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There are so many angles from which one can look at the Haitian dilemma. Though Haiti has become notorious for its poverty and struggle, being classified as the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, Haiti is also known for its resilience, its spirit of revolution.
Haiti located on the upper most side of the Caribbean and shares island border with Dominican Republic is also well known to the world as the first enslaved economy liberated by their own struggles. All people of colour, all those who were formerly colonised, and all freedom loving people should be proud of the history of the Haitians struggles for freedom against oppression, colonisation and the most unjust human system meted out to mankind.
Haitians, like other Africans, were sold into chattel slavery and from one oppression forced into another oppression by those who lost the battle to keep them in physical bondage. What they did is put them in economic bondage and social deprivation. The colonial forces having been beaten and embarrassed by a determined Haitian population sought to relegate them to the margins of society.
Political interference had led to supporting and propping up dictatorial regimes and destabilising democratically elected leaders. Much of the turmoil and poverty in Haiti is not just as a result of Haitians, it is the result of western and foreign power interference. It is an interference that allowed for foreigners to think they have the right to claim part of Haiti as theirs, the July 1915 invasion by the United States (U.S) and occupation for two decades.
There has also been a situation where King Charles X of France imposed a fine on the formerly enslaved as an economic punishment for having beaten the powerful French Army. The audacity! That sum in 1804 was 150 million francs. In today’s world it would be the equivalent of more than US$25 billion. This newly independent nation started off carving its right to self-determination with this economic albatross (debt) around the necks of the free.
Haiti was once known as the crown jewel of the Americas. Outside forces have always wanted a piece of Haiti given its richness and sought to control (hinder) efforts at self-determination. That greed has not dissipated as they continue to plunder Haiti’s rich resources which have resulted in environmental disasters and massive destruction in the wake of natural disasters such as heavy rains, earthquakes and hurricanes.
The invasion of the presidential residence, on Wednesday, which led to the murder of President Jovenel Moïse and critical injury of his wife Martine Moïse by foreigners suggests that the Haitian dilemma is more than meets the eye. The presence of more than a dozen Columbians, U.S citizens and other foreigners, sets a dangerous precedent for this Caribbean nation which is beleaguered by disasters and internal conflicts.
The mess that many blame Haitians for is not self-inflicted, it is the mess stemming from neocolonialists. We of the Caribbean should find a way to understand our Haitian neighbour, who for many years we of the anglophone speaking region have been isolated from because of language barrier. Haiti is a story of resilience, not just poverty and turmoil.
It is a shame as a CARICOM nation that there seems to be much insensitivity by Guyana towards the Haitian population. This regime is more focused on ethnic politics than regional relations and they feel no brotherhood to the Haitian population. As the international forces such as the United Nations, U.S, et al call for calm in Haiti and promise support, let’s hope this does not result in further plundering of the society and destabilisation.