Race & Ethnicity


Date: Sun, 18 Sep 94 02:21 AST
From: Javier Santiago Lucerna
Subject: Besides my anger, why I oppose the invasion of Haiti?
To: badsubjects@uclink.berkeley.edu

O.K. Stephen, for the next lines I will adopt a thinking man posture, forgetting everything about my flesh epistemology and, of course, trying to leave behind what many of us, victims of colonialism can not forget, ANGER...

Besides my anger, why I oppose the invasion of Haiti by the United States of America? This relative simple question, demands on my part an elaborate answer. I should go back to my original post and develop further what was said (in a rather simplistic manner, for your taste).

There is no doubt in my mind that one of the main interest involved, from the standpoint of the Clinton administration is purely economic. Sure there is a political agenda (within the United Stater mediascape and definition of the political). After all, Clinton's public image is very deteriorated and, probably, his p.a. people may be aware of the effect a sounding triumph on foreign policy may have. The way that both Quayle and Bush has addressed the issue, simply without any kind of substantive argument, seems a good indication that this may end up like any other adventure "at high sea".

However, and in the context of the Caribbean basin, the possible opening of Haiti as a cheap labor paradise is conditioned upon the progressive deterioration of cheap labor conditions that other countries on the basin has experienced in the last 25 years. Puerto Rico in this respect is paradigmatic. Since the start of its process or rapid modernization, the island showed an incredible capacity to develop cheap labor within a context of low and medium skilled workers. For the first part of the century, Puerto Rico remained one of the first stronghold of the clothing industry in the States, because of its abundance of cheap unskilled labor. The tobacco industry changed dramatically for the same reason, leaving the production of tobaccos for that of cigarettes.

But modernity brought other developments in the island. College education began to expand for the general population, producing other type of labor, as medium skilled as well as skilled. The first engineering school was established in Mayaguez, on the west part of P.R., opening the opportunity for other types of companies to establish. After the years, this progress showed its bad face; the salaries of skilled labor prompted better salaries for medium and unskilled labor. In other words, labor turned expensive.

At the beginning of the eighties, the Reagan administration induced the economical exploitation of the Caribbean Basin under the banner of progress. The real reason, while Puerto Rico was no longer cheap, there was an incredible opportunity to have a combination of skilled and unskilled labor within the same geographical area. All of this went hand in hand with the disintegration of fordism as an strategy of production, and the introduction of flexible production. The flexible agenda established as its paradigm, the constant seek for the best cost. So in Puerto Rico you may had the best cheap skilled labor, while in the Dominican Republic you had the cheapest unskilled labor.

The problem with many Caribbean republics has been their political problems and unstableness. The Dominican Republic has been, for the last ten years, very unstable. The same could be said of Cuba and Haiti. However, for the moment, the possible future of Haitian politics lies on the hand of the U.S.

The Reagan Initiative for the Caribbean Basin went bankrupt in the middle of the eighties because it established a sort of free market environment under certain United States tax rules. For transnational capitalism, no rules was better than little rules. After the initiative went kaput, the companies started to move in. Their final goal, for the moment, lies in Cuba and Haiti. No matter how good, compared to Haiti, the education of the Cuban workers may be, the bottom line is that the greatest bulk of their population will be treated, once the blockade is finished, as cheap labor.

Believe Stephen, Haitian cheap labor is much better to handle than Cuban or Mexican. Why? Because there is no strong union support for them. As a matter of fact, one of the greatest triumphs in Haitian dictatorship history is the no existence of labor politics.

What can be done then? I am not looking for answers here, since there is too much to grieve in this situation. More than 67% of the arms that the Haitian Army uses are of United States origin. The other third comes from France. The constant interventionist politics of the U.S. has created the current situation; with no help from the outside, there is no possible solution for the crisis. But the paradox here lies in this fact: for many Haitians, the current situation is better than the possible return of Aristide. Why? Less bloodshed. What the intervention will create for certain, is a new civil war. It will be virtually impossible to identify the militia, once the invasion ends. There is no security that they will be completely eradicated during the intervention. So there is no reason to think that there will be no witch hunt. Do I have to believe in Aristide when he says that there will be no prosecution for the militia? Will the U.S. allow the military to remained free, pending a possible civil war? Then, who was part of the militia and who was not? How can they tell? How many innocent people will die in the process?

But probably, the main question should go in this direction: Why do we have to recur to interventionist politics to resolve this mess? The violation of frontiers, for whatever reason, still is a violation. Why do we have to believe that this is a humanitarian intervention? Is war the only way out in this kind of situation?

