The Tonton Macoutes: The Central Nervous System of Haiti’s Reign of Terror

11 March, 2010 — Council on Hemispheric Affairs by COHA Research Associate David Aponte

A Malediction on Haitian Society
Few countries in the hemisphere have suffered through such an extensive run of unqualified repressive regimes and military dictatorships as Haiti. The nearly thirty years of harsh rule under François ‘Papa Doc’ Duvalier, and his son, Jean-Claude ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier that ended in 1986, are likely the most infamous epoch in the painful history of this small French-Creole nation that occupies the western third of the Caribbean island of La Hispaniola. Certainly, the main tool for the maintenance of the regime’s grasp on the population through much of this period was the ‘Tonton Macoutes,’ renamed in 1971 as the Milice de Voluntaires de la Sécurité Nationale —MVSN (Volunteers for National Security). Although this organization no longer formally exists, its legacy of paramilitary violence and sheer brutality still contorts Haitian modern political and economic cultures.

The Birth of Terror

In 1959, only two years after becoming president, ‘Papa Doc’ created a paramilitary force that would report only to him and would be fully empowered to use unremitting violence to maintain the new administration’s authority to summarily dispose of its enemies. This marked the birth of one of the most brutal paramilitary organizations in the hemisphere and was justified by the leader’s profound paranoia towards the threat posed by the regular armed forces. Haiti’s military began to steadily lose a great deal of authority with the consolidation of the François Duvalier regime, which it would not recover until 1986, when the pressure coming from senior military officers played a major role in the fall of Jean-Claude. A spate of coups followed, with military figures occupying the vacancy left by ‘Baby Doc.’

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AFRICOM’s First War: U.S. Directs Large-Scale Offensive In Somalia By Rick Rozoff

12 March, 2010 — Stop NATO

Over 43 people have been killed in the Somali capital of Mogadishu in the past two days in fighting between Shabab (al-Shabaab) insurgent forces, who on March 10 advanced to within one mile of the nation’s presidential palace, and troops of the U.S.-backed Transitional Federal Government. The fighting has just begun.

The last ambassador of the United States to Somalia (1994-1995), Daniel H. Simpson, penned a column for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on March 10 in which which he posed the question “why, apart from the only lightly documented charge of Islamic extremism among the Shabab, is the United States reengaging in Somalia at this time?”

He answered it in stating “Part of the reason is because the United States has its only base in Africa up the coast from Mogadishu, in Djibouti, the former French Somaliland. The U.S. Africa Command was established there in 2008, and, absent the willingness of other African countries to host it, the base in Djibouti became the headquarters for U.S. troops and fighter bombers in Africa.

“Flush with money, in spite of the expensive wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Department of Defense obviously feels itself in a position to undertake military action in Africa, in Somalia.” [1]

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Capitalism cut adrift – Part 2: Looking Sideways By William Bowles

13 March, 2010 — Strategic Culture Foundation

‘Self-sufficiency, do-it-yourself, ‘green’ technologies, raising vegetables, crafts, ‘heritage’ projects , history, archeology, geneology, all manner of ‘community’ projects like cleaning up neighbourhoods or restoring poisoned rivers, the list is constantly expanding in what can only be described as a headlong flight from the shopping mall to the allotment and hence from corporate ‘culture’ in all its vileness and mediocrity. I kid you not, our ‘winter of discontent’ has been transformed into a ‘reality show’.’

That’s how I ended Part 1 but this is by no means the first time that capitalism has caused such revulsion as the inexorable march of accumulation destroyed traditional communities across this ‘green and pleasant land’. In fact we now live in at least the third version of capitalism to blight this England.

The first occurred around 1750 with the arrival of factory system, the second with the Enclosures Act in 1832 that saw the forcible removal of millions of workers from country to city and the third, the enforced deindustrialization that began in the Thatcher years. The fundamental effect of these transformations was to break the links with the past. What remains is a hollowed out ‘heritage’ version of our history, aka Walt Disney’s theme parks.

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