Why are the Impoverished
and Disenfranchised Haitian People Being Forced to Pay Ten Years Back-Pay
to the Brutal Military they Disbanded Ten Years Ago?
Debt Breeds Dependency
Equals Foreign & Corporate Domination
Marguerite Laurent, January 4, 2005
Why is war-torn Iraq giving $190,000 to Toys R Us? For the same reason
the Haitian people are being forced to pay the bloody Haitian military
ten years back pay. It's what Naomi Klein calls "the upside-down
morality." (See Naomi Klein's article on Iraq below.)
If justice, and not power, prevailed in international affairs then the
Coup d'etat corporatocracy in Haiti, that is, the governments (U.S/France/Canada),
international banks and rich multinational corporations and their Haitian
minions, who funded the overthrow of Haiti's elected government, would
be paying reparations to the people of Haiti who lost and continue to
lose loved ones, property, and limbs. Reparations would also be paid
to the millions of Haitians overseas whose decades of investment, almost
one billion dollars per year, to Haiti, was lost because of the U.S.-supported
2004 Coup d'etat.
But power and not justice prevails in this world. That's why the poor
and dispossessed people of Iraq are paying reparations to the richest
corporations and governments in the world and the poor and dispossessed
in Haiti will now have to foot ten years back-pay to the bloody Haitian
military, the terrorists, who worked on behalf of the world's rich corporatocracy
to overthrow Haiti's popularly elected and Constitutional government.
In his book, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, John Perkins writes:
"Economic hit men (EHMs) are
highly paid professionals who cheat countries around the globe out of
trillions of dollars. They funnel money from the World Bank, the U.S.
Agency for International Development (USAID), and other foreign "aid"
organizations into the coffers of huge corporations and the pockets
of a few wealthy families who control the planet's natural resources.
Their tools include fraudulent financial reports, rigged elections,
payoffs, extortion, sex, and murder. They play a game as old as empire,
but one that has taken on new and terrifying dimensions during this
time of globalization. I should know; I was an EHM."
In Haiti, their tool is also kidnapping. Kidnapping of President Aristide
just as they tried and failed with President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela
At the beginning of his book, Perkins writes, "....Jaime
Roldòs, president of Ecuador, and Omar Torrijos, president of
Panama. Both ...died in fiery crashes. Their deaths were not accidental.
They were assassinated because they opposed that fraternity of corporate,
government, and banking heads whose goal is global empire. We EHMs (Economic
Hit Men) failed to bring Roldòs and Torrijos around, and the
other type of hit men, the CIA-sanctioned jackals who were always right
behind us, stepped in."
In Haiti, after the unremitting U.S. destabilization campaigns had failed,
that is, when all the years of U.S. humanitarian and financial embargo,
creating and funding of the non-democratic opposition, the US-sponsored
asylums, refuge, visas and rebel training of ex-Haitian soldiers and
death squad paramilitaries
who then attempted and failed three times before the successful 2004
Coup d'etat, when all that failed, under the pretext of "safeguarding
the U.S. Embassy," President Bush sent U.S. Marines troops to "escort"
Haiti's constitutionally elected President Aristide out of Port-au-Prince
and, release the terrorist, Guy Philippe, into Port-au-Prince.
Today, President Aristide and his family are banished from Haiti and
told not to return or he will be killed. But known drug kingpins, Guy
Philippe, sweatshop kingpins Apaid and Boulos, who have refused to pay
even the lowest of low Haitian minimum wage, and convicted felons such
as, Louis Jodel Chamblain of FRAPH and Guy Philippe and members his
Haitian army are being rewarded, some given U.S. contracts, protection,
visas, traveling papers and oh, others, ten years back-pay for services
rendered to the U.S./Euros and their commercial interests. Meantime,
democracy is destroyed in Haiti and the populace is under a brutal dictatorship
and U.S.-funded repression once more.
Obviously if free elections and spreading
democracy was a Bush Administration
priority, the elected government of Haiti would not have been deliberately
unseated and all 7,000-plus Constitutional officials replaced with unelected
U.S/Euro sycophants. Free election for Haiti's poor - the right to choose
their own leaders has never been respected by the right-wing so-called
"free trade" adherents currently running the world. Saudi
Arabia, Pakistan and Egypt are their most fervent allies - all despicable
dictatorships with horrific human right abuses and undemocratic policies.
Why not challenge allies and economic partners like Israel and China,
who own records of oppressing dissenters?
What most mainstream journalists reporting on this reward payment to
ex-army thugs and terrorists who overthrew Haiti's duly elected government
usually fail to point out is that it is U.S. Ambassador Foley's plan
that the imported Latortue death regime are executing in Haiti. (see
Haiti Human Rights Investigation: November 11-21, 2004 at the University
Center for the Study of Rights website: http://www.law.miami.edu/news/368.html
Latortue and his illegal and imported replacement government are U.S.
Nothing they do is separate and apart from U.S. bidings. Mainstream
journalist currently reporting on Latortue's "bad decision-making"
fail to point out that Latortue has no power separate and apart from
If there are "bad-decisions" going on in Haiti today, Latortue
doesn't have the power to make them. His bosses are responsible. Latortue
is no more than a U.S. puppet. That's a key fact. When the corporate
mainstream media ignore this essential fact, their reporting are simply
media spins that result in making Haitians, Africans, look stupid and
as foolish incompetents.
The salient point is that if there are "bad-decision" going
on with the U.S.-installed puppet government in Haiti, it is a Bush
Still, the real question long time Haiti observers would ask is: why
exactly is it a "bad-decision" for U.S. Ambassador Foley to
reward his own CIA-assets and operatives with ten years back-pay? Whatever
the fallout is these diplomatic and economic hit men will manage it
as usual: with a wink and a conspiratorial nod to their terrorist assets,
they shall publicly encourage the corporate media to place blame on
the more visible Haitian stooges, while continuing to mostly blame the
insecurity in Haiti on "pro-Aristide gangs." Having a racist
world reference to eternally tap into, not many will question these
pronouncements and the blame placed on the Haitian people's "historical
intransigence" and "inability to work together" or capability
to find "national reconciliation." That game is an old dog
that still hunts well for empire and white supremacists. It doesn't
take a rocket scientist to understand the deviousness of U.S. policy
in Haiti. Only unwillingness.
For, as long as the mainstream media continues, now that the human rights
abuses in Haiti under the Latortue regime may no longer be dismissed,
denied or coverered-up, as long as the corporate media continues to
denounce only Latortue's "bad decisions" -- code meaning incompetents
incapable of self-rule -- then the truth in Haiti shall remain obfuscated.
No doubt it is not in the interest of the corporatocracy and their mainstream
media to highlight the connections. Point out that Guy Philippe, the
renegade ex-Haitian soldier who led the overthrow, was trained by U.S.
Special forces. That he and his bloody cohorts, Louis-Jodel Chamblain
and Jean Pierre Baptiste, both members of the bloody FRAPH paramilitary
group that carried out the massacres in support of the first U.S.-supported
Coup D'etat in 1991 are all U.S. assets.
It doesn't fit well into racists doctrines and La La lands mythology
for the corporate media to point out that it is U.S. Ambassador to Haiti
and Jesse Helms' protege, Roger Noreiga, and their radical neocon Bush
comrades who are the chief architects of not only the current uses of
the former Haitian military, but their current reconstitution into the
Since the ex-Haitian soldiers crossed into Haiti, from the Dominican
Republic border, unimpeded by either the Dominican army nor the 900
U.S. soldiers who were at the Dominican border, since these terrorist
entered Haiti to take over Haitian towns and overthrow the elected government
of Haiti, they have been carrying out targeted political assassinations
of Lavalas supporters and killing over 4,000 Haitian civilians, raping
women and girls while pillaging and looting whatever property they could
get their hands on. Their purpose is to destroy the Lavalas party that
supports democratic rule in Haiti.*
In his February 29, 2004 article, entitled "US Sponsored Coup d'Etat
- The Destabilization of Haiti," recalling Ambassador Foley's involvement
in support of the brutal Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) in 1999, Michel
Chossudovsky explains how U.S. Ambassador Foley had been sent to Port
au Prince in advance of the CIA sponsored operation to oust President
Aristide for a second time. He outlines the use and patterns of drug
monies to finance the CIA operations in Haiti and the disbanded Haitian
military just as the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) was financed by drug
money and supported by the CIA. (See, http://globalresearch.ca/articles/CHO402D.html
Chossudovsky writes "The armed insurrection which contributed to
unseating President Aristide on February 29th 2004 was the result of
a carefully staged military-intelligence operation." A U.S. military-intelligence
operation that is.
U.S. AMBASSADOR FOLEY'S ROLE IN HAITI
Chossudovsky outlines U.S. Ambassador Foley's unique qualifications
to reintegrate the Haitian ex-soldiers into the local police force,
to launder and re-image the brutal image of the Haitian military and
paramilitary. This Foley plan today has culminated in perhaps more than
a 29 million reward payment to these U.S. assets. The implementation
of this plan is precisely the reason the Bush/Noreiga government posted
Foley to Haiti as U.S. Ambassador.
"The KLA had been involved in similar targeted political assassinations
and killings of civilians, in the months leading up to the 1999 NATO
invasion as well as in its aftermath. Following the NATO led invasion
and occupation of Kosovo, the KLA was transformed into the Kosovo Protection
Force (KPF) under UN auspices. Rather than being disarmed to prevent
the massacres of civilians, a terrorist organization with links to organized
crime and the Balkans drug trade, was granted a legitimate political
At the time of the Kosovo war, the current ambassador to Haiti James
Foley was in charge of State Department briefings, working closely with
his NATO counterpart in Brussels, Jamie Shea. Barely two months before
the onslaught of the NATO led war on 24 March 1999, James Foley had
called for the "transformation" of the KLA into a respectable
political organization" ( http://globalresearch.ca/articles/CHO402D.html
Today, although what is happening in Haiti is being portrayed in the
mainstream press as the "bad-decisions" of the "incompetent"
Latortue, another Black man who can't govern and what must the enlightened
world do that it hasn't done for poor Haiti other than to now put it
under "international protectorate." Although that is the official
spin, Haitians know different. The evidence and simple common sense
and knowledge of U.S. traditional policies in Haiti reveals otherwise.
What is happening in Haiti is exactly what was planned and orchestrated
to happen by the U.S. and Ambassador Foley.
"In other words, Washington's design is "regime change":
topple the Lavalas administration and install a compliant US puppet
regime, integrated by the Democratic Platform and the self-proclaimed
Front pour la libération et la reconstruction nationale (FLRN),
whose leaders are former FRAPH and Tonton Macoute terrorists. The latter
are slated to integrate a "national unity government" alongside
the leaders of the Democratic Convergence and The Group of 184 Civil
Society Organizations led by Andy Apaid. More specifically, the FLRN
led by Guy Philippe is slated to rebuild the Haitian Armed forces, which
were disbanded in 1995."
None of this is "bad-decision-making" by Gerard Latortue.
Matters are going on as planned. Latortue along with even the disbanded
Haitian military are simply pawns, tools of empire, planted to help
bring the Haitian people into more DEBT.
For, webs of debt insures loyalty, promotes U.S. "narco-democracy"
and the corporatocracy's commercial and global empire interests. The
lives, civil liberties, tribulations and dreams of Black Haitians are
irrelevant in this equation. Simply something that must be managed by
obfuscating the realities, obfuscating the upside down morality of the
economic hit men who work for the world's richest consulting firms,
international institutions and their governmental umbrellas, UN/USAID
programs and National Endowment for Democracy programs.
WHY IS THE U.S., THE RICHEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD DOING THESE
FOUL THINGS TO IMPOVERISHED HAITI?
I often get the question "WHY?" "Haiti has nothing to
offer", people say. "Its the poorest country in the Western
Hemisphere. It doesn't have oil reserves like Iraq."
Again I say Haiti's problem is not that its Black people can't solve
their social issues and rule themselves. Haiti's problem is and has
always been DEBT. Foreign debt, dependency and domination.
As Perkins states, his job as a three-piece-suited thug, (my characterization)
was to, and I quote: "...encourage world leaders to become part
of a vast network that promotes U.S. commercial interests. In the end,
those leaders become ensnared in a web of debt that ensures their loyalty.
We can draw on them whenever we desire - to satisfy our political, economic,
or military needs. In turn, they bolster their political positions by
bringing industrial parks, power plants, and airports to their people.
The owners of U.S. engineering/construction companies become fabulously
But in Haiti, if you are a democratically elected government, the first
ones in almost two hundred years, and have a destitute population looking
for you to create jobs, build schools, provide subsidized health care,
a living-wage, clean and potable water, looking for you to navigate
a traditionally predatory state apparatus towards democracy, compassion
and social justice for all Haitian citizens, then, you want resident
Haitian architects, Haitian engineers, Haitian computer experts coming
up with the plans, Haitian workers building the airports, the health
clinics and power plants and parks. You want a domestic economy - that
is to use state funds not to pay FOREIGN DEBT but to build a public
transportation system, new roads, sewage facilities, public parks, to
provide access to electricity everywhere, phone service, communication
networks. You want to use state funds to plant trees, subsidize gas
prices, food prices, health care cost, national education, literacy
programs, domestic investments. The people expect this. They fought
against dictatorship and the morally repugnant economic elites and their
brutal military for decades to get due representation, to stop taxation
But if you are the Aristide/Neptune government and you try and accommodate
your people's interests, that very attempt is going against the giant
U.S. commercial interests and must not succeed.
Naomi Klein's article below also explains how the world's richest countries
break the backs of the impoverished in Iraq with unjust debt.
For those in the U.S. who keep asking WHY would the richest country
in the world destabilize Haiti's duly elected government and then arm
ex-Haitian military to take over Haitian towns, and now agree to pay
them ten years backpay, the answer is MONEY. Or, DEBT.
In Haiti, the coup d'etat government is being loaned billions. Even
when the promised billions to Haiti are not actually paid out, Haiti
owes and has, particularly under the Aristide/Neptune government, been
forced to pay interests on loans promised by the richest international
institutions but never disbursed!
The imported regime is undertaking to mortgage Haiti's future as evidence
by the recent agreement to pay ten years back pay to the brutal Haitian
military. Everyday they remain in office, is another day free and fair
elections are put off.... Meanwhile the Latortue regime's first order
of business when it came to power back in March, 2004 was to tell France
not to worry about the 21 billion dollars in restitution it owes to
the people of Haiti. France had, even after centuries of enjoying the
free labor of the Africans under slavery, forced the free Haitians to
make payments, for close to 100 years after Haiti's independence for
the lost of France's human chattels, "property" as a result
of the successful Haitian revolution.
Defenseless Haiti couldn't say no to these payments because all the
European tribes - the U.S., Britain, Spain, France, et al, who had slavery
in the Caribbean, insisted on these payments and all benefited. This
was the beginning of DEBT in Haiti. It proved a good substitute. The
slave-owning European tribes would quickly learn that debt was a better
plan of entrapment than having to deal with the tricky moral and military
mess of outright chattel slavery. The debt model, that is financial
colonialism, would, by the 2Oth century be the preferred colonial form.
It began in Haiti.
These funds blackmailed and ransomed from Haiti are today worth in excess
of 21 billion. Haitians were forced at gunpoint to make these payments
simply in order that France would not come back and keep trying to reinstate
Today with the Bush regime change that ousted a democratic government
and replaced it with dictatorship, Haitians are virtually enslaved with
talk of a permanent dictatorship through a UN or "international"
protectorate gaining steam.
Now that Haiti's democracy has been beheaded by the Bush Administration,
thousands of innocent Haitians are internal refugees, Maroons being
hunted down for their affiliation to the constitutional government while
tens of thousands were forced into exile, over 4,000 murdered since
February 29, 2004 and over 1,000 Haitians, including Haiti's legitimate
Prime Minister, rotting in the U.S.-backed regime's jails.
It is simply unconscionable this upside down morality. What today's
richest countries and corporations, what darkness global empire have
brought to humankind!
In the meantime, the New York Times and other mainstream media simply
ignore the truth, continuing to blame or make blanket statements about
how Haiti's problems are caused by the destitute ghetto gangs who were
"armed with M-16s" before the Coup d'etat by the exiled president.
Away from mainstream media scrutiny the Economic Hit Men in Haiti at
the U.S. Embassy, USAID, European Union, France, and Canada go about
their morally reprehensible tasks - implementing financial colonialism,
setting policies to ensure more debt for their multinational corporations
and commercial interests to be serviced.
To further mask their crimes and not make it apparently racist in Black
Haiti, especially during Haiti's celebration of its 200th year bicentennial,
the Bush Administration outsourced their military biddings to nonwhites
and armies of color, like the Brazilians, Chinese, Lebanese, Jordanians,
Turkish, Pakistan, El Salvadorians, Filipinos and, of course, the reconstituted
Haitian army -- all in their efforts to silence the Haitian people,
crush and destroy their resistance to tyranny while fooling the world
about the nature of U.S./Euro involvement in Haiti. (See, the other
states who are in Haiti at: http://www.un.org/Depts/dpko/missions/minustah/facts.html
The death counts for 2004 are horrible, and mounting in 2005. But, sipping
tropical cocktails at Haiti's upscale restaurant, these three-piece-suited
guys and corporate gals, graduates from the worlds best schools, training
programs and citizens of the richest countries, will simply tell you
"it's just a job " Besides they've got "mortgages to
fund and children in private schools" in the U.S., France and Canada
whose tuition they must pay. That's what two lawyers from USAID once
told me when I pointed out their policies were killing Haitian children
and that gluttonous greed was not a pretty thing.
That was back in 1995 when I first returned to Haiti to lend my skills
to help with the institutionalization of democracy and the rule of law.
Their antics just got worst until finally today, the economic hit men
and women, have duly accomplished their commercial clients' goals and
attained for the most conducive investment environment: unchecked dictatorship
and debt for Haiti.
But read the New York Times recent article on January 2, 2005, by Michael
Kamber, for instance, and it's the poor ghetto gangs who, in the end,
are uniformly blamed for Haiti instability today. (See. "A Troubled
Haiti Struggles to Gain Its Political Balance" by Michael Kamber
Haiti's insecurity, chaos, instability and even disenfranchisement is
readily blamed on " members of the gangs who control ...city's
New York Times, AP and Reuters journalists rarely point to the funding
of street gang leaders by U.S./USAID-supported Group 184 leaders, how
these city slums came to be; why Haiti is contained-in-poverty and has
been since the French indemnity back in 1825; or, the reason for Cite
Soleil and other such Port-au-Prince slums - that is, the failed USAID
policies and how Cite Soleil and Port-au-Prince's other overpopulated
ghettos were created by the failed free trade zone, sweatshop policies
and the dumping of U.S. subsidized agricultural goods that destroyed
the rural farmers' livelihoods and forced them into the cities looking
In the Destabilization of Haiti, Michel Chossudovsky, explains that:
"With the adoption of the IMF-World Bank sponsored trade reforms,
the agricultural system, which previously produced food for the local
market, had been destabilized. With the lifting of trade barriers, the
local market was opened up to the dumping of US agricultural surpluses
including rice, sugar and corn, leading to the destruction of the entire
peasant economy. Gonaives, which used to be Haiti's rice basket region,
with extensive paddy fields had been precipitated into bankruptcy...
