By Ezili Dantò
In 2008, Ezili’s HLLN supported a vote for Obama, not because we entirely believed the Obama fairytale (See, The America I Know, 2008.)
We supported a vote for Obama in 2008 for both pragmatic and idealistic reasons. But more so because eight years of Bush and the application of the Wall Street deregulation excesses left over from Bill Clinton and others had reached a crescendo point that was shockingly, brutally horrible and demoralizing for the entire world. But we also campaigned and urged a vote for Obama, despite his apparent selection by one-percenter forces, because the symbolic victory and metaphoric narrative of “The Whitehouse: From Sally Hemings to Michelle Obama” was a powerful and compelling vision we wished to participate in bringing to a reality for the human race. (That sentiment was expressed in this essay – I Don’t Know this America…But I’m Most Happy to Meet It .)
So, Ezili’s HLLN actively campaigned for getting rid of the Republicans that had presided over the 1991 and 2004 unconstitutional regime changes in Haiti. We campaigned so that Obama would give Haiti temporary protected status (TPS), end deportations, stop unfair trade, promote democratic elections in Haiti, value and invest in the Diaspora remittances for reform in Haiti instead of tied-aid to NGOs, end the US occupation of Haiti behind UN guns, provide relief to Main Street in America, universal health care, social justice, stop torture, end the resource wars abroad. (See, Towards A New US-Haiti Partnership: What Haitian Americans Ask of the New US President and Congress.)
Instead, for instance, it took the earthquake which ended the lives of 310,000 Haitians before front man, Barack Obama, deigned to give limited TPS and stop deportations. Then less than a year later he re-started deportations even with UN-imported cholera ravages and failed aid to the earthquake victims. But
Obama would soon destroy even the tiny scraps of good he brought with TPS by unleashing Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton on Haiti’s head for the duration, not to mention the Bush-Clinton partnership for earthquake “relief”. (Corruption uninterrupted and Haiti’s Hotel Boom: Only for the Rich.)
We wrote then our dissent. “Give us a 100 hard right-wing Republicans to face any day. Keep the namby pamby Democrats or progressive left selling their constituents out in the name of some mythical, so-called bipartisanship. They are the worst and most dangerous enablers of neoliberal globalization masturbating on the poor’s imposed pain, poverty and suffering.” (See Obama’s offered HOPE is sweatshop slavery ; Since before the fall of the US-supported Duvalier dictatorships in 1986, the US has been bringing “hope” to Haiti. The newest, profit-over-people sweatshop hoax is Caracol, a sweatshop project masking the foreign appropriation of fertile Haiti lands and deep water ports.)
Today, any politician who uses the word “hope” and “change” – as in, “I am the change you’re looking for” – is unable to waste our time with US perverted elections whatsoever. The whole system is corrupt. Integrating with injustice is no longer an option. Obama was the straw that broke the camel’s back for us. Truly, his tenure has hurt our hearts in so many ways. Not least of which is the fact that a Black man has become number one superpower overseer of the profit-over-people paradigm.
Ezili’s HLLN will not be supporting Obama’s reelection. We suggest conscious folks nix the political theater of the Republicans and Democrats, concentrate on local self-reliance, local community building, local people empowerment, local building of relevant educational, health care, local food sovereignty, local production, local work and local communication self-sufficiency infrastructures. Don’t count on any government to “save you”. Not happening folks, not with perverted electoral politics, whether you’re in the US or Haiti.
The corporations have bought out the politicians and they’re about servicing Wall Street, giving corporate welfare, maintaining their jobs at ALL cost.
Obama’s betrayal of core justice values, cuddling Wall Street instead of making it accountable, just to get re-elected cannot sufficiently be offset by general fear of the Republican’s Supreme Court nominations. We must speak truth to power, live without fear. And the Supreme Court has presided over a judiciary that disproportionately favors the wealthy, puts more Black men into the prison system than anywhere else in the world for nonviolent crimes such as being addicted to “inhaling.”
Moreover, what has the Supreme Court done for Main Street lately anyhow? Or, to preserve its objectivity, its reputed sacredness? Like the Democratic and Republican members of Congress, the folks at the Supreme Court are a reflection of the times. They have simply become an arm of the global corporatocracy, giving more human rights to corporations than to human beings. Supreme Court appointments are simply not a sufficiently important issue to vote Democrat.
The old dog – “vote-for-the-lesser-of-the-two-evils” argument no longer has traction – won’t hunt. People, of all ethnicities, are tired of dealing with evil. Period.
If being a “pragmatist” or a “realist” means choosing only amongst evil, count us OUT.
