In a ceremony reeking of historic colonialism, designed to firmly seal Haiti’s status as a U.S. neocolony, former President Bill Clinton and current Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton presided over the Oct. 22 inauguration of the new Sae-A Trading Co. factory in Caracol, Haiti.
Sae-A has its headquarters in Korea and is in the process of moving its production from Guatemala and Nicaragua because labor is cheaper in Haiti. Its main customers are Walmart and the Gap.
Caracol is on the coast in the northeastern part of Haiti, about 100 miles from Port-au-Prince and 13 miles from Cap-Haitien, Haiti’s second-largest city. The land seized for the plant had previously supported 400 farm families.
The photo that the U.S. Agency for International Development is distributing shows the Clintons standing under a sign saying in English, “A New Day for Haiti.” They are surrounded by a few hundred Haitian workers, almost all women dressed in their new uniforms. Haiti’s language is not English, however. It is Creole. USAID put $124 million into this facility, its biggest investment since the devastating earthquake two years ago.
Daniel Cho, a representative of Sae-A in Haiti, told the Associated Press that the employees will be paid almost $5 for eight hours of work, which means that they would need two days’ wages to buy one of the cheapest T-shirts that they make for Walmarts. The minimum wage in Haiti was supposed to be raised to $7 a day on Oct. 1, but under pressure from the U.S. State Department (according to Wikileaks) and garment contractors, most textile companies in Haiti are paying the old $5-a-day rate.
According to Haïti-Liberté (Oct. 24), the people’s organizations in northern Haiti see the inauguration of the Caracol industrial park as the “inauguration of misery,” as the “new colonialist justifying their presence by inaugurating Caracol as a source of exploitation of and misery for Haitian labor and a means to support Martelly.” Michel Martelly is the current president of Haiti. He was imposed by the U.S. and is facing mounting political and popular opposition. n