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Haiti: 0,000 NED Grant to Batay Ouvriye- Anti-Aristide "leftists"

by Elija Saturday, Jan. 07, 2006 at 11:06 PM

Recently declassified National Endowment for Democracy (NED) documents reveal that a "leftist" workers' organization, Batay Ouvriye (BO), which promoted and called for the overthrow of the constitutionally elected government of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was the targeted beneficiary of a US ,965 NED grant routed through the AFL-CIO's American Center for International Solidarity (ACILS). Listed in NED's "Summary of Projects Approved in FY 2005" for Haiti, the grant states, "ACILS will work with the May 1st Union Federation- Batay Ouvriye [ESPM-BO] to train workers to organize and educate fellow workers."

Haiti: 0,000 NED ...
batay_ouvriye.gif, image/gif, 471x524

Batay Ouvriye's Smoking Gun:

The 0,000 NED grant



THIS WEEK IN HAITI

January 4 - 10, 2006 Vol. 23, No. 43

by Jeb Sprague

(Haïti Progres) Both before and after the Feb. 29,

2004 coup d'État in Haiti, Washington infiltrated

"democracy promotion" programs (also known as

"democracy enhancement") into almost every sector of

Haitian civil society: political parties, media, human

rights groups, student groups, vote monitoring

organizations, business associations, and labor

organizations.

Recently declassified National Endowment for Democracy

(NED) documents reveal that a "leftist" workers'

organization, Batay Ouvriye (BO), which promoted and

called for the overthrow of the constitutionally

elected government of President Jean-Bertrand

Aristide, was the targeted beneficiary of a US ,965

NED grant routed through the AFL-CIO's American Center

for International Solidarity (ACILS). Listed in NED's

"Summary of Projects Approved in FY 2005" for Haiti,

the grant states, "ACILS will work with the May 1st

Union Federation- Batay Ouvriye [ESPM-BO] to train

workers to organize and educate fellow workers."

The NED, which is funded through the U.S. State

Department, provided the grant to ACILS, also known as

the Solidarity Center. The grant money is then to be

used by the Solidarity Center to fund and aid Batay

Ouvriye's labor organizing activities for 2005-2006.

Statements made by both Batay Ouvriye and Solidarity

Center officials suggest that there is further funding

of the former by the latter. In a recent telephone

interview with Canadian freelance journalist Anthony

Fenton, a Batay Ouvriye leader Paul Philomé admitted

that his organization had received US ,000 from the

Solidarity Center. A Solidarity Center official also

recently said at a Dec. 22 public meeting in San

Francisco that ACILS provided approximately US ,000

to the Batay Ouvriye this past year. This funding

appears to be in addition to the NED grant, since

Solidarity Center officials have stated that the NED

grant will not be spent until 2006.

Batay Ouvriye has been waging a successful campaign to

gain high-level support from labor federations like

the AFL-CIO, which shuns trade unionists who supported

Haiti's constitutional democracy and are today

arrested, persecuted, and harassed. The NED grant

explains that NGOs and trade unions from the U.S. and

Canada will meet with Batay Ouvriye to discuss working

conditions in Haiti.

The Solidarity Center-administered NED support for

Batay Ouvriye fits neatly into the U.S. State

Department's "democracy promotion" strategy of

undermining and destabilizing Haitian

self-determination. Instead of supporting unions which

did not call for the overthrow of the elected

government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the AFL-CIO,

along with mainstream international labor centers,

such as the International Confederation of Free Trade

Unions (ICFTU) and its Latin American regional

affiliate the Organización Regional Interamericana de

Trabajadores (ORIT), has sought to strengthen marginal

groups like Batay Ouvriye and the Coordination

Syndicale HaVtienne (CSH), which taxed the Aristide

government as "anti-worker" and "criminal."

Workers affiliated with public sector unions, often

seen as supporters of the elected government, have

been fired and persecuted by the thousands. In a

recent radio interview, Isabel Macdonald, a Canadian

journalist conducting interviews in Port-au-Prince,

explained that between 2,000 and 3,000 unionized

workers of the state phone company TELECO have been

laid off since the 2004 coup, with many of those fired

placed arbitrarily on the Haitian National Police's

"Wanted" lists (Listen to the Interview with Isabel

Macdonald at www.wakeupwithcoop.org).

When questioned why the AFL-CIO was not supporting or

funding unions whose membership supported the

overthrown government, a high level Solidarity Center

official, in June 2005, referred to pro-Lavalas trade

unionists as "revolutionary ideologues."

Batay Ouvriye, like other organizations heavily

dependent on foreign "democracy promotion" funding,

has failed to stand up and organize against the

massacres being carried out by the Haitian National

Police and the United Nations MINUSTAH force. The

Pacifica Radio network's Flashpoints News

correspondent Kevin Pina writes: "Is it not patently

obvious that, for Batay [Ouvriye] and their

supporters, the killing, jailing, and forced exile of

thousands since Feb. 29, 2004 are not acknowledged nor

condemned by them? Can their politics be so sectarian

and insular as to pretend none of this ever

happened?... Members of Batay [Ouvriye] are not under

fire in their communities nor the objects of this

campaign of repression for the simple reason that they

are not seen as a threat by the US-installed

government."

Pina goes on to write: "We can get trapped into a

false dialogue with pretty words like bourgeois,

proletariat and vanguard, but it will never excuse

their silence in the wake of this human tragedy."

Pierre Labossiere of the Haiti Action Committee sees

the U.S. government grants to Batay Ouvriye as a

"pay-off for their voicing no opposition to the 2004

coup."

Channeling "democracy promotion" funds through labor

unions is just one of the ways that the U.S.

government has sought to subvert popular democracy in

Haiti. "Democracy promotion" has facilitated, what

William Robinson, the author of Promoting Polyarchy:

Globalization, US intervention, and Hegemony, calls a

"consensual mechanism of transnational social

control," by which a small minority elite can

manipulate civil society and government. Through

co-opting labor unions, human rights groups and

political organizations, "democracy promotion" casts a

wide net of social and political influence.

Recently the Washington, D.C.-based think-tank, the

Haiti Democracy Project, financed in large part by

members of Group 184 and board-membered by ex-State

Department officials, put up a link on its website to

Batay Ouvriye's "grassroots" support group.

Batay Ouvriye and its supporters have continually

denied that the organization has received large-scale

funding from the U.S. government via the Solidarity

Center. Prior to the opening session of the

International Tribunal on Haiti on Sep. 23, 2005 in

Washington, DC (see HaVti ProgrPs, Vol. 23, No. 37,

11/23/2005), Batay Ouvriye's relationship with the

Solidarity Center was not public knowledge. Since

then, the organization has only admitted that it

received from the Solidarity Center US ,500. Batay

Ouvriye and its supporters have sought to minimize the

importance of the grant, saying it was a small sum of

money. That argument will not be possible following

these latest revelations.

Here is a summary of some of the defenses that Batay

Ouvriye and its supporters have offered to revelations

about its State Department funding:

On December 9, 2005, Mario Pierre, a representative of

the Batay Ouvriye in New York City, claimed his

organization received only ",500 from the Solidarity

Center," while charging that those individuals and

organizations criticizing his organization for

accepting U.S. State Department funding were "doing

the work of the CIA."

On November 25, 2005, Charles Arthur, the head

organizer of the Haiti Support Group in England,

wrote, "I think that the fact that Batay Ouvriye

received US,500 from the Solidarity Center to help

the 350 workers.should not distract anyone from

appreciating the organization's fantastic work."

On November 28, 2005, Batay Ouvriye supporter Daniel

Simidor wrote: "All [this author] can 'prove' is that

the workers' organization accepted a ,500

contribution to their strike fund from the AFL-CIO

Solidarity Center in Haiti. Sprague's contention that

Batay Ouvriye accepted 'monetary aid and oversight'

from the US government is based not on facts."

On November 29, 2005, Batay Ouvriye supporter Mitchell

Cohen of the Brooklyn Greens wrote: "Organizations and

individuals who are spreading this lie need to retract

it immediately and apologize for their reckless,

sectarian behavior. If it turns out that you actually

document that a particular group, in this case Batay

Ouvriye, has received funds from the CIA or State

Department, then I'll listen..Wow, what a smoking gun!

(I say sarcastically)."

In late November, 2005, a supporter of Batay Ouvriye,

Cort Greene, posted on the internet: "Just from

looking at documents provided by J. Sprague and

others, I have not seen any proof that Batay Ouvriye

is a creation or in the service of U.S. imperialism."

On December 14, 2005, Yanick Etienne, a Batay Ouvriye

leader, speaking at a New York City gathering, in

regards to the criticism leveled against her

organization, failed to mention the NED's 0,000

grant via the AFL-CIO's Solidarity Center.

In December 2005, the Solidarity Center updated its

website on Haiti (see

http://www.solidaritycenter.org/content.asp?contentid=531).

"With funds provided by the AFL-CIO, the Solidarity

Center immediately forwarded ,500 to Ouanaminthe,

where ESPM-BO and the [subsidiary union] SOKOWA

Executive Board distributed these funds," the site

reports, but once again it does not reveal the much

larger funding of Batay Ouvriye.

The Solidarity Center continues to refuse to open its

books to show its full funding relationship with Batay

Ouvriye. In September 2005, Samantha Tate, a Senior

Program Officer for the Americas at the Solidarity

Center, contacted my academic department chair at

California State University of Long Beach, attempting

to isolate and discredit this research.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

- - - - - -

Jeb Sprague is a researcher, freelance journalist, and

a graduate student at California State University of

Long Beach. To read more on the AFL-CIO's support for

anti-democracy labor in Haiti, see his article

Supporting a Leftist Opposition to Lavalas: The

AFL-CIO's Solidarity Center and Batay Ouvriye both in

Haïti Progrés (see Vol. 23, No. 37, 11/23/2005) and

Monthly Review

(mrzine.monthlyreview.org/sprague211105.html) Contact

him at Jebsprague[nospam]@mac.com or visit his blog at

http://www.freehaiti.net.

THIS WEEK IN HAITI * January 4 - 10, 2006 Vol. 23, No.

43. Copyrighted Haïti Progres, Inc. REPRINTS

ENCOURAGED. Please credit Haiti Progres.

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