Haiti's Great White Hope? by JOHN MAXWELL
Sunday, Jamaican Observer, May 24, 2009
History is littered with treachery. In the noisome Slough of Dishonour are mired thousands of reputations, most of those who betrayed their own countries, like Pierre Laval, Vidkun Quisling, Jonas Savimbi and Augusto Pinochet.
The deepest pits, though, the most purulent sinks, are reserved for those who have ranged abroad to betray and sabotage strangers, to inflict unnecessary suffering on people who have never given them cause for complaint. People like Leopold of Belgium, Neville Chamberlain, Hitler, Ariel Sharon and George W Bush spring readily to mind. On Monday, former President Clinton announced that he would accept an invitation from the UN secretary general, Ban Ki Moon of South Korea, to become the SG's personal envoy in Haiti. It is an appointment that will end in disaster. I mention Ban Ki Moon's nationality because I believe that the disaster that already exists in Haiti is the result of a culture clash which is entirely incomprehensible to most people outside the Western hemisphere and not easily understood by most people outside the international crime scene that has been created in Haiti.
Ground Zero for Modern Civilisation
It is my contention that the modern world was born in Haiti. When you understand that the modern rotary printing press is a direct descendant of mills made to grind sugar you may begin to get the drift of my argument. Since I am not a historian my arguments will not be subtle and nuanced. I am simply presenting a few crude facts which, however you interpret them, will lead inexorably, I believe, to the conclusion that modern ideas of liberty and freedom, modern capitalism and globalisation of production and exchange, would have spent much longer in gestation had it not been for the black slaves of Haiti who abolished slavery and the slave trade. In the process they defeated the armies of the leading world powers of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, destroyed the French empire in the western hemisphere, doubled the size and power of the United States and incidentally promoted the European sugar beet industry and revolutionised European farming.
The problem with all this, as I have repeatedly pointed out, is that had the Haitians been ethnically European, their achievements would now suffuse the world narrative; conversely, had Spartacus been black, he would long ago have faded into the mists of barbarian myth. The Haitians and all the other blacks of the Western hemisphere were uprooted from their native grounds, their civilisations laid waste, and they themselves transported to unknown lands in which they were forced to create unexampled riches and luxury for their rapists and despoilers.
For reasons lost to history, the blacks in Haiti and Jamaica were, for most of their captivity, the most unwilling subjects and continued to fight for their freedom for more than three centuries. The Enlightenment and its prophets and philosophers popularised the ideas of freedom and liberty, the rights of man. Nowhere was freedom taken more seriously than by the Haitians, who, described as Frenchmen, fought valiantly for American freedom in that nation's Revolutionary War of Independence. When Revolution convulsed France in turn, the Haitians threw their support to those they thought were fighting for freedom. When that proved a false trail, the Haitians continued to fight, defeating the French, British and Spanish armies sent to re-enslave them.
Although the Americans and the French said they believed in freedom, they formed an unholy combination to restrict Haiti's liberty. The fact of Haitian freedom frightened the Americans and other world powers. Haiti promised freedom to any captive who set foot on her soil and armed, provisioned and supplied trained soldiers to Simon Bolivar for the liberation of South America. Nearly 200 years before the United Nations (and France and the USA), Haiti proclaimed Universal Human Rights, threatening the slave societies in America and the Caribbean. Haiti's freedom was compromised by French and American financial blackmail, and as I've said before, what the Atlantic powers could not achieve by force of arms they achieved by compound interest. Haiti was the first heavily indebted poor country, and the United States, Canada, France and the multilateral financial organisations, the World Bank, the InterAmerican Development Bank and the IMF have worked hard to keep her in that bondage.
Eventually, 93 years ago, the Americans invaded Haiti, destroyed the constitution, the government and their social system. American Jim Crow segregation and injustice destroyed the Haitian middle class, enhanced and exacerbated class distinctions and antagonisms and left Haiti a ravaged, dysfunctional mess, ruled by a corrupt American-trained military in the interest of a small, corrupt gang of mainly expatriate or white capitalists, ready to support any and every murderous dictator who protected their interests.
Finally, 20 years ago, the Haitians rose up and overthrew the Duvaliers and the apprentice dictators who followed. In their first free election the Haitians elected a black parish priest of small stature, the man whose words and spirit had embodied their struggle. But the real rulers of Haiti, the corrupt, bloodthirsty capitalists with their American passports and their bulletproof SUVs, had no intention of letting Haitians exercise the universal human rights their leaders had proclaimed two centuries before.
When Jean Bertrand Aristide was deposed after a few months in office, it was with the help of the CIA, USAID, and other American entities. Then ensued one of the most disgraceful episodes in the long, unsavoury history of diplomacy. Bill Clinton - elected president promising to treat the Haitian refugees as human beings - elected instead to observe the same barbarous policies as George Bush I, and when the refugees became a flood, Clinton's answer was more illegality. He parked two massive floating slave barracoons in Kingston Harbour where refugees picked up in Jamaican waters were, with the craven connivance of the Patterson government, denied asylum, captured and processed and 22 per cent of them selected for the Guantanamo Bay concentration camp while the rest were returned to their murderers in Haiti.
Eventually, largely due to pressure from black pressure groups in the US and crucially, a fast to the death begun by Randall Robinson, Clinton agreed to restore Aristide while General Colin Powell talked grandly of the soldier's honour he shared with Haiti's then murderer-in-chief, a scamp called Raoul Cedras. President Clinton made several pledges to Aristide and to Haiti, but history does not seem to record that any were kept. Had even a few been kept, Haiti may have been able to guarantee public security and to install some desperately needed infrastructure. Instead Haitians are still scooping water to drink from potholes in the street and stave off hunger with 'fritters' made from earth and cooking fat.
The Haitian Army, the most corrupt and evil public institution in the western hemisphere, was abolished by Aristide, to the displeasure of the North American powers. Now that the Americans have deposed Aristide for the second time, security is in the hands of a motley mercenary army, a UN peacekeeping force. Security in Haiti is so good that three years ago, the then head of this force, a Brazilian general, was found shot to death after a friendly chat with Haitian elites. The rapes, massacres, disappearances and kidnappings continue unabated and the only popular political force, the Fanmi Lavalas, has been effectively neutered. President Clinton "will aim to attract private and government investment and aid for the poor Caribbean island nation", according to Clinton's office and a senior UN official. "A UN official said that Clinton would act as a 'cheerleader' for the economically distressed country, cajoling government and business leaders into pouring fresh money into a place that is largely dependent on foreign assistance."
It all sounds so nice and cozy, a poor, black 'hapless' nation under the tutelage of the rich and civilised of the earth. I am prepared to bet that neither Haitian democracy nor Bill Clinton's reputation will survive this appointment. Democracy is impossible without popular participation and decision making. In Haiti, democracy is impossible without Lavalas and Aristide. If Haiti itself is to survive, the UN General Assembly needs to seize this baton from the spectacularly unqualified and ignorant Security Council and its very nice and affable secretary general, even less attuned to Haitian reality than the last SG, Kofi Annan and his accomplices, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, PJ Patterson and Patrick Manning.
Copyright -2009 John Maxwell firstname.lastname@example.org