As per tradition, Haitian Flag Day (May 18) was celebrated grandiloquently throughout the Diaspora, and this year’s had a particular resonance among Haitians, as no less than U.S President, Barack Obama, issued a proclamation, albeit a generic one, extolling the friendship between the United States and Haiti. That was not the end of it, for on Sunday May 24th, the public was treated to a parade along Nostrand Avenue in Brooklyn, featuring floats, musical bands, dancers, and special guests. At New York’s City Hall where Councilman Mathieu Eugene, New York’s state first Haitian-American elected official, and a few of his colleagues, among them Leroy Comrie (D-Queens) and Kendall Stewart (D-Brooklyn) took turn praising the virtues of the Haitian community, the atmosphere was festive and patriotic.
In addition, the honorees, performers, and special guests (motivational speaker Dennis Rahiim Watson and the Trinidad and Tobago’s General Consul in New York, Dr. Harold H. Robertson) did not disappoint the gathering in their effusion of praise that conveyed a heartfelt message it was an event worth celebrating. The highlight of the event, in my humble viewpoint, was Rapper and songwriter E-Uneek Kebreau whose rapping rendition of “Over 200 Years of Blood, Sweat, and Tears” culminated in the audience singing along the national anthem “Pour le Pays…” I took leave well before the closing ceremony because of a prior engagement, but would forever cherish the moment, although the illegal occupation of Haiti (2004-?), which illustrates everything our brave ancestors stood against, was never mentioned.
In pointing out that our courageous ancestors have done their duty and that each and every Haitian is obligated to contribute to the development of Haiti, Councilman Eugene correctly identified the missing link in our inability to make a difference. One can only hope that the message was not lost on the participants whose patriotism was never the issue in the Councilman’s genuine appeal for self-reassessment and personal responsibility toward the motherland. Indeed, it is no longer reasonable to trumpet the greatness of our courageous ancestors while doing nothing to keep the spirit of their sacrifices alive. We have proven ourselves to be unworthy successors of their mantle by conspiring, in the most despicable way, to bring infamy upon the country on the bi-centennial of its epic victory against tyranny (2004). That year, armed Haitian mercenaries, financed by international interests and trained in the Dominican Republic, crossed the border and terrorized the population by torching lightly defended police stations. In the end, the traitors were sidetracked by the architects of the insurrection (the international community and the Haitian elite), and Haiti has been under U.N tutelage ever since. With this abominable action, we have nullified sacrifices of our ancestors by letting ourselves be defined and manipulated by others. As Haitians, our self-concept has succumbed to indolence and blind submission to diktats, an unfortunate situation that must change, if Haiti were to re-invent itself and join the rank of stable and prosperous nations of the world.
Though they originated from a multitude of African ethnic groups, each with its own distinctive dialects and customs, our forefathers managed to forge a common language and purpose. We, their descendants, never followed on this path and remained locked in a pattern of self-destruction. With the assistance of our cunning enemies, (the cosmopolitan Haitian elite and their traditional supporters), we have created an unofficial caste system pitting the educated against the barely educated and the latter against those with no education; the rich against everyone else and the middle class against the poor. For the last 205 years, the system worked so well that the enemies are now in the process of institutionalizing it.
Appropriately, the first order of business of the occupation force in 2004 was to close the country’s newest Medical School and expel the faculty and the student body. Incredibly, the political class and the intelligentsia reacted by ignoring the issue, as if the school was producing an unneeded surplus of doctors. One of the IMF and World Bank’s foremost requirements to extending a loan to Haiti or providing debt relief is an ironclad commitment from any Haitian government to spending less on education, health care, agriculture and the environment, and privatizing national assets. Against all odds, the current government is adopting these recommendations to the letter, notwithstanding the fact that they are responsible for the social ills afflicting Haiti, i.e. kidnappings, robberies, and other crimes. To make matters worse, the policy has contributed to an increase in poverty and unemployment, the common denominator for instability, and condemned the country to a total dependency on foreign aid that is subject to the caprices of the donors.
Meanwhile, the IMF, the chief enforcer of the abhorrent system, released rosy figures showing growth in the country’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product) in 2008, which implied that progress have been made under the occupation. Unless Bernie Madoff, prior to his incarceration on fraud charges, was the IMF and World Bank’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO), the claim was as phony as three-dollar bill considering that Haiti’s GDP contracted 15% in the aftermath of last year’s Tropical storms: Fay, Gustav, Hanna, and Ike. One web commentator, obviously a gullible collaborator, credited the IMF figures to the competence of Gerard Latortue and René Préval. Needless to say, even the obvious has become too complicated for today’s Haitians.