Haiti: the saturnalia of emancipation and the vicissitudes of predatory rule Print

ABSTRACT Since its independence in 1804 Haiti has failed to generate the political and economic institutions with which to usher in a functioning and accountable democratic order . In spite of its glorious revolution, which abolished slavery at the moment of its creation, Haiti faced a series of domestic and international constraints that prevented it from engaging in a successful process of nation-building. While these constraints have taken new forms, they have continued to plague the contemporary struggles for democratisation and equity. This article will analyse critical moments of Haiti's history to illustrate these persisting constraints.

In 1804, after more than a decade of revolutionary warfare, slaves founded Haiti as the first independent black nation in modern history. This warfare and the ensuing isolation that all Western powers inflicted on the newly freed island generated a collective consciousness that nurtured a deep sense of Haitian-hood. 1 Haitians had fashioned a nation but, from the beginning, it was a nation profoundly divided by class and race. The state that crystallised in the aftermath of the revolution reflected the chasm that separated rulers and ruled and came to embody the predatory instrument of a small class enjoying power, status and wealth. The victims of the process have historically been poor peasants and more recently have come to include a swelling mass of urban dwellers living in miserable conditions. The supreme irony of the Haitian revolution is that its glorious fight against slavery and for freedom generated a class-ridden nation,2 plagued by an authoritarian 'habitus'.3 Both domestic and international circumstances have contributed to these conditions.
Haiti's predicament is not rooted in the absence of a nation, but rather in the ruling class's incapacity to construct an 'integral' state. The construction of an integral state should not be confused with the concept of 'state-building'. While the latter simply implies a technocratic 'creation of new government institutions and the strengthening of existing ones', 4 the former is deeply embedded in processes of class formation, struggles and compromises. An integral state is a state that is capable of organising both the political unity of the different factions of the ruling class and the 'organic relations Robert Fatton Jr is in the Department of Politics, University of Virginia , USA. Email: rf@ virginia.edu.

ISSN 0143·6597 print / ISSN 1360·2241 online/06/010115-19 © 2006 Third World Quarterly DOl: 10.1080/01436590500369378 115 ROBERT FATTON JR Thi s content downloaded from on Wed. 9 Oct 2013 23:25:17 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions between . . . political society and civil society'.5 The integral state expresses therefore the hegemonic governance of the ruling class-the capacity to command effectively without permanent resort to brute force. This requires the development of the 'consensual aspect of political control'.6 In such situations subordinate classes come to tolerate their subordination as an acceptable, if not necessarily natural or inevitable, condition. The consensual aspect of politics should not, however, be exaggerated.
Subordinate classes never wear their chains in utter submissiveness; they never completely fall for the hegemonic constructs of the ruling class: their subordination stems from what Marx called the 'dull compulsion of economic relations' and the multifaceted forms of coercion that persistently constrain their behaviour into patterns of reluctant obedience. Pragmatic calculations lead subordinate groups to opt for more mundane, circumspect and muted types of resistance. As James Scott has argued:

There is no basis for supposing that subordinate classes equate the inevitable with the just, although the necessity of pragmatic resignation may often make it seem so. There is no basis for imagining that any of the common historical patterns of domination so completely control the social life of subordinate classes as to rule out the creation of partly autonomous and resistant subcultures. Finally, there is no reason to assume that the lower orders are so encompassed by an existing system of domination that they cannot either imagine its revolutionary negation or act on that negation.7

To that extent, hegemony refers less to the acquiescence of subordinate classes to the moral, intellectual and ideological dominance of the ruling class, than to the capacity of the ruling class to organise its own cohesion to govern effectively.
This in turn entails the relative reconciliation of the fundamental interests of the ruling class with certain aspirations and demands of subordinates. As Gramsci explained:

the fact of hegemony presupposes that account be taken of the interests and the tendencies of the groups over which the hegemony is to be exercised, and that a certain compromise equilibrium should be form ed-in other words, that the leading group should make sacrifices of an economic-corporate kind. But there is also no doubt that such sacrifices and such a compromise cannot touch the essential.8

It is this 'compromise equilibrium' that makes possible the integral state. Without it, as the history of Haiti shows, politics tends to become predatory and chaotic, even if revolutionary moments crystallise occasionally. The absence of an 'integral state' undermined Haiti's saturnalia of emancipation and gave way to patterns of despotic rule that in turn contributed to a descent into underdevelopment and acute poverty. These patterns, I will contend, have always been rooted in both the domestic and international constellation of power that conditioned Haiti's integration into the capitalist world system. The construction of institutions and the expansion of state capacity are not processes springing from mid-air, nor 116 HAITI: VICISSITUDES OF PREDATORY RULE Thi s content downloaded from on Wed , 9 Oct 201 3 23:25:17 PM A ll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions are they the product of administrative will. In fact, they mirror the con­ figuration of class power and the time-horizon of ru lers -that is, they reflect how such rulers value the future given their present strategic situa­ tion and calculations. The more secure their political positions, the more likely they will be to invest in long-term projects. In short, the creation of effective institutional structures is dependent on the rulers' capacity to go beyond their immediate, narrow corporate interests. Only then can the rationalisation of politics occur, and only then can stability be 'routinised'. Ultimately, the historical inability of Haitian rulers to take the long-term view because of material constraints, international pressures and domestic zero-sum game circumstances, explains past crises and current predica­ ments. Indeed, since independence over 200 years ago, Haiti's integral state­ building has always been a project in the making -an unending and ever more difficult task.

The heritage of colonialism and the contradictions of the revolution

The absence of an integral state in Haiti is rooted in the legacies of colonial domination and anti-colonial resistance, as well as in the vicissitudes of the early period of independence. The repressive despotism of colonialism and the violence of the revolutionary struggle for emancipation emasculated the project of Haiti's emerging ruling class. Incapable of establishing a productive material base, the ruling class was always engaged in internal struggles. Its different factions ceased their fights only when confronted with fundamental challenges from below.

Colonial society was conflict-ridden; the profound antagonism between slave and master, the huge chasm between whites, blacks and mulattos, and the deep divide within these groups themselves had a determinant impact on the making of the postcolonial order. Haiti was bound to inherit the wounds of racial and class enmity. Moreover, the country confronted the unmitigated hatred of white supremacist powers for more than a century. At a time when its domination rested on the twin pillars of racism and colonial rule, Western imperialism was bound to fear that the vast areas it controlled would follow Haiti's insurrectionary path. Indeed, the makers of 1804 disturbed the global system of exploitation; their victorious struggle 'symbolized class and racial equality and revolutionary state-building by ex-slaves'.9 As Arthur Stinch­ ombe has pointed out:

[Haiti's] revolutionary state -building was a deep challenge to European state finance as well as, of course, a symbolic challenge to the welfare of slaveowning sugar and cotton planters, especially in the Caribbean and North America. Haiti was the first of a number of third world revolutionary societies to become important objects in the politics of the hegemonic or core powers, especially those of the United States, and suffer the consequences of diplomatic isolation and the systematic attempts at subversion by those core powers. 10

In fact, on several occasions France Rlanned the violent re-establishment of its sovereignty over the island; ultimately, it recognised Haiti's 117 Thi s content downloaded from on Wed , 9 Oct 201 3 23:25:17 PM A ll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions


independence in 1825, but only after compelling Haiti to pay an indemnity of 150 million francs.12 Facing armed threats and the determined hostility of international powers, it is not surprising that Haiti's rulers felt they had no choice but to embark on a programme of militarisation. The militarisation of society had profoundly harmful consequences for any sustained process of democratisation; it subordinated civilian politics to the diktat of the guns. The hegemony of the men in uniforms blocked 'public channels of communication between the state and civil society'. 13 It contributed to the development of a predatory system in which those not born into wealth and lacking weapons were systematically repressed into marginalisation. For men with limited means, however, military service provided an avenue for social and material advancement; it also provided them status, access to land ownership, and arbitrary authority.14
Haiti was besieged not only by militarisation but also by the material ruin that resulted from the bloody struggle for emancipation. 15 The economy collapsed and huge numbers of men and women died. Thus colonial despotism and barbarism, racial and class tensions, insurrectionary violence, economic devastation and political reflexes of command and control nurtured the authoritarian habitus.
The harsh and dehumanising discipline of slavery and the plantation system characterising the colonial period moulded patterns of popular obedience as well as resistance. Slaves were coerced into literally labouring to death under the brutal surveillance of commandeurs who were compelled to crack the whip to force acquiescence to an infernal regime of domination. 16 And if the whip did not suffice, the colons were always ready to unleash a sadistic arsenal of bodily mutilation, public hangings and torture against slaves who dared to trespass on the boundaries that incarcerated them into the confining despair of living as 'socially dead' beings. 17 Threatened by massive violence, utterly excluded from the human community, and degraded by virtue of their race, slaves were the paradigmatic moun andeyo. 18 Slaves, however, were indispensable as units of production; their labour generated the wealth and the material matrix of their own exploitation. In its determined efforts to both exclude slaves from its moral community, and to forcefully integrate them as producers in the plantation economy, colonial power was arbitrary in its exercise of violence. The colonised were never safe they were always subject to the capricious will and cruelty of their masters. 1 The struggle for emancipation inherited this pervasive violence, whose indelible mark has coloured Haitian politics from the early days of independence to the contemporary period. Slaves understood that to achieve their freedom they had to demolish the white supremacist plantation system and this could only be achieved through bloodshed. While the slaves' violence may have been 'moderate' when compared to that of the colons,20 it nonetheless contributed to the predatory character of Haitian politics. Haitian rulers came to conceive of governance as a zero-sum game; virtually all of them looked at political power as a brutal, indivisible quantity that could be won collectively, but that had to be kept individually and exercised absolutely. So, while they created a nation, their dependence on violence

118 Thi s content dow nloaded f rom on Wed. 9 Oct 2013 23:25:17 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions


undermined any project of an integral state. This violence was thus the fruit of the plantation system and its harsh realities.
Slaves knew that their freedom depended on the destruction of the plantation economy; however, Haiti's place in world production and utter dependence on sugar exports also rested on the plantation system. The wealth of the country was inextricably connected to this system and built upon slavery or forced labour. This was the predicament that Toussaint and his immediate successors had to face. As Carolyn Fick puts it:

Freedom for the mass of insurgent slaves, if it was to be realized at all, was fundamentally intertwined with an independent claim to land. Work and labour for the profit of another or for the production of export crops on which the colony's existence depended was profoundly antithetical to their own vision of things. And so if we measure the post-emancipation realities and reactions of the ex-slaves, who were to remain as servile but legally free plantation labourers, against their self-defined aspirations and expectations, we can begin to see in embryonic form the essence of the agrarian problem that beset not only the French civil commissioners once they proclaimed the legality of general emancipation, but later Toussaint Louverture and the Haitian state itself under its post-independence rulers, Jean-Jacques Dessalines (1804 - 6), Henri Christophe (1807 - 20) and Alexandre Petion (1807 - 18).21

It is this agrarian problem rooted in the material matrix of the plantation system that created Haiti's historical fissure between a militaristic state of the few and the wider society of the many. The fissure persists to this day in spite of a changing mode of production. The point is that emancipation did not end despotic forms of government, nor did it generate an integral state.22 At independence Haitian rulers confronted a cruel choice. If they preserved emancipation by supporting the former slaves' aspirations to become inde ­ pendent peasants, they would ultimately condemn the country to material underdevelopment. If they promoted an immediate economic recovery, they would be compelled to impose a military-like discipline on the newly freed masses and they would thus emasculate emancipation itself. Moreover, the high army officers who led the revolution were determined to keep and expand their power; this in turn required maximising revenues and foreign exchange. The means to that end was the restoration of the plantation system because it facilitated the collection of taxes and privileged the concentration of land ownership in the hands of the new ruling class.23 Thus the imperatives of economic recovery and defending emancipation against the potential military aggressions of the great powers coincided with the class interests of the first postcolonial leaders to create patterns of unequal land ownership24 and forced labour. Gross material inequalities and political despotism opened a massive chasm between rulers and citizens. The outcome of the slaves' revolution for freedom was paradoxically a new authoritarianism in the name of emancipation. As David Geggus explains:

Although fiercely committed to the liberty of the blacks, [Toussaint] believed it essential that the plantation regime be revived in order to restore Saint 119 Thi s content downloaded from on Wed , 9 Oct 201 3 23:25:17 PM A ll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions


Domingue's prosperity. With no export economy, there would be no revenue to maintain his army of 20 000 to 40 000 men. And without the army, the gains of the revolution would be at the mercy of France's unstable politics. Toussaint therefore continued with the schemes of Commissioner Sonthonax, whereby the ex-slaves were compelled to work on the plantation in return for a share of the produce. It was a difficult policy to implement, for increasingly the blacks preferred to establish smallholdings of their own and had little desire to work for wages . .. Toussaint, however, refused to break up the great estates. He used the army to impose the regime of forced labor and sanctioned the use of corporal punishment; he even supported the reintroduction of the slave trade to make up the loss of manpower.25

Thus, in spite of ending slavery, the Haitian revolution and its subsequent defence reinforced militaristic patterns of behaviour and a hierarchical social structure?6 Top officers not only gave orders and expected obedience but they reaped the spoils of power. They greatly benefited from the state's grossly unequal redistributions of land, with which they sought to establish themselves as a new class of planters.27 I t is true that the attempt to restore the plantation system was not completely self-serving; it responded also to the desperate need of reinvigorating a devastated economy. This was not merely a matter of improving material well-being, it was also a question of survival, of generating the resources for a strong military with which to defend Haiti's independence. Haitian rulers had good reasons to fear the aggression of the great powers of the time; they knew that these powers abhorred the first successful black revolution against slavery and feared its consequences for their respective empires. Not surprisingly, feeling compelled to devote huge resources to the military; they had little choice but to raise revenues and foreign exchange.28 This, in turn, implied the development of a caporalisme agraire- the attempt to revive the plantation system and its accompanying despotic methods of labour control.29 Paradoxically, the material foundation on which emancipation could flourish was itself inimical to individual freedom. Indeed, material recovery depended on agricultural exports based on plantation production, which in turn required coercive forms of labour. Haiti's first rulers, Toussaint, Dessalines, Christophe and Petion, were all bent on revitalising this mode of production, but this posed a crucial dilemma: how to reconcile both the safeguard of emancipation and the former slaves' aspirations to become an independent peasantry with the drastic labour discipline that the plantation economy required. Ultimately, the reconciliation proved impossible. As Carolyn Fick put it, there was an 'unbridgeable gap between the state structure, which was a military one, and the rural agrarian base of the nation'.30 Ex-slaves who composed this rural base could not easily be compelled into a new servitude; many chose to escape the plantation cage and become marrons. Marronage represented more a brave and dangerous escape from the atrocious conditions on the plantations, than a systematic and powerful challenge to colonial slavery. Slaves became marrons because they sought to become autonomous beings freed from coercive labor regimentation, insufficient food and brutal punishments. Thus, in spite of repressive measures
120 Thi s content downloaded from on Wed. 9 Oct 2013 23:25:17 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions


