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The Internationalist
  January 2018

For Workers Action to Smash Trump Racism, and to
Block the Capitalist Deportation Machine Obama Built


Full Citizenship Rights for All Immigrants!

Internationalists at protest called by New Sanctuary Coalition outside I.C.E. jail in New York City protesting the arrest of Haitian immigration activist and Coalition founder Jean Montrevil, January 5. Montrevil's daughter and wife are on the right. He was deported to Haiti on January 17. (Internationalist photo)

JANUARY 19 – Donald Trump’s racist smear of immigrants from Haiti and Africa as well as El Salvador, calling their homelands “shithole” countries, has enraged millions. A gut-level response would be, “Who is this shithead of a president to trash our people?” But his vile words are not just an insult, they are an expression of his criminal cancellation of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitians, Salvadorans, Nicaraguans and soon Hondurans, leading to mass deportations of tens of thousands of immigrants. During the 2016 elections Trump railed against “terrorist” countries, and on taking office he issued his infamous ban on refugees, immigrants or visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries. Before that he called Mexican immigrants criminals, drug traffickers and “rapists” to justify his call to build a wall along the U.S. southern border.

The racist rhetoric is tied to racist policies , and it’s not just the white supremacist in the White House who is an enemy of immigrants. Remember that Democrat Obama paved the way for Republican Trump by deporting a record 5+ million immigrants (over 8 million if you include the “voluntary departures,” which are not voluntary at all). The hated Immigration and Customs Enforcement (I.C.E.) police are part of a monstrous bipartisan capitalist deportation machine, including a network of concentration camps and private prisons where over 400,000 immigrants are detained every year, treated as prisoners although they have committed no crime. Even as Trump hypocritically praised the undocumented immigrant youth known as Dreamers, he canceled the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that supposedly protects them from deportation.

On Friday, January 19 a protest has been called urging Haitians in New York City to march across the Brooklyn Bridge and “paralyze downtown Manhattan” to denounce Trump, his racist words and policies. The route from Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn to Wall Street is the same one followed in April 1990 when 50,000 demonstrators angrily protested victimization by the federal government which blamed the AIDS epidemic on Haitian immigrants. By their sheer numbers, the protesters paralyzed the center of world finance capital for most of the day. When in October 1991 the U.S.-backed military overthrew Haiti’s president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, over 60,000 Haitian protesters again blocked the financial district. Today mass mobilization is called for against the deportations carried out by both capitalist parties.

Class-conscious working people and defenders of democratic rights must not only denounce Trump’s blatant racism, but also call for mass worker/immigrant action to block deportations, to stop the attacks on TPS and DACA, and to demand full citizenship rights for all immigrants! Amid all the talk of Haiti as a “failed state,” U.S. imperialism under Republicans and Democrats alike treat it as a semi-colonial possession, installing and deposing presidents at will, imposing starvation wages, destroying the economy, organizing terrorist squads and occupying the Caribbean country ever since 2004 under the guise of a United Nations “peacekeeping” operation. In 2010, Obama invaded Haiti in the guise of earthquake relief. We demand an end to imperialist coup-making and election-rigging and all U.S./U.N. forces out of Haiti, now!

Internationalists at January 15 Martin Luther King Day protest called by SEIU Local 1199 to protest Trump slurs against Haitians and Africans.

Ever since Haitian slaves rose up in 1791 against French colonial rule and proclaimed their independence in 1804, Haiti has been an object of hatred by racists in the U.S. Thomas Jefferson refused to recognize the black republic, as did every U.S. president until after the Civil War. Haiti was subject to a brutal economic embargo and ruinous “reparations” for the French loss of “property” – namely slaves and plantations. But the Haitian Revolution was a beacon of inspiration for slaves in the American South and the Caribbean who revolted against their subjugation, and for generations of revolutionaries ever since. Today, it will take nothing less than international socialist revolution, from the Caribbean to the U.S., to break the chains of imperialist domination and liberate the birthplace of black freedom in the Americas.

The certified racist Donald Trump is rightly despised by African Americans and defenders of immigrant rights. But not only did Democrat Barack Obama deport more people than any other U.S. president, not only did he send the U.S. military to invade Haiti to put down potential unrest after the January 2010 quake in which up to half a million were killed, but when Haitians tried to escape in rickety boats, they were picked up by the U.S. Coast Guard and locked up in the U.S. naval base in Guantánamo. Obama’s “homeland security” chief Janet Napolitano limited the Temporary Protected Status to those Haitians already in the United States. In the fall of 2016, Napolitano’s successor Jeh Johnson began deporting Haitians even after Hurricane Matthew hit, killing over 1,300 people and destroying the homes of hundreds of thousands.

Then there are the Clintons, Bill and Hillary, who have lorded it over the country acting as “king and queen of Haiti.” They say they fell in love with Haiti during their 1975 honeymoon, when they were brought there by a Citibank executive who had business with the dictatorship of “Papa Doc” Duvalier and his Tontons Macoutes gun thugs. In the 1990s, Bill Clinton single-handedly destroyed Haitian agriculture by importing subsidized rice from Arkansas. As Obama’s secretary of state, in 2010 Hillary Clinton installed Bill as a de facto colonial gouverneur. She used earthquake relief money to set up a sweatshop complex in Caracol on the north coast, far from the quake zone (on a site that was a slave labor camp during the 1915-34 U.S. occupation of Haiti). Today women workers in that garment factory earn less than $5 a day.

