I am overwhelmed with emotions. I am mournful and tearful. I am so saddened and feel broken and helpless.
I am compelled to ask why Haiti tragedies are seemingly ceaseless and endless. And why is it that Haiti never gets any respite? Why is it that Haiti has all through history suffered calamities, catastrophes and disasters? Why is a once great people in a nation which was full of promise, now perpetually embroiled in palpable devastation and abject poverty?
Haiti’s beginning was auspicious and most audacious, and that, in itself, inspired ceaseless and endless reprisals from two hemispheres. And then, there are also reprisals from outer space and now, reprisals from underground.
An article in The New York Times by one Tracy Kidder captures the core and essence of Haiti’s plights and predicaments, Mr. Kidder a few days ago, wrote what encapsulates the happenstances of history regarding Haiti “Haiti is a country created by former slaves, kidnapped West Africans, who, in 1804, when slavery still flourished in the United States and the Caribbean, threw off their cruel French masters and created their own republic.”
Mr. Kidder further stated that “Haitians have been punished ever since for claiming their freedom: by the French who, in the 1820s, demanded and received payment from the Haitians for the slave colony, impoverishing the country for years to come; by an often brutal American occupation from 1915 to 1934; by indigenous misrule that the American government aided and abetted. (In more recent years American administrations fell into a pattern of promoting and then undermining Haitian constitutional democracy.)”
In the aftermath of this calamitous earthquake, there have been outpouring of promises and pledges of disaster relief and it is hoped that these promises and pledges are delivered. And again, in the words of Mr. Kidder, “The ultimate goal of all aid to Haiti ought to be the strengthening of Haitian institutions, infrastructure and expertise.”
It must be clear to all by now, that the decision to disband Haitian military was wrongheaded. It is similar in consequence and outcome to the disbandment of Iraqi military at the onset of the invasion and occupation of Iraq by the United States in 2003.
In Haiti as in Iraq, some members of the military were anti people and operated with impunity and above the law. But the thing to have done, was to reform both militaries, instead of abolishing or disbanding them, and leaving a void or vacuum. While the foreign search and rescue team will be in Haiti for a short time, and then leave, it must be stated that Haitians must be assisted to endow own local infrastructure, managed by the locals in the locales. The world must get out of the business of decimating local capacities and local enterprise, whether it relates to the raising of pigs or the production of milk or the management of local military or paramilitary. There is so much value in local content, even imperfect ones, they usually know the terrains, and conditions and with stake in the outcome for the long term or long haul.
Haiti was pressured into a situation, in which she had no army or military, while in Iraq, the US disbanded Iraqi military by fiat or pronouncement, as the US described uniformed Iraqis as tools in the hands of Saddam Hussein. I take the view that no nation should be in the business of deciding what other nations should have a standing army or military. In the case of Iraq, the disbandment of Iraqi military, which was ostensibly loyal to Saddam, produced unintended consequences, including, becoming the source of insurgency and disgruntlement which undermined America’s occupation of Iraq. Regarding Haiti, abolishing the military, produced yet another unintended consequence. It deprived Haiti of trained, organized and cohesive first responders or military efficiency which could have been directed at rescue efforts in partnership with arriving foreign rescuers and first responders.
Reform should have been encouraged instead of disbandment of military and paramilitary. After all, on the matter of lawlessness and impunity, local police forces and law enforcement agencies in America were in cahoots, connivance and collusion to oppress African Americans, segregate and discriminate against African Americans. Local police and law enforcement agencies in America were tools of the Klu Klux Klan, they were intertwined, interconnected and doubled and piggy backed in their nefarious activities. There were multiplicities of impunity and lawlessness, racism and criminality all at the expense of African Americans… even as recent as 40 years ago. Jim Crow was official policy until the Civil Rights movement and until segregation requiring the US National Guard to enforce human rights and civil rights which were routinely violated by local officials and other local police and local law enforcements agencies… until there were reforms. Reform should have been policies in Haiti and not the disbandment of law enforcement agencies in Haiti. Disbandment was as a consequence and was precipitated by pressures from the outside
In the days and weeks ahead, a Haitian military or paramilitary force, would have been useful in maintaining law and order. Directing traffic and preventing anti social behavior and chaos, which are quite likely to ensue, as victims who are still stunned, recover from shocks and soon become desperate for limited resources and services.