The bottom line can be this: Sometimes intervention is fair others not. Why? In my opinion, what we should be discussing is the nature of intervention, because if its politics didn't existed in the first place, right know we could have been figuring out ways out of the crisis that did not relied on the use of force of an essentially imperialistic foreign policy.

Ah, but I forgot, in Stephen's sense, I am not a thinking man. Still...

The problem in your argument, Stephen, is that your disqualification of anger relies on the entitlement you conceive to the intellectual part of our existence. It is very clever to disarm this subject position through deconstructive type of discourse. Why should I reclaim textual authority because of my closeness in regards of certain phenomena? In that regard, you can claim back that same textual authority. Certainly. But most of that theorization comes from core-nation-thinkers (or at least, that's their context). Spivak, in this regard, does not comes from a core nation, but from a subaltern one. Her work is focus on one thing (at least that's my reading of her work): what is the context of those subaltern positions. What is the importance of those positions?

Post-colonial discourse has stressed the end or breaking of the subject from the contradiction that emerges between the identity of the colonizer and that of the colonized. The case in the post- modern discourse of the subject, comes from the idea of those other identities that were crushed in the process of achieving modernity. In that context, the reasons for the suppression of those marginal identities are different (in essence, although similar in practice).

What I am trying to get at is that, the pain of the gay community, although similar, is not the same of the colonized people. It is different because of its context. Still, as Foucault taught to many of us, behind those forms of pain lies a certain way of understanding. Dissimilar, again because of context, but again similar in structural terms (because its genesis is the pain itself).

The understanding of the context, then is vital, for the understanding of the pain. Probably, that is the reason why Jonathan read my anger (and pain) in a certain way, while you disqualified it completely. That is probably why I reclaimed the right to use the word "fuck" or "fucking".

Do I have textual authority to claim the respect of those of you who have never experienced an invasion in their lifetimes? Why should I claim that its my right, while not violating yours of free speech? Well, again, free of speech or multiculturalism (as a gay person you feel free to reclaim) is much better when is based on the concept of tolerance and respect. Was I insulting all of you who felt United Staters? No. I was just reclaiming the respect that its due to us, the victims of colonization.

Its a shame you do not feel responsible for the actions of your government, because I do. You see, I may live in a colony, but the ruling party here believes in Statehood as a resolution of our pending political status. I did not vote for them, never have. But I feel responsible for them being in power, because their presence reminds me that I have not done enough to stop that nonsense. The governor is in favor of the invasion,which makes me feel very ashamed, again for the same reasons.

Do I have to conceive anything to him. No. I still stand on the same line of thought as I did before he went to office. I do identify with the Haitian people. But I don't think I should approve the invasion, just because its the easy way out, just because I could gain some power through the media, concurring with the ruling party. Nor do I feel I should classify his action in terms of whether he is "politically correct" or not.

I think I've said enough for the moment. If you have any doubt, well you can continue writing. I hope I have reach your level of intellectual competition that you reclaimed for the debate. For me, I feel myself much comfortable in my epistemology of the flesh, of pain.

Javier, plainly (this time)

Date: Tue, 20 Sep 94 00:43 AST From: Javier Santiago Lucerna Subject: Re: Besides my anger, why I oppose the invasion of Haiti? To: arod@uclink.berkeley.edu, badsubjects@uclink.berkeley.edu

Stephen and all of those who have been following the thread:

I will try to make a final comment on all this load of senseless accusations, for some based on "emotion" (as you cleverly suggest) while for others based on the technical superiority that some sort of knowledge seems to assess to certain interlocutors.

Being said that, lets state this simply: Both of us are not definetly on the same page. You have your idea about why the U.S. should invade Haiti, while for myself that is not even a question! Why should I think the Staters have to resolve any single problem in the area with their Arm Forces?

My anger was not based upon the premise of "why or why not invade Haiti." Rather, my preocupation was, why should you ask or narrow the options upon whether to invade or not. But lets face it, for the moment that seems to be the only event that will actually occur. The reason being the impersialistic way on which the United States has handle Caribbean Politics this century (16 invasions in total). Clear and simple.

You still have not answered that fundamental question that I posed: which is better, the present misery and degradation of the Haitian people or a genuinely capitalist regime that will actually represent soime progress in living standard? Another question: You said, "Sometimes intervention is fair others not." Please delineate the rules by which we determine when an interventin is fair, and when one is not. Frankly, this statement undermines your entire argument.