and the use of the cocomacacs (clubs), there were more marrons in many districts in 1800 than under the period of colonial slavery.31 Moreover, the re-imposition of patterns of forced labour became politically untenable, particularly for the mulatto elite led by Petion. Petion understood that, if the small mulatto minority were to continue to rule, it had to co-opt the black majority by offering it a stake in land ownership?2 He thus set in motion the parcellisation of the plantation system that eventually engendered a republic of peasant proprietors bent mostly on subsistence production. Petion's agrarian reform did not, however, challenge basic patterns of inequities and power. Moreover, it followed the old practice of rewarding family, political cronies and the military. Among the men in uniform land was given according to rank, those at the top receiving the largest acreage.33 Despite these severe limitations, Petion's reforms were significant because more than 10 000 people benefited from a redistribution of some 170 000 hectares.34 Thus former slaves would not put up with the restoration of the plantation system. They dreamt of an agrarian egalitarianism; they simply wanted to own some land and subsist independently on it. Thus emancipation generated the eventual abandonment of the estate economy and the rise of a smallholding peasantry?5 The plantation system was ultimately doomed not only because emancipation could not be turned back, but also because it would have necessitated a massive bureaucratic despotism that the Haitian state could not deploy.
The gradual rise of a peasant class had profound consequences for the future development of Haiti. I t hindered whatever limited chances there might have been for the development of a productive capitalism on the island . Although taxed, peasants existed more like marrons, individuals 'uncaptured' by, and suspicious of, the state. Freedom in this sense implied freedom from any central authority, representative or otherwise. And yet the steady material decline that the triumph of peasant subsistence entailed contributed to the continuity of authoritarianism and eventually to the increasing pauperisation of the peasantry itself. Eugene Genovese has explained in stark terms this agrarian 'counter-revolution':

Haiti slipped into a system of peasant proprietorship and self sufficiency­ wonderful euphemisms for the poverty and wretchedness of bourgeois ­ egalitarian swindles-and the dream of a modern black state drowned in the tragic hunger of an ex-slave population for a piece of land and a chance to live in old ways or ways perceived as old. The Haitian peasants . . . turned toward a centralized authoritarian state to protect their hard won claims to independent proprietorship. But the Haitian state did not have to tread easy in the face of a powerful and dangerous bourgeoisie; much less did it have to support the programmatic aspirations of that bourgeoisie- to advance . . . the cause of capitalist development.36

The absence of a productive capitalism cannot be blamed, however, solely on 'peasant proprietorship and self sufficiency' or on 'agrarian tradition', it is principally the consequence of the utter deficiencies of state assistance to the agricultural sector, and a lack of significant incentives for peasant production. Peasants, as Sidney Mintz pointed out, have never been given 121 Thi s content downloaded from on Wed. 9 Oct 2013 23:25:17 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions


'assurance that an intensified effort [will] lead to gains for them; and they [are] unprepared to make such an effort merely because they [are] told that it [will] be good for Haiti'.37 Thus Haitian peasants have always behaved as 'rational actors', even if their justified distrust of any centralising state project of 'development' may have contributed to economic backwardness. The point is that, from the early days of the Republic, most Haitian rulers have come to see peasants as inferior human beings, as bossals having no moral claim on state resources.38 Peasants have always been the quintessential moun andeyo, those who are taxed but have no representation. Historically, the peasantry's condition has symbolised both the country's material stagnation and acute patterns of class exploitation and division.39
Freedom in Haiti has always faced severe material constraints that have nurtured ferocious processes of class formation in a context of profound racial divisions. Scarcity has meant that those holding political power have used any means available to maintain their position of privilege and authority. The fight for political office has historically been a Hobbesian war between small personalistic clans of big men.

40 La po/itique du ventre and the current crisis

The dilemma created by the plantation system, I have argued, did not find a satisfactory solution and this failure continues to loom over the current crisis in Haiti. In the immediate aftermath of independence, in an attempt to fuel the development of a bourgeoisie, Haitian rulers deployed the harsh discipline of state power in a futile effort to preserve the system. 41 However, this project failed and the country fell into a spiral of underdevelopment. The absence of a productive bourgeoisie intensified the use and manipulation of colour in the continuous struggles pitting different factions of the dominant classes against each other. This practice of exploiting colour for political ends has reflected the persistence of racial divisions and inequalities inherited from the colonial period.42 The mulatto minority has always been an easy target for black political entrepre­ neurs, given that it has traditionally enjoyed more status, privileges and wealth than the black majority. Indeed, in their efforts to gain political power, many black politicians have used colour to mobilise the majority against the light­ skinned exploitative minority. However,these efforts should not mask the reality that both mulatto and black elites have behaved with similar contempt for the poor black majority.43 In fact, Noirisme, which hails the occupation of the highest political offices by blacks as the inevitable conquest of power by the poor masses, is little more than the ideology of a black petite bourgeoisie in search of hegemony. 'Black power' has historically masked the ascendancy of a black elite, who ultimately lorded it over the poor majority.44

So, for instance, Fran<;ois Duvalier's noiriste policies and rightful accusations of mulatto privilege became a means for the systematic use of the state for patronage and rewarding cronies. This ingrained political habitus has generated widespread patterns of corruption. Powerful public officials have historically tended to transform themselves into an embezzling 122 Thi s content downloaded from on Wed. 9 Oct 2013 23:25:17 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions


class of grands mangeurs- big ea ters-a rapacious species of office holders who devour public resources for their exclusive private gain. Since 1804 politicians have legitimated their illicit behaviour by claiming that they are 'plucking the chicken without making it cry'. 45 Such practices reflect Ia politique du ventre,46 the politics of the belly, whereby different factions of the Haitian political class have traditionally vied with each other to 'eat' the limited fruits of power. La politique du ventre represents a form of government based on the acquisition of personal wealth through the conquest of state offices. I t is a logical consequence of the material scarcity and unproductive economy that have marked the history of Haiti. Given that poverty and destitution have always been the norm, and that private avenues to wealth have always been rare, politics became an entrepreneurial vocation, virtually the sole means of material and social advancement for those not born into wealth and privilege. Controlling the state turned into a fight to the death to monopolise the sinecures of political power.47

The aggravation of these material conditions have shaped Haiti's contemporary history and contributed to the historic failure of the Lava/as movement,48 and the total collapse of state institutions at the end of the 20th century. With the presidential election of Jean Bertrand Aristide in 1990, Lava/as came to power and signalled that the moun andeyo had finally arrived on the political stage. This arrival was well encapsulated in the tout moun se moun slogan made popular by Aristide.49 The initial goal was the creation of an integral state 'from below'; a state that would challenge the hierarchical fabric of Haitian society. Tout moun se moun symbolised the fact that popular classes had seized upon the idea of citizenship and were bent on establishing 'a community of legally equal members',50 in which they could exercise their 'effective moral membership'.51

Fearing the ascendancy of this vast popular movement and viscerally hating everything that Aristide represented, Haiti's dominant classes never ceased to oppose, undermine, and challenge Lava/as' rule. The dominant classes were simply determined to preserve their status, wealth and privilege. In their eyes any redistribution of resources in an environment of utter scarcity was simply unacceptable. Not surprisingly, they rejected virulently the tout moun se moun concept and instigated a coup against Aristide on 27 September 1991. The new military regime headed by General Raoul Cedras therefore reflected the brutal condensation of the interests of the Haitian dominant class.52 Sent into exile, Aristide was restored to power in 1994 with the support of 20 000 US marines. I t became clear that only force could have dislodged the coup leaders and their allies. The US military intervention-'Operation Uphold Democracy'-demonstrated once more that violence remained decisive in Haitian politics and represented the only viable means of ending re-dictatorialisation.

The US intervention, however, had contradictory consequences. While it resuscitated the difficult process of democratisation and facilitated the relative neutralisation of the repressive organs of the Haitian state, it protected the old balance of class power and set constraining parameters for 123 Thi s content downloaded from on Wed. 9 Oct 2013 23:25:17 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions


economic transformation. The result was a change of regime rather than the creation of a new state. In addition, the Lava/as regime that crystallised in the aftermath of 'Operation Uphold Democracy' soon began to exhibit the traditional patterns of nepotism and clientelism of the past.53

Ruling increasingly like an imperial president, Aristide sought to suppress challenges to his supremacy and stifle the autonomous development of popular forms of power. Bent on monopolising the political arena and convinced of his unique and direct relationship with the masses, he had little sympathy for structured parties and programmes. He favoured 'movements' and 'fluidity', provided they found inspiration in his own words and vision. Aristide's charisma, as well as the growing class ambitions of many of the top and middle-level cadres of the 'February 1991 generation', fuelled powerful centrifugal forces. Ideological differences, personal animosities and material aspirations that had been contained by the common struggle against the military dictatorship, burst out in the wake of the compromises and difficulties of Aristide's presidential succession in 1995.

With the election of Rene Preval, the candidate favoured by Aristide, in December 1995, power was soon displaced from the National Palace to 'Tabarre'.

54 Plagued by internecine disputes, the Lava/as movement disinte­ grated. Voicing their disenchantment with Aristide's monarchical messianism and demagogic tendencies, a growing number of senior Lava/asians deserted him to create new parties and 'groupuscules' . 55 On the one hand there was Aristide and his Fanmi Lava/as, and on the other there was the opposition, fragmented, dispirited, and in search of a viable strategy. By 2000 the high hopes generated by February 1991 were fading; the country was engulfed in an acute crisis of governance, the economy was in a shambles, and poverty had reached alarming proportions. While Aristide continued to master the game, very little of the energy and popular support that carried him to the presidency a decade earlier has remained. The nation was exhausted; within the political class there was only cynicism and opportunism, among the masses there was, as there had always been, the permanent and harsh struggle for daily survival. Without the narco-resources generated by the growing cocaine trade,56 and the remittances of the Diaspora,57 the economy would have collapsed.

It is in these conditions of crisis that Aristide won a second presidential mandate in the controversial elections of November 2000. The main parties of the opposition boycotted the ballots because they rejected the results of the legislative elections that had taken place earlier in May. Judged fraudulent by many observers, these elections generated a three-year-long impasse that ended with the forced departure of Aristide into a second exile.58 For supporters of Aristide his second forced departure had little to do with his own policy failures or the country's domestic class structure. Instead they blamed the international community and especially US imperialism.59 While there is some truth to this argument, it is ultimately flawed; it ignores Haitian agency and exaggerates the omnipotence of US hegemony.

There is no doubt that the administration of George W Bush had little sympathy for Aristide. While it reluctantly acknowledged his legitimacy as 124 Thi s content downloaded from on Wed. 9 Oct 2013 23:25:17 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions


president of Haiti, it opposed him for ideological reasons and starved his regime of badly needed foreign assistance. Formulated and exercised by two ultra-conservatives, Roger Noriega and Otto Reich, Washington's policy was bent on empowering Aristide's adversaries. The USA encouraged and financed the development of the opposition regrouped in Convergence Democratique and the Groupe des 184. Moreover, while it may not have directly supported the rise of the armed insurgency, Washington clearly knew that unsavoury elements of the disbanded Haitian army were training in the Dominican Republic with the objective of violently overthrowing Aristide. Yet it did nothing to stop them. In fact, the USA simply abandoned Aristide even though he agreed to the terms of a Caricom- engineered compromise-a compromise that the opposition rejected. Instead of compelling the opposition to accept the compromise, which would have emasculated Aristide's powers and generated a government of national unity, the White House ominously 'called into question [Aristide's] fitness to continue to govern' and urged 'him to examine his position carefully, to accept responsibility, and to act in the best interests of the people of Haiti'.60 In short, once the armed insurgency began and chaos engulfed the country, the Bush administration, with the help of the French government, seized the opportunity to force Aristide's exit. Imperial America, was not, however, the sole reason for Aristide's fall. In fact, as I have argued above, the material basis of Haiti and its accompanying class structure generated powerful systemic constraints on Aristide's capacity to govern effectively. The chasm separating the wealthy minority from the abjectly poor majority inevitably fuelled social polarisation and class hatred. Based on an extremely weak economic foundation, the island's class structure inhibited the flowering of truly progressive changes. Suffering from the absence of both a productive bourgeoisie and a large working class, Haiti's process of democratisation was bound to be hesitant, contradictory, and incomplete.

The absence of these two fundamental classes meant that the country evolved into a predatory democracy. By predatory democracy I mean a system of governance based on a zero-sum game of power in which factions of the political class fight for supremacy: elected officials at the highest level are controlled by opaque private forces; elections are held regularly and are usually fraudulent; and public administrators claim to save the constitution by continuously violating its spirit and its laws.61

Lava/as' predicament was not, however, the exclusive result of structural constraints, imperial manipulations and ruling class opposition; it was also of its own making. Indeed, Aristide's demise would have been very unlikely had it not been for his own policies, decisions and messianism. He did little to transform the inherited authoritarian tradition. He armed young unem­ ployed thugs, the Chimeres, to intimidate the opposition; he sought to govern alone as a messiah; and he resisted making meaningful concessions for too long. While voicing a radical rhetoric, Aristide followed the neoliberal strictures of structural adjustment. For instance, in collaboration with the Dominican government, he opened a major free-trade zone near the town of 125 ROBERT FATTON JR

Thi s content downloaded f rom on Wed, 9 Oct 2013 23:25:17 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

Ouanaminthe. In addition, his regime was incapable of reststmg the temptations of corruption in spite of its promise of 'peace of mind and peace in the belly'. Finally, many Lava/as high cadres contributed to the perverse persistence of the 'narco-state' inherited from the military dictatorship.

