Monday, August 20, 2007

Haiti: This Is What An
Occupation Looks Like

    "WAR is a racket. It always has been.

    It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.

    A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small "inside" group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes."

      A speech delivered in 1933
      by Major General Smedley Butler
      The first commandant of the new U.S.-created Haitian constabulary or Gendarmerie d'Haiti (the beginnings of the infamous "tonton Macoutes", Duvalier's private security force which terrorized the Haitian people up until Jean Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier was forced to leave Haiti in 1986).
This quote is one you should consider when visiting Haiti. A land where "small wars" have been conducted by the US armed forces and other government agencies (CIA) for centuries. This is a war "hidden from the headlines". This war was launched by the forces of imperialism to counter Haitian's struggle or "lutte" for freedom and sovereignty. These wars have left Haiti a disaster zone.

It is especially sad to see the city of Gonaive with the torn up sidewalks that have stood in that state for at least two years since the disastrous floods of 2005. Why haven't the roads which had to be torn up for drainage been repaired? No one can say. Of course, there is no garbage pick-up, no potable water, electricity and transportation is very difficult. People who have the means use scooters or motorcycles to navigate the giant ditches and piles of debris, dung and mud. This scenario is played out in most cities of Haiti to a lesser degree.

The Haitian people are not violent by nature (as propagated on US and other foreign media) and are a friendly, kind and generous people who have been put in an untenable position by the occupying forces of the UN or United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). The war is fought as all wars are with tanks and guns. They roll through the densely populated streets of Port-au-Prince and menace the women, children and older people.

This current occupation was made possible by the US, Canada and France who orchestrated the removal of the democratically elected government of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004.

President Aristide made no bones about his agenda to bring about social justice for the Haitian people. He was campaigning for higher wages, justice and reparations from France to the tune of 22 billion dollars for an illegal debt that France imposed on Haiti by extortion/coercion after Haiti won its independence. Get this; the "debt" was to pay France for losing its income from slave labor in Haiti. The payment of this "debt" has contributed to the underdevelopment of Haiti to a great degree. These unforgivable sins necessitated President Aristide's speedy removal.

Why has this small country been the target of the US "the most powerful country in the world" and the former European colonizers over the years? It is in order to keep Haiti underdeveloped, a slave to the corporatocracy and under the thumb of the international community. The international community's corporate pirates never hesitate to plunder Haiti at will for its natural resources; be it virtual slave labor, mining, land, national treasures, service monopolies... etc.

The truth is, Haitians are paying for having been the home of the FREEDOM FIGHTERS who fought to end slavery in this hemisphere.

Haitian people are survivors and won their freedom by waging the first and only successful slave rebellion, which made inevitable the end of slavery for the rest of the Americas and facilitated an increase in size of the US by a third with the Louisiana purchase. In 12 years of war, Haitians defeated the armies of the British, Spanish and French.

The newly formed Haitian government declared that Haiti was a haven for freedom fighters and any escaped slave who could make it there would be given sanctuary. That promise is what brought Simon Bolivar of Venezuela to Haiti with a request for aid in fighting for independence from the Spaniards. Bolivar was given money, arms and 2000 men, with the stipulation by the Haitian President Petion that Bolivar must also free the slaves.

Dessalines, who led Haiti to freedom put an article in the Haitian constitution stating that no white man could step foot on Haiti with the title of "master" ever again AND could never own land in Haiti. Note: White men (such as the Poles) who fought with Haitians for independence were considered "Black" by the Haitian constitution and were given land by Dessalines.

The stipulation about land ownership galvanized the imperialist to see that this article of the Haitian constitution was changed... and it was in 1915 when the US marines invaded and occupied Haiti on the usual pretext of "stabilizing" Haiti. They introduced a made in the USA brand of racism, repression, murder and instituted slave labor in the form of corvee(s). A Southern Colonel from Virginia was picked to head the force that first brought the Marines ashore because he knew how to handle "niggers" (Colonel Littleton W.T. Waller).
    "The history of the American invasion of Haiti is only additional evidence that the United States is among those Powers in whose international dealings democracy and freedom are mere words, and human lives negligible in face of racial snobbery, political chicane, and money. The five years of American occupation, from 1915 to 1920, have served as a commentary upon the white civilization which still burns black men and women at the stake. For Haitian men, women, and children, to a number estimated at 3,000, innocent for the most part of any offense, have been shot down by American machine gun and rifle bullets; black men and women have been put to torture to make them give information; theft, arson, and murder have been committed almost with impunity upon the persons and property of Haitians by white men wearing the uniform of the United States."

Although the stated purpose of the the 1915 intervention in Haiti was to bring "stability". The Marines landed on behalf of U.S. financial interests.

That was then, this current occupation is more of the same prevailing attitude described above. The imperialist occupying forces in Haiti at present marginalize Haitian people's lives, while Americans and other foreigners are all powerful and take precedent where livelihood, safety, health and basic human rights are concerned.

IMAGINE; in this day and age, most places outside of the capital of Port-au-Prince (where the imperialist and their non-governmental agencies reside (NGOs) in relative luxury) are without infrastructure, electricity, potable water, sanitation, the roads are horrendous or non-existent and there is 70% unemployment. AND; By the way, Haiti is the home of the most international NGOs or aid agencies in operation of any country in the world. Yet according to Haitian government officials, there has seen no evidence of tangible achievements, aside from the visible signage announcing projects that never materialize and never include the input of "natives".

The good news is that people in Haiti are politically galvanized by the actions of the international community. A nationwide discourse is taking place about Haiti's political future. The people are politically conscious, active and vocal about the occupation. Voter turn out was tremendous for the last election.

Haiti is primarily an agricultural country and you will be transfixed by beautiful pastoral scenes of people and animals like goats, cows, donkeys, horses, roosters, chickens and so on. In the countryside you will find many areas growing corn, sugar cane, and other farm staples.

Also, Haiti is a land of many beautiful mountain ranges. The spirits of the ancestors will meet and welcome you around every corner in Haiti with a warm smile and a "sac passe" or "Komon ou ye". For women preface your inquiry with a "Belle Madam" or "Belle Soeur". When you meet the men it should be "Belle Garcon". A warm response is sure to follow your salutation.

In Haiti you will see the sky and the stars like you never have before if you go out to the countryside at night. Surely, such beauty is unique to Haiti. It is ironic that lack of electricity has made this beautiful panorama available to the "peasants" who populate this beautiful land. Haiti is a country that naturally grows organic foods, no pesticides, no gimmicks and no hormones. The majority of the people you meet are poor, but have great pride, kindness and hospitality.

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails