organized by the Haiti Progrès current, the International Action Center and Kakola (amongst others) during that weekend hosted a presentation by a journalist/history student, Jeb Sprague, in which he alleged that our organization was a main recipient of United States government funds destined to overthrow President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. According to Sprague, these funds from the AFL-CIO’s Solidarity Center, one of the four primary conduits of three million dollars in such blatant imperialist projects, went from Batay Ouvriye to a “sub-grantee”, Socowa, thus converting this workers’ movement into the unwitting “co-conspirators” of an unholy alliance fabricated by the State Department.
This is a very serious allegation for which, at the start, we must begin by challenging the “researcher/witness” who never once contacted our organization for information. Nor were we contacted by the organizing committee of the “Tribunal”.
First, we’ll say no “research” was needed to reveal that, amongst others, Solidarity Center funds were channeled to the Sokowa free trade zone worker’s union through Batay Ouvriye. These finances (US $3,500! August 2004), destined to coordinate the struggle and, specifically, support the fired workers undergoing much difficulty due to the situation’s duration, resulted from a general appeal we issued. As is clear in the excerpt included in Annex 1, this appeal (relayed by various labor websites such as Labourstart) was public and open to all. The AFL-CIO’s Solidarity Center was one of the organizations that concretely responded. This phase of the struggle concluded, we publicly thanked all those who had contributed to the struggle whether through militancy or solidarity funds, amongst them the Solidarity Center (Annex 2). So, as we said, the slightest “research” wasn’t necessary to disclose such publicly issued information.
The Haiti Progrès group, International Action Center and Kakola… accusations reached further heights, however, when their “researcher” advanced that we received funds from USAID and the NED to destabilize Aristide and then overthrow his government, that we were under the control and orientation of the “184 organizations” group, the “Democratic Convergence” and even, by association of ideas, the CIA mentioned just a little further! This, now, is complete disparagement, an outright attack. We’ll reply in several points:
1. First, that, concretely, Batay Ouvriye by no means participated in Aristide’s overthrow. We refused to engage in that mobilization precisely because of its direction. And when in December 2004 we issued a position on the situation of the country at that moment (Annex 3) we were absolutely meticulous on this point, specifically in order not to contribute to the goals of the bourgeois opposition, and not to be associated with this group. In this sense, the very first base allegation of this “university researcher” is hopelessly null, passing fully aside our positions, included here in extenso. No wonder he was so hesitating and stuttering on WBAI’s September 28th “Wake Up Call”.
2. We have always pursued and engaged in relations of solidarity, whether militant or financial, on the basis that they relate to struggles and practices based solely on our deep convictions and in total independence of orientation and functioning. These positions are clearly expressed in a public statement again included (Annex 4).
3. We hold this position concerning all groups who contribute to our struggles, whether through militancy or financial support. This explains our clear stands taken concerning the yellow, rotten, collaborationist unions in Haiti, while, at the same time, in the framework of the free trade zone specific struggle, members of the OGITH union traveled there to convey their support and we accepted their solidarity. Similarly, we participated in PPN (Parti Populaire National) demonstrations in the North of the country, but when they distorted the grounds of our presence in a basically opportunistic and untruthful way in their newspaper, we denounced them too, in writing, which they refused to print in their paper, denying us the very basic right of response. In the same way, even as we accept the AFL-CIO’s solidarity practices, we have clearly informed them of our position concerning the current they belong to, the disagreements we have with a good number of their fundamental national and international practices historically and in the present, our issues with their forms of labor militancy and our views on the internal struggle they are now confronting (Annexes 5 and, especially 6 where these stands were put in writing).
4. Insofar as criticisms of Aristide in 2003: within the large scope that included many various facets, we’ll say once again and confirm that yes, we totally confronted the Lavalas leaders who we certainly exposed to be reactionaries, swindlers, complete frauds, anti-popular and fundamentally anti-worker. It is no accident at all that the people themselves, in all conscience, named them clearly: “gran manjè” (“big eaters”)! In a statement we issued during these mobilizations, we clearly expressed this position (Annex 3). But even before, long before, ever since 2001-2002, Batay Ouvriye-organized workers denounced the practices of this reactionary government concerning a massacre it was preparing in collusion with the big landowners, the bourgeoisie in Cap-Haitian and major multinationals (Cointreau) at the Guacimal orange fields; indeed, the massacre occurred. This same clash was the first occasion in Haiti in which a large mass of workers, thwarted in their most essential demands by the Lavalas mayor, the Lavalas Northern delegate and the Lavalas director of the ministry of interior, shouted together: “Down with Lavalas”! British GMB unionists who had accompanied us in the field on this occasion can bear witness. And everywhere workers, peasants, poor market women… workers in general were confronting big landlords, macoutes, bourgeois and multinationals, the lavalas leaders always, always, supported these upper classes.
