This season could be called the Autumn of Discontent, as people from the Middle East to Latin America and the Caribbean have been rising up against corrupt neoliberal governments. Two of the countries in crisis, Haiti and Iraq, are on opposite ends of the earth but have something important in common. Not only are they reeling from protests against government corruption and austerity programs, like Ecuador and Algeria, but in both Haiti and Iraq, their corrupt neoliberal governments were imposed on them by the use of U.S. military force.
In 2003 and 2004 respectively, U.S. forces illegally invaded Iraq and Haiti, removed their internationally recognized governments from power and replaced them with U.S.-backed regimes. Both countries have since been governed in line with the dominant neoliberal ideology that the U.S. and its allies have imposed on most of the world since the 1980s. The protests and savage repression in Iraq and Haiti today are only the latest evidence of the utter failure of neoliberalism and the extraordinary human cost of U.S. efforts to impose it by military force on countries that resist.
In the first week of October, more than 100 people were killed and 6,000 wounded in Baghdad, Nasiriyah and other Iraqi cities, as the Iraqi Army and police fired into large demonstrations. Young Iraqis have risen up against government corruption, unemployment and poverty that leaves them with dismal prospects, even as record oil production fills the pockets of the ruling elite in Baghdad’s Green Zone.
Meanwhile, at least 17 people have been killed in the Haitian government’s repression of protests calling for the resignation of U.S.-backed President Juvenal Moise. Public anger has boiled over into the streets as Moise faces credible charges of embezzlement and corruption. His government has utterly failed to improve the lives of most Haitians. Haiti remains the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, with a per capita GDP of only $870 per year and 60% of the population living below a poverty line of $2.41 per day.
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