For the fourth year running, the United Nations has passed a motion condemning the U.S. embargo of Cuba, this time by 137 votes (including Great Britain) to 3. The countries against the motion were the U. S., Israel, and Uzbekistan. The European Union is taking the U.S. to the World Trade Organization, arguing that the Helms/Burton Act is illegal. Fourteen out of fifteen members of the U.N. Security Council (including Great Britain) voted against the U.S. veto of Boutros Boutros-Ghali.
How can any country defend itself against a consensus of 137 to 3 and 14 to 1? How can any country, in light of blanket condemnation of its policies and actions, not subject itself to even the mildest and most tentative critical scrutiny? The answer is quite simple: If you believe you still call all the shots, you just don't give a shit.
Sometimes I look back at recent history and ask: Did all that really happen? Were half a million 'communists' massacred in Indonesia in 1965? Have 300,000 people died in Central America since 1960? Has the persecution of the Kurdish people in Turkey reached a level that approaches genocide? Are countless Iraqi children dying every month for lack of food and medicine brought about by U.N. sanctions? Did the military coups in Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, and Chile result in repression and suffering comparable to that in Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia? Has the United States inspired or engendered, subsidized or sustained all this? The answer is yes. It has and it does. But you'd never know it.
The crimes of the United States throughout the world have been systematic, remorseless, and fully documented, but nobody talks about them. Nobody ever has. It must be said that, since the absolute necessity of economic control is at the bottom of all this, innocent bystanders who happen to raise their voices must be kicked in the teeth. This is entirely logical.
Witness the situation in Haiti, a story virtually ignored by the world for decades. Haiti suffered under the grisly Duvalier dictatorships and their paramilitary force, the Ton Ton Macoutes, for 29 years. By 1986 popular feeling was so powerful that the Duvalier regime collapsed. Other military dictatorships followed, but in 1990 Haiti held its first democratic election and Jean-Bertrand Aristide was elected with 67 percent of the vote. His platform: 'To bring the Haitian people from misery to dignity.' Eight months later he was ousted in a coup d'?tat. For three years the military again ruled. During this period, 5,000 people were killed. The United States was finally forced to act. It led a U.N. force to the island, to 'restore democracy.'
What it actually did was to restore the status quo, giving the generals various modes of asylum and protection and effectively neutralizing Aristide. His economic policies, for which the people had elected him, were discarded. The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank moved in. They insisted on a structural adjustment policy that threatens equitable development and progress in the country. People in Haiti refer to it as 'the death plan' because it will destroy the country's peasant economy. As a rider, the U.S. army took from the Haitian army headquarters 160,000 pages of documents. The U.S. government refuses to return these documents. Why? Because the documents may show the extent of CIA involvement in the coup that overthrew Aristide in 1991.
Finally, an elegy. In 1979 the Sandinistas triumphed in Nicaragua in a remarkable popular revolution against the Somoza dictatorship and went on to address problems in their poverty-stricken country with unprecedented vigor. They introduced a literacy campaign and health provisions that were unheard of in the region, if not the entire continent. The Sandinistas had plenty of faults, but they were thoughtful, intelligent, decent, and without malice. They created an active, spontaneous, pluralistic society. The U.S. government destroyed, through all the means at its disposal and at the cost of 30,000 lives, the whole damn thing??and is proud of it.
The general feeling these days is 'It's all in the past, nobody's interested anymore, stop being naive.' But let me put it this way: The dead are still looking at us, waiting for us to acknowledge our part in their murder.
From Z Magazine (Feb. 1997). Subscriptions: $26/yr. (11 issues) from 116 St. Botolph St., Boston, MA 02115-9979.