At this time, in this very Guacimal struggle, Haiti Progres was also clearly against these nefarious Lavalas practices. Ever since 2001, it issued articles of denunciation, warning of the role the Lavalas leaders were playing against the masses (See “Workers Fight for Rights on Orange Plantation”, Haiti Progres - May 16-22, 2001). And in 2002, around the Guacimal massacre itself in which the paper’s own reporter who had accompanied the workers was arrested too, they even titled: “Repression: Lavalas Reveals Itself!” (June 6th, 2002). All throughout this conflict, Haiti Progrès continued to title, often on its front page: “Guacimal: Haitian Government Supports Big Landowners in Clash with Peasants” (June 6th and 19th, 2002 - the latter including the picture of a graffiti in Cap-Haitian saying “Down with the Lavalas government that kills peasants of St. Raphael); “Guacimal: Neoliberal Repression” (June 12th 2002); “Guacimal, Free Hand to Repression” (June 26th, 2002); “Guacimal, Lavalas persists in Illegality” (July 31st, 2002)… Was Haiti Progres then paid by the US government to destabilize Aristide?
5. Yes: we fought Aristide with his practices of embargo during the 1991 coup at the expense of the Haitian people which only enriched its enemies, instead of choosing a popular mode of struggle; Aristide who returned with 20,000 soldiers of US imperialism to reestablish his personal and crony power; the lavalas leaders, - and Aristide in particular - who, exactly like the “opposition”, formally requested the present occupation; all the usurpation leaders of the lavalas movement, opportunistic, reactionary and anti-popular in the extreme, except when they’ve been rejected causing them to again appeal to the feelings and demands of mass struggles that put them in power in 1990;
… Aristide and all the corrupt and treacherous lavalas leaders, but also, immediately, the 184 Group and the bourgeois direction of the opposition movement, not only exclusively theoretically (or in ‘newspapers!’) but in the construction of this same popular movement in which we were demanding the independence of the people’s camp, warning of what may come and preparing the aftermaths that had just begun (Annex 3); later yet, until the present, as always, in the workers’ struggle against the bourgeois and macoute-bourgeois (in which we’ve hardly ever seen militants related to the Haiti Progres/PPN current); up till the present then, in our struggles against Apaid, Baker, Mrs. Bayard, ADIH… (Annex 7 - News Bulletin 2 & Press Statement on a free trade zone judgment) and the occupation (Annex 8). So it is concretely that we are against all the macoute, bourgeois, multinational, imperialist, 184, “big eaters” movements confronting the workers and the Haitian people in general.
Why then are Haiti Progres, the International Action Center, Kakola… and their quack researcher seeking to introduce a confusion that either they haven’t sought to probe, or that they know perfectly well to be contrary to the simple truth that Batay Ouvriye is frontally opposed to all reactionary orientation! Why don’t they have the minimum of courage to confront us on the necessary orientation in the unique interest of the working masses, of the real popular masses?
If such was the case, we would remind them that Aristide himself is bourgeois, that it is under his government that the largest concentration of financial capital ever occurred in Haiti, with banks mushrooming all over… We would remind them that it was all the monopolistic bourgeois who, under Aristide, controlled the quite evidently neo-liberal privatizations taking place especially in the ports. We would remind them that it was Aristide who, secretly, went to lay the first stone of the Ouanaminthe free trade zone that would become a hell on earth for all workers, as was foreseeable and explains why he chose to carry out this mission secretly. We would remind them of all the corruption and state graft, all the anti-popular repression, all the treasons the lavalas leaders concretely and consciously carried out. The general director of the Ministry of interior in the Guacimal conflict, to defend his petty climber’s interests, officially declared to the press: “this government is here to defend the lands of diplomats”!!!
6. The Haiti Progres, International Action Center and Kakola… detractors know this, just as, generally, they know Batay Ouvriye practices. Is it by accomplished opportunism and a complete lack of principles, to defend a cause that can’t be defended - the advocacy of the lavalas leaders (who in Haiti have already surrendered and, being the chameleons they are, fully engaged in the electoral process under the imperialist occupation)? Is it their complete absence of practices amidst the workers in Haiti that causes them to adopt such an already putrid cause?
We will understand this group’s attitude and particularly that of Haiti Progres in analyzing the nature of the conflict on hand. For, precisely, it is a real conflict and not a simple debate with petty bourgeois. We should clarify that these attacks won’t deviate us one inch from our objectives or from anything we believe should be done in the interests of the workers, particularly the wage laborers. But we give them and will continue to give them all their importance.