(See, US Sponsored Coup d'Etat: The Destabilization of Haiti by Michel
Chossudovsky at: http://globalresearch.ca/articles/CHO402D.html )
No context is given. No analysis is made of the Cold War politics that
supported Haitian oppression for over 30-years and the 19-years of U.S.
occupation that ended up making Haiti a thousand times poorer than before
the U.S. got there; leaving the Haitian people with a legacy they never
owned before the U.S. occupation, that is - "the poorest country
in the Western Hemisphere."
Rarely are any comments made or comparisons seen between this second
U.S.-backed Coup D'etat against the Haitian people and the first U.S.-backed
coup d'etat. Mainstream journalists parroting Bush State Department
bulletins rarely connect, in print, the refusal of the 20,000 U.S. troops
back in 1994 to disarm the disbanded Haitian military as a continuum
that logically ended with the remobilization in 2004 of said brutal
military for the second U.S.-backed Coup D'etat against President Aristide.
No, virtually without context and historical perspective, all ills in
Haiti are today blamed on the Haitian poor and the ghetto gangs - the
As if they had the resources, training, arms and authority to overthrow
Haiti's government, could force thousands of Haitians into exile and
into prisons or fill Haiti's morgues with dead bodies. As if they are
the ones who just massacred over 100 political prisoners in Haiti the
very December 1st day Colin Powell went to Haiti to reiterate, one more
time, Bush's support for the U.S.-imported Latortue. As if they have
the resources and power to imprison duly elected government officials,
fly Haiti's President to the Central African Republic, refuse to ship
arms, equipment and tear gas that could have helped the Constitutional
government stop the Coup d'etat.
The corporate press speak of the role of the ghetto gangs in Port-au-Prince
as if Haiti IS only Port-au-Prince.
As if these few and powerless street gangs, some of whom are Haitian
deportees from the U.S. prisons, could have, before Feb. 29, 2004, convinced
the U.N. Security Counsel to back up the Constitutional government of
Haiti not the FRAPH thugs and killers, the brutal Haitian military and
the wealthy Ninjas - those brutal murderers who are mostly the children
of the wealthy economic elites in Haiti who kill the poor and dispossessed
with total and absolute impunity.
No, the mainstream media offers, parroting Bush State Department bulletins.
It's the poor, the bandits, the "pro-Aristide gangs", who
are, the only Haitians fighting for the return of President Aristide
and Constitutional rule to Haiti.
They, not the Latortue death regime, not the Ninjas, not the former
Haitian military and FRAPH paramilitary, are mostly categorized as "the
criminals,” the bandits responsible for the "random killings"
in Haiti before, during and since the Coup d'etat. Whereas, the decent,
the beautiful, the good, the practical, the rational Haitians are supposedly
all AGAINST the return of President Aristide and Constitutional rule
to Haiti and are not responsible or complicit for any of the mayhem
It's the chimeres, these urban gangs in the Port-au-Prince's overpopulated
neighborhoods, not the coup d'etat governments of France, U.S. or Canada;
not the paid Haitian mercenaries who murdered Haitian policemen and
took over Haitian towns; not the EHM and their NED-CIA cohorts who trained,
funded and provided them with arms; not the Haitian-journalists andso-called
Haitian "civil society" NGOs, trained and paid, through USAID
programs and who, before the coup d'etat, had spread blatant lies, fabrications
and half truths about the "the Haitian population's total loss
of support for President Aristide's government."
Yes, it's the the fault of Haitians, especially the poor, black and
illiterate who are responsible for Haiti's instability. The economic
hit men and their cleanup men and women go unscrutinized.