The grief is palpable and thankfully, through all of this, Haitians are generously supportive of each other; Haitians are digging fellow citizens out of earthquake rubbles and sharing water, gauzes and the very minimal of resources which they have left
There will be desperations borne of long suffering and hardship. The paucity of resources, such as water and food, could very likely lead to stampede and disorderliness, and yet again, the world will wonder why? There could be stampede and local military, paramilitary and or civil defense forces would have been useful in this regard. But there have been deliberate decimation and depletion of local capacities.
There are concerns that there could be outbreaks of cholera, diarrhea and other diseases which might result from the now festering poor sanitary conditions and the scarcity of clean water, electricity, as well as exposed broken sewers. All these present logistical nightmares for search and rescue personnel, local and foreign, requiring dynamic modalities. And again, building local capacities is crucial, in view of long term considerations.
Haiti, just like Jamaica, Guyana have had their local capacities whittled by outsiders deliberately. Those who resisted such outsider usurpers, have been labeled castigated and cast off, Linden Forbes Samson Burnham of Guyana was called socialist communist, and so was Michael Manley of Jamaica, just because they sought to protect and preserve local initiative, local enterprise and local capacities. Haiti used to produce a great deal of what she consumed, and even exported. There was abundance of rice and animal husbandry. Jamaica used to produce milk and dairy and banana in abundance, until Jamaica was targeted by the multinationals, and resisters labeled communists. Farmers, food and agro industrial conglomerates in America continue to receive subsidies from governments, while same western governments pressure Caribbean and African nations not to grant any such subsidies. This practice creates unfair trade practices for the advantage of western conglomerates, farmers and food producers, and this in turn decimates local initiatives and local enterprise and capacity building in Caribbean and African nations. for the advantage of western entities. Sadly, there are no social safety nets in these nations, quite unlike it is found in western societies. So many odds are piled upon Caribbean and African nations and these odds are all connected by the strands of race which in turn festoon social political instability. There are these cause and e
ffect which are all connected and our fates are linked and in the Haiti earthquake, I see the plights and predicaments of all Caribbean nations and continental Africans and peoples of African descent worldwide. Never a dull pleasant moment, never a respite!
It is so easy for some in the world today, to ignore or be willingly ignorant of the evil seeds which were sown in these nations, seeds sown and nurtured, which have led to these structural defects and persisting instabilities. There are continued manipulations, interventions and interferences by outsiders, which undermines growth and development and sturdy structures. It is quite easy for those willing to be superficial, intellectually lazy and or, unwilling to confront the inconvenient truth, to blame the victims and say, why can’t these nations ever help themselves?
The truth is, there is nothing ordained or preordained about people Caribbean and continental African nations. There is nothing in our genes which guarantees failed nation economic, political and socials instabilities and failed nation statuses. Tracy Kidder and Bill Quigley addressed some of these in Mr. Kidder’s article in The New York Times and Mr. Quigley’s in the Huffington Post of January 14, 2010 titled, “What the Mainstream Media Will Not Tell You About Haiti: Part of the Suffering of Haiti is “Made in the USA”
Some are right now installing puppets in Afghanistan and Iraq, puppets who are too willing and only amenable to the wishes of foreign powers and the political and business interests of outsiders, in denigration, dimunition and complete disregard of the interests and roles of the local peoples. Local political and business power structures which are inconsistent and in contradiction to the peoples of Afghanistan and Iraq are being planted, but in a few years, may 50 or 100 years hence, people will wonder why the offspring of today’s Afghan war lords are undemocratic or corrupt or both, ditto for Iraq.
