In the latest issue:

Short Cuts

Jonathan Parry

Real Men Go to Tehran

Adam Shatz

What Trump doesn’t know about Iran

Patrick Cockburn

Kaiser Karl V

Thomas Penn

The Hostile Environment

Catherine Hall

Social Mobilities

Adam Swift

Short Cuts: So much for England

Tariq Ali

What the jihadis left behind

Nelly Lahoud

Ray Strachey

Francesca Wade

C.J. Sansom

Malcolm Gaskill

At the British Museum: ‘Troy: Myth and Reality’

James Davidson

Poem: ‘The Lion Tree’

Jamie McKendrick

SurrogacyTM

Jenny Turner

Boys in Motion

Nicholas Penny

Jia Tolentino

Lauren Oyler

Diary: What really happened in Yancheng?

Long Ling

Close

Terms and Conditions

These terms and conditions of use refer to the London Review of Books and the London Review Bookshop website (www.lrb.co.uk — hereafter ‘LRB Website’). These terms and conditions apply to all users of the LRB Website ("you"), including individual subscribers to the print edition of the LRB who wish to take advantage of our free 'subscriber only' access to archived material ("individual users") and users who are authorised to access the LRB Website by subscribing institutions ("institutional users").

Each time you use the LRB Website you signify your acceptance of these terms and conditions. If you do not agree, or are not comfortable with any part of this document, your only remedy is not to use the LRB Website.


