FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Resisting the Assassins’ Power

by Russell Mokhiber And Robert Weissman

Why does the movement against corporate globalization protest at meetings like those of the World Economic Forum, recently completed in New York? What does the movement for global justice want?

There are a million ways to answer these questions. One set of compelling answers is contained in Walking on Fire: Haitian Women?s Stories of Survival and Resistance, a wonderful new book by Beverly Bell (Cornell University Press). Walking on Fire is a collection of interviews with Haitian women, with astute synthesizing text by Bell.

Relying on the words of a broad cross-section of Haitian society, from former Prime Minister Claudette Werleigh to desperately poor women like Yolande Mevs who are struggling day-to-day to provide enough food to calm their children?s aching bellies, Walking on Fire illustrates how the dynamics of corporate globalization overlay with local hierarchies, prejudices and systems of patriarchy to impoverish and marginalize women.

Most searingly, Walking on Fire reveals the raw violence embedded in these overlapping systems of domination. The women in Walking on Fire recount stomach-churning stories of childhood slavery and abuse, rape and immiseration.

Alerte Belance relates a horrifying tale of brutality at the hands of the FRAPH, the CIA-supported paramilitary force that terrorized Haiti during the coup period of the 1990s, when democratically elected President Jean Bertrand Aristide was forced into exile.

A local organizer who supported Aristide?s lavalas movement (as did the majority of the country), Belance went into hiding when Aristide was deposed. After the Governor?s Island Accord promised Aristide would return to power in October 1993, Belance came out of hiding.

“They came for me on October 15,” she recounts, “several days after I?d returned from hiding.”

“The vicious ones chopped me up during the night? I spent a night in the weeds bleeding. They sliced me into pieces with machete strokes. They cut out my tongue and my mouth: my gums, plates, teeth, and jaw on my right side. They cut my face open, my temple and cheek totally open. They cut my eye open. They cut my ear open. They cut my body, my whole shoulder and neck and back slashed with machete blows. They cut off my right arm. They slashed my left arm totally and cut off the ends of all my fingers of my left hand. … The death squad was so convinced that I died that they dragged me further away to dump me.”

Left for dead by the death squad, she survived by luck and will, dragging herself from the bushes to the road, from where she was eventually taken to medical care.

Rosemie Belvius explains the multiple types of violence experienced by peasant women in Haiti. There is the structural violence of coerced theft and dispossession imposed by landlords. “If you harvest 100 cannisters of rice, the big man gets 50, you get 50. This is even though you spent the money, you bought the fertilizer that sells for $60 per sack, and you bought the labor for three dollars a day to hoe the garden.”

And, in Haiti, there is, too often, the more overt violence directed against peasants who challenge landlords? power. When Belvius and area farmers constructed a cooperatively owned corn silo, the Tonton Macoutes — the terror force of Baby Doc Duvalier — burned it down and torched her house as well.

These are very localized experiences. But people do not experience broad trends of corporate globalization they live their lives with their families and communities and find themselves involuntarily confronting local, national and international structures of domination.

Author Beverly Bell explains how “power structures within the international community and the global economy [are] mirrored in domestic structures.”

Walking on Fire is subtitled “Haitian women’s stories of survival and resistance” and the emotions of horror stirred by the book are matched by a sense of awe and inspiration of the women, many of whom do struggle just to survive, and especially of those who choose to respond to amazing hardship and myriad challenges by organizing and collective action to improve their and others’ lives, and to fight for justice.

“Today,” Bell writes, “the popular movement is demanding stronger national sovereignty so that Haiti will no longer be subordinated to more powerful states, lending agencies and international trade and finance institutions. The movement is protesting the foreign-imposed economic policy of structural adjustment, or what Haitians have labeled the plan lanmo, the death plan.”

Their protests and organizing take the form of street theater featuring demons labeled “IMF,” creating women’s associations, organizing trade unions and much more. For the women in Walking on Fire, the fight against the local landlord or structural adjustment is seamless, all to be resisted, with a will of steel. Belvius relates a song from her farmers’ organization:

We will not give in, oh no. We’ll never cede the battle. No we will not surrender To the assassins’ power.

Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime Reporter. Robert Weissman is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Multinational Monitor. They are co-authors of Corporate Predators: The Hunt for MegaProfits and the Attack on Democracy (Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press, 1999)

Russell Mokhiber edits the Corporate Crime Reporter.

May 04, 2016
CJ Hopkins
Coming this Summer … Revenge of the Bride of Sophie’s Choice
May 03, 2016
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Foreign Policy Resumé: What the Record Shows
Michèle Brand – Arun Gupta
What is the “Nuit Debout”?
Chuck Churchill
The Failures of Capitalism, Donald Trump and Right Wing Terror
Dave Marsh
Bernie and the Greens
John Wight
Zionism Should be on Trial, Not Ken Livingstone
Rev. John Dear
A Dweller in Peace: the Life and Times of Daniel Berrigan
Patrick Cockburn
Saudi Arabia’s Great Leap Forward: What Would Mao Think?
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Electoral Votes Matter: Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders vs Donald Trump
Chris Gilbert
Venezuela Today: This Must Be Progress
Pepe Escobar
The Calm Before the Coming Global Storm
Ruth Fowler
Intersecting with the Identity Police (Or Why I Stopped Writing Op-Eds)
Victor Lasa
The Battle Rages on in Spain: the Country Prepares for Repeat Elections in June
Jack Rasmus
Is the US Economy Heading for Recession?
Dean Baker
Time for an Accountable Federal Reserve
Ted Rall
Working for US Gov Means Never Saying Sorry
Dave Welsh
Hunger Strikers at Mission Police Station: “Stop the execution of our people”
John Eskow
The Death of Prince and the Death of Lonnie Mack
May 02, 2016
Michael Hudson – Gordon Long
Wall Street Has Taken Over the Economy and is Draining It
Paul Street
The Bernie Fade Begins
Ron Jacobs
On the Frontlines of Peace: the Life of Daniel Berrigan
Louis Yako
Dubai Transit
Bill Quigley
Teacher, Union Leader, Labor Lawyer: Profile of Chris Williams Social Justice Advocate
Patrick Cockburn
Into the Green Zone: Iraq’s Disintegrating Political System
Lawrence Ware
Trump is the Presidential Candidate the Republicans Deserve
Ron Forthofer
Just Say No to Corporate Rule
Ralph Nader
The Long-Distance Rebound of Bernie Sanders
Ken Butigan
Remembering Daniel Berrigan, with Gratitude
Nicolas J S Davies
Escalating U.S. Air Strikes Kill Hundreds of Civilians in Mosul, Iraq
Binoy Kampmark
Class, Football, and Blame: the Hillsborough Disaster Inquest
George Wuerthner
The Economic Value of Yellowstone National Park
Rivera Sun
Celebrating Mother Jones
Nyla Ali Khan
Kashmir and Postcolonialism
Mairead Maguire
Drop the Just War Theory
Weekend Edition
April 29, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
What is the Democratic Party Good For? Absolutely Nothing
Roberto J. González – David Price
Anthropologists Marshalling History: the American Anthropological Association’s Vote on the Academic Boycott of Israeli Institutions
Robert Jacobs
Hanford, Not Fukushima, is the Big Radiological Threat to the West Coast
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
US Presidential Election: Beyond Lesser Evilism
Dave Lindorff
The Push to Make Sanders the Green Party’s Candidate
Peter Linebaugh
Marymount, Haymarket, Marikana: a Brief Note Towards ‘Completing’ May Day
Ian Fairlie
Chernobyl’s Ongoing Toll: 40,000 More Cancer Deaths?
Pete Dolack
Verizon Sticks it to its Workers Because $45 Billion isn’t Enough
Moshe Adler
May Day: a Trade Agreement to Unite Third World and American Workers
Margaret Kimberley
Dishonoring Harriet Tubman
Deepak Tripathi
The United States, Britain and the European Union
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail