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The U.S. Government Stopped a Minimum Wage Increase in Haiti


The U.S. Government Stopped a Minimum Wage Increase in Haiti

In 2011, Wikileaks published bombshell reports showing that the U.S. began to use all channels, diplomatic and otherwise, to stop a minimum wage Haitian Earthquake Victimsincrease in Haiti. At that time, Think Progress reported on how U.S. operatives went into overdrive to prevent a movement to increase wages for people living in one of the poorest countries on the planet:

In 2009, the Haitian parliament unanimously passed a measure that would hike the Haitian minimum wage to $5 a day. Yet much as the United States government mobilized to protect Big Oil’s profits a few years earlier, American diplomats immediately protested the hike in wages.

Contractors for large American clothing firms like Fruit of the Loom, Hanes, and Levi’s began protesting the increase in the minimum wage, aggressively lobbying the parliament and the populist Haitian president, René Préval, to reverse course. They were soon joined by American diplomats who began to lobby the Haitian government as well, arguing that it would be too costly for textile manufacturers.

Now, an article published by Counterpunch goes even further, describing the attack on living wages, as well as discussing the role of  some key officials played in keeping Haiti impoverished:

Two years later, WikiLeaks provided me and two colleagues with a window into that machine: 1,918 secret diplomatic cables from the US Embassy in Haiti.

The cables proved beyond any doubt what had seemed obvious. Behind the scenes, American officials had mounted a full-scale assault on the minimum wage increase, financing studies against it and pressuring the president to oppose it.

 The article also calls into question the source of the cholera outbreak in Haiti. When you put it all together, it’s not hard to understand why the U.S. government doesn’t want to ever see Wikileaks founder Julian Assange set free.

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  1. elaine clemons

    January 22, 2013 at 6:34 pm

    One of the reasons why Aristide was deposed.

    • Derrick

      January 23, 2013 at 3:58 pm

      @elaine clemons:

      You are right! They (uNUTed snakes) and france, want to make sure, Haitia stays broke and poor! Remember, Haiti kicked the french army’s azz, and won their independence. To this day…ALL cracker countries hate Haiti, and the Haitian people.

      THIS IS WHY THEY DON’T ALLOW THE HAITIAN TO COME TO THE uNUTed snakes of azzholes, like they do the mexicans, arabs, asians, and the people from india…BECAUSE THEY KICKED THAT AZZ!!!

      By the way, clintonboy and bushboy are controlling the economic flow in Haiti!!!

      DO THE MATH!!!

  2. Onesilverbac

    January 22, 2013 at 9:50 pm

    I’t’s all about the money, that’s the same reason the companies move out of the USA in the 1st place.

    I do not condone having the U. S. Government being involved, business to business no problem, local business to local government no problem.

    Our Government can’t even take care of our problems.

  3. Samdromeda

    January 23, 2013 at 2:22 am

    Whatever happened to Raoul Cedras? Is he still on our C.I.A. payrole ? Are we still paying rent on his estate while he lives large in the Dominican Republic? Toppling foreign governments seems to be a part of our national character. There seems to be a “your country for our profits mentality. ” This makes foreign aide look like blood money.

  4. bahati sobukwe

    January 24, 2013 at 5:10 am

    Study Haiti’s history and the U.S’s involvement in its destablization since the Revolution where Toussaint Loverture whipped Napoleon Bonaparte’s army (Napoleon did not fight in Haiti). Then wanting to be a Frenchman so badly Toussaint let them trick him into coming to France so, put him in a dungeon and starved him to death.
    Then ponder how they denied trade with Haiti and levied sanctions that buried them financially. Then in stepped the good ole United States of America. And it’s been that way ever since. The United States 5th largest Embassy is in little old Haiti?

    Don’t forget our complicity, that would be Poppa Doc and Baby Doc.

  5. Mother-Nature

    January 24, 2013 at 8:16 am

    All of the mess going on in Haiti is shameful. Where are all the million$$$ that were donated after the most recent Earthquake??? And in reading this article, we see that BIG OIL is involved…which explains so much. BIG OIL is wrecking this entire planet in so many ways…..and killing the ECO-SYSTEM.

