by John Maxwell
French and Americans have conspired to humiliate and exploit Haiti throughout the history of the world's first Black republic. Now, in this time of catastrophe, they claim special relationships based on shared history. What outrageous, profane nonsense – as if the victim and perpetrator of atrocity share some bond that should be treasured.
No, