Why Haiti?

Few countries have struggled with development like Haiti. Hobbled by foreign interventions, political instability, and natural disasters, the former French colony has long suffered from underdevelopment. The richest resource in Haiti is the people who won the only successful slave revolution in history.

In the view of the capitalist world, the governments which manage their interests and the militaries and mercenaries which protect their investments, HOPE must be crushed with egregious violence. Haiti has always represented hope for the oppressed. If the oppressed human can succeed in Haiti then a safe haven by way of this rallying point for all ‘oppressed humans’ is birthed.

To read Haiti’s History in depth visit Brown Universities Library – https://library.brown.edu/haitihistory/index.html

The situation in Haiti is not a post-conflict situation but rather a protracted and violent 20-year long transition following the end of the predatory dictatorship of the Duvaliers. The crisis left Haiti as the poorest State in the western hemisphere with 56 percent of the population living under conditions of extreme poverty (less than US $1 a day). The crisis is as much the result of a prevailing culture of violence, widespread corruption and the criminalization of armed groups as it is of neglect by the international community.

Haiti cannot be described as a conflict situation. There has been no recent situation of war with a neighboring country, nor has there been a civil war between opposing Haitian factions or communities. Haiti is a case of a lingering political and governance crisis accompanied by a severe degradation of the economy, security and livelihoods. The country has been trapped in an accelerating downward spiral that will be difficult to halt and reverse. The origins of the crisis go back to the troubled past of Haiti.

Haiti’s Slave Revolution

In the early 1600s, French traders established an outpost on the western third of the island, which Paris annexed as the colony of Saint-Domingue several decades later. In the late 1700s, former slaves Toussaint L’Ouverture and Jean-Jacques Dessalines led a rebellion against French rule that culminated with the creation of Haiti in 1804. The first postcolonial black republic, Haiti became a beacon of abolition, self-determination, and racial equality.

The success of the Haitian Revolution sent shock waves throughout the slave societies of the New World. For the first time in the history of the New World, a slave revolt had culminated in the total defeat of white forces.Although he died before Haitian independence was achieved, Toussaint Louverture’s story became a legend:a black former slave had shown that he could defeat the best white generals and outwit the most skillful white politicians.Haiti became the first former European colony where people of color succeeded in overturning slavery and racial inequality.

To read Haiti’s Slave Revolution in depth visit Kentucky Universities – A different Route to Emancipation – http://www.uky.edu/~popkin/Haitian%20Revolution%20Lecture.htm

Haiti – A Threat to Capitalism

From the outset Haiti inherited the wrath of the colonial powers, which knew what a disastrous example a Haitian success story would be. In the words of Napoleon Bonaparte: The freedom of the negroes, if recognized in St Domingue [as Haiti was then known] and legalized by France, would at all times be a rallying point for freedom-seekers of the New World. He sent 22,000 soldiers (the largest force to have crossed the Atlantic at the time) to recapture the Pearl of the Antilles.

France, backed by the US, later ordered Haiti to pay 150m francs in gold as reparations to compensate former plantation and slave owners as well as for the costs of the war in return for international recognition. At today’s prices that would amount to £10bn [about $17 to $18bn]. By the end of the 19th century, 80% of Haiti’s national budget was going to pay off the loan and its interest, and the country was locked into the role of a debtor nation — where it remains today.

Haiti has remained a pawn on the chess board of capitalism. I believe Haiti represents hope for all oppressed people in the world. Just like the worlds first postcolonial black republic, if Haiti can succeed, all oppressed people can succeed.

About Me

In 2010 I visited Haiti with my dear friend Sean Penn and his organization JPHRO now known as CORE. He and his team showed me a side of Haiti that a simple guest or tourist could not see. I saw the beauty and resilience of a people held down by capitalism. I saw people struggling to pro-vide the most basic needs for their families. Haiti is meant to be a safe haven for ‘freedom seekers’ and the ‘Pearl of the Antilles’.  

The challenges are great but like all Haitians, I am not deterred by challenge.

Haiti represents HOPE to all struggling peoples and one day Haiti will be a beacon of light for all underdeveloped and supressed countries in the world. This is why my family places our focus and importance on Haiti. She deserves the chance to shine. We all do.

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