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 is the editor of the Corporate Crime Reporter..

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

December 05, 2016
Bill Martin
Stalingrad at Standing Rock?
Mark A. Lause
Recounting a Presidential Election: the Backstory
Mel Goodman
Mad Dog Mattis and Trump’s “Seven Days in May”
Matthew Hannah
Standing Rock and the Ideology of Oppressors: Conversations with a Morton County Commissioner
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
#NoDAPL Scores Major Victory: No Final Permit For Pipeline
Fran Shor
The End of the Indispensable Nation
Michael Yates
Vietnam: the War That Won’t Go Away
Robert Hunziker
Huge Antarctica Glacier in Serious Trouble
John Steppling
Screen Life
David Macaray
Trump vs. America’s Labor Unions
Yoav Litvin
Break Free and Lead, or Resign: a Letter to Bernie Sanders
Norman Pollack
Taiwan: A Pustule on International Politics
Nick Pemberton
Make America Late Again
Kevin Martin
Nuclear Weapons Modernization: a New Nuclear Arms Race? Who Voted for it? Who Will Benefit from It?
David Mattson
3% is not Enough: Towards Restoring Grizzly Bears
Howard Lisnoff
The Person Who Deciphered the Order to Shoot at Kent State
Michael Uhl
Notes on a Trip to Cuba
Weekend Edition
December 02, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
The Coming War on China
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: The CIA’s Plots to Kill Castro
Paul Street
The Iron Heel at Home: Force Matters
Pam Martens - Russ Martens
Timberg’s Tale: Washington Post Reporter Spreads Blacklist of Independent Journalist Sites
Andrew Levine
Must We Now Rethink the Hillary Question? Absolutely, Not
Joshua Frank
CounterPunch as Russian Propagandists: the Washington Post’s Shallow Smear
David Rosen
The Return of HUAC?
Rob Urie
Race and Class in Trump’s America
Patrick Cockburn
Why Everything You’ve Read About Syria and Iraq Could be Wrong
Caroline Hurley
Anatomy of a Nationalist
Michael Hudson – Steve Keen
Rebel Economists on the Historical Path to a Global Recovery
Ayesha Khan
A Muslim Woman’s Reflections on Trump’s Misogyny
Russell Mokhiber
Sanders Single Payer and Death by Democrat
Roger Harris
The Triumph of Trump and the Specter of Fascism
Steve Horn
Donald Trump’s Swamp: Meet Ten Potential Energy and Climate Cabinet Picks and the Pickers
Ralph Nader
Trump and His Betraying Makeover
Louis Proyect
Deepening Contradictions: Identity Politics and Steelworkers
Stephen Kimber
The Media’s Abysmal Coverage of Castro’s Death
Dan Bacher
WSPA: The West’s Most Powerful Corporate Lobbying Group
Nile Bowie
Will Trump backpedal on the Trans-Pacific Partnership?
Ron Ridenour
Fidel’s Death Brings Forth Great and Sad Memories
Missy Comley Beattie
By Invitation Only
Fred Gardner
Sword of Damocles: Pot Partisans Fear Trump’s DOJ
Renee Parsons
Obama and Propornot
Dean Baker
Cash and Carrier: Trump and Pence Put on a Show
Jack Rasmus
Taming Trump: From Faux Left to Faux Right Populism
Ron Jacobs
Selling Racism—A Lesson From Pretoria
Julian Vigo
The Hijos of Buenos Aires:  When Identity is Political
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail