By Fr. Macelin Joseph
Slavery has ended. We are finally free, but…are we? After our independence, we hoped that we would live in prosperity and freedom, but it was just a Utopia. Until now, we are still suffering from the remnants of slavery that is evident in our midst. We could not move forward primarily because the will and courage that empowered us to fight for our freedom seemed to vanish. We may have won our liberty, but the aftermath of slavery has manifested in our ideas and ideologies.
We were not able to pursue our dream of a bright future due to a dramatic decision taken by Jean Pierre Boyer. To eliminate the threat from France, Boyer was forced to sign an indemnity treaty in July 11,1825 an amount of U$28 Billion for the recognition of our independence. From that moment, the Haitian economy went down and never recovered. The dream of economic prosperity is far away from us. The dream for a better tomorrow hasn’t come back again. Today, it matters to state that payer for freedom is a crime against human rights and dignity.
Let us go back to the past to understand the current situation of poverty Haiti. To get rid of slavery, we were forced to pay France. Otherwise, we would be still living in slavery. As priest, a servant of God, a shepherd of the sheep, when I look at France today, I see a rich country being built with money from Haiti. I see the happiness in the eyes of each French, at the same time I see the sadness in the eyes of each Haitian. I see food on the table of each French, yet I see misery in streets of Haiti. The extreme misery implanted by France has kicked millions of Haitians into the ground. This must be taught in all Haitian schools. From generation to generation, the children need to know the reason Haiti is the poorest country in American hemisphere. Does a French man or woman take time to realize that France is a First World country that has exploited a poor black country for a century? As a catholic priest, I decide not to forget and forgive France.
As we all know, we are living in a chaotic and dramatic socio-economic reality, which puts Haiti down for decades. Haitians are good and resilient people who have faced many struggles and challenges. France is booming, boosting its economy, creating new projects, new industry, and exporting billions yearly. Haiti, however, is moving backwards. Why Jean Pierre Boyer needed to turn over the riches of Haiti? It is obvious every decision we take has consequences. For many reasons, I cannot blame Jean Pierre Boyer for having taken such a decision. In fact, I am wondering if Boyer was psychologically prepared to take such a decision, which later has economically destroyed our nation. I believe that the trauma of being enslaved pushed him to act in order to allow the Haitian people, from generation to generation, to live free. Yes, we are free, nevertheless we are known as one of the poorest countries in the world. From being victims to being survivors of slavery, it is a traumatic reality.
As I said, every decision making has consequences. From 1804 to 2020, where are we as a nation? We are paying for the decision of Jean Pierre Boyer. I believe that Haiti would be a great country like any European, Asian, or American country. After turning over the riches of Haiti to France, the country is living off of donations from other countries under a condition which forces it to always be under another’s control forever. I feel very sad saying that my country is living off of donations. It hurts me profoundly. I consider this as a modern slavery, like for instance, we have the so-called “Core Group” formed by some embassies in Haiti. Needless to say, Haiti is being controlled by white people because they believe that a first black independent country in the world can be a threat. I want to say to all Haitians that charity, in any circumstance, will not be a blueprint to make Haiti an emerging country. It has never occurred in any other country. Also, we must bear in mind that besides Haiti, no other country in the world was asked or forced to pay to get rid of slavery.
Due to this misery, we are always facing political turmoil because the Haitian government depends on donations to accomplish and complete its main projects. I am wondering if we are going to rely on donations forever. It is a big challenge since we lost our resources. The corruption is also a cancer in our society. We must fight against it. However, being an underdeveloped country is not a consequence of the corruption. I say this in order to bring you back to the root of our nation’s socioeconomic situation today. I have not lost hope. I dream of a new Haiti. It is possible. As of now, I am optimistic. We just need a hand to lift us up, while at the same time changing our mentality. It will not happen now. It will take time to recover from this dramatic socio-economic situation after Jean Pierre Boyer turned over our riches to France. As I stated above, we could be a great nation if we did not pay for
our freedom. May God Bless our poor nation.
Fr. Macelin Joseph, is a priest at the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Rio de Janiero,Brazil