Few Haitians have heard of Brigadier General Smedley D. Butler (1881-1940), who served as a major in Haiti during the first U.S occupation of that country (1915-34) and personified its motive. A man of his time, General Butler claimed to have hunted the Cacos, the Haitian rebels who opposed the occupation, like pigs, and did not hide his hatred for the “uncivilized niggers in need to be civilized” who inhabited the island, as his 1922 testimony before a U.S senate inquiry into the occupation indicated. Had generations of Haitians be made aware of his exploits in Haiti, they would not have facilitated or tolerated the current U.N occupation (2004-?) which incidentally bears eerie similarities to that of the U.S which lasted 19 years. The brutality of the U.S occupation was such that thousands of Haitians sought refuge in Cuba where today their descendants numbered more than half-million in that island nation.
According to the transcript of the hearings, in 1914, the U.S notifies the Haitian government that it is disposed to recognize the newly elected Haitian president, Davilmar Theodore, as soon as Haiti signs a “satisfactory protocol” on the model of the U.S-Dominican Convention of 1907. To which the Haitian government replied: “The government of the Republic of Haiti would consider itself lacking in its duty to the U.S and to itself, if it allowed the least doubt to exist of its irrevocable intention not to accept any control of the administration of Haitian affairs by a foreign power.” Nevertheless on July 29, 1915 U.S troops invaded Haiti and curiously the American people were told that the Haitian people invited the United Sates to straighten out its affairs.
On February 39, 2004, 70 years after the U.S occupation ended, Haiti was once more invaded and occupied by U.S and French forces acting under the cover of a U.N. Security Council resolution. Despite this interlude, the rationale remained the same: forestalling political violence and stabilizing the country’s institutions, with an addendum this time that Jean Bertrand Aristide himself, the Haitian president, had asked to be taken out of Haiti. This reasoning is rooted in a paternalism which exposes Haitians as inherently irresponsive to foreign directives and inclined to self-destruct, hence the perpetual disdain for the country, its people, culture and institutions. To make matters worse the strategy is aided and abetted by the country’s intelligentsia, its economic elite and the political class, which explains their unconditional support for the U.N occupation.
Gérard Latortue, Haiti’s prime minister (2004-06) and René Préval, the country’s current president are poster boys of that anti-national movement. Assailed by critics over his signing over jurisdictional control of the Haitian National Police to the MINUSTAH, which nullified Haiti’s sovereignty as a nation in the waning weeks of his premiership, Latortue responded that he did not have his spectacles on. This is a stunning admission by the man that he did not even read the agreement, prior to signing it. Following the January 12 earthquake, René Préval, understandably overwhelmed by the magnitude of the disaster, could have formed a national unity government tasked with rebuilding the country but instead chose to play old-style politics.
Sensing a golden opportunity arising from the absolute incompetence of Préval and his minions, the international community swiftly moves in to fill the void and takes charge of the rebuilding. The end result is the takeover of the government’s constitutional prerogatives by Haiti Interim Reconstruction Commission, a foreign-dominated body whose purpose is to implement the objectives of the occupiers. This incomprehensible act by Préval, a man elected to protect the interests of Haiti and its people, is downright malicious rather than a simple case of dereliction of duty or incompetence.
Based on the aforementioned actions of Latortue and Préval, were they duped by hardened imperialists or willingly collaborated in the subjugation of the Haitian people? I sincerely doubt the former could be the case since the two exhibited classic symptoms of exaggerated self-worth, thus were in full control of their faculties. As for Préval, the man is so proud of his performance that he is protecting his legacy through the machinations of the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP). His masters agree with him.
José Miguel Insulza, the Organization of the American States (OEA) General Secretary and Lionel Jospin, former French prime minister and presidential candidate, consider the electoral process credible despite the fact that many candidates and political parties were arbitrarily disqualified. Undoubtedly these statements are indicative of the international community’s support for the politic of exclusion and unaccountability that guarantees its interference in the internal affairs of Haiti. This imposed paternalism, masqueraded as a genuine concern for the welfare of the Haitian people, makes a mockery of the United Nations Charter; negates the principles of auto-determination and fosters a culture of dependency in Haiti.
A cursory analysis of the current occupation of Haiti (the marginalization of the local authorities and imposition of foreign ideals inimical to the country’s traditions) validates the perspectives of General Butler who classified Haitians in two categories: “Those with shoes and those without shoes.” Appropriately, General Butler’s contempt for the former whom he called uppity niggers merits to be put in perspective. Indeed this group (the political class, the intelligentsia and the arrogant economic elite) represents an existential threat to Haiti and its people and needs to be reeducated not civilized, otherwise “the Haitian question” and all the negativity that comes with it will endure.
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