Bombarded with constant doses of propaganda and slanted reports by self-styled experts on Haitian affairs, most of the planet’s inhabitants may, months from now, come to the conclusion that Haitians are unreasonable people who need constant supervision, if Haiti were to reposition itself from its current status of a dependent state to the category of stable nations. Naturally, the role of the international community, which financed and organized the recent general elections, in which the country’s largest political party was pointedly excluded, will be omitted from the equation. Advertized as crucial to Haiti’s recovery from a host of problems, these elections, if anything, will amplify rather than solve the country’s woes. Accordingly, the aspirations of the Haitian people, impeded by the politicians’ willful ignorance of the culture of dependency that has institutionalized the international community’s role in shaping the country’s future, will be deferred.
Contextually, the exclusion of Fanmi Lavalas, Haiti’s largest political party, from the electoral process; the Wyclef Jean comedy act, the imposition of Michel Martelly on the unsuspecting population and the thousands of NGO’s operating as sovereign entities within the state not only strengthen the culture of dependency but also highlight the designs of the international community. It was not by accident that neither Manigat nor Martelly sought to address the issue, which remains the primary obstacle to Haitians acquiring the self-confidence needed to build a stable and prosperous state. But contrary to the dispositions of whoever is declared the winner of the sham election, the Haitian people have not resigned themselves to this ignoble fate, and the customary honeymoon period extended to the new president will be short-lived.
Was Haiti a sick nation in 2004, the year of the bicentennial of its independence? The answers is unquestionably yes. Since the beginning and throughout its history, Haiti has been the singular victim of a concerted western paternalism, at times vengeful, that had the effect of hindering its social, political and economic development. The most egregious episode of this evil policy being the 1825 decision by Charles X of France to ransom the nascent little country for the loss of French properties that occurred during the war (1791-1803), notwithstanding the fact that over 100.000 African men, women and children were slaughtered in the struggle. Alone in a world that was to remain dominated by the colonial powers until the post-WWII decolonization period (1947-75), Haiti had no other choice but to capitulate to the French’s outrageous demand. Subsequently Haiti was subjected to recurring political isolation, economic embargoes, threats of military interventions by European powers and finally a U.S military occupation (1915-34), which eroded its sovereignty and led to the institutionalization of a pyramidal social system on top of which sits a tiny western-backed elite.
Meanwhile the attempts at toppling or reforming the system, which is similar to the Apartheid system that prevailed in South Africa (1948-92) were invariably met with stubborn and violent resistance: military coups or foreign interventions, like the ones that took place on July 28, 1915 and February 29th, 2004. Though this struggle for dignity, respect and political independence has been a revolving cycle for successive generations of Haitians, the abhorrent system endures because of the international community’s intrinsic aversion to this simple and noble idea. Historians will agree that Haiti was not a victim of benign neglect, a theory put forward by western academics that rationalizes the need for foreign interventions in Haitian affairs, but a casualty of a deliberate and vindictive policy meant to subjugate and humiliate its people.
It is therefore highly hypocritical for Raymond Mulet, the representative of the UN General Secretary in Haiti, to insinuate “there are Haitians who don’t love their country.” His paternalistic comment indicates that he is a poor student of Haitian history or rather a shortsighted individual totally dedicated to preserving the status quo in what is arguably a tinderbox. So entrenched is the zombification of Haitian society that the man was never made to account for his undiplomatic statement. Under normal circumstances, this arrogant diplomat would apologize for his thoughtless remark or be declared persona non grata and asked to leave the country.
Was Haiti’s invasion and occupation on February 29th, 2004 under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which deals with threats to international peace and security, justified? The answer is unquestionably no, because the occupation is based on a false premise and has anything to do with altruism. The recently released Wikileaks cables revealing the extent of the international community’s opposition to progressive forces in Haiti are testament to that discriminatory and ignoble policy of subjugation. The sight of UN soldiers patrolling the streets of Haitian cities with armored personal cars and heavy machine guns seems geared toward intimidating the population rather than protecting it, as there is no armed insurrection in the country that requires such display of force. The late Chinese leader, Mao Tse Tung, once said “Power come through the barrel of a gun”, but what he failed to acknowledge or rather not understood is that historically guns have proven powerless against ideas whose time has come. Contextually, the inalienable right of the Haitian people to self-determination, though perpetually deferred, will sooner or later be a part of their identity. Jean Bertrand Aristide could not be more insightful about it when he said upon returning to his native soil “Nou la, ak tout moun ki la, pou nal-la.”
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