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Damming the Flood: Haiti and the Politics of Containment

“A marvelous book ... riveting and deeply informed.”—Noam Chomsky
Long before a devastating earthquake hit in January 2010, Haiti was one of the most impoverished and oppressed countries in the world. However, in the late 1980s a remarkable popular mobilization known as Lavalas (“the flood”) sought to liberate the island from decades of US-backed dictatorial rule. Damming the Flood analyzes how and why the Lavalas governments led by President Jean-Bertrand Aristide were overthrown, in 1991 and again in 2004, by the enemies of democracy in Haiti and abroad.

The elaborate campaign to suppress Lavalas was perhaps the most successful act of imperial sabotage since the end of the Cold War. It has left the people of Haiti at the mercy of some of the most rapacious political and economic forces on the planet.

Updated with a substantial new afterword that addresses the international response to the earthquake, Damming the Flood is both an invaluable account of recent Haitian history and an illuminating analysis of twenty-first-century imperialism.

Reviews

  • “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.”
  • “A detailed account of the 'democratic containment' of Haiti's radical politics in the past two decades ... an outstanding book.”
  • “An excellent book ... the first accurate analysis of recent Haitian history, and of its history in the making.”
  • Damming the Flood is a brilliant, politically sophisticated and morally infuriating work on a shameful piece of very recent history that the US press has either distorted or ignored. It is the most important and devastating book I’ve read on American betrayal of democracy in one of the most tormented nations in the world.”
  • “The book is a masterpiece. As someone who lived through those years, Damming the Flood is not only incredibly accurate and well sourced but the analysis is also flawless.”
  • “This is a book about the latest crime that the world’s most powerful nation committed against one of the world’s poorest. I like this book for its scholarship, its measured tone, and its good writing. But I am grateful for it above all because at long last it presents another side of a story that has been reported, almost universally, with stunning tendentiousness and in apparent ignorance of the lives and opinions of most Haitians. This book goes a long way to setting the record straight ... It ought to be required reading for every historian of the Americas and for every student of political science.”
  • Damming the Flood is the best source for anyone trying to understand what has happened in Haiti, and it is unfortunately equally valuable for explaining what is happening elsewhere in Latin America. It is meticulously researched, with ample citations to the mainstream press, human rights reports, and experts from many countries and political perspectives.”
  • Damming the Flooddemonstrates 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.”

Blog

  • 40% off every title on our Latin America Reading List

    To celebrate the release of My First Life, the story of Hugo Chávez’s early years told in his own words, we present a reading list of titles on Latin America. From a tour of Latin American architecture to a graphic biography of Che Guevara to writings from Toussaint L’Ouverture, the leader of the Haitian Revolution, to the definitive history of the drug cartels, we have plenty to help you brush up on Latin American history and contemporary politics as we head into the new school year!

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  • The Will to Leave?

    Brexit campaigners won by dividing, not uniting, the British working class. Peter Hallward teaches philosophy at Kingston University, and is the author of a forthcoming book entitled The Will of the People and the Struggle for Popular Sovereignty.This essay first appeared in Jacobin



    There’s been a lot of talk, the last few days, about the need to respect “the sovereign will of the British people.” A simple question was asked, a simple answer was recorded.

    Like the main party leaders on both sides of the referendum, most commentators on the Left seem to agree with Owen Jones, that whatever happens there can be no argument for “reversing the expressed democratic will of the British people — what is done is done.”

    The people have spoken. Don’t the basic principles of democracy require that our government now simply do what we’ve told it to do?

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  • Happy Birthday Toussaint L'Ouverture

    Today marks the anniversary of the birth of the great revolutionary leader Toussaint L'Ouverture. L'Ouverture, an ex-slave, lead the Haitian revolution against French colonial rule - and in doing so radicalised the spirit of the French Revolution by expanding its aims to cover the universal human emancipation. The revolution, one of the most monumental in human history, created the first black republic anywhere in the world and has influenced countless revolutionaries since.



    This extraordinary document, signed by Toussaint in the name of his fourteen-year-old nephew Belair, was written by the leaders of the slave revolt to the colonial assembly in St-Domingue and the national commissioner Roume. After failed negotiations six months before, the letter testifies to an early and rapid radicalization of the revolution to encompass the call for general liberty based on the logic of indivisible, universal human rights.

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