Interview with Ben Dupuy, General Secretary of the Parti Populaire National (PPN)
The following is an extract of an interview with the Secretary General of the Parti Populaire National (PPN) Ben Dupuy. The interview was conducted by Peter Hallward, a philosophy teacher at Middlesex University in England.
Hallward who also interviewed President Jean Bertrand Aristide in Pretoria, South Africa in July 2006 is finishing his next book – Damming the Flood: Haiti, Aristide and the Politics of Containment. The book aims to be an examination of recent Haitian politics and will come out from the London-based publisher Verso this summer.
During the next few weeks Ha�ti Progr�s will publish the French translation of President Aristide�s interview with Peter Hallward.
Interview with Ben Dupuy, 16 February 2007. ( By Peter Hallward ).
�With friends like the US�, Ben Dupuy told Aristide soon after the first coup, �we don�t need enemies.� He looked first to Venezuela and then to China and Cuba for alternative sources of support.
In the first months after the coup, Ben Dupuy held out some hope that Venezuelan president Carlos Andres P�rez might stand by his promise to help train and arm a Haitian resistance force to overcome C�dras, but he acknowledges that it was never likely that P�rez would have gone against the wishes of his patron George Bush.
�It is standard US policy to distinguish between good drug-dealers and bad drug-dealers. Good ones do what they�re told, and are allowed to pursue their interests undisturbed.�
�The so-called �war on drugs� is an instrument of political blackmail pure and simple.�
�In 1991, the bourgeoisie tried to co-opt Aristide and the Lavalas movement, since Aristide was very popular and had proved how easily he could win an election. But when he didn�t go along with them entirely they quickly turned against him. The new party [the OPL] that Pierre-Charles, Antoine Adrien and other �enlightened� members of the political class formed apparently to support Lavalas soon turned into an anti-Lavalas opposition party, in 1995, once its leaders discovered that they wouldn�t be able to dominate the movement�
�During his second administration there were some opportunists in Aristide�s security apparatus who started operating on their own, in pursuit of their own interests. People like Oriel Jean and Dany Toussaint had their own agenda, but it�s clear that they acted without Aristide�s knowledge or approval. When US intelligence began to accuse these people of drug smuggling and corruption Aristide was initially reluctant to believe it, thinking that it was another attempt to isolate him. With good reason, he saw these accusations as an attempt to drive a wedge between him and his allies in the security forces. Who was he supposed to trust? Unlike the US itself, Aristide had no secret police, no force with which he could �police the police�. Given their history and the material conditions in which they work it is virtually impossible for any Haitian government, on its own, to root out corruption in the security forces. But the US blamed Aristide for this anyway, for failing to accomplish an impossible task.�
�I�m convinced that the laboratory engineered the murder of Amiot M�tayer, so as then to pin it on Aristide; M�tayer was the perfect target, and the consequences of his death were expertly and instantly manipulated, with devastating effect.�
The PPN criticised Aristide�s willingness to create free trade zones and to accept the main thrust of neo-liberal structural adjustment. �Aristide thought he could walk down the middle of the road�, remembers Ben Dupuy: �I used to tell him that that�s where accidents happen. I told him that sooner or later he would have to choose the left sidewalk, or the right sidewalk. It seemed to me that he never really made up his mind, and he paid a high price for his hesitation.�
�The great symbol of Lavalas was the table. Aristide used to say that he wanted the masses who were living under the table to rise up and join the elite who were already sitting at the table; it was a project of social reconciliation. But in my opinion this was never feasible. The contradictions are too intense. The small handful of people sitting around the table owe their place to the fact they continue, very deliberately, to keep the great majority of Haitians under the table; the poverty in places like Cit� Soleil is a necessary condition of their wealth. In the end, the only way forward will be to overthrow this table and to pursue a programme of truly revolutionary change. Our class polarisation is now so intense that it�s reached a point of no return. I see no possibility of compromise. Members of the elite are now contemplating a sort of �final solution� that amounts to little less than a strategy of open warfare ? the use of foreign and domestic troops to kill off the poorest of the poor, pure and simple�
�The poverty in places like Cit� Soleil is a direct result of the neo-liberal reconfiguration of the Haitian economy that began in the late 1970s ? the result of what many Haitians call the �death plan�. The US and the Haitian elite believe that they can manage the consequences of this plan by sending foreign troops to police the neighbourhoods populated by those that suffer the worst of its effects. They think they can control rising levels of poverty by shooting at the poor. In Haiti as in various other parts of the world (Darfur, Sierra Leone, Somalia…) they use the UN to put out the fire, without considering who started it. They do everything possible to avoid the obvious conclusion ? that this poverty, and the violence that accompanies it, is a direct consequence of the neo-liberal plan itself. The only way to reverse it is to put a stop to the plan and undo its effects�
�In places like Haiti and much of Africa, the great imperial powers use the UN as humanitarian fire-fighters, but they never identify, let alone prosecute, the neo-liberal arsonists. They never ask why social divisions have become so intense, why the levels of poverty are now so extreme, why people are so desperate that they prefer to fight, rather than starve.�
�Perhaps the most important factor behind the recent rise in violent crime in Haiti is the increase over the last couple of years in the number of offenders deported from the US. These are young Haitian-Americans who grew up in the US, usually in poor black neighbourhoods, and who were �educated�, so to speak, in the American underworld. The US cannot cope with its own catastrophic levels of criminality; its prisons are already stretched to the breaking point. So now they started to export these casualties of their own social system back to Haiti, a country that doesn�t have anything like the police or judicial resources needed to handle them. By the end of 2006, the US was shipping around 100 convicts to Haiti every month. Most of these people arrive in the country with nothing, with no skills or family ties. What can they do to survive? Of course they do what they know: they turn to drugs and kidnapping, they create or join armed gangs. In the space of two years they have driven Haitian street crime to an entirely new level. But the people that the US and the elite blames for this rise in insecurity are not these criminals but the �bandits� of the Lavalas baz.�
�It�s clear that the great majority of Haiti�s poor still perceive Aristide as a symbol of their struggle. Aristide still has a very important role to play in the liberation of our country, though I hope that when he comes back he will adopt a different, less conciliatory, less �middle-of-the-road� approach.�
�Pr�val has benefited from his old alliance with Aristide, and he owes his election victory in 2006 to the support of the Lavalas baz. But his own agenda is different. He mainly represents the interests of the oligarchy, and this puts his government in constant tension with its own political base.