Your description of living standards in Puerto Rico actually makes a strong case FOR intervention in Haiti. In fact, your argument about Puerto Rico pretty much exactly parallels the arguments of the development people. They argue that cheap labor allows the development of an industrial infrastructure that will eventually provide the basis for a level of prosperity previously unthinkable. I repeat: the fact is that cheap labor in Haiti is an insignificant factor in the present invasion. Cheap labor still needs to be good labor, and it is unlikely that Haiti will be a major earning station for international capital for some time. But if, as you point out in Puert Rico, a few generations of cheap labor lead to economic development such that there are too many college graduates and not enough cheap laborers, then shouldn't Haiti get on that bandwagon? How does your argument differ from development economics.

The reason I delineated the current state of labor politics in the area was not part of my argument against the invasion. Check back on the original message you send: you reproached the analysis I made of the reasons the U.S. had to invade Haiti. I was just putting into context the brief reason I gave that time.

But, what if I oppose the constant penetration, monopolization and privatization of everyday life under capitalism in the Caribbean? Why should I believe in the modern notion of progress, thinking that they may be better under a capitalist regime of exploitation. The development that Puerto Rico experienced in the fifties and sixties was based on a particular configuration of capitalistic penetration on the island. The tax structure that allowed this changes established a certain amount of funds that had to be deposited in Puerto Rican banks. I doubt Haiti workers will enjoy such bonanza, particularly because that model of economic development went bankrupt more than 25 years ago. Present felxible production strategies stress more the importance of lower cost without the mediation of any kind of State. (Ask the people in Peru in that regard).

One of the problems Caribbean left have had in its agenda in the last quarter of century has been the ideological value of the capitalistic notion of progress. That is the same notion Stalin and the old communist block bought from the West. But history bakfired at them, showing the impossibility of reaching the "living standards" of Western societies without reaping off the natural resources, enslaving the working clases and creating a big breach between the rich (or those who hold power) and the poor.

It is important the role the Cuban revolution played in the de- mystification of progress in this area. For their objective was never to acheive a consumerist "living standard" close to the one in U.S., but rather focused in those areas where the general public was going to benefit the most. Did you know that for years Cuba had the best Health Care system in the world? This same model of economic development was adopted by the Nicaraguan revolution (the Sandinistas) as well as other guerilla movements in Central America (the FMLN in El Salvador, and also in Guatemala). In other words, the notion of middle class type of progress, very much alive in Puerto Rico but with a crisis pending in the next corner, has been rejected by progressive parties in the Caribbean as well as Central America. The reason is simple: they know the high price the have to pay to transnational capitalism and problems it ultimately will bring.

As for the out-of-context citation of "Sometimes intervention is fair others not", hey that's your point man, not mine. If you didn't understand the phrase or the paragraph where it was, you should re-read it. That was implied in Nathan's original post: "Gosh, I think this time invasion is good." Which I think made the Invasion of The Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Panama, Chile, Jamaica, Cuba, Granada, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, were no goood. Gosh!

Its much better for me, again, to focus in the reasons why you should wind up in that kind of position in 1994 in front of this current crisis, which is nothing new! I mean, remember Rafael Trujillo in Dominican Republic? Batista in Cuba? I guess you can include Noriega in Panama? Somoza in Nicaragua? And what about the living legend, General Augusto Pinochet, responsible for the killing of more than 200,000 people in two years?

This is a big difference between your argument and mine (although you say that mine does not exist, something I REALLY APPRECIATE from my heart). For me there is no military solution to this, because at heart it will create even more problems.

Understand this my friend: if there are reprisals against the MOST BLOODTHIRSTY MILITARY IN THE AMERICAS OVER THE LAST CENTURY, it will not be the US Army who commits them!!! The righteous anger of people liberated from hell will be quite sufficient. You tread dangerously close to defending the Haitian military here. Moreover, the issue is not to decide whether Aristide will make appropriate decisions. The issue is whether the Haitian people deserve to have the leader they elected in a free vote. Suddenly, you argue that "sub-alternists" should support the Haitian military!!! Get a grip, pal. If that is the result of anger in thought, then my argument gets a considerable boost.

You are putting words in my mouth, something that I do not appreciate after so many years of english in public school here in Puerto Rico. The problem with the invasion is that, in the face of Big brother (U.S.), and for big brother, how can you tell who is pro-Cedras and Who is-pro Aristide? Look at Panama! In the case you don't know, the current elected government of Panama is formed by former associates of Manuel Noriega. In the end, the intervention couldn't guaranteed that those who were in power before it does not return!

Well probably you were right, I was not clear enough. If there is a Civil war, let it be without the intervention of the U.S.! There is no doubt on my mind that a civil war will be the only way out of this mess. But why the U.S. never contemplated that posibility? I guess it does not guaranteed their dominance (both political and economical) in the region, so the hell with it. Ah, and when I say support I'm not talking about sending some troops, but sending arms, training soldiers, etc.