No New York Times article is analyzing the U.S destabilization programs
that were put in place to destroy Haiti and profit the richest Haitians,
the richest countries and corporations in the world.
The simple truth is, right now, it's not the poor majority in Haiti
clamoring for a return to democracy, nor the opportunistic criminal
elements in the ghettos using politics for their own selfish ends, but
the imported Latortue regime and its US/UN allies and economic hit men
who have the monopoly on violence in Haiti.They are the main purveyors
of Haiti's instability and insecurity. The replacements to Haiti's duly
elected government are committing genocide in Haiti and fostering more
DEBT and absolutely no development that meets the Haitian peoples' long
or short term needs and interests. Those facts are irrevocable.
Marguerite Laurent, Esq.
Founder and Chair, Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network
January 4, 2005
Why is war-torn Iraq giving $190,000 to Toys R Us?
Iraqis are still being forced to pay for
crimes committed by Saddam
Saturday October 16, 2004
Next week, something will happen that will unmask the upside-down morality
of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. On October 21, Iraq will pay
$200m in war reparations to some of the richest countries and corporations
in the world.
If that seems backwards, it's because it is. Iraqis have never been
awarded reparations for any of the crimes they suffered under Saddam,
or the brutal sanctions regime that claimed the lives of at least half
a million people, or the US-led invasion, which the UN secretary general,
Kofi Annan, recently called "illegal". Instead, Iraqis are
still being forced to pay reparations for crimes committed by their
Quite apart from its crushing $125bn sovereign debt, Iraq has paid $18.8bn
in reparations stemming from Saddam Hussein's 1990 invasion and occupation
of Kuwait. This is not in itself surprising: as a condition of the ceasefire
that ended the 1991 Gulf war, Saddam agreed to pay damages stemming
from the invasion. More than 50 countries have made claims, with most
of the money awarded to Kuwait. What is surprising is that even after
Saddam was overthrown, the payments from Iraq have continued.
Since Saddam was toppled in April, Iraq has paid out $1.8bn in reparations
to the United Nations Compensation Commission (UNCC), the Geneva-based
quasi tribunal that assesses claims and disburses awards. Of those payments,
$37m have gone to Britain and $32.8m have gone to the United States.
That's right: in the past 18 months, Iraq's occupiers have collected
$69.8m in reparation payments from the desperate people they have been
occupying. But it gets worse: the vast majority of those payments, 78%,
have gone to multinational corporations, according to statistics on
the UNCC website.
Away from media scrutiny, this has been going on for years. Of course
there are many legitimate claims for losses that have come before the
UNCC: payments have gone to Kuwaitis who have lost loved ones, limbs,
and property to Saddam's forces. But much larger awards have gone to
corporations: of the total amount the UNCC has awarded in Gulf war reparations,
$21.5bn has gone to the oil industry alone.
Jean-Claude Aimé, the UN diplomat who headed the UNCC until December
2000, publicly questioned the practice. "This is the first time
as far as I know that the UN is engaged in retrieving lost corporate
assets and profits," he told the Wall Street Journal in 1997, and
then mused: "I often wonder at the correctness of that."
But the UNCC's corporate handouts only accelerated. Here is a small
sample of who has been getting "reparation" awards from Iraq:
Halliburton ($18m), Bechtel ($7m), Mobil ($2.3m), Shell ($1.6m), Nestlé
($2.6m), Pepsi ($3.8m), Philip Morris ($1.3m), Sheraton ($11m), Kentucky
Fried Chicken ($321,000) and Toys R Us ($189,449).
In the vast majority of cases, these corporations did not claim that
Saddam's forces damaged their property in Kuwait - only that they "lost
profits" or, in the case of American Express, experienced a "decline
in business" because of the invasion and occupation of Kuwait.