Not surprisingly, Aristide lost the unconditional popular support he once enjoyed and his hold on his Chimeres became elusive and fragile. In fact, the Chimeres began to turn against him. The assassination of Amiot Metayer, the leader of the Gonaives Chimeres, known as the 'Cannibal Army', generated violent anti-Lava/as protests and marked the beginning of the armed insurrection that ultimately forced Aristide into exile. Convinced that it was Aristide himself who ordered Metayer's murder, the Cannibal Army, led by Metayer's brother Butteur, swore to wage war against the president until he was overthrown. In the process Aristide lost the ability to co-opt and play his Chimeres off against one another. When former soldiers and death squad leaders of the disbanded army joined forces with the 'Cannibals', Aristide's fate was virtually sealed.

Besieged by the harsh material realities of a devastated economy, by his own demons, a declining popularity, an armed insurrection, the unmitigated hostility of the civil opposition, and French and US demands for his resignation, Aristide had no choice but to depart into exile. This departure was the tragic political demise of a figure who had once enjoyed immense popular support and embodied the aspirations of the vast majority of Haitians for a just and democratic order. That the armed insurgents, former members of the disbanded and despised military, found little popular resistance in their march to power, symbolised Aristide's ultimate failure. The triumph of the guns proved, however, that on its own, the civil opposition could not topple Aristide. Its conquest of power was ultimately dependent on the insurgents' capacity to force the issue. Thus, once again, the old Creole proverb, 'Konstitisyon se papye, bayonet se fe' (A constitution is made of paper, but bayonets are made of steel), defined Haitian politics. It is in this environment of acute crisis that the USA and France decided to deploy a US-led multinational force of more than 3000 peacekeepers. While the force re-established a relative measure of order in the country, it failed to disarm the Chimeres and the insurgents, leaving that task to a UN military contingent, the so-called Minustah or UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti. On 1 June 2004 Minustah replaced the US-led troops, but it remains an understaffed and weak peacekeeping force. Disarmament is therefore a virtual impossibility. As Minustah's Brazilian commander, General Augusto Heleno Ribeiro, explained: 'I command a peacekeeping force, not an occupation force. . . we are not there to carry out violence, this will not happen for as long as I'm in charge of the force'. Thus Minustah lacks both the means and the will to impose order and it is therefore unlikely that Haiti's violent armed groups will be dismantled, let alone compelled into submission. 'To do this', Brazil's foreign Minister, Celso Amorim bluntly stated, 'would require a force of I 00 000 men prepared to seek and kill in large numbers'. And, he concluded, 'this is not our role, nor do we want it'. 62 126 HAITI: VICISSITUDES OF PREDATORY RULE
Thi s content downloaded from on Wed. 9 Oct 2013 23:25:17 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
In these conditions Haiti will inevitably continue to hover on the abyss, and once the peacekeepers exit the country, a new cycle of violence and repression is likely to begin. This bloody scenario, coupled with a recent series of major natural catastrophes, has opened the gates to hell. The destitute majority confined to an already miserable material existence is now falling into absolute poverty, brought about by a collapsing economy and an inflationary spiral. These are the harsh realities confronting the interim regime of President Boniface Alexandre and Prime Minister Gerard Latortue, installed by US and French military force. While the new regime claims to be non-partisan, independent and competent, it is in fact on extremely shaky grounds. Unable to stem the wave of violent anarchy plaguing the country, deriving its authority from foreign forces, and barely extending its rule beyond the limits of parts of Port-au-Prince, the interim regime has no legitimacy. I t is a government that lacks the material resources, the coercive means and the popular mandate to govern effectively. It ha s failed to set in motion any credible programme of development that might stop the collapse of state institutions.

Not surprisingly, all sectors of society have a growing sense that the Latortue administration is incompetent, petulant and indecisive. In fact, many of those who had supported Latortue initially are now calling for his resignation. The extent of Latortue's declining popularity is such that the insurgents of the disbanded Haitian army, whom he had cajoled and praised for overthrowing Aristide, have turned against him and are demanding his departure.63 Thus, in spite of espousing the armed insurgents as freedom fighters and marginalising and repressing the Lava/as movement,64 Lator ­ tue's government has managed to alienate most of Aristide's opponents. The prospects of any meaningful national reconciliation are fast vanishing, even if parliamentary and presidential elections are held at the end of 2005 as promised.

These bleak realities have prompted some to advocate an international protectorate or a 'cooperative sovereignty' that would take temporary control of Haiti. 65 The suggestion is that, for at least 10 years, the country should surrender its sovereignty to a well meaning foreign occupation force that would set the country on the path of economic reconstruction and political reconciliation. As Don Bohning has put it in a major editorial in the Miami Herald:

If Haiti is to continue as a functioning independent state, alternative op tion s ­ including a period of international governance- need to be seriously contemplated to stem nearly two decades of unremitting political, economic and social deterioration. As unpalatable as it may be for the vast majority of Haitians. . . ceding temporary sovereignty to an international body is one option slowly gathering momentum.66

While the idea that Haiti should come under the governance of an international trusteeship is not completely far-fetched given its thorough dependence on outside forces, it is unlikely to materialise; and, if it did, there is no reason to believe that it would succeed in improving the lot of the

Thi s content downloaded from on Wed, 9 Oct 2013 23:25:17 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

destitute majority. The US occupation of the country from 1915 to 1934 may have created a semblance of an infrastructure and a form of centralised government, but it contributed neither to long-term self-sustaining economic development nor to lasting democratic forms of accountability. In fact, while in some quarters there is a growing nostalgia for the good old days of colonialism, there is little to suggest that foreign dominance can end vicious historical cycles or unleash virtuous ones.67 Paradoxically, this historical lesson seems to be accepted by strong advocates of the American empire. For instance, Francis Fukuyama has argued:

Neither the United States nor the international community has made much headway in creating self-sustaining states in any of the countries it has set out to rebuild ... [The] rhetoric of the international community stresses 'capacity­ building' while the reality has been rather a kind of 'capacity sucking out' ... This means that while governance functions are performed, indigenous capacity does not increase, and the countries in question are likely to revert to their former situations once the international community loses interest or moves on to the next crisis area.68

Moreover, the powers that be have no appetite for long-term building ventures; the costs are simply too high, especially for a country like Haiti which has no strategic value and no significant natural resources. The vicissitudes of the last US occupation of the island in the mid-1990s and the current quagmire in Iraq should disabuse those promoting a trusteeship for Haiti. In fact, the patterns of foreign intrusion into Haiti have been marked by the creation of a reckless international regime that fails to take responsibility for its own take-over while further dislocating domestic politics. With neither foreign nor national accountability, Haiti becomes an ungoverned system left to Hobbesian struggles and violence.
In truth, the notion of a trusteeship is hollow and indeed cynical. Moreover, it would quickly unleash a wave of nationalistic opposition to what Haitians would perceive as a new imperial occupation by the blancs.69 But it is not just a matter of nationalism, it is also the fact that the obscene inequalities of the global system are a constant reminder that the so-called 'international community' has neither the will, nor the interest, to effect the transformations required for a sane and decent world order. This is not to absolve the local Haitian ruling class from its utter failure, but to indicate that it is not alone in its resistance to social change and equity.


