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Countries that Trump calls Shitholes are violent, poverty stricken countries because of over a century of US Policy

January 12, 2018

President Trump is creating a stir again over his recent comments about immigrants that are coming from “shithole” countries, like Haiti and countries in Africa. 

Numerous commentators are responding to the racist nature of such comments and for good reason. However, there is a completely different component here that most media sources are missing and that is the fact that many of the countries that Trump is referring to have refugees/immigrants coming to the US because of US imperialism and European colonialism.

Let’s start with a look at Haiti.

Haiti became independent in 1804, after a revolution led by Black people.The US hated this fact and has been punishing Haiti ever since. Abraham Lincoln proposed to send all the black slaves to Haiti as a White Supremacist solution and since the early 20th century the US has pretty much run the small Caribbean nation.

From 1914 to 1934, the US Marines occupied Haiti in order to stop numerous rebellions. In addition, during this time the US essentially re-wrote the Haiti Constitution to favor longterm US financial interests. ( See Paul Farmer’s, The Uses of Haiti) Since the late 1950s, the US supported the dictatorships of Papa Doc and Baby Doc Duvalier. The Duvalier dictatorship was a brutal dictatorship using state terrorism that was enforced by the government’s death squads known as the Ton Ton Macutes.

Then in 1990, the Haitian people elected a Catholic priest by the name of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who was a proponent of Liberation Theology. Aristide was overthrown in a US-back Military Coup in 1991 and took exile in the US. The Clinton administration then got Aristide to adopt World Bank/IMF Structural Adjustment Policies, and in turn the US administration agreed restore Aristide to power.

Aristide was elected again and then over thrown by another US backed military coup and spent 7 years in exile, all of which is well documented in the film Aristide and the Endless Revolution

If we wanted to look at US interventions in Africa over the last 50 years, here is a sampling of how the US has helped to create violence and poverty in that continent:

  • US involvement in the assassination of President Lumumba in the Congo in 1961.
  • US Support for the South African Apartheid government that last for decades and right up until the end
  • CIA involvement in Angola that led to a bloody civil war.
  • US support of dictatorship in Somalia in the 1990, which led to a failed US intervention during the Clinton administration.
  • US support for the brutal dictatorship of Idi Amin in Uganda in the 1970s.
  • US support for the brutal dictatorship of Mobutu in Zaire (now the the Congo) for roughly 30 years.
  • Egypt was in the top 5 in US military aid for over 25 years.
  • US antagonism of Libya for several decades, leading to the US-back coup in 2011.
  • 1998 bombing of a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan, which led to the deaths of thousands, since this pharmaceutical plant provided 50% of the medicines in the Sudan.

It is understandable that people are outraged by the recent comments by President Trump, but he is simply reflecting a long standing US position on Haiti and the continent of Africa.

If you want to explore this history more, participate in the GRIID class, Investigating US Foreign Policy from 1898 to the Present, which begins on Monday, January 29. 

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