In the context of the struggle’s development within the country in which the ruling classes and petty bourgeoisie have failed, the imperialists and their different types of servants all have interest in attacking the forces rooted amongst the workers and advancing in concrete struggles. Given certain obligations - the ruling classes and imperialism sometimes have to maintain a “democratic” appearance -, the best weapon they can use is the supposedly ‘left’ current. In this sense, when these enemies, themselves, objectively, in the interest of the most archaic sectors in the country, attack us, this is a good thing. Although this is how we understand it, we still need to issue explanations unveiling the enemy for all to understand quite clearly.
The leader of the ‘current’ suddenly attacking us is Ben Dupuy. We need to follow his itinerary and that of his ‘current’ to fully comprehend the situation. During the whole period of struggle against Duvalier in the 1970’s, he set up, participated and/or promoted various organizations, particularly “Rezistans Ayisyenn” (RA), linked to “Radio Vonvon” of notorious reputation in its suspected infiltration, selecting youths of those years to prepare “invasions” in which all the participants were found and/or killed, except the leaders…! Later, “Rassemblement Démocratique Haitien”(RDH), MHL (the Movement of Haitian Liberation), “IDEE” (“Idea”)… various organizations which were completely sterile and functioned on the sole basis of recruitment, void of political coming together, not to speak of militant practices amongst the masses. The various youths recruited, often on a militaristic basis, functioned with one main orientation: that of attacking progressive orientations, denouncing them as CIA and even publishing their pictures. In the Haitian emigration, many militants rose against these practices and wondered if is wasn’t precisely the Dupuy current that was playing the CIA role in setting up these sterile organizations just to pressure Duvalier, deviating the youth from deeper and more consequential practices (in particular with the workers) and finally denouncing all progressives.
This appeared even more clearly in 1971-72 when Dupuy fawned before Senator Fullbright, leading a large number of youths behind him, supposedly to overthrow Duvalier. Yet more: in 1974-1976, when he traded his boots and military fatigues for the Marxist-Leninist intellectual’s tie and attaché case, this current attempted to stab the Unified Communist Party (PUCH) to infiltrate Cuba. They issued books and movies showing the “major work” they were accomplishing; but the Cubans, despite a short period of laxism, finally unmasked them. During this same period, the current traveled to Cuba to meet with the militants who had kidnapped the American ambassador, Clinton Knox. And returned to the United States with no problem at all!
During the following Jean-Claude Duvalier period of liberalization, roles changed: Dupuy’s current upheld the ‘independents’ that the Carter administration and CIA were allowing to develop in the country. After Duvalier’s departure, MHL engendered the APN, the Haiti-Progrès newspaper and finally the PPN. It’s in the context of the latter organization that instead of targeting the 184 Group that was setting up anti-Aristide associations, they chose to attack workers in the Plaisance area, in landowners’ interest.
This itinerary is that of an agent who went to great lengths to dismantle the Centrale Autonome des Travailleurs Haïtiens (CATH) when it was at its most dynamic. If, seriously speaking, he had had issues with that labor federation, he would have initiated a new one with major differences. An agent who, upon further scrutiny, doesn’t single out the so-called “unionists” of the 184 Group, i.e. the notorious “Secteur Syndical” regrouping of most of the unions of the country (except the Batay Ouvriye May First Labor Federation) that openly and outright supported the 184’s actions, was responsible for funds in that grouping and closely resembles the pro-imperialist and pro-bourgeois Confederation of Venezuelan Labor (CTV)…. but rather chooses to pick Batay Ouvriye as a target. As mentioned previously, this in defense of a particularly reprehensible cause such as the upholding of the anti-worker, anti-popular Lavalas big-eaters and in a similar logic as that of AFL-CIO members’ “lesser evil” endorsement of the Democratic Party. Or, precisely, playing a CIA role?
We repeat: the enemy’s hostilities are a good sign. They allow us to precise our struggle and always keep in mind that we can’t be playing with the enemy. Finally, this, at the same time, allows us to unmask these reactionaries and their chameleon nature, seeking to infiltrate the popular struggles, and, in this sense, for us to reinforce and consolidate the people’s camp, thanks to such denunciations.
7. This is why our own conclusion, in this conflict, is our wish to meet with these various petty bourgeois currents in the actual field of struggles against the landlords, their field administration and servants; in the field, against the bourgeoisie concretely in the factories, sweatshops, plantations, and in the political arena, alongside the peasants, workers, wage laborers, and then, necessarily, as they had already seen it in 2002, against the landlords-bourgeois-multinational allies, that is, against the Lavalas leaders.
Let us meet in the concrete battlefield, the workers will then advise.
[The Annexes in this document can be read by following the hyperlinks or regrouped, in the document Annexes.]