    These wild weather storms — monster tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires, blizzards, etc. are NOT normal. They are stirred up by global warming. Scientists have also found that the ice caps are melting…which may be helping to create more earthquakes as the water shifts the tectonic plates. They have also found that our clouds are now filled with toxic particles…which are causing lots of sicknesses…including asthma and other diseases. Most of us are not much better off than the Haitians….we are just unaware of our plight because we have a higher minimum wage.

    We better wake up and start complaining about this problem…before it is too late. We are on the edge of disaster right now. And our own GOV’T can do some things to slow down global warming…such as CONVERTING ALL GOV’T VEHICLES to non-polluting fuels, to hybrids, and even to electric. They could put solar panels on all Gov’t buildings around the world. Recycle the trash…plastic bottles, and garbage. And only buy GREEN supplies and equipment. Such actions also create more jobs. THOSE THINGS CAN BE DONE WITH A STROKE OF A PEN.

  6. DAD

    February 3, 2013 at 7:26 am

    WikiLeaks Haiti: Let Them Live on $3 a Day

    Dan Coughlin and Kim Ives

    June 1, 2011

    Contractors for Fruit of the Loom, Hanes and Levi’s worked in close concert with the US Embassy when they aggressively moved to block a minimum wage increase for Haitian assembly zone workers, the lowest-paid in the hemisphere, according to secret State Department cables.

    WikiLeaks Haiti: The Nation Partners With Haïti Liberté on Release of Secret Haiti Cables(Disaster Capitalism, Sweatshops, World)

    Leaked documents provide an extraordinary glimpse of US maneuvering in Haiti from before the 2004 coup through the devastating 2010 earthquake.

    The Editors
    About the Author

    Kim Ives

    Kim Ives is an editor with Haïti Liberté.

    Dan Coughlin

    Dan Coughlin covered Haiti for Inter Press Service from the UN and Port-au-Prince between 1992 and 1996.

    WikiLeaks Haiti: The Aristide Files

    Secret US Embassy cables depict a far-reaching campaign to prevent Haiti’s democratically elected leader from returning to the country after the 2004 coup.

    WikiLeaks Haiti: Country’s Elite Used Police as Private Army(World Leaders, Regions and Countries)

    A secret US Embassy cable describes how Haiti’s business elite armed and deployed police units in pro-Aristide strongholds like Bel Air and Cite Soleil after the 2004 coup.

    Dan Coughlin and Kim Ives

    WikiLeaks Haiti: US Cables Paint Portrait of Brutal, Ineffectual and Polluting UN Force(Global Organizations, World)

    As the renewal date for the UN mission in Haiti nears, WikiLeaks cables reveal a litany of MINUSTAH’s failures.

    Dan Coughlin

    Haiti WikiLeaks Sparks Political Furor and Elite Drama(World Leaders, World)

    Secret US Embassy cables ripple through Haitian politics, imperiling the appointment of a new prime minister.

    Dan Coughlin

    The factory owners told the Haitian Parliament that they were willing to give workers a 9-cents-per-hour pay increase to 31 cents per hour to make T-shirts, bras and underwear for US clothing giants like Dockers and Nautica.

    But the factory owners refused to pay 62 cents per hour, or $5 per day, as a measure unanimously passed by the Haitian Parliament in June 2009 would have mandated. And they had the vigorous backing of the US Agency for International Development and the US Embassy when they took that stand.

    To resolve the impasse between the factory owners and Parliament, the State Department urged quick intervention by then Haitian President René Préval.

    “A more visible and active engagement by Préval may be critical to resolving the issue of the minimum wage and its protest ‘spin-off’—or risk the political environment spiraling out of control,” argued US Ambassador Janet Sanderson in a June 10, 2009, cable back to Washington.

