WikiLeaks Haiti Cables Paint Stark Picture of U.S. Priorities By Sarah Jaffe

1 June 2011 — AlterNet

In 1,918 new cables released by WikiLeaks, the United States’ relationship to Haiti is laid bare—the maneuvering, the pressure, and the arrogance. The Nation is partnering with the Haitian weekly newspaper Haïti Liberté to produce several reports based on these cables, illuminating some of the many facets of this complex geopolitical struggle.

In the two pieces published today, journalists dig into Big Oil’s losing fight in Haiti and the U.S. state department’s support for sweatshop wages in the Haitian textile factories.

Despite acknowledgement of Haiti’s ‘desperate’ situation, the U.S. government, along with oil companies ExxonMobil and Texaco/Chevron, tried to sabotage a deal for Haiti to join Venezuela’s oil alliance, PetroCaribe, and receive Venezuelan oil at lowered prices. The deal would’ve laid groundwork for Haitian energy independence—something the U.S. didn’t want.

Meanwhile, contractors for companies like Fruit of the Loom, Hanes and Levi’s fought aggressively against a raise to 62 cents an hour—or $5 a day—for factory workers. And they had the backing of the State Department, which argued for intervention by President Rene Preval in favor of the factory owners’ preferred wage, just $3 a day.

Greg Mitchell notes that WikiLeaks’ new strategy of partnering with disparate media outlets around the globe has made headline news in many countries but seen those same stories ignored here at home. The Nation hopes to bring some focus to the Haiti story with these reports, which will keep coming over the next few weeks.

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