Friday, March 21, 2008


Deterring Democracy Copyright © 1991, 1992 by Noam Chomsky. Published by South End Press.
Chapter 7: The Victors Segment 8/14
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3. The Fruits of Victory: the Caribbean

Brazil and Chile are not the only countries to have basked in praise for their achievements after U.S. intervention set them on the right course. Another is the Dominican Republic. After the latest U.S. invasion under Lyndon Johnson in 1965, and a dose of death squads and torture, democratic forms were established, and Western commentators have expressed much pride in the peaceful transfer of power -- or better, governmental authority, power lying elsewhere. The economy is stagnant and near bankrupt, public services function only intermittently, poverty is endemic, malnutrition is increasing and the standard of living of the poor continues its downward slide. In the capital city, electricity supply is down to 4 hours a day; water is available for only an hour a day in many areas. Unemployment is rising, the foreign debt has reached $4 billion, the 1989 trade deficit was $1 billion, up from $700 million the year before. Estimates of the number who have fled illegally to the U.S. range up to a million. Without the remittances of Dominicans working in Puerto Rico and on the U.S. mainland -- illegally for the most part -- "the country could not survive," the London Economist reports. U.S. investors, assisted by Woodrow Wilson's invasion and later Johnson's, had long controlled most of the economy. Now foreign investment in 17 free trade zones is attracted by 15-year tax holidays and average wages of 65 cents an hour. Some "remain upbeat about the Dominican Republic's situation," South reports, citing U.S. ambassador Paul Taylor and offering some objective grounds for his cheerful view of the prospects:

Optimists point to the political and labour harmony in the Dominican Republic, the substantial pool of cheap workers and the transport, banking and communications services as continuing strong incentives to investors. Indeed, as a Dominican factory manager notes: "Anyone who gets involved in unions here knows that they'll lose their job and won't work in the free trade zone any more."
As in Brazil and elsewhere, the American Institute for Free Labor Development (AIFLD), the AFL-CIO foreign affairs arm supported by the government and major corporations, "has been instrumental in discouraging hostile [sic] union activity in order to help US companies maximise their profits," South reports.41

Elsewhere in the Caribbean basin, we find much the same picture, including Grenada, also liberated by U.S. benevolence, then restored to its proper status (see chapter 5, pp. 162). The U.S. pursued a somewhat different path to ensure virtuous behavior in the case of Jamaica. Upstarts led by the social democrat Michael Manley and his People's National Party (PNP) sought to explore the forbidden path of independent development and social reform in the 1970s, eliciting the usual hostility from the United States and sufficient pressures to achieve an electoral victory for U.S. favorite Edward Seaga, who had pledged to put an end to such nonsense. Seaga's pursuit of free market principles was lauded by the Reagan administration, which announced grandly that it would use this opportunity to create a showcase for democracy and capitalism in the Caribbean.42 Massive aid flowed. USAID spent more on Jamaica than on any other Caribbean program. The World Bank also joined in to oversee and expedite this estimable project. Seaga followed all the rules of the much-admired (and not so new) "trickle-down approach to aid the poor," introducing austerity measures, establishing Free Trade Zones where non-union labor, mostly women, work in sweatshops for miserable wages in foreign-run plants subsidized by the Jamaican government, and generally keeping to the IMF prescriptions.

There was some economic growth, "mainly as a result of laundered `ganja' dollars from the marijuana trade, increased tourism earnings, lower fuel import costs, and higher prices for bauxite and alumina," NACLA reports. The rest was the usual catastrophe of capitalism, including one of the highest per capita foreign debts in the world, collapse of infrastructure, and general impoverishment. According to USAID, by March 1988, along with its "crippling debt burden," Jamaica was a country where economic output was "far below the production level of 1972," "distribution of wealth and income is highly unequal," "shortages of key medical and technical personnel plague the health system," "physical decay and social violence deter investment," and there are "severe deficits in infrastructure and housing." This assessment was made before hurricane Gilbert dealt a further blow.

At this point, Michael Manley, now properly tamed, was granted the right to return to power to administer the ruins, all hope for constructive change having been lost. Manley "is making all the right noises" to reassure the Bank and foreign investors, Roger Robinson, World Bank senior economist for Jamaica, said in a June 1988 pre-election interview. He explained further that:

Five years ago, people were still thinking about "meeting local needs," but not any more. Now the lawyers and others with access to resources are interested in external export investment. Once you have that ingrained in a population, you can't go back easily, even if the PNP and Michael Manley come in again. Now there's an understanding among individuals who save, invest, and develop their careers that capital will start leaving again if the PNP, or even [Seaga's] JLP, intervenes too much.
Returned to office, Manley recognized the handwriting on the wall, outdoing Seaga as an enthusiast for free market capitalism. The journal of the Private Sector of Jamaica was much impressed with the new signs of maturity. "The old gospel that government should be operated in the interests of the poor is being modified, even if not expressly rejected, by the dawning realization that the only way to help the poor is to operate the government in the interest of the productive!," the journal exulted -- here the term "productive" does not refer to the people who produce, but to those who manage, control investment, and reap profits. The public sector is "on the verge of collapse," the Private Sector report continues, with schools, health care and other services rapidly declining. But with the "nonsensical rhetoric of the recent past" abandoned, and privatization of everything in sight on the way, there is hope -- for "the productive," in the special intended sense.

Manley has won new respect from the important people now that he has learned to play the role of "violin president," in Latin American terminology: "put up by the left but played by the right."43 The conditions of capital flight and foreign pressures -- state, private, international economic institutions -- have regularly sufficed to bar any other course.

Go to the next segment.

41 John Craney, The Times of the Americas, March 7; Economist, Aug. 25; Terry McCoy, CSM, May 15; South, April 1990. See chapter 5, pp. 162f. For more on the aftermath of Johnson's invasion, see Political Economy of Human Rights, vol. I, chapter 4, sec. 4.

42 See "Jamaica: Leveraged Sellout," NACLA Report on the Americas, Feb. 1990, from which the material that follows is drawn.

43 Martin Needler, The Problem of Democracy in Latin America (Lexington, 1987), 136. KEYWORDS terrorist democracy elections cia mossad bnd nsa covert operation 911 mi6 inside job what really happened wtc pentagon joint chiefs of staff jcs centcom laser hologram usa mi5 undercover agent female sex exploitation perception deception power anarchy green social democratic participation japanese spy black-op false flag gladio terror.

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