In August of 1791, when the slaves revolted against the harsh conditions imposed on them by the French at Saint Domingue, present-day Haiti, their greatest challenge was not France’s determination to keep the colony at all cost but the treacherous attitude of the enfranchised and educated mulattoes who were also fighting the French, albeit for a different agenda. Had Toussaint Louverture (1743-1803) with the help of the ruthless Dessalines (1758-1806) not move to neutralize the duplicity of the mulattoes, slavery would have survived at Saint Domingue well into the end of 19th century. Needless to say, the 1801 preemptive strike against the mulatto chief, André Rigaud (1761-1811), guaranteed the success of an insurrection whose seminal place in world history is a testament of Toussaint’s vision and Dessalines’ ruthlessness.
Naturally the actions of Toussaint and Dessalines did overthrow French rule and secure freedom for the slaves, but unfortunately never assuaged the mulattoes’ sense of entitlement that was to set the country on the path of destruction immediately after its independence from France in 1804. Indignant over majority rule and insecure about their relatively insignificant number (less than 5% of the population), the mulattoes brutally assassinated Jean-Jacques Dessalines, founder and emperor of Haiti, on October 17, 1806. This incomprehensible act, the result of the mulattoes’ unwarranted mistrust of the black majority and unquenchable thirst for control, has since become the motto by which they operate. The February 29, 2004 invasion of Haiti by French and U.S forces is a palpable example of this policy that puts the interests of this insular group ahead of those of the country. Despite the inhumane conditions existing in Haiti and because of the absence of a strategy, the process of rectification was brutally halted in 1991 and again in 2004.
A fallacy by any definition, the notion of Haiti being a failed state is a figment in the imagination of the international community, which always counted on the machinations of these malevolent insiders to derail the aspirations of the Haitian people. The coups of 1991 and 2004, which clearly highlighted Haiti’s social divide, were part of a constant and coordinated assault meant to bring the population into submission.
The mulattoes’ temerity notwithstanding, the political class (Préval and others) is furthering the disenfranchising of the black majority by consenting to the privatization project, conceived by the international community, and turning the state into a simple security contractor, responsible for enforcement. When the earthquake struck on January 12 and the government needed empty space to relocate the homeless, the group, which comprises Haiti’s largest landowners, resisted. Too feeble to seize the lands on “national emergency” ground and determined not to displease the international community, the group’s protector, the Préval government abandoned the relocation project and ordered the homeless to return to their unsteady and dilapidated homes. It is to be expected that the prime estate lands in downtown Port-au-Prince, owned mostly by the poor, will be arbitrarily requisitioned for the reconstruction project.
Not surprisingly, the project of Reconstruction of Haiti, which is being funded and supervised by the international community naturally favors the mulattoes. With its emphasis on privatization of the remaining state assets and a robust security apparatus, the project will cement the group’s control over the country’s economy and dissuade the black majority from protesting. In the meantime, the structural sides of the project, complete with reports about the resurgence of criminal gangs and the good works of foreign missionaries (the peddlers of the gospel of resignation) are being presented to the world by an unsuspecting or rather cooperating media.
Blaming Haiti’s pitiful situation on the uncompromising attitude of the mulattoes and the vindictiveness of the international community, which never forgave the slaves’ impertinence, does not however tell the whole story. The destruction of the country has been, through the years, aided and abetted by the thoroughly westernized intelligentsia, which could not see itself as the voice of the mostly illiterate and poor black majority. Paradoxically, it was the U.S occupation (1915-34) during which mulatto control was institutionalized that finally nudged the intelligentsia into fulfilling their duty as the moral conscience of the nation.
Jean Price Mars (1876-1969), Jacques Roumain (1907-44), Jacques Stephen Alexis (1922-61), Maurice Sixto (1919-84) and Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier (1907-71) were the creation of that era. While this Renaissance period eventually fizzled, many attributed it to the combined rule of Francois Duvalier and his son Jean-Claude (1957-71), its premise (black liberation, social justice and renewal of the Haitian spirit) lives in the hearts and mind of those who still nurture the dream of a sovereign and proud Haiti. The paternalism of the international community, despite René Préval and his army of collaborators, must be exposed as what it is: a desire to control the destiny of the Haitian nation at all costs.
The assassination of Dessalines (the nation’s founding father 1806), the ceding of Haitian territory to the Dominican Republic (1929) and the current occupation (2004-?) are abominations committed against the interests of the Haitian nation that clearly identify the mulattoes as the enemy within. The group and its allies (Gerard Gourges and other abdicators) will certainly not have the last word on the future of a nation founded with the blood and sweats of indomitable humans who had the audacity of confronting and defeating injustice against all odds. A just cause is a just cause.