I do not know if you are that aware, but the support for Aristide has diminshed incredibly since the coup de etat. So an efective manner to measure the posibility of his return, or the emergence of a new leader could depend on the effectiveness of the civil war. Sure tribal politics could emerge in such a war, just like South Africa of Somalia. But again, isn't the will of the people.

Invasion, on the other hand remains a very problematic notion here. For you, as for many others, may bring finally peace and justice to Haitian people. But that is a short term thing. Think about it, after all another invasion will kept fine tunning the war machine of the United States. Money will keep pumping into it, as well as a general consensus about its effectiveness. And, boy, as long as we live in a war machine where do we expect to go? Nuclear thread may be over, but does that eliminates the possibility of anihilation when war is the main thing the U.S. still exports. Whoa, dude!

A couple of notes: I reject the notion of "core" nations. (I would appreciate a citation on how this term is used.) When the left swallows the notions of the right and then pretends that those notions are its own, the left has thereby abandonned its unique position. That is precisely the basis of my critique of the left as I have tried over the last year to elucidate it on this list.

Moreover, the use of the notion of a core "nation" pointedly abandons the notion of class, both in the capitalist nations and in the Third World. When you say that I out to "feel responsible" for the actions of "my" government, you betray a fatal inability to understand what class rules in society. I pointedly decline to take responsibility for a government which I do not control. It is not my government. You betray the moralistic underpinning of much left-wing discourse on the Third World ... especially left wing discourse by Third World intellectuals whose class background is, frankly, considerably more privileged than mine!!

Quite Frankly, is a shame you do not believe in the concept of "Core nations." I mean I do not feel the phenomena exists right now (it depended too much in the idea of Nations in the geographical sense). However, it is a very important notion that helps understand part of the phenomenom of colonialism and imperialism. It does not denies the structure of class (didn't you said yo weren't a Marxist, buddy?); rather it exposes the ways on which that concept fall short in terms of imperialism. Remember, Marx knew very little of colonialism and imperialism, because he never studies closely.

On the other hand, you make quite a case again for a class structure in society when you pin-pointed earlier that you were no marxist. What I find amazing is that by the logic you call when you explained your shamelessness towards the political elite of your country, you seem to cut your own wings, your own arguments. If you cannot control or intervene in the way the power is handled in the States, then why your are a leftist? So you can cry with someone else in the blues? I should not get a grip, its you who need a grip dude!

Surely class determines a lot of the power structure of a certain soceity; but in no way that determines the impossibility of affecting any kind of decision! After all, Clinton new the advantages of declaring himself pro-choice following the show of force pro choicer did during Reagan's and Bush' years. If you don't feel proud about it, then you should be feeling the blues for shure. Oh, don't tell me taht was political oprtunism, it was more than that. Pro-choicers were heard, and that counts for me!

I could, were I of a different bent, prance and posture with great anger over your ignorance of the gay community ... your rather mechanical desire to rank and quantify forms of oppression. Instead, I will simply point out that I too have anger ... trmemndous crippling anger, at times ... which I pointedly control in order to keep my mind clear.

As for the repeated questions and disqualifications you have made towards my anger, I will not make any further comments since you made me believe (and probably I firmly believe it right know) that my intellectual competence is not up to the standards of you and other (which I have not heard through out of this sort of saldy controversy) in the list possess.

From the rest of your argument, this particular line expresses a lot of my arguments, so I just felt I should quote it:

(BTW, just using the words dissimilar and similar in the same senence is no indication of an ability to manipulate the concepts.)

Which renders in a funny way the next segment:

Your anger empowered [sic] you to reject my considerable experience on the left, my rather large knowledge of American military history, my deep life-long association with the oppressed among whom I number myself ... in favor of what? A simplistic parsing along racial lines. Again, nice work if you can get it ... and you can get it without trying.

So in a sarchastic sort of way (and also in response to my low intellectual quotient), I can honestly say nice work Stephen.

[BTW, I would like to know exactly where your knowledge of American Military history showed in this accidental and very wicked thread.]

I think I lost a lot of energy in this, sincerily. So the best way to finish this is reasserting what I laready said in the bulk of the message. Yeap, in the light and sight of Stephen, my intellectual level is not quite up to his: so be it! If this will finish this sorry incident: So be it!

Javier, who has slept very well and continue to do so, even when another person in the States thinks he is intellectually incompetent (Guess that's part of living in a colony...)

[P.S. I will not read any other message Stephen Arod Sherrif writes to the list concerning this issue. I rather focused myself in other things. So I guess this is the end of the road for me... HEARD THAT, STEPHEN YOU WIN... SO NOW YOU CAN CASH YOUR CHECK FOR ANGER-BASHING... (Sounds familiar!)]

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