The US-Euro pragmatic philosophy has a place, brings lots of comfort, but it is also responsible for the myopic resource wars and prevalent loss of the human soul amongst the schooled peoples worldwide, not to mention the rut and perennial impasse we’re in with perverted US electoral politics. Fact is, the US voting rights our Ancestors fought and died for, are redistricted out of legitimacy at the whim of the more wealthy and more powerful. And that’s LEGAL!
I am envisioning another world.
Not integrating with injustice.
Obama betrayed the American voters who expected he would not gut the US Constitution. But he has. And, some of us here at HLLN are lawyers.
This writer herself is a member of two US State bars where the oath I made was to protect the US Constitution. Moreover, as a born-Haitian – with a legacy to reach for – who has spent what seems a lifetime advocating against the US destruction of legitimate elections in Haiti, against the US and the wealthy’s support of apartheid and ethnocide in Haiti, against US destruction of the 1987 Haiti Constitution with illegal US regime changes in Haiti, as an advocate who has had to deal with the poor Haitians’ indiscriminate indefinite detention simply because the US and Haiti’s repugnant undemocratic forces suspect these poor voted and supported Lavalas, I find NOTHING redeeming about the Constitutional lawyer, named Barack Obama. (President Obama Signs Indefinite Detention Into Law ; Activists sue Obama, others over National Defense Authorization Act ; Obama’s abysmal record on civil liberties; Obama re-authorizes the Patriot Act ; Obama Supports – sweeping intelligence surveillance -FISA Legislation ; Obama preserves renditions ; Obama Endorses Bush Secrecy On Torture And Rendition.)
It’s simply unforgivable on so many levels that Barack Obama went further than George W. Bush in denying human rights and social justice to US and world peoples, like Haitians. Under the Obama tenure, indefinite military detention of U.S. citizens is lawful in the land of the free and home of the brave and Haitians are saddled with George W. Bush and Bill Clinton to help us become more a democratic and stable Black nation! Susan Rice takes over the role Colin Powell played for the Bushes while Cheryl Mills is out there pushing the Duvalierist agenda in Haiti previously championed by Bill Clinton’s commerce secretary, the late Ron Brown.
Yes racism against Obama exist. No doubt. But, Obama ruined his own integrity by betraying the hopeful world who wished respite from empire’s invasions, narcissism, resource wars, denial of social justice and land grabs behind the do-gooder facade. Obama especially betrayed the weary American people who voted for him. Yes, Obama probably will win again over Romney. The powers that be are very satisfied with the pretty Black family mask of US imperialism and Americans, of all ethnicities, are programmed for the fairytale narrative and for suburban amnesia; would rather have comfort to liberty.
Obama will most likely win again because denial is easier than the hard reality of Obama’s betrayal of Main Street and championing of corporate welfare for Wall Street. Under Obama, like it was under Bill Clinton, the one-percenters continued their white supremacist and land/resource grabbing invasions and betrayal of Africa, continued the perennial US war in Haiti, against the poor worldwide, against countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, et al…
Obama did not bring American soldiers home but started other wars. Both parties are the same. And, in a world of infinite possibilities we choose not between the lesser of two evil. In fact, those of us who are not into denial and work at the human-rights front lines prefer to face the Republican snake head-on than the confused and gutless Democrat chameleon whining about being a progressive when it is NOT.
There’s no difference between the two US political parties, except one is more direct in its tyranny against the most vulnerable amongst us. The other hides behind pseudo liberalism and gives us Clintonesque deregulation, NAFTA unfair trade and loss of US jobs, gutting Glass-Steagal to serve the Goldman Sachs cadres, Welfare-to-Work when all work has flown overseas where US superpower might makes sure there’s no minimum wage, no human rights, unions or respect for Black and Brown life.
Whoever is in charge of the profit-over-people paradigm, Democrat or Republican, Ezili’s HLLN will be confronting 24/7. Full time. Frankly we prefer watching the Democrats in the opposition to the Republicans opposing EVERYTHING that they sat by and watch OBAMA preside over. There’s much less emotional tie-in for me there. If that means facing Romney, and that is some sort of Armageddon, so be it. Bring it on.
But there are other choices, like everyone NOT showing up for this theater and nullifying the elections. Envision that. A courageous electorate that stops believing things must stay as they are with the duopoly. Just imagine it.
Yes indeed I am a dreamer. Nothing changes without risk. Pragmatism is just a cop-out. Since it doesn’t matter who we vote for, best to make a statement. I think that’s pragmatic. More so than voting for Obama, the more effective evil servicing U.S.-Euro neo-feudalism.
Share your thoughts with us on this position.