In this immediate aftermaths of the earthquake and in the long term, Haiti need us all.
The people of Haiti would need money, and sundry material assistance from all of us. There is need for more. President Obama should extend Temporary Protective Status or TPS to Haitians. The Congressional Black Caucus have for many years argued that the US bring equity and justice to Haitians regarding immigration opportunities. This is the immigration status which have in the past been extended to citizens of nations with political turmoil and or natural disasters. Haiti unfortunately, have faced political instability, hurricanes and now, this earthquake devastation. Haitians therefore doubly qualify for the TPS status, because Haiti has been afflicted by political crises and natural disasters and so, both criterion have been met. Haiti’s doubly whammies qualifies her for TPS, if any nation was ever so qualified. Haiti and Haitians have always been treated differently compared with other nations.
Haiti in all of these, it must be remembered, has had a very checkered history and Mr. Kidder’s article referenced above alluded directly to this point. And it must be restated here, because it bears repeating the major role and the enormous negative impact in Haitian affairs, by the direct interventions, manipulations and interferences in Haiti’s economic, political and constitutional development.
Haitian history is full and replete with abundant evidence of the havoc wrought upon Haiti by France, the United States and Britain through direct actions, collusion and connivance to punish Haiti for, having the audacity to auspicious resist French usurpation and domination, and thereafter, having the temerity to declare political independence in 1804.
The defeated France, demanded and received punitive reparations from Haiti, which subsequently left Haiti impoverished. Haiti is country of rich culture, forerunners in the fight for freedom and independence for Black peoples worldwide. Haiti’s freedom and political independence predated American Emancipation Proclamation for African Americans. Haitian independence and freedom was precursor to political independence for African nations post colonialism.
Haitians by laying claim to the fundamental human right to be a free people, earned the wrath of the French and the United States. Haitians declaration of independence and freedom, was seen as a direct affront and challenge to the superiority complexes in France and the United States. Haiti’s declaration of independence and freedom, was inconsistent to American and European worldview of racial hierarchy and superiority complex, and in this singular act by Haitians more than 200 years ago, there having been relentless efforts to undermine Haiti by the Americans and the French.
This deliberate policy to undermine Haiti, culminated in the labeling and overthrow of former President Betrand Aristide, albeit, an imperfect man, an imperfect politician.
The government of the United States under former President George W. Bush, funded the National Republican Institute which directly undermined Haitian democracy. The American government directly and indirectly supported criminal and murderous elements, including drug dealers, known to the US, all in efforts to remove the constitutionally elected government of Betrand Aristide
Haiti paid for her independence and paid dearly, deforestation set in, result of sale of mahogany trees. foreign intervention have been negative for Haiti, the US have intervened thrice, the US also prevented $500 million IMF/World Bank facility. which in turn, led to deprivation, social discontent, violence and chaos. The former President Betrand Aristide was deceived and lured away by the Americans into exile on February 29, 2004 and he remains in South Africa. The quandary is unmitigated and unabated, all these are now multiplied by this devastating earthquake.
Haiti need the support of everyone on earth and the Gods need to come down from the heavens! Haiti has done nothing wrong and Haiti deserves respite. Haiti earned her political independence and freedom more than 200 years ago and these have been mostly rubbished by reprisals against Haiti for her audacity.
Lovers of political independence, freedom, liberty and justice should support Haiti into a new dawn of recovery, reconstruction and rebirth. We must all join hands to foster a new dawn and a renaissance in Haiti. We all have a stake in what becomes of Haiti, Haiti matters, particularly, as the forerunner of freedom from slavery and political independence for peoples of African descent and continental Africans. We are all Haitians. We are all more Haitians now! We all feel Haiti’s ageless, ceaseless and endless agonies and pains
Haiti Cheri, Mon Amour, Je t’aime
Haiti Darling, I Love You!