To call what happened in Haiti last Tuesday a tragedy would be understatement. It was by any measure utter destruction. Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital, home to two million souls, was practically destroyed by a magnitude 7.0 earthquake that caused more than 100.000 deaths and left 1.5 million homeless according to the latest estimates.
It could not have come at a more inopportune time because Haiti was recovering from the devastating effects of hurricanes Hanna, Gustav, Fay and Ike, which caused 800 deaths and one billion worth of damage to its infrastructure in the summer of 2008.
Because only a handful of countries would be able to deal with a catastrophe of such magnitude, any hasty condemnation of the Haitian government’s inadequate response, which borders on incompetence to some and indifference to others, is unwarranted.
However if the heavy lifting equipment, purchased by the Haitian government through a grant from the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, happen to be missing, then someone is guilty of crimes against humanity because Anaica St Louis and countless others would be alive today.
In the oncoming months, the resilience of the Haitian people would be severely tested as penuries and homelessness become a fact of life for the survivors, but it is to be expected that the Haitian people would rise up to the challenge as they have done in the last 200 years.
Not surprisingly survivors reacted with an innate sense of brotherliness and dignity, which befuddled many foreigners because Haitians are invariably portrayed in the foreign media as instinctively fratricidal on the account of the political divide that characterized their history.
However any foreigner who has ever visited Haiti would testify that the spirit of brotherliness is part of Haitian culture, and anyone attributing this behavior to a transformational occurrence that happened in the last 4 years because of René Préval’s conciliatory policies is making a cheap political statement.
Indeed Haiti’s current situation is actually man-made, although mother nature, as the last 6 years indicate, has been a persistent cooperating agent.
Watching the reports on the destruction I could not help notice the constant reference to Haiti being one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere with a history of civil and political strife, even when the reference is irrelevant to the topic being discussed. The constant reference basically implies that Haitians are culturally inclined to fomenting chaos in their own country, and are therefore reaping what they sowed.
Some of these comments are downright patronizing and insensitive to a people perennially under siege by both humans and mother nature.
As for Pat Robertson’s comment that Haiti is cursed because of a pact made with the devil to liberate themselves from slavery, I must say that if two “man of the cloth” think like this hate monger, then the devil is definitely a better choice.
While dictatorships, mismanagement, indifference and corruption must be included in any comprehensive appraisal of Haiti’s situation, they are far from being the main causes behind the country’s descent into the abyss of poverty, ridicule and irrelevancy.
To begin with, Haiti’s entire existence contrasted with its purpose. Although Haitians liberated themselves from slavery, sooner than its architects would have wanted, they were never given a chance to self-emancipate because of this unpardonable offense.
This fact and the persistent attempts by a repugnant, un-Haitian and mercenary elite to take control of the country’s destiny have more than anything else contributed to this unfortunate situation. Case in point: today’s Haiti is a republic of NGOs with the titular government acting as a security contractor whose singular purpose is to intimidate the population into submission.
When the Swiss finally decided that 7 millions of dollars held in one of the country’s banks by Baby Doc Duvalier rightfully belong to the Haitian people, they insisted that the money would be turned over to designated NGOs rather than the legitimate government of Haiti.
Incredibly the Haitian government did not register a formal protest to the Swiss government against what was clearly an undue interference in the affairs of a theoretically “sovereign country” and an affront to the dignity of its people.
In the wake of the destruction of Port-au-Prince on January 12th, Haitians would forever be grateful for the material and emotional support of the international community, especially to the U.S government and the American people.
However, many of us still believe that rebuilding Haiti cannot be accomplished with ready-to-implement plans conceived in dark rooms of foreign Think Tanks, which have chosen to ignore the archaic social, political and economic structure of the country, which is unquestionably inhumane and exclusionary.
Moreover, because a constituted state is a hybrid of people, a political structure and laws, the notion of Haiti being a failed state is an unpleasant indictment of its people.
This insinuation is an insult to any full-blooded Haitian who never relinquish the dream of reclaiming this parcel of land for the purpose for which its was dedicated: the self-emancipation of the Negro.
I wrote on several occasions that a forced return to Africa disguised as voluntary might be in the pipeline, and, true to form, the opportunity has just presented itself.
On that account and as caretakers of the land of Dessalines, we categorically reject Senegal’s Abdoulaye Wade’s offer of a voluntary repatriation to Haitians that want to return to their origin as sons and daughters of Africa.