May 4, 2012
“There is but one evil party with two names, and it will be elected despite all I can do or say.” – W.E.B. Dubois, “Why I Won’t Vote,” The Nation, October 20, 1956
See: May 5th: [ezilidanto] 12 Ezili Listserve comments on : Not voting for Obama
May 10th: [ezilidanto] Comment #13 to 21 on : Not voting for Obama
Basic Rights and Civili Liberties Repealed in Haiti | Free Miller, Belizaire, Zaza | Constitutional Amendment under 2nd US occupation of Haiti brings back racist 1915/1935 law denouncing Vodouist as evil people in Haiti – Sign petition against denial of human rights in Haiti under US occupation behind UN guns.
“The Democrats and Republicans are both handmaidens of corporate interests — Chris Hedges
Video – Quote from 5:34 -6:27
“The Democrats and Republicans are both handmaidens to corporate interests — Chris Hedges…Obama functioned as a brand. Now remember 2008, the financial collapsed. Wall Street was terrified. They thought they had been found out. They thought they would have to pay a price for their criminal activity, fraudulent activity and malfeasance. And Obama functioned as a brand in the same way that people of color or HIV-positive models were used by Benetton and Calvin Klein — to associate their products with a risque lifestyle and progressive politics. But, as with a function of all brands, we confused a brand with an experience. Obama won Advertising Age’s top annual award “marketer of the year” because the professionals knew precisely what he’d done — he beat Nike, Apple, Zyppos. And that’s what he was — you know, to quote Cornel West, he became essentially a black mascot for Wall Street”.
Video – Quote from 5:13 – 5:33 “The election of Obama was one more triumph of illusion over substance. It was a skillful manipulation and betrayal of the public by corporate power elite. We mistook style and ethnicity – an advertising tactic pioneered by Calvin Klein and Benetton – for progressive politics and genuine change.”
|—||Chris Hedges, Death of the Liberal Cla|
The Obama Deception
In 1862, Abraham Lincoln is quoted to have said the following: “The money powers prey upon the nation in times of peace and conspire against it in times of adversity. It is more despotic than a monarch, more insolent than autocracy and more selfish than a bureaucracy. It denounces, as public enemies, all who question its methods or throw light upon its crimes. I have two great enemies, the Southern Army in front of me and the bankers in the rear. Of the two, the one at the rear is my greatest foe.” Today, the PRIVATE Federal Reserve Bank runs the US economy and is above the law – no other agency of the US government can overule its actions – according to Alan Greenspan.
“We send this out yearly for those who haven’t yet watched it, mostly because of the first part of the documentary that details how the monetary system and corporatocracy works; how the profit-over-people system is fueled by artificially-kept scarcity in an abundant world. This, to get you re-thinking some of what you were taught. Take what you can, leave what you can’t fit into your mind or reference points. The posting is not meant to confer our support to the notion, espoused in the latter parts of the video, that technology is the only agent for sustainable world change. Universal comfort and technological consumption cannot replace human ethics, conscience or values that define human-ness such as compassion, empathy, elevation of beauty, community, universal connection, fairness, justice, equality and the importance of public engagement, purpose and service to human dignity. Besides, having a global economic system that would put people-before-profit, perhaps a legal structure where human beings and not just capital had human rights and maybe could freely move around the globe without undue restraints. Just a thought. There may be many agents working together that might bring about a better world. Life is not static, reality is constantly in motion – emergent – as the video points. Old patterns, obsolete and illogical assumptions should not still be readily accepted.
Just as technology is not the agent for change, neither is Christianity. The Nazarene was not a Christian. Institutionalized religion is neither logical nor beneficial to humankind when it domesticate what cannot be domesticated. Go(o)d is greater than what our minds may colonize. Religion, like technology may provide comfort but its uses has mostly been to divide, enslave, keep wars going, create the “chosen people,” pacify the enslaved with a mythical heaven in the sky and compel forgiveness of the most horrific crimes against non-white peoples without justice FIRST. Earth was better-off when colonialists and their evangelists didn’t convert parts of it as hell while motivating the serfs, the outright enslaved or the corporotocracy’s new wage-slavers to work harder to reach a fictitious heaven or better place such as accepting human progress means rabid consumerism (the new heaven). All, so that the bankers/one percenters may continue to hoard, enrich themselves on other people’s labor, lands, resources and nature’s bounty. A new world would end the corporatocracy, its related tools for colonialism (Ndoki). There are those, like us, from all over the world, who envision a planet earth without the artificial divisions, a permanent underclass based primarily on levels of Anglo-Euro ethnicity, and without institutionalized intermediaries between soul and self and the white supremacist orders that are elevated by the domestication of Go(o)d as a white man.” –Ezili Dantò of HLLN
Haiti’s Hotel Boom: Only for the Rich
The reconstruction effort in Haiti is faithfully following trickledown economic policies, which will exacerbate income inequality in the country.
The recent news out of Haiti is that Port au Prince is currently undergoing a building boom—but it’s not the much needed homes for the estimated half million internally displaced people, it’s due to upscale hotels being built to house foreign investors and aid workers. The news is no doubt heavy with contradictions, as the reports optimistically explain that the best way to reconstruct Haiti is to first build infrastructure for foreigners, while the displaced remain in the many sprawling tent camps, vulnerable to disease, eviction, arson, and violence.
The Washington Post reported that “At least seven hotels are under construction or are in the planning stage in Port-au-Prince and its surrounding areas, raising hopes that thousands of investors will soon fill their air-conditioned rooms looking to build factories and tourist infrastructure that will help Haiti bounce back from a 2010 earthquake that officials say claimed 300,000 lives. Some damaged hotels are undergoing renovations.” Some of the new hotels currently under construction include the Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund’s pet project, the Royal Oasis hotel, in addition to a Best Western, Marriott International, and perhaps most controversially, a proposed hotel and conference centre built and maintained by the Red Cross.
The proposed hotel is to be located on part of a $10.5 million property that was purchased after the 2010 earthquake. The organization stated that it hopes that the profits generated from the hotel would sustain the work of Haiti’s own Red Cross in the future. Daniel Borochoff, the president of CharityWatch—an organization which monitors and evaluates non-profit organizations said that the plan for the hotel is not only unusual, but also risky due to the chance of the property losing money. Furthermore, Borochoff discussed the fundamental lack of transparency involved in a charitable organization undertaking such a project, remarking that “What would happen if donors learned that instead of giving money to treat cholera or build shelters, it’s going to build a hotel? I understand it’s an investment, but that takes some explaining.”
The $10.5 million that went towards the purchase of the property is highly questionable on many levels, especially when the Red Cross’ primary responsibility is delivering humanitarian assistance during emergencies—and one would think that Haiti’s ongoing cholera epidemic would qualify as such. Without a doubt, the money would be better directed to building permanent housing for those still in the tent camps, or as part of a larger initiative to bring clean water and sanitation services to the most affected areas. The development of such a system is the only sustainable way that Haiti will be able to rid itself of the UN-imported epidemic which has to date claimed more than 7,000 lives.
Looking for news stories detailing any progress in reducing the housing emergency for the Haitian people and not the investors are few and far between, with the most recent announcements by U.S. Ambassador Kenneth Merten about the construction of two housing projects hiding some important details. Ambassador Merten was recently on hand to announce the awarding of two construction contracts to USAID, the first concerning the development of 750 units of earthquake and hurricane resistant, housing on the Caracol-Ekam site in Haiti’s Northern Development Corridor, and 156 units in Cabaret, to the north of the Port-au-Prince.
In a separate article in USA Today, it became much clearer why Caracol-Ekam was chosen as a site for the housing development, as “One of the biggest foreign investments in Haiti is an industrial park under construction in the north that’s scheduled to begin garment production in September. The giant $300 million Caracol industrial park will be run by South Korean manufacturer, Sae-A Trading Co. Ltd., and is expected to bring an initial 20,000 jobs to the remote area.”
The vast majority of the 20,000 jobs at Caracol will be low paying, garment assembly positions, where workers will struggle to make a new beginning on $3 per day (the current minimum wage for Haitian sweatshop workers). In many ways the dire economic situation of the half million displaced, in addition to the country’s high unemployment rate provides an unfortunate situation where there is significant competition over these jobs, providing little political incentive to raise the minimum wage.
In many ways, the earthquake created a situation that will lock in the unfavorable conditions that U.S. and Haitian garment manufacturers had been fighting for many years. Wikileaks cables published by Haiti Liberté and The Nation revealed that in 2009, “Contractors for Fruit of the Loom, Hanes, and Levi’s worked in close concert with the U.S. Embassy when they aggressively moved to block a minimum wage increase for Haitian assembly zone workers, the lowest-paid in the hemisphere, according to secret State Department cables.”
The reconstruction effort in Haiti has revealed through the prioritization of upscale hotels and housing for sweatshop workers that it is not about addressing the needs of the vulnerable first, but of wealthy multinational and Haitian investors first, and perhaps the people a very distant second, only if profitable and convenient. With the team of Bill Clinton, who helped to destroy the Haitian rice industry, and Caribbean agriculture more generally—and George Bush, whose economic track record speaks for itself—it becomes more clear that the reconstruction effort in Haiti is faithfully following trickledown economic policies that have worked wonders in increasingly inequality across the globe.