    Two months later Préval negotiated a deal with Parliament to create a two-tiered minimum wage increase—one for the textile industry at about $3 per day and one for all other industrial and commercial sectors at about $5 per day.

    Still the US Embassy wasn’t pleased. A deputy chief of mission, David E. Lindwall, said the $5 per day minimum “did not take economic reality into account” but was a populist measure aimed at appealing to “the unemployed and underpaid masses.”

    Haitian advocates of the minimum wage argued that it was necessary to keep pace with inflation and alleviate the rising cost of living. As it is, Haiti is the poorest country in the hemisphere and the World Food Program estimates that as many as 3.3 million people in Haiti, a third of the population, are food insecure. In April 2008 Haiti was rocked by the so-called Clorox food riots, named after hunger so painful that it felt like bleach in your stomach.

    According to a 2008 Worker Rights Consortium study, a family of one working member and two dependents needed at least 550 Haitian gourdes, or $12.50, per day to meet normal living expenses.

    The revelation of US support for low wages in Haiti’s assembly zones was in a trove of 1,918 cables made available to the Haitian weekly newspaper Haïti Liberté by the transparency group WikiLeaks. As part of a collaboration with Haïti Liberté, The Nation is publishing English-language articles based on those cables.

    In an emailed statement, the State Department declined to comment on the disclosures in this article, citing a policy against commenting on documents that purport to contain classified information and stating that it “strongly condemns any illegal disclosure of such information.” However, the State Department spokesperson added in the email: “In Haiti, approximately 80 percent of the population is unemployed and 78 percent earns less than $1 per day”— actually, according to the UN Development Program, 78 percent of Haitians live on less than $2, not $1, a day—and “the US government is working with the government of Haiti and international partners to help create jobs, support economic growth, promote foreign direct investment that meets ILO labor standards in the apparel industry and invest in agriculture and beyond.”

    For a twenty-month period between early February 2008 and October 2009, US Embassy officials closely monitored and reported on the minimum wage issue. The cables show that the Embassy fully understood the popularity of the measure.

    The cables attest that the new wage even had support from a majority of Haitian private sector representatives “based on reports that wages in the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua (competitors in the garment industry) will increase also.”

    Still the proposal engendered fierce opposition from Haiti’s tiny assembly zone elite, which Washington had long been supporting with direct financial aid and free trade deals.

    In 2006 the US Congress passed the Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement (HOPE) bill, which gave Haitian assembly zone manufacturers preferential trade incentives. Two years later Congress passed an enhanced version of the duty-free trade bill called HOPE II. And USAID Haiti provided technical assistance and training programs to factories to help them expand and take advantage of HOPE II.

    US Embassy cables claimed that those efforts were imperiled by parliamentary demands for a wage hike to keep pace with soaring inflation and high food prices. “[Textile] Industry representatives, led by the Association of Haitian Industry (ADIH), objected to the immediate HTG 130 (USD 3.25) per day wage increase in the assembly sector, saying it would devastate the industry and negatively impact the benefits of the Haitian Hemispheric through Opportunity Partnership Encouragement Act (HOPE II),” said a June 17, 2009, confidential cable from chargé d’affaires Thomas C. Tighe to Washington.

    Tighe said that the “ADIH and USAID funded studies on the impact of near tripling of the minimum wage on the textile sector found that an HTG 200 Haitian gourde minimum wage would make the sector economically unviable and consequently force factories to shut down.”

    Bolstered by the USAID study, the factory owners lobbied heavily against the increase, meeting with Préval on multiple occasions and with more than forty members of Parliament and political parties, according to the cables.

    The Haiti cables also reveal how closely the US Embassy monitored widespread pro–minimum wage demonstrations and openly worried about the political impact of the minimum wage battle. UN troops were called in to quell student protests, sparking further demands from Haitians for the end of the 9,000-strong UN occupation.

    As the Haitian Platform for Development Alternatives put it in a press release in June 2009, “Every time the minimum wage has been discussed, ADIH has cried wolf to scare the government against its passage: that raising minimum wage would mean the certain and immediate closure of industry in Haiti and the cause of a sudden loss of jobs. In every case, it was a lie.”

    Editor’s Note: We first posted this story on June 1, but at the request of Haïti Liberté, our partner in this series, we temporarily removed it until June 8. Some enterprising bloggers noted the “pulled scoop” and, pointing out that you “can’t stuff the news genie back in the bottle,” attempted to summarize it for their readers. Along the way, a few subtleties got lost—like that the factory owners at the center of this sordid story, who moved successfully to block the $5 per day minimum wage passed by the Haitian parliament, were making goods for big-name US retailers like Levi Strauss and Hanes. In keeping with the industry’s usual practice, the brand name US companies kept their own hands clean, letting their contractors do the work of making Haiti safe for the sweatshops from which they derive their profits—with help from US officials. We apologize for the delay in bringing the original article back online.

    Dan Coughlin and Kim Ives

    June 1, 2011

  7. DAD

    February 3, 2013 at 8:59 am

    USA Gov’t, CIA, CFR, UN, State Dept., Bilderburg Group, Wall Street, Federal Reserve, / U.S. Big Biz Resurrect/Achieve Huge Wide Scale.
    New Black Slavery, Genocide, & Aparthied via Deliberate Destruction of African Americans’ Economic Gains via Deliberate Long Term Entry/Distribution of Cocaine/Heroin/Guns in Black Communities, Development/Introduction of HIV/AIDS Epidemic, Heavy Promotion of Black/White Interracial Procreation, Promotion of False Post-Racial America on Heels of Advance Packaging/Selection/Financing of America’s First 1/2 Black/White Elitist Puppeted POTUS Strategically Picked to Bail Out Wall Street, Manage USA’/Europes’ Instigation of Domino Civil Uprisings/Wars in African/Middle East Countries, Further Erode U.S. Constitution/Public School Education System, Ignore Highest Ever Long Term Black American Unemployment, Manage Rapid Expansion/Privitization of USA Prison Industrial Complex Big Biz/Oversee Preparation of FEMA Hold Camps / Marshal Law Nationwide, Forced Removal of Blacks from Major U.S. Cities Nationwide via Financial Terrorism/Oppression, Greater Oppression/Hijacking of Haiti, Destruction of The Africa Union (AU) Movement, / Further Iron-Fist Control, Destabilization, / Ultimately Recolonization of Africa Again to Resurrect on Huge Scale New Economic/Social Black Slavery & Aparthied.

  8. DAD

    February 3, 2013 at 9:25 am

    Authored By Poster “Big Will” Re: HIV Deliberate Development. Also Read:

    “The Isis Papers” by AA Female Dr. Frances Cress Welsing

    HIV is synthetic. It has been developed over a number of years and it has an affinity for people of color. What the science and medical evidence concludes is that the HIV enzyme seeks out a receptor site in the blood of the Black genome. The receptor site is the CCR5 Delta 32+ (positive) gene that all people of color have. In the same sense, on the other end of the spectrum, is the 15 percent Caucasian population of the world, which is CCR5 Delta 32-(negative) gene. That means that under no circumstances, whether HIV came through the air, intravenous drug usage or any form of s****l activity, would the virus be transferable in Caucasian sector of the world’s population, which is basically of northern European descent.

    It is speculated by some experts that, in a worse case scenario, 85 percent of the world’s population could potentially perish under these designer viruses and designer synthetic biological agents. What we’re looking at here—because of this identified gene of the Black genome, this CCR5 Delta32+ (positive)—we are potentially looking at the eradication of all people of color.The bible states “My people perish for lack of knowledge. The true devil doesn’t wear red tights, a cape with horns protruding from his forehead instead, the devil incarnate are diabolical Caucasian scientist (men and women) in white lab coats.

  9. Censored

    February 7, 2013 at 10:14 pm

    I say we all pass around these wiki leaks cable and boycott the companies named. The US is the biggest terrorist in the world and the biggest hypocrite & NOBODY knows this better than black people in this country.

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