  1. By registering for access to the LRB Website and/or entering the LRB Website by whatever route of access, you agree to be bound by the terms and conditions currently prevailing.
  2. The London Review of Books ("LRB") reserves the right to change these terms and conditions at any time and you should check for any alterations regularly. Continued usage of the LRB Website subsequent to a change in the terms and conditions constitutes acceptance of the current terms and conditions.
  3. The terms and conditions of any subscription agreements which educational and other institutions have entered into with the LRB apply in addition to these terms and conditions.
  4. You undertake to indemnify the LRB fully for all losses damages and costs incurred as a result of your breaching these terms and conditions.
  5. The information you supply on registration to the LRB Website shall be accurate and complete. You will notify the LRB promptly of any changes of relevant details by emailing the registrar. You will not assist a non-registered person to gain access to the LRB Website by supplying them with your password. In the event that the LRB considers that you have breached the requirements governing registration, that you are in breach of these terms and conditions or that your or your institution's subscription to the LRB lapses, your registration to the LRB Website will be terminated.
  6. Each individual subscriber to the LRB (whether a person or organisation) is entitled to the registration of one person to use the 'subscriber only' content on the web site. This user is an 'individual user'.
  7. The London Review of Books operates a ‘no questions asked’ cancellation policy in accordance with UK legislation. Please contact us to cancel your subscription and receive a full refund for the cost of all unposted issues.
  8. Use of the 'subscriber only' content on the LRB Website is strictly for the personal use of each individual user who may read the content on the screen, download, store or print single copies for their own personal private non-commercial use only, and is not to be made available to or used by any other person for any purpose.
  9. Each institution which subscribes to the LRB is entitled to grant access to persons to register on and use the 'subscriber only' content on the web site under the terms and conditions of its subscription agreement with the LRB. These users are 'institutional users'.
  10. Each institutional user of the LRB may access and search the LRB database and view its entire contents, and may also reproduce insubstantial extracts from individual articles or other works in the database to which their institution's subscription provides access, including in academic assignments and theses, online and/or in print. All quotations must be credited to the author and the LRB. Institutional users are not permitted to reproduce any entire article or other work, or to make any commercial use of any LRB material (including sale, licensing or publication) without the LRB's prior written permission. Institutions may notify institutional users of any additional or different conditions of use which they have agreed with the LRB.
  11. Users may use any one computer to access the LRB web site 'subscriber only' content at any time, so long as that connection does not allow any other computer, networked or otherwise connected, to access 'subscriber only' content.
  12. The LRB Website and its contents are protected by copyright and other intellectual property rights. You acknowledge that all intellectual property rights including copyright in the LRB Website and its contents belong to or have been licensed to the LRB or are otherwise used by the LRB as permitted by applicable law.
  13. All intellectual property rights in articles, reviews and essays originally published in the print edition of the LRB and subsequently included on the LRB Website belong to or have been licensed to the LRB. This material is made available to you for use as set out in paragraph 8 (if you are an individual user) or paragraph 10 (if you are an institutional user) only. Save for such permitted use, you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, post, reproduce, translate or adapt such material in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the LRB. To obtain such permission and the terms and conditions applying, contact the Rights and Permissions department.
  14. All intellectual property rights in images on the LRB Website are owned by the LRB except where another copyright holder is specifically attributed or credited. Save for such material taken for permitted use set out above, you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, post, reproduce, translate or adapt LRB’s images in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the LRB. To obtain such permission and the terms and conditions applying, contact the Rights and Permissions department. Where another copyright holder is specifically attributed or credited you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, reproduce or translate such images in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the copyright holder. The LRB will not undertake to supply contact details of any attributed or credited copyright holder.
  15. The LRB Website is provided on an 'as is' basis and the LRB gives no warranty that the LRB Website will be accessible by any particular browser, operating system or device.
  16. The LRB makes no express or implied representation and gives no warranty of any kind in relation to any content available on the LRB Website including as to the accuracy or reliability of any information either in its articles, essays and reviews or in the letters printed in its letter page or material supplied by third parties. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability of any kind (including liability for any losses, damages or costs) arising from the publication of any materials on the LRB Website or incurred as a consequence of using or relying on such materials.
  17. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability of any kind (including liability for any losses, damages or costs) for any legal or other consequences (including infringement of third party rights) of any links made to the LRB Website.
  18. The LRB is not responsible for the content of any material you encounter after leaving the LRB Website site via a link in it or otherwise. The LRB gives no warranty as to the accuracy or reliability of any such material and to the fullest extent permitted by law excludes all liability that may arise in respect of or as a consequence of using or relying on such material.
  19. This site may be used only for lawful purposes and in a manner which does not infringe the rights of, or restrict the use and enjoyment of the site by, any third party. In the event of a chat room, message board, forum and/or news group being set up on the LRB Website, the LRB will not undertake to monitor any material supplied and will give no warranty as to its accuracy, reliability, originality or decency. By posting any material you agree that you are solely responsible for ensuring that it is accurate and not obscene, defamatory, plagiarised or in breach of copyright, confidentiality or any other right of any person, and you undertake to indemnify the LRB against all claims, losses, damages and costs incurred in consequence of your posting of such material. The LRB will reserve the right to remove any such material posted at any time and without notice or explanation. The LRB will reserve the right to disclose the provenance of such material, republish it in any form it deems fit or edit or censor it. The LRB will reserve the right to terminate the registration of any person it considers to abuse access to any chat room, message board, forum or news group provided by the LRB.
  20. Any e-mail services supplied via the LRB Website are subject to these terms and conditions.
  21. You will not knowingly transmit any virus, malware, trojan or other harmful matter to the LRB Website. The LRB gives no warranty that the LRB Website is free from contaminating matter, viruses or other malicious software and to the fullest extent permitted by law disclaims all liability of any kind including liability for any damages, losses or costs resulting from damage to your computer or other property arising from access to the LRB Website, use of it or downloading material from it.
  22. The LRB does not warrant that the use of the LRB Website will be uninterrupted, and disclaims all liability to the fullest extent permitted by law for any damages, losses or costs incurred as a result of access to the LRB Website being interrupted, modified or discontinued.
  23. The LRB Website contains advertisements and promotional links to websites and other resources operated by third parties. While we would never knowingly link to a site which we believed to be trading in bad faith, the LRB makes no express or implied representations or warranties of any kind in respect of any third party websites or resources or their contents, and we take no responsibility for the content, privacy practices, goods or services offered by these websites and resources. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability for any damages or losses arising from access to such websites and resources. Any transaction effected with such a third party contacted via the LRB Website are subject to the terms and conditions imposed by the third party involved and the LRB accepts no responsibility or liability resulting from such transactions.
  24. The LRB disclaims liability to the fullest extent permitted by law for any damages, losses or costs incurred for unauthorised access or alterations of transmissions or data by third parties as consequence of visit to the LRB Website.
  25. While 'subscriber only' content on the LRB Website is currently provided free to subscribers to the print edition of the LRB, the LRB reserves the right to impose a charge for access to some or all areas of the LRB Website without notice.
  26. These terms and conditions are governed by and will be interpreted in accordance with English law and any disputes relating to these terms and conditions will be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales.
  27. The various provisions of these terms and conditions are severable and if any provision is held to be invalid or unenforceable by any court of competent jurisdiction then such invalidity or unenforceability shall not affect the remaining provisions.
  28. If these terms and conditions are not accepted in full, use of the LRB Website must be terminated immediately.
Close

I arrived after dusk at Toussaint Louverture Airport and was relieved to see someone holding a board with my name on it. The State Department and Foreign Office websites had been very discouraging. A taciturn young man from Sécurité whisked me through passport control and into a tacky VIP lounge, then down some steps to an exit, watched over by an unsmiling female security guard. Without saying a word, the young man left me in a dark and deserted parking lot beside the terminal. I had been warned that airport taxis routinely kidnap their passengers, but there were no taxis around anyway. I decided to return to the VIP lounge, where I eventually met a few other invitees to the Unesco conference. Outside, a bus was waiting to collect us.

Explaining that he didn’t want to enter Port-au-Prince by the main road because it was blocked by a police checkpoint, the driver headed along a bumpy track through a slum, the headlights picking out the shapes of half-built shacks. His distrust of the police, someone said, was disturbing, but our fears proved groundless. We eventually reached our hotel, a palace of light, without any problem.

Port-au-Prince is obviously very poor – more than half the population live in bidonvilles – but it is also vibrant and colourful, in the way such places often are, with kerbside markets, women carrying piles of produce or washing on their heads, men rolling tyres along the street or playing cards, and young people chatting on their mobiles. After reading about extensive deforestation I was surprised at the number of trees in the city, and at the greenery in the suburbs and surrounding hills.

The statistics tell us that the majority have no formal employment and that 76 per cent of Haitians live on less than $2 a day. The abysmal state of the roads, occasional power cuts, unreliable water supply and the fact that only 13 per cent of children are enrolled in state schools, all testify to a failure of the powers that be to furnish basic services. On two occasions – in 1991 and 2004 – Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the elected president, was forced out. And on two occasions – in 1994 and 2004 – the US and the international community sent in troops. There was a time when imperialists would seek to justify their presence with public works and health programmes: in the era of neoliberalism this is no longer the case.

The latest foreign occupation began in February 2004, when Aristide faced a spreading but disparate revolt and was persuaded to leave the country by Western emissaries. First restored to power by Clinton in 1994, he had tried to dissolve the army which had overthrown him, but he had great difficulty disbanding it and forming a reliable replacement. The revolt he faced in 2003-4 was led by former army commanders and, according to the later testimony of Guy Philippe, one of its leaders, had been fostered by the CIA. Aristide had armed some of the chimères, his followers in the bidonvilles, but they didn’t have the discipline, training or weaponry to supply the protection he needed and their gun-toting exploits alienated potential supporters. Some of the president’s makeshift militia were genuine Lavalas militants – members of his own movement – but others were guns for hire who deserted him in his hour of need. Aristide’s predicament was made clear by his decision to entrust his own security to a Californian organisation, the Steele Foundation, which tamely acceded to the requests of US and French special forces and escorted him into exile. Atlanticists saw the kidnapping as the dawn of a new epoch of Franco-American understanding after the differences over Iraq.

Several hundred French, Canadian and US troops soon wound up the revolt. The Bush administration, already overstretched in Mesopotamia, wasn’t prepared to involve itself any further in Haiti, however much it feared Haitian radicalisation, civil war and a torrent of refugees. Washington, Paris and Ottawa withdrew their troops and handed over control of the country to a mixed UN force of around 9000. Brazil supplied the commander and about 5000 of the soldiers.

Subsequently, the UN occupying authority – MINUSTAH – acted with considerable circumspection. In presidential elections in 2006 a candidate endorsed by Lavalas, René Préval, was allowed not only to stand but to win. At one point the citizens of Port-au-Prince were required to show ID if they wanted to use the roads around the UN headquarters, but this measure was abandoned after it was met with street protests. The UN authority asked the Préval government to allow it to run a radio station but the request was denied on the grounds that the Haitian constitution requires 51 per cent Haitian ownership of broadcasting facilities.

Préval’s unanticipated victory testified to the continuing influence of the deposed president. Préval is not formally a member of Lavalas though he has twice been its presidential candidate. (In 1996 Aristide was prevented from running by the constitutional ruling that prevents presidents serving two terms in a row.) He comes from Marmelade and has a reputation as an effective local leader. With Cuban help he set up a string of popular clinics, and he has attracted considerable investment from Taiwan. As president in 1996-2001 he built hospitals and schools, and dealt firmly with senior commanders implicated in Duvalier’s repression. The more inspiring Aristide was less effective as an administrator and fixer than Préval, who is close to Chávez and persuaded him to supply cheap oil to Haiti and to invest in the upgrading of two badly needed electric power stations (Aristide got on better with Chávez’s predecessor, Carlos Andres Pérez). He also seems to have good contacts among the Brazilians who still lead the occupation force. One of his advisers told me that he is currently negotiating with them to bring military training under Haitian control and to set a date for the recuperation of full Haitian sovereignty.

The conference I was attending was, in its way, a consequence of the crisis of 2004. There had been plans at that time to celebrate the bicentennial of Haiti’s independence, proclaimed in January 1804, but as the island began sliding into chaos they were abandoned. The next two years were marked by continuing tension and violence, but once Préval was installed things gradually improved and the conference plans resumed. Unesco and the Haitian government agreed to sponsor an event in Port-au-Prince. Its title – ‘The Haitian Revolution and the Universality of Human Rights’ – had a certain chutzpah. It not only celebrated Haitian independence but also drew attention to the fact that Haiti was the first state in the world to embody ‘general liberty’ – and to be based on the rejection of slavery and racial privilege. We were gathered not to commiserate a poster-child for victimhood but to mark the country’s role in establishing international standards of human rights.

The conference was opened by the prime minister, Michele Pierre-Louis, who was appointed despite a scurrilous campaign by opposition forces, who argued that appointing a lesbian to such a prominent position was a violation of Haitian manhood. Pierre-Louis had been the director of an NGO known as Fokal (Fondasyon Konesans ak Libète). In choosing her, Préval was thought to have made an adroit move, pleasing the NGO and donor communities: Fokal is supported by George Soros and various Canadian charities.

Haitian historians have long argued for Haiti’s pioneering role at a time when British and US abolitionism was being contained and defeated. It isn’t clear who first raised the standard of ‘general liberty’ in Saint-Domingue (as the French colony was then known), but nobody at the conference tried to argue that the concept was formulated during or immediately following the great slave uprising of 1791. The rebel leaders had been willing to settle for their own liberty and a shorter working week for the mass of slaves. Having failed to achieve this, most of them then signed up as soldiers of the Spanish king.

The first proclamations of universal emancipation were made separately, but on the same day – 29 August 1793 – by Sonthonax, the Jacobin commissioner, and by Toussaint Louverture, then still a Spanish general. I was impressed that Florence Gauthier, a French historian and ‘doyenne des études robespierristes’, could document a mass meeting of the commune of Le Cap, which adopted a resolution of general emancipation three days earlier. But Franklin Midy, a Haitian sociologist, insisted that a letter signed by three black rebel leaders had urged universal liberty as early as July 1792. Others cited the Kreyol saying, tout moun se moun, ‘everyone is human,’ as supplying the philosophical basis for general emancipation, though the date of this saying is unclear. On sale at the conference bookstore was a new edition of De l’égalité des races humaines, the classic study by the Haitian anthropologist Antenor Firmin, first published in 1885, at a time when many respectable European and US thinkers were the victims of racial fantasy.

When I met Pierre-Louis I asked her what she thought were her most satisfying achievements so far. First, she said, would be the way Haiti had coped with four deadly hurricanes in 2008: 12,000 hectares of land had been recuperated, seeds and fertiliser had been distributed and the loss of life kept within bounds. Twelve bridges had been repaired and 300 schools built. Next, the rehabilitation of three voodoo shrines in the Artibonite region – these also served as shelters for the destitute. But, she added, there was a great deal yet to be done, and it was dispiriting that the political factions could not unite to tackle such national threats as the hurricanes, the deplorable state of the country’s infrastructure or the extent of the poverty.

The main difficulties she faced were the desperate shortage of funds and the continuing consequences of narco-traffic. Members of the National Assembly have immunity, so that drug traffickers seek to recruit them, or even try to get elected themselves. The root of the drug problem, she thought, was First World demand not Third World supply: Haitians consumed only 5 per cent of the drugs moving through the country, according to US estimates. The era of neoliberal deregulation, she said, had ‘killed our manufacturers’. The country used to produce fine textiles – her mother had been a seamstress – but now the street stalls were full of dumped T-shirts and trainers. However, the US Congress – prompted by the Black Caucus – had recently voted to remove all tariffs from up to a billion dollars’ worth of Haitian textiles each year. She was pleased, too, that public sector pension funds in the US had been persuaded to back a scheme to build social housing for Haiti’s teachers and health workers.

Meanwhile, the power of the wealthy and well placed, including drug traffickers, the military and ex-military and corrupt businessmen, is still very great. Haiti is due to have a presidential election in April next year. Since the downfall of Duvalier, one or other of the Lavalas candidates – Aristide or Préval – has won every election. Aristide and Préval are both banned from standing in 2010, Préval because he cannot succeed himself, Aristide because the Assembly will not rescind a banishment decree. Recent student protests suggest that calmer conditions are allowing for some recovery in the popular movement. By next year the identity of the new Lavalas standard-bearer should be clearer.

Send Letters To:

The Editor
London Review of Books,
28 Little Russell Street
London, WC1A 2HN

letters@lrb.co.uk

Please include name, address, and a telephone number.

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.