And there is the constant imposition of Haitian rulers by Washington: under U.S. president George G.W. Bush, Aristide was removed as president in 1991, and then reinstalled by Bill Clinton and the U.S. Army in 1994. Aristide was ousted by George W. Bush in 2004, kidnapped by U.S. special forces and dumped in Central Africa. Since the U.S. military had its hands full occupying Afghanistan and Iraq, it got Brazil to head up a “U.N.” mercenary force to occupy Haiti. These MINUSTAH troops “stabilized” the country by carrying out a massacre in Cité Soleil in 2006. Hillary Clinton engineered the “selection” of Michel Martelly (son of a Shell Oil executive) as president in 2011. Driven out by a popular revolt in 2016, he was replaced by his hand-picked successor, banana magnate Jovenel Moïse. The MINUSTAH has now been replaced by the MINUJUSTH, which runs Haiti’s police under a U.S. mission head.

Haiti’s “problem” is not just Donald Trump, it is the domination of U.S. imperialism which continues to treat the Caribbean as an “American lake.” By eliminating TPS for Haitians, the U.S. is threatening to send 59,000 immigrants back to the devastated island (as well as sending 260,000 people from El Salvador to that violence-torn Central American country). And what will happen to Haitians’ 27,000 U.S.-born children? Half of those affected live in south Florida, where even Republican legislators objected to removing TPS. Some 5,000 each live in NYC and Chicago, and 500 work at Disneyland in California. Another 50,000 undocumented Haitians have no protection at all and can be snatched by I.C.E. cops at any moment. Even though most of the tent camps in Haiti’s capital of Port-au-Prince have been shut down, hardly any new housing has been built and hunger is rampant. Expelling immigrants to the ravaged country is a crime.

The Internationalist Group and League for the Fourth International have fought for years to defend Haitian immigrants, as well as workers in Haiti. In July 2008, the IG initiated a united-front protest against the persecution of Dominicans of Haitian origin and moves to eliminate their citizenship.1 In December 2013 we called a protest in solidarity with striking Haitian garment workers.2 In June 2015, the IG joined with hundreds in protesting the order expelling anyone who “looked Haitian” from the D.R. In October 2016, the LFI initiated a tri-national protest in Brazil, Mexico and the U.S. protesting the Obama administration’s move to expel Haitian immigrants and its refusal to admit several thousand desperate Haitians from Brazil waiting at the border in Tijuana, Mexico.3

The IG and LFI have called, long before the Trump administration took over the deportation machine built up by Obama, for workers action to stop deportations, including directly blocking them. Recently, on January 13 at a demonstration in Los Angeles against the cancellation of TPS for Salvadoran immigrants, a group of “Transport Workers Against Deportations” joined a march of 1,000 with a banner and signs calling for full citizenship rights for all immigrants and to unionize undocumented workers. On January 11, 18 people were arrested (including two New York City Council members) when activists surrounded and blocked an ambulance hauling off Trinidadian immigrant activist Ravi Ragbir. And on January 16, activists of the Koreatown Rapid Response Network thwarted an I.C.E. raid on a 7-Eleven store in L.A.

The 1804 Movement for All Immigrants which called the January 19 march appeals to “New York’s Haitian community, with the solidarity of progressive U.S. parties and movements.” But “progressive” bourgeois politicians such as Haitian-born Democratic city councilman Mathieu Eugene will not stop the deportation machine. Nor will liberal Democratic mayor Bill de Blasio, who spoke at a January 15 Martin Luther King Day rally called by SEIU Local 1199 hospital workers union criticizing the removal of TPS protection – even as his NYPD police aid I.C.E. cops in seizing immigrants. No, the answer to the racist vituperation and xenophobic offensive must be a class mobilization of working people, immigrants and defenders of democratic rights independent of and against all the parties and politicians of the capitalist ruling class.

Internationalists at January 19 march from Brooklyn to Wall Street protesting Trump smears and cancellation of TPS for Haitian immigrants. (Internationalist photo)

The Internationalist Group and League for the Fourth International say: Let Haitians Stay (and Salvadorans, Nicaraguans, Hondurans, Iraqis)! Stop the attacks on TPS and DACA! Down with Trump’s Anti-Muslim Ban and Mexico Wall! As revolutionary Marxists, we call for:Full citizenship rights for all immigrants, and asylum for refugees (particularly those fleeing wars and devastation wrought by U.S. imperialism). For worker/immigrant mobilization to stop deportations! And to lead the struggle against this racist capitalist system, it’s necessary to break with the Democrats and all capitalist parties, to bring down the Trump regime with sharp class struggle, and to forge workers parties fighting for socialist revolution from Haiti and the Dominican Republic to the imperialist heartland. ■

  1. 1. See “New York Protest Against Persecution of Haitian Workers in the Dominican Republic,” The Internationalist No. 28, March-April 2009.
  2. 2. See “Haiti: Women Workers Strike Against Starvation Wages,The Internationalist No. 36, January-February 2014.
  3. 3. See “Stop Exclusion of Haitians! Stop All Deportations! Occupation Troops Out of Haiti!” in The Internationalist No. 45, September-October 2016