One of the biggest winners has been Texaco, which was awarded $505m
in 1999. According to a UNCC spokesperson, only 12% of that reparation
award has been paid, which means hundreds of millions more will have
to come out of the coffers of post-Saddam Iraq.
The fact that Iraqis have been paying reparations to their occupiers
is all the more shocking in the context of how little these countries
have actually spent on aid in Iraq. Despite the $18.4bn of US tax dollars
allocated for Iraq's reconstruction, the Washington Post estimates that
only $29m has been spent on water, sanitation, health, roads, bridges,
and public safety combined. And in July (the latest figure available),
the Department of Defence estimated that only $4m had been spent compensating
Iraqis who had been injured, or who lost family members or property
as a direct result of the occupation - a fraction of what the US has
collected from Iraq in reparations since its occupation began.
For years there have been complaints about the UNCC being used as a
slush fund for multinationals and rich oil emirates - a backdoor way
for corporations to collect the money they were prevented from making
as a result of the sanctions against Iraq. During the Saddam years,
these concerns received little attention, for obvious reasons.
But now Saddam is gone and the slush fund survives. And every dollar
sent to Geneva is a dollar not spent on humanitarian aid and reconstruction
Iraq. Furthermore, if post-Saddam Iraq had not been forced to pay these
reparations, it could have avoided the $437m emergency loan that the
International Monetary Fund approved on September 29.
With all the talk of forgiving Iraq's debts, the country is actually
being pushed deeper into the hole, forced to borrow money from the IMF,
and to accept all of the conditions and restrictions that come along
with those loans. The UNCC, meanwhile, continues to assess claims and
make new awards: $377m worth of new claims were awarded last month alone.
Fortunately, there is a simple way to put an end to these grotesque
corporate subsidies. According to United Nations security council resolution
687, which created the reparations programme, payments from Iraq must
take into account "the requirements of the people of Iraq, Iraq's
payment capacity, and the needs of the Iraqi economy". If a single
one of these three issues were genuinely taken into account, the security
council would vote to put an end to these payouts tomorrow.
That is the demand of Jubilee Iraq, a debt relief organisation based
Reparations are owed to the victims of Saddam Hussein, the group argues
- both in Iraq and in Kuwait. But the people of Iraq, who were themselves
Saddam's primary victims, should not be paying them. Instead, reparations
should be the responsibility of the governments that loaned billions
to Saddam, knowing the money was being spent on weapons so he could
wage war on his neighbours and his own people. "If justice, and
not power, prevailed in international affairs, then Saddam's creditors
would be paying reparations to Kuwait as well as far greater reparations
to the Iraqi people," says Justin Alexander, coordinator of Jubilee
Right now precisely the opposite is happening: instead of flowing into
Iraq, reparations are flowing out. It's time for the tide to turn.
Klein is the author of No Logo, and Fences and Windows
HLLN - Action Requested from
Haiti solidarity groups and Haitian activists for justice and democracy:
Read, adopt and circulate
Resolution from the Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network
Circulate the human
rights reports, especially the latest Miami Law Center report
Do Press Work: Write a letter,
call the media, fax, - See our Press
Volunteer to send us updated or
new phone numbers and addresses to put on our Contact
Information Sheet pages
Virtual interns and volunteers
are needed to help us translate selected materials into French, Kreyol,
or Spanish to reach a wider audience. Volunteers with some research
and computer skills are also needed to help us update our "List
of Victims" and "Personal Testimonies"
pages under Campaign One. (We have
the materials, what we don't have we know where to extrapolate them,
but need help to put it together and in the format on our website page.)
Volunteers also wanting
to concentrate as primary coordinators/contributors to one
of our seven
Volunteer to help with
fundraising for the work of the HLLN
One internet savvy volunteer
interested in logging and archiving, on our new Ezili Danto blog, (not
yet unveiled) the regular Erzilidanto posts we send out so that those
who only want to see these at their leisure, or, who cannot receive
daily mailings, will
have alternative access to these materials and posts.