Our fault in Haiti - President Clnton apologizes for Haiti

Apologies are rare on a national scale.  It seems like patriotism is often linked to never admitting that we are wrong.  So I find it refreshing that President Clinton stated an apology for his actions regarding Haiti and their food production.

In 1994, the Americans headed up a coup to place a reformed-leftist Aristide back into office.  Aristide had previously been removed in 1991 from office by a military coup covertly headed up by the Americans.  After Aristide was placed back into office in 1994, a deal was cut for Haiti to receive $700 million in foreign aid if they would open up their markets to multinational corporations.

William Blum, in his book Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, describes the deal.  The chapter, Haiti 1986-1994, can be found posted online.

Typical of such agreements for the Third World, it calls for a drastic reduction of state involvement in the economy and an enlarged role for the private sector through privatization of public services.  Haiti's international function will be to serve the transnational corporations by opening itself up further to foreign investment and commerce, with a bare minimum of tariffs or other import restrictions, and offering itself, primarily in the assembly industries, as a source of cheap export labor -- extremely cheap labor, little if any increase in the current 10 to 25 cents per hour wages, distressingly inadequate for keeping body and soul together and hunger at bay; a way of life promoted for years to investors by the US Agency for International Development and other US government agencies.
Prior to the United States intervention in Haiti through sponsoring coups, Haiti only imported 19% of its food.  It even produced enough rice to export.  A 50% tariff on imported food enabled Haiti to do this.  This tariff was reduced from 50% to 3% by Haiti's parliament as part of the package of foreign support.  From that point on, the farmers started to lose farms and Haiti's ability to produce its own food deteriorated to the point where they cannot sustain themselves today. (Source: With cheap food imports, Haiti can't feed itself.)

So now Haiti has a food crisis, a logical result of our manipulating foreign policy to open up nations for our corporations at the expense of those local populations.  Our government for the people has been bought and transferred into a government for the corporations, one in which we care about profit over compassion. 

"It may have been good for some of my farmers in Arkansas, but it has not worked. It was a mistake," Clinton told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on March 10. "I had to live everyday with the consequences of the loss of capacity to produce a rice crop in Haiti to feed those people because of what I did; nobody else." (Source: With Cheap Food Imports, Haiti Can't Feed Itself). 

I hope this apology is backed up by some foreign policy changes in Washington that will help Haiti rebuild a sustainable farming system.  They are capable of growing their own food.  Let's back off and allow them to do that.