|Haiti Archives 1995-1996|
|06/09/95||THIS WEEK IN HAITI Vol. 13, No. 24|
HAITI PROGRES “Le journal qui offre une alternative”
HIDING UNDER THE ROCK OF THE “BALANCE OF POWER” by Joe Kaye
Across the globe today blows the icy winds of uncontested power. A Great Black Hole, an unprecedented concentration and accumulation of capital, is irresistibly drawing in and swallowing up the universe of the world’s assets, natural resources, and labor. The enormous power of capital, acting in concert with and independently of their home governments, dictates the key decisions taken by virtually every Third World government and virtually every government in the former socialist states. Today, a representative of the International Monetary Fund stepping off a commercial airliner in his three-piece suit wreaks more havoc on a people than an all-out assault by a US Marine division.
Who can stand up to the will of the imperialists, to the withholding of loans and investments to fund-starved states, to the pressure of commercial embargoes and blockades? Who can stand up to “smart bombs” and nuclear weapons?
Do not leaders have the responsibility to base their conduct on “realpolitik,” on political realism? Can they indulge in the luxury of the romantic gesture and defiant posturing which can only bring down ruin on their people?
Such are the arguments of the horde of erstwhile revolutionaries and guerilla leaders, erstwhile fighters in the struggle for national liberation and social justice, erstwhile champions of the working people, the peasants, the masses, the poor, the indigenous, the oppressed, and erstwhile government leaders and officials in countries formerly proclaiming egalitarian ideals and humans values, where once an economy’s performance was judged by the well-being of the people and not by the efficiency of the exploitation of its workers and consumers.
We are told that the people are leaderless and that the old gods have failed. What then is the new god? Simply raw power. And what is our bible to determine our course? The “balance of power.”
Still, there are a few Don Quixotes, such as Fidel Castro, who march to a different drummer. It is now some 40 years ago that Fidel struggled up the Sierra Maestra with a handful of companeros, refusing to be governed by calculations any school child could have written out for him. A dozen against thousands? What folly!
But of course every guerilla war begins against overwhelming odds. As it turned out, Fidel was not Don Quixote. His tiny force did not go charging in suicidal fashion into Batista’s cannons. He did indeed take into account the balance of power in working out the tactics of struggle – as all sane leaders do. He did not surrender to the balance of power, but worked to change that balance. He, as all leaders of principle, as all leaders guided by the interests of their people, struggle to choose the terrain on which to wage their combat with the enemy. They terminate the struggle, or engage in negotiation with their foe, only when the time is ripe, when the situation has turned overwhelmingly in their favor, and when negotiation is principally to ratify the people’s victory.
If the balance of forces is unfavorable, the struggle continues. The Vietnamese spent 40 years in the jungle to achieve victory. How did they spend this time? Firing their arms, of course. But much more than that. The Vietnamese leaders spent that time preparing the people for victory, constantly working to strengthen among the people what developed into indomitable will, patiently engaging in political education until the people were capable of fending off every political maneuver of their enemy, inculcating confidence in the people so that they were prepared for any sacrifice and no defeat could shake them.
Why are the people ultimately invincible? Because the power of the enemy – the oppressors, the exploiters – is coerced, cajoled, or stolen from the people themselves. It derives from the people’s labor which, at a certain point, they develop the strength to withhold; it derives from the cooperation of the people in their own oppression which, at a certain point, they refuse any longer to extend; it derives from weapons which the people no longer fear to seize from the enemy.
To win a fight, the weaker man does not have to thrash the stronger one, only make the fight sufficiently painful and too troublesome for the stronger to pursue. A small nation does not have to defeat a superpower militarily to gain its independence. It only has to make the superpower pay a sufficient price. And it must be remembered that the superpower is beset by super- problems, problems that engage its attention around the world, and problems at home that increasingly strain its resources and restrict its options. The Vietnamese at no time were able to come close to matching the military might of the United States, but they forced Washington to withdraw, for they demoralized their enemy through their determination, cleverness, and courage. At the same time, the war provoked a domestic crisis that threatened to get beyond the control of the US Establishment.
The first duty of any leader is to convince the people to believe in themselves. The rest becomes self-fulfilling prophecy.
JEAN MARIE VINCENT COMMEMORATED
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Aug. 28 – Hundreds of people attended a week of events to commemorate the work, life and death of Father Jean- Marie Vincent, assassinated one year ago today. The overall theme was “justice:” Justice for Vincent, for the thousands of victims of the coup d’etat, and for peasants suffering under an unjust economic system.
The Jean-Marie Vincent Foundation organized seminars, masses, conferences, a cultural event and a visit to Titanyen and Source Puante, two places used to dump indigents’ bodies and also by the military and their allies to dump the bodies of their victims.
One evening, two agronomists addressed a crowd of about 300 in the chapel of the Petit Seminaire College St. Martial, a school recently given back to the Holy Ghost fathers. (Franois Duvalier kicked them out in the sixties.) The men described the evolution of Vincent’s thinking on the peasant movement, on land reform and his support for efforts that made peasants autonomous and not dependent on foreign “aid.” They noted that “distribution of land is not land reform,” and called for restructuring the rural economy.
The next night, wearing shirts that said “Let’s follow in Jean Marie Vincent’s Footsteps,” the Tet Kole chorus sung songs like one condemning the “bourgeois army and the imperialists who got together to kill Jean Marie and crush the popular movement,” and another which cries: “Oh! Look what they did to our country!”
In interviews and declarations, members of the foundation condemned the overall lack of justice and the failure of the state to take “concrete steps” on Vincent’s case.
[This article was reprinted from “Haiti Info” Vol.3.no.23, published bi-weekly by the Haiti Information Bureau, Port-au- Prince, Haiti.]
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