Not surprisingly, the vast majority of Haitians eking out a miserable living in a bankrupt economy are exhausted and disenchanted. In the urban slums of Port-au-Prince significant segments of the lumpen-youth are again dreaming of, and calling violently for, Aristide's third coming. The massive failures of Lava/as seem to be fading away in the face of increasing misery, governmental ineptitude, and human rights abuses. Haiti's bicentennial, in 2004, became a nightmarish sequence of civil violence, foreign intrusion and

128 HAITI: VICISSITUDES OF PREDATORY RULE Thi s content dow nloaded f rom on Wed. 9 Oct 2013 23:25:17 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

intervention, culminating in another occupation that has failed to stem the country's continuing and deepening crisis. There is little to indicate any systematic and progressive transformation of Haitian society; the abiding chasm between rulers and ruled, wealthy and poor, and the persistent pattern of destructive foreign interference augur poorly for the immediate future. Haiti remains a nation in search of an integral state.


Michel-Rolph Trouillot, Haiti , State against Nation: The Origins and Legacy of Duvalierism, New York: Monthly Review Press, 1990, p 38. 2 Ibid, pp 80 - 82.
3 Robert Fatton Jr, 'The Haitian authoritarian habitus and the contradictory legacy of 1804', Journal of Haitian Studies, 10(1), 2004, pp 22 - 43. I derive the concept of habitus from Pierre Bourdieu. Habitus should not be confused with habit or 'political culture'. Habitus is a dialectical phenomenon that simultaneously structures, and is structured by historical realities; it is a 'structured structure'. It engenders habit-forming practices and thoughts that correspond to the strategic possibilities opened to individuals and classes in a given historical moment. The habitus frames the field of the socially possible by generating historically determined expectations about 'life-chances'; thus it erects culturally fabricated limitations to human action and shapes political predispositions. Far from being an innate aptitude, the habitus is rooted in society's material matrix. See Pierre Bourdieu, Outline of a Theory of Practice, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977, p 95. 4 Francis Fukuyama, State-Building , Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2004, p ix. 5 Antonio Gramsci, Selections from Prison Notebooks, London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1971, p 52. 6 Joseph Femia, Gramsci's Political Thought , Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987, p 25. 7 James Scott, Weapons of the Weak: Everyday Forms of Peasant Resistance, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, p 335. 8 Gramsci, Selections from Prison Notebooks, p 161. 9 Arthur Stinchombe, Sugar Island Slavery in the Age of Enlightenment , Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1995, p 239. 10 Ibid. See also Mimi Sheller, Democracy After Slavery , Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 2000, pp 80 - 86; and Michael Dash, Haiti and the United States: National Stereotypes in the Literary Imagination, New York: StM artin's Press, 1997. As Michel-Rolph Trouillot, 'From planters' journals to academia: the Haitian revolution as unthinkable history', Journal of Caribbean History, 25(1/ 2), 1991, p 92, has emphasized:

The international recognition of Haitian independence was even more difficult to gain than military victory over the forces of Napoleon. It took more time and more resources, more than a half century of diplomatic struggles. The United States and the Vatican, notably, recognized Haitian independence only in the second half of the nineteenth century. Diplomatic rejection was only one symptom of an underlying denial. The very deeds of the revolution were incompatible with major tenets of the dominant Western ideologies. They remained so up to at least the first quarter of [the twenty-first century]. Between the Haitian independence and World War I, in spite of the successive abolitions of slavery, little changed within the ontological ladder that ranked humankind in the minds of the majorities in Europe and the Americas. In fact, some views deteriorated . . . Thus in most places outside of Haiti, more than a century after it happened, the Revolution was still largely unthinkable history.

II After winning its independence, Haiti became an obsessive target of the former white colons who pressured successive French regimes into re-conquering the island . The colonial archives are full of the colons' 'Memoires', 'Rapports' and other documents calling for the reintegration of Haiti into the French empire. See, for example, the microfilm collection at the Centre des Archives d'Outre Mer in Aix-en-Provence, France, particularly CC9A35, CC9A46, CC9A50 and CC9A54. 12 This huge indemnity contributed to the growing debt of the country and to domestic discontent. The USA recognised Haiti only in 1862. See David Nicholls, From Dessa/ines To Duva/ier , New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1996, pp 62 - 66; Mimi Sheller, Democracy After Slavery , Grainsville: University Press of Florida, 2000, p 56; and Laurent Dubois, Avengers of the New World, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004, pp 303 - 304.

Thi s content downloaded from 1 on Wed , 9 Oct 201 3 23:25:17 PM A ll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

13 Sheller, Democracy After Slavery , p 39.
14 Ibid, p 53. See also Frano;:ois Blancpain, La Condition des Paysans Haitiens, pp 17, 60 - 61. 15 See Mats Lundhal, 'Toussaint L'Ouverture and the war economy of Saint Domingue, 1796 - 1802', in Hilary Beckles & Verene Shepherd (eds), Caribbean Freedom, London: James Currey, 1993, pp 2 - 11. The revolution was a bloody affair with over 185 000 casualties. In addition, it devastated the economy.
According to Lundhal (p 4):

If the amount exported of the four most important export products in 1789 is assigned an index number of 100, coffee exports were down to a figure of 2.8 in 1795, sugar was down even more, to 1.2, and cotton and indigo exports had fallen to a mere 0.7 and 0.5 percent, respectively, of their former levels. In other words, export agriculture was virtually dead. The economy had become a closed one, based in subsistence production and production for limited, fragmented domestic markets.

16 The commandeur , or driver, was himself a slave; the violence of the master was thus partly mediated and exercised by his own victims. See Caroline Fick , The Making of Haiti, Knoxville, TN: The University of Tennessee Press, 1990, pp 28 - 30. 17 Orlando Patterson, Slavery and Social Death, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1982. 18 The moun andeyo is the Creole phrase for the 'outsiders', those who are not part of the nation and are excluded from its benefits and recognition. See Gerard Barthelemy, Le Pays en Dehors, Port-au-Prince: Editions Henri Deschamps, 1989. 19 Fick, The Making of Haiti, pp 34 - 39. See also CLR James, The Black Jacobins, London: Allison & Busby, 1980, pp 11 - 15; and Dubois, Avengers of the New World, p 50. Fick describes thus the masters' atrocities (p 35): The barbarism of some masters left little to the imagination. While administering the whip, they would stop, place a burning piece of wood on the slave's buttocks, and then continue, rendering the subsequent blows all the more painful. Common was the practice of pouring pepper, salt, lemon, ashes, or quicklime on the slave's open and bleeding wounds, under the pretext of cauterizing the skin, while at the same time increasing the torture. . .Other examples exist of slaves being thrown into ovens and consumed by fire; or of being tied to a skewer above an open fire, there to roast to death; or having white-hot slats applied to their ankles and soles of their feet, this being repeated hour after hour. There were masters who would stuff a slave with gunpowder- like a cannon- and blow him to pieces. Women had their sexual parts burned by a smoldering log; others had hot wax splattered over hands, arms, and backs, or boiling cane syrup poured over their heads.

20 James, The Black Jacobins, p 88. 21 Carolyn Fick, 'Emancipation in Haiti: from plantation labour to peasant proprietorship', in Howard Temperley (ed), After Slavery: Emancipation and its Discontents, London: Frank Cass, 2000, pp 15 - 16.

22 Claude Moise's description of Toussaint's authoritarian regime is equally valid for the first rulers of an independent Haiti:

Le projet social louverturien ne transcende pas les contradictions socials issues du demembrement du regime colonial esclavagiste. II ne peut concilier les interets antagoniques. II tend a les enfermer dans un regime autoritaire et repressif fortement modele par le pouvoir personnel absolu que Toussaint a fait institutionaliser. [Les] masses ne trouvent pas leur compte dans Ia politique economique et sociale de Toussaint Louverture. Les cultivateurs cherchent par tous les moyens a echapper aux contraintes du systeme: fuite dans les mornes, refus de travailler. C'est une assez longue histoire qui vade Ia resistance passive a Ia resistance active et qui se confond avec celle de Ia colonisation et de l'esclavage.
v Moise, Le Projet National de Toussaint Louverture, Port-au-Prince: Editions Memoire, p 47. 23 See Lundhal, 'Toussaint L'Ouverture and the war economy of Saint Domingue'. He argues (p 5): [The] transaction costs connected with making a smallholder system produce foreign exchange to the desired extent were exceedingly high. Turning to the restoration of the plantation system, we face a different set of costs. It would be less costly to create incentives for export production. This was to a large extent a result of technological factors. Large units were much better suited to the production of sugar for example . . . Thus, the large estates were able to produce sugar much more profitably than the smallholdings. The income distribution problem would also have been solved. Putting the 130 Thi s content downloaded from 1 on Wed , 9 Oct 201 3 23:25:17 PM A ll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

plantations directly into the hands of the politically important people would make the redistribution problem simply disappear, provided only that labour to man the plantations could be obtained. The collection costs, finally, would be substantially lower than under the smallholder system, because the number of production units in a grande culture system would be lower. With all these three problems being reduced, the need for a trained bureaucracy would be correspondingly reduced. 24 Robert K LaCerte, 'The evolution ofland and labour in the Haitian revolution, 1791 - 1820', in Beckles & Shepherd, Caribbean Freedom, pp 42 - 47. LaCerte points out that Toussaint 'prohibited the sale of parcels ofless than fifty carreaux; a stipulation which made it impossible for the ex-slaves to acquire land legally' (p 43). Toussaint's successor, Dessalines, may have wanted a more 'democratic form of landownership', but, according to LaCerte, the 'evidence is strong that he sought to preserve the large plantation' (p 44). Christophe did not depart from the commitment to the plantation system, in fact he 'continued the pattern of large landholding granting concessions of between 400 - 500 carreaux to his nobles'. Petion in the south, however, carried out a wider distribution ofland; his goal was to co-opt the black majority by offering it the possibility of becoming peasant smallholders. In 1809 he gave land to the veterans of the wars of independence in accordance with their rank. Colonels. . .25 carreaux; Battalion chiefs . . . 15 carreaux; Captains to Second Lieutenants . . . 5 carreaux. It was followed in 1814 by a second distribution of land to all officers below the rank of colonel . . . Exactly how much land was distributed is difficult to say because adequate statistics are lacking. One Haitian scholar, writing in 1888, estimated that 76 000 carreaux were distributed among 2322 civil and military officers. Only 134 of them received entire plantations. The remaining 2188 got grants of 35, 30, 25, and 20 carreaux. They formed an intermediate class of landholders beneath whom were 6000 soldiers who received grants of 5 carreaux (pp 45 - 46). 25 David Patrick Geggus, Haitian Revolutionary Studies, Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2002. 26 Blancpain, La Condition des Paysans Haitiens, p 103, gives a description of Toussaint's regime that characterises well the governmental practices that defined much of the politics of the young republic under successive 'founding fathers': La liberte individuelle de Ia majorite des citoyens est subordonnee a Ia necessite d'assurer Ia puissance de l'Etat et de son armee de sorte que le pays puisse resister contre toutes les enterprises des etrangers. I I en resulte que le cultivateur se retrouve soumis a un regime militaire qui fait de lui un serf, attache a une habitation, soumis au pouvoir du proprietaire ou du fermier, constraint dans sa vie privee au respect de Ia religion catholique, apostolique et romaine et interdit de sejour hors de son habitation sans un permis de l'autorite militaire. Sa servitude est permanente et hereditaire car les echappatoires sont exceptionelles qui permettraient a un cultivateur portionnaire de trouver les fonds necessaries a !'acquisition d'une propriete d'au moins 50 carreaux lui donnant acces a Ia classe des proprietaires fanciers, c'est-a-dire Ia bourgeoisie. 27 See Moise, Le Projet National de Toussaint Louverture, pp 43 - 50; and Blancpain, La Condition des Paysans Haitiens, pp 116 - 119. 28 Lundhal, 'Toussaint L'Ouverture and the war economy of Saint Domingue', p 3 reports that in 1800:
30 000 muskets plus huge quantities of ammunition had been imported from Britain and the United States. The following year, 4.5 million francs were expended on the army and an unknown amount was used for acquiring military supplies in the United States. At the time of Toussaint's death, different Philadelphia banking institutions contained deposits in his name of more than 6 million francs destined to secure purchases of war material.
29 Trouillot, Haiti, State against Nation , p 43.
30 Fick, 'Emancipation in Haiti', p 23.
31 Gabriel Debien, Plantations et Esc/aves d Saint-Domingue , Dakar: Universite de Dakar, Faculte des Lettres et Sciences Humaines, Section d'Histoire, Publications, no 3, 1962, p 161. 32 Blancpain, La Condition des Paysans Haitiens, p 131. 33 Ibid, pp 131 - 135.
34 Paul Moral, Le Paysan Haitien , Port-au-Prince: Editions Fardin, 1978, pp 31 - 33. See also Trouillot, Haiti , State against Nation, p 48. 35 Sidney Mintz, Caribbean Transformations, Chicago, IL: Aldine Publishing Company, 1974. Mintz argues (p 274): 131 Thi s content downloaded from 1 on Wed , 9 Oct 201 3 23:25:17 PM A ll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

The land is invested with considerable affect: gods live in it; it is the ultimate security against privation; family members are buried in it; food and wealth come from it; and it is good in itself, even if not cultivated. While such attitudes are common in peasant societies, Haiti's history of slavery, and the acquisition of access to land through revolution, has perhaps given a special symbolic significance to landowning. Land is valued above else and is sometimes held 'uneconomically'-that is, even when the capital and labor power to work it are lacking.
36 Eugene D Genovese, From Rebellion 10 Revolution, New York: Vintage Books, 1979, p 89.
37 Mintz, Caribbean Transformations, p 279.
38 The term bossals implies the notion of a primitive, brutal, physical labourer devoid of mental faculty.
39 Mintz, Caribbean Transformations, p 280.
40 As Etzer Charles put it in his important book, Le Pouvoir Politique en Haiti de 1957 a Nos Jours, Paris:
Karthala, 1994:
The underdevelopment from which Haiti is suffering has transformed the apparatuses of the political system into a veritable field of action in which the elites of the petty bourgeoisie may be found seeking their fortune and social ascension. For these elites, who generally have knowledge at their disposal, the state apparatus becomes the only path that they must follow in order to reach the high spheres of the social hierarchy and enjoy all its privileges. From that point onward, the dialectic of social dynamisms between different classes crystallizes. The political universe seems to be a veritable arena where classes, fragmentary parts of classes, clans, etc confront each other with the principle, 'to each his turn'. (p 24, my translation)
41 Genovese, From Rebellion to Revolution, pp 88 -89; and Geggus, Haitian Revolutionary Studies, p 29.
42 Nicholls, From Dessa/ines To Duvalier, p 38. See also Blancpain, La Condition des Paysans Haitiens,
pp 124 - 128.
43 Micheline Labelle, Ideologie de Cou/eur et Classes Sociales en Hai!i, Montreal: Les Presses de l'Universite de Montreal, 1978. 44 Charles, Le Pouvoir Politique en Haiti de 1957 a Nos Jours, pp 253-254. 45 Ibid, p 80.
46 Jean Frano translated in English as The State in Africa: The Politics of the Belly, New York: Longman, 1993. Bayart's definition of the politics of the belly characterising postcolonial Africa fits well with Haitian realities: It refers chiefly to the food shortages which are still so much part of life in Africa. Getting food is often a problem, a difficulty and a worry. Yet, very often, the term 'eating' conveys desires and practices far removed from gastronomy. Above all, it applies to the idea of accumulation, opening up possibilities of social mobility and enabling the holder of power to 'set himself up.' Women are never very far from the scenario . . .The politics of the belly are also the politics of intimate liaisons, and mistresses are one of the cogs in the wheel of the postcolonial State. 'Belly' also of course refers to corpulence-fashionable in men of power. It refers also to nepotism which is still very much a social reality with considerable political consequences. And, finally, in a rather more sinister way, it refers to the localization of forces of the invisible, control over which is essential for the conquest and exercise of power. (p xviii) 47 Patterns of brutal internecine struggles within the ruling class are as old as the republic. For instance, French agents described how such patterns besieged Toussaint's inner circles: the greatest discord reigns between Toussaint Louverture and the different generals under his orders. General Moyse is on very bad terms with his uncle; he has even a desire to supplant him. Dessalines apparently enjoys Toussaint Louverture's chief confidence, but may shortly form a new party different from that of Moyse. In such an event, Maurepas, inclined to revolt like the others, would be ready to join Dessalines. Christophe is excessively disconnected with Toussaint Louverture, and the white inhabitants would be for him . . . The rivalries of Generals Moyse and Dessalines presage new storms for the colony. Toussaint holds them only by hopes of higher command and greater wealth. Quoted in Lundhal, 'Toussaint L'Ouverture and the war economy of Saint Domingue', p 3 132 Thi s content downloaded from 1 on Wed , 9 Oct 201 3 23:25:17 PM A ll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions HAITI: VICISSITUDES OF PREDATORY RULE 48 Lava/as is the Creole word meaning the flood and symbolising the loosely structured mass movement of the poor that sought to uproot Duvalierism and create a populist regime. 49 The Creole expression ' tout moun se moun' can be translated as 'every human being is a human being'. 50 Anthony Smith, 'The origins of nations', in John Hutchinson & Anthony D Smith (eds), Nationalism, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994, p 153. 51 Ernest Gellner, 'Nationalism and modernization', in Hutchinson & Smith (eds), Nationalism, p 55. 52 Robert Fatton Jr, Haiti's Predatory Republic: The Unending Transition to Democracy, Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2002. 53 Ibid. 54 Tabarre is the area in Port-au-Prince where Aristide's private residence was located. The expression became a code word denoting the real site of Haitian political power. 55 Many key figures who had supported Aristide's election to the presidency and his restoration to power after the military coup of 1991 abandoned and criticised him for his 'derive totalitaire'. Among the most important were Gerard Pierre-Charles, the leader of Organisation du Peuple en Lutte (OPL); Evans Paul, leader of the Front National pour le Changement et Ia Democratie (FNCD); Micha Gaillard of Kongre Nasyonal Mouvman Demokratik (KONAKOM); Chavannes Jean Baptiste, the head of the Mouvement des Paysans de Papaye (MPP); Herve Denis, a former prime minister designate; Jean Casimir, formerly Aristide's ambassador to the USA; and Paul Dejean, a cabinet member in Aristide's own government. Raoul Peck, a former minister of culture in the Preval administration condemned what he perceived to be Aristide's corruption and authoritarianism in a biting book that captured the views of many erstwhile comrades of 'Titid'. Peck, Monsieur le Ministre: Jusqu'au Bout de Ia Patience, Port-au-Prince: Editions Velvet, 1999. A critical but less vitriolic analysis of Aristide's politics and style can be found in the important book by Robert Malval, who was Aristide's prime minister during his years in exile in Washington. Malval, L'Anm?e de toutes les Duperies, Port-au-Prince: Editions Regain, 1996. 56 US officials estimated that in 2000 over 15% of all the cocaine consumed in the USA was transiting through Haiti. See New York Times, 27 October 1998; 30 July 2000. 57 Anthony V Catanese, Haitians: Migration and Diaspora, Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1999, pp 113 - 120. According to Catanese, international remittances to Haiti amounted to 10% - 15% of the nation's Gross Domestic Product (p 118). A more recent estimate by the Multilateral Investment Fund puts the level of remittances at 17% of the GDP. 'Migrants spur growth in remittances', Financial Times, 16 May 2001, at www.FT.com. 58 Claude Moise, Many Crosses to Bear, Montreal: Memoire d 'Encrier, pp 60- 85. 59 Amy Goodman (ed), Getting Haiti Right This Time: The US and the Coup, Monroe, ME: Common Courage Press, 2004. 60 The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, 'Statement on Haiti', 28 February 2004, at http:// www. whitehouse.gov jnews jreleases j2004/02/20040228-2.html. 61 Fatton, Haiti's Predatory Republic. 62 'Brazil rejects US call for Haiti crackdown', Reuters, 8 December 2004. 63 Reed Lindsay, 'Discord grows over Latortue government', Washington Times, II June 2005. 64 See, for example, Reed Lindsay, 'Flames and pools of blood: calling cards of the Haitian police', San Francisco Bay View , 8 June 2005. 65 Gabriel Marcella, 'The international community and Haiti: a proposal for cooperative sovereignty', paper presented at 'The Future of Democracy and Development in Haiti' symposium, 17 - 18 March 2005, Washington, DC. 66 'An international protectorate could bring stability to Haiti', Miami Herald, 23 November 2004. 67 As Francis Fukuyuma, State-Building , p 38, has pointed out: 'if nation-building means the creation of self-sustaining state capacity that can survive once foreign advice and support are withdrawn, then the number of historical cases where this has happened successfully drops to a depressingly small handful'. 68 Ibid , p 103. 69 The Creole word blancs does not merely imply 'white', it encompasses the idea of the foreigner, the non-Haitian. 133

  • Written by: ROBERT FATTON JR
  • Tuesday, 03 June 2014

Leave a comment

You are commenting as guest.


Haitian Heritage Musem.png
Musee Ogie Foonbrum.png

Funded by W.K. Kellogg Foundation