Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from a black left perspective.

U.S. Gives Haiti the Gift of Prisons

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

The United States somehow thinks it has something to teach Black people in Haiti about prisons.”

U.S. imperialism never runs out of tricks to play on Haiti. The latest project of the U.S. overseers who overthrew Haiti’s democratically elected government in 2004, is prison-building. The new penitentiaries will be constructed under the auspices of none other than the Narcotics Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy to Haiti. U.S. narcs care so deeply for the Haitian people, they are building them two prisons, one for men and one for women.

The top U.S. narcotics agent at the embassy says America’s concern is humanitarian. The men’s prison will replace the penitentiary that was destroyed in the coup sponsored by the United States in 2004 – so it would be fair to say that Washington owes Haiti that prison. The lack of prison space and other public safety infrastructure means Haiti’s incarcerated population – which is somewhere between two and three thousand – is held in some of the worst conditions in the world, and for a very long time. The U.S. embassy says it wants to reduce overcrowding, disease and violence in Haiti’s prisons, to bring them up to international standards.

The United States, itself, has never paid much attention to international standards when it comes to prisons. It locks far more people up for far longer periods of time than any other developed country. On any given day, 50,000 to 80,000 U.S. prison inmates are held in solitary confinement, some of them for decades at a stretch – a form of torture according to most international standards. Violence in U.S. prisons is endemic, especially rape. Through its sheer size, alone – encompassing one out of every four prison inmates on the planet – the U.S. prison Gulag contains the greatest concentrations of prison evils in the world. The U.S. serves as an example of how not to treat prisoners, and how not to treat Black people, who are far more likely to wind up in U.S. prisoners at some point in their lives. But, the United States somehow thinks it has something to teach Black people in Haiti about prisons.

The occupiers withhold from the government that they installed the means to claim even the most elemental legitimacy.”

The U.S. claims it wants to move Haitian inmates more quickly through the system. It has not done very well, here at home. On any given day, more than 735,000 inmates crowd local U.S. jails, 60 percent of whom cannot make bail. Most remain economic prisoners for at least 50 days.

Rather than provide the Haitian government with money to construct the two prisons, the U.S. is making all the arrangements, itself, and will spend between $5 million and $10 million. That’s consistent with American and European behavior since the occupation of Haiti: they deny the Haitian government funds for even the most basic functions of the state: law and order. Having overthrown the legitimate government of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and virtually outlawed his political party, the occupiers withhold from the government that they installed the means to claim even the most elemental legitimacy. The Americans and their allies’ mission is to maintain Haiti as a failed state, one that can neither protect nor punish those accused of crime, nor pay the judges, police and jailers that are fundamental to any notion of government. Anything resembling the rule of law in Haiti must be seen as a gift of the U.S. embassy – a gift of prisons, from the greatest international lawbreaker of all, the United States.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20130220_gf_HaitiPrisons.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:55am EDT

There is No Effective Constituency for Africa in the United States

A Black Agenda Radio commentary executive editor by Glen Ford

The greatest threat to Africa is the United States and its junior partners, the French and British.”

The general nominated by President Obama to take over AFRICOM wants the U.S. to increase by 15 times U.S. spying on the African continent. Army General David Rodriquez told the Senate Armed Services Committee that AFRICOM has only half the drones, spy planes and satellites it needs to keep an eye on northern Africa, where the U.S. is backing up the French intervention in Mali and where the U.S. and NATO dropped tens of thousands of bombs on Libya in an unprovoked, eight-month war. For the whole of the African continent, General Rodriquez is pushing for a 15-fold increase in “intelligence gathering and spying missions.” The United States already has, or will soon build, drone bases in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Niger, Burkina Faso, and the Seychelles Islands, enabling the Americans to carry out missions over vast regions of Africa. That doesn’t count the drones that can be launched from U.S. Navy fleets, which have greatly increased their patrols of Africa’s coastal waters, especially in the offshore oil zones of the west coast. U.S. Special Forces have a forward base in Kenya, and are roam freely in Congo, Uganda, South Sudan and the Central African Republic. It is inconceivable that these Special Forces in the heart of Africa do not work closely with manned and unmanned aircraft, operating from a network of secret bases dotting the continent. In other words, the U.S. has already erected a formidable intelligence and command-and-control network in Africa – but General Rodriguez and AFRICOM want to expand that network 15-fold.

There is only one conclusion to be drawn: the United States is building the capability to militarily control all of Africa, in conjunction with its European allies and its African proxies. It may be true that the U.S. war machine is making a “pivot” to the Pacific, to pick a fight with China, but what the Americans are doing on in Africa is a full court press – preparations for Africa’s total subjugation.

The Black American misleadership class doesn’t give a damn about Africa.”

The Obama administration has already designated its own “Axis of Evil” in Africa. The current list includes whoever the U.S. decides to call “al-Qaida” in Africa; Somalia’s Shabaab fighters, who have been resisting U.S. and Ethiopian invasion since 2006; and Nigeria’s Muslim Boko Haram, an armed fundamentalist movement. Washington admits that none of these groups represents a threat to the United States.

The greatest threat to Africa is the United States and its junior partners, the French and British. They have already pacified most of Africa, through bribery and coercion, and are now ready to plunge the continent into endless war. Forty million African Americans could stop this growing holocaust in its tracks. But the Black American Misleadership Class doesn’t give a damn about Africa. They may buy expensive Kinte cloth for show-off occasions, and many of them make a fetish out of Kwanzaa every year – but that’s about it. Armenian-Americans will fight for Armenia, Irish-Americans for Ireland, and let’s not even mention what American Jews will do for Israel. But the U.S. can make war against Africa at will, because Africa has no effective constituency in the United States.

Now, think on that, as we celebrate Black History Month.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20130220_gf_AfricaNoConstituency.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:46am EDT