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The Mischaracterization of Haiti’s Situation

If one refers to the UN Human Development Index (a complex measurement of levels of income, education, health, sustainable development, security, gender and social inequalities in the countries of the world) Haiti ranks 145th out of 195.

For a nation which, from 1804 to 1957 (the year Ghana became independent), assumed the destiny of the Negroid race in the white-dominated world, its ranking on the human development index could have been worse for reasons that were and remains external. Throughout that period, the country was the subject of concerted political isolation, unrelenting economic embargoes and unprovoked military invasions. In assessing Haiti’s situation, anyone who fails to factor these unfortunate events is doing a disservice to history.

As Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier accurately told a French journalist “It was hard for people (the western world) to accept a Negro civilization in the middle of the Americas.” Unfortunately, this unwritten policy, born out of the then colonial powers’ vindictiveness toward the little nation, still endures 207 years after Haiti’s epic victory against slavery and the forces of oppression.

Based on the UN Security Council resolutions mandating the occupation of Haiti on the ground of it being “a failed state”, therefore a threat to international peace and security, the responsibility of the self-appointed nation-builders is challenging because theoretically the countries that rank lower on the HDI are also “failed states.”

But do not expect the international community to embark on a worldwide nation-building program, because the occupation of Haiti on February 29th, 2004 never had anything to do with UN benevolence toward the least developed of its members. The Wikileaks cables highlight the insidious nature of the international community’s policy toward Haiti which centers on nullifying that country’s historic achievement and establishing a protectorate by proxy, using unsavory politicians and the repugnant elite.

Coincidentally, the notion of Haiti being “a failed state”, which served as basis for the occupation (2004-?), has vanished from official UN communiqués and foreign media. It has been replaced with the more benign term “politically unstable” which is, as one would expect, “bonnet blanc et blanc bonnet” seeing that the premise of the occupation remains unchanged: nullifying Haiti’s historic feat and obstructing the changes in the socio-economic structure of the country that appeared inevitable following the departure of Jean Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier on February 7th 1986.

Through a long term military occupation, the architects of the policy insist on “managing the occupation and these changes” with the same structure and same individuals or groups that made the “yearning for change” possible while ignoring the consequences. Must this irresponsible policy be seen as the apex of arrogance or a mischaracterization of the situation that led the international community to a faulty conclusion?
Arrogance, the most conspicuous aspect of the absolute power of the UN Security Council, undoubtedly plays a role in the occupation of Haiti which enters its 8th year on March 1st 2011. However, the mischaracterization of the situation is likely the culprit since the international community remains oblivious to what is really at stake in Haiti.

Its emphasis on protecting the interests of a select group of reactionaries at the expense of the larger population and, concurrently, sabotaging reforms will have dire consequences for the entire region. Only a fool would choose to disregard the lop-sided socio-economic conditions in place in Haiti which, in turn, create an explosive situation that could erupt at any given moment.

Jean-Bertrand Aristide and Lavalas were a means to an end rather than the indispensable tools needed to bring the people’s aspirations to fruition, because the causes of the situation are deep-seated as is the resentment of the masses toward their oppressors (foreign and domestic).

The international community needs only to remember that social and economic justice is not a peculiar Haitian characteristic but a fundamental right of every human being. Sooner rather than later, its imperial policy, the gluttony of the elite, and the masses’ legitimate aspirations will collide.
“The proletariat goes through various stages of development” (read political and social awareness) correctly wrote Karl-Marx and Friedrich Engels who elaborated as well on the various stages that led to the destruction of corrupt and oppressive systems.

A quarter of century into what should plainly be called “Le réveil” of the masses in Haiti, no one can ascertain for sure the extent of their political awareness, a fact which, in itself, is indicative of the fluidity of the situation. Nothing is more suicidal for a political system than the indiscriminate use of violence to stifle legitimate demands, as it radicalizes the oppressed and closes the doors to compromises. England would be a republic today, had King John not given up his absolute power to rule in 1215. Conversely Louis XVI of France and Nicholas II of Russia thought otherwise and both were executed.

Yet, despite numerous historical precedents, this discredited method for shoring up failing political systems remains the preferred course of action of the international community and the Haitian elite.

The imposition of Michel Martelly on the unsuspecting masses, albeit a fraction of the population, and marginalization of the movement born out of a popular aspiration for “comprehensive structural changes” are indicative of the international community’s misunderstanding of the situation.

“There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come” said 19th century French literary great Victor Hugo. Apparently, the international community’s self-awareness of the infallibility of its power precludes it from agreeing with Victor Hugo.

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Haitian Times

Haitian Times

The Haitian Times was founded in 1999 as a weekly English language newspaper based in Brooklyn, NY.The newspaper is widely regarded as the most authoritative voice for Haitian Diaspora.
Haitian Times
May. 05, 2012

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