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Damming the Flood: Haiti, Aristide, and the Politics of Containment [Paperback]

Peter Hallward

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Book Description

April 17 2008
Once the most lucrative European colony in the Caribbean, Haiti has long been one of the most divided and impoverished countries in the world. In the late 1980s a remarkable popular mobilization known as Lavalas, or “the flood,” sought to liberate the island from decades of US-backed dictatorial rule. After winning a landslide election victory, in 1991 the Lavalas government led by President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was overthrown by a bloody military coup. Damming the Flood analyzes how and why Aristide’s enemies in Haiti, the US and France made sure that his second government, elected with another overwhelming majority in 2000, was toppled by a further coup in 2004.

The elaborate international campaign to contain, discredit and then overthrow Lavalas at the start of the twenty-first century was perhaps the most successful act of imperial sabotage since the end of the Cold War. Its execution and its impact have much to teach anyone interested in the development of today’s political struggles in Latin America and the rest of the post-colonial world.

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Damming the Flood is an excellent book, the best study of its kind. It offers the first accurate analysis of recent Haitian history, and of its history in the making. Finally, we have an honest rendering of how the Haitian poor sought to advance their struggle for dignity at the close of the twentieth century, and of the forces that have stymied their struggle. Hallward’s new book is required reading for anyone who seeks to know Haiti and to understand the forces arrayed against all those who believe in genuine democracy.”—Paul Farmer

“Very convincing, a marvelous book. This riveting and deeply-informed account should be carefully read by those who recognize that Haiti’s tragic history is a microcosm of imperial savagery and heroic resistance—resistance which, as Hallward argues, will continue to shape Haiti’s political future if its people are granted the opportunity to take their fate into their own hands.”—Noam Chomsky

Damming the Flood demonstrates that, contrary to what so many self-proclaimed experts have led us to believe with the steady diet of half-truths and outright lies they have been feeding us, it is indeed possible to ‘get Haiti right.’ All it takes is a healthy dose of respect for a nation and a people so deserving of it, and an uncompromising devotion to the truth.”—Patrick Elie, former Secretary for National Defense, Haiti

About the Author

Peter Hallward teaches at the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy at Kingston University, London. He is the author of several books including Absolutely Postcolonial, Badiou: A Subject to Truth, Out of This World: Deleuze and the Philosophy of Creation, and Damming the Flood.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
49 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Book on Haiti's Recent History April 1 2008
By sarah - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I read a lot of books on Haiti, this is the best one I have seen on Haiti's history between 1990 and 2005. Well-written and researched, with strong analysis. It is important for anyone interested in understanding Haiti today, but it is equally important for understanding current U.S. foreign policy. The excellent explanation of how the U.S. undermined and overthrew Haiti's democracy in 2004 applies to similar U.S. efforts in Venezuela over the last 8 years, and current efforts to undermine democracy in Bolivia.
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Feb. 11 2009
By mattyd - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is the finest political study I've read in years. Hallward presents an impressively insightful and revelatory examination of Haiti's grassroots democracy movement (mid 1980s-present), plus an expose of the numerous malicious forces fighting to prevent democracy and human rights in Haiti (e.g. powerful Haitian wealthy sector, Duvalierist holdovers, and the US State Department). In thoroughly-documented detail, Hallward corrects the fallacious and slanderous reputation that has been heaped upon Jean Bertrand Aristide by his many self-interested opponents. Hallward argues convincingly that JBA was driven from power, not because he was corrupt (as some critics alleged, without providing evidence), but, rather, because JBA's efforts to improve the lives of the Haitian poor presented too great a threat to numerous established interests. Hallward makes a compelling case that JBA's so-called "voluntary resignation" in 2004 can be better understood as forced, blackmailed, via the threat of mass-violence by a band of thugs with ties to the Haitian elite and the US State Department. Hallward provides evidence that, contrary to popular perceptions, JBA's Lavalas party governed responsibly and with great respect for human rights, whereas their opponents were guilty of human rights abuses on a massive scale. Though Hallward's tone is measured and credible, the book has a great moral clarity and shows that the US has abetted in a large-scale violation of human rights in Haiti. I enthusiastically recommend this book for those interested in modern Haitian history, and/or grassroots democracy movements, US foreign policy and neo-colonialism.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Book to Read on Haiti Oct. 8 2011
By Nathan D. Backlund - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
No foreign policy issue is more distorted in the corporate media than Haiti, with the exception of Isreal/Palestine. Peter Hallward has written a marvelous book with a politically engaged perspective. His account of the years leading up to the U.S. kidnapping of Aristide in 2004 is an invaluable corrective to the demonization of Aristide and Lavalas. The story of Haiti, as told by Hallward, gives the reader insight into the lengths the U.S. government will go to repress popular movements that seek to redistribute wealth. Most Americans cannot comprehend the level of repression the U.S. can bring to bear on a small country like Haiti. For further evidence see the diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks and published in The Nation magazine. This book receives the highest praise from Chomsky, Zizek, and Dr. Paul Farmer. You shouldn't need any further proof that is is a must read.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hallward Gets to the Heart of Haiti Today April 28 2013
By michael P. morrissey - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Vital information that pulls no punches. Closely
researched and reasoned. With Paul Farmer
and Jeb Sprague's books a veritble handbook
for understanding today's Haiti.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars Aug. 2 2014
By Garnet Stanley - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A lucid analysis. Well written!

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