Haiti May Be Providing Slave Labor to U.S. Corporations

Haitians Hang French Troops For Their Acts of Cruelty

During the earthquake crisis in Haiti I have continued to ask the same question of my friends: How, in the 21st Century, can a country so close to the richest nation on earth be so poor?  No one seems to have an answer except for Pat Robertson (who is not a friend, by the way) who suggests that the Haitians made a pact with the devil when they made the French leave.  Seems an odd way to refer to a successful uprising against slavery, doesn’t it?

Since the earthquake, I have learned that Haiti was apparently the location of the world’s first successful uprising against slavery.  They fought the French and won.  It is also the world’s oldest black republic.  It is this achievement that a person like televangelist Pat Robertson suggests is a pact with the devil.

But now it seems that U.S. corporations are using Haitian workers in sweatshop factories to manufacture goods at wages of approximately 30 cents per hour.  That must be why the tiny nation is too poor to build things that can withstand earthquakes.  It will be useful to learn how many of these factories or sweatshops/slave camps have collapsed in the earthquake.  I would imagine that there will be some investigation of such places in the near future.  Perhaps the slave trade never really ended at all, but simply changed its name to ‘cheap labor’ or ‘sweatshop’ or ‘globalism.’

Here’s a history of Haiti from Wikipedia.

Here’s an article about the U.S. role in keeping Haiti poor.

Disney has used cheap labor in Haiti.  They say so themselves right here.

I particularly like their response to a question about child labor:

Q. What is your policy on child labor?
Our Code of Conduct for Manufacturers prohibits child labor. Companies that make Disney-branded products must sign a contract stating that they do not and will not use child labor. Child is defined as “a person younger than 15 (or 14 where local law allows) or, if higher, the local legal minimum age for employment or the age for completing compulsory education.” If child labor is discovered in a factory, we generally seek to work with the factory, as well as the licensee that uses the factory, to identify the most feasible solution to remedy the situation as quickly as possible. This may include collaboration with government, multilateral institutions, NGOs or other companies that use the factory.

So Disney will ‘seek to work with the factory’ if it finds child labor going on. Am I the only one who’s shocked that a U.S. corporation would print such a statement of its own accord?  Because if it were me finding out about child labor, I would ‘seek to work’ a hammer into someone’s head.  For my part, I can only define very cheap labor in a very poor country where workers are threatened with reprisals if they try to improve their lot as slavery.  In fact, the more I learn about Haiti the less it looks like a country and more like a camp.

Freedom of Expression? Really? When Was the Last Time You Heard a Slave Speak Freely?

I found this Amnesty International video over at Silliman’s Blog today. It’s about the power of words to help defend freedom of expression around the world.  I’m all for that.  But can you take me seriously as a wealthy member of the Western world’s corporate structure?  The Amnesty video mentions a journalist jailed for ten years in China simply for sending an email.  So let’s stop and think for a bit about this ‘freedom of expression.’ Take China as an example.  The Chinese are essentially slave labor for the entire Western world.  They make our shirts, pants, toys, radios, shoes, dinnerware, jackets, telephones, etc.  They produce almost every single solid object you will touch during your day.  Everything.  They take their instructions from our corporations and they build these things for pennies a day.  They are slaves.  No doubt about it.  Their government is simply middle-management working for us.  So, while we may pretend to be interested in freedom of expression, we most certainly do not want our slaves talking freely.  Slaves who can speak their minds will gain their freedom and their hourly wages will increase.  They will no longer be our cheap labor – our slaves.  They will become expensive free thinkers just like us.  Our corporations and our politicians do not want freedom of expression for China under any circumstances whatsoever.  Morgan Freeman’s blazer was quite possibly made by a Chinese slave making 30 cents an hour.  When the Chinese decide that they want to fight for their freedom, they will be fighting us.  The world will change when the Chinese people shoot their leaders and lift their wages.  You think you’ve seen a global economic crash?  Just wait until our corporations can’t pay for their slaves in China anymore.  The bottom line has not changed for at least three hundred years: the world economy cannot function without slavery.

So the Amnesty video asks us for our words to help in the cause of freedom.  I’ve just written some.

Lest We Forget is a Short Film with a Long Memory

Lest We Forget is a short civil war film directed by Brandon McCormick and produced by Whitestone Motion Pictures.  It’s the kind of short film I don’t see much of anymore.  Very simple and well-produced.  I really like its fearless punch and its call to the audience to not forget.  Because we do forget.  We forget everything.  We want to forget.  In fact, we’ve been seeing a lot of wonderful old-fashioned folk come out of the woodwork around this country to put on a country fair display of their rancid all-American racism.  This film is for that guy at the town hall meeting on health care reform who decided to tear up the poster of Rosa Parks.  Boy did he forget!  That guy should watch this film and think about it a lot.  Then put himself out with the garbage.  Because I really don’t care whether a guy like that remembers or not.  He’s really just a hole in the road that needs to be paved over.

But the one great thing about all this raging racism coming out, much of which is directed at President Obama, is that it does in fact come out.  We see the bigots.  Yes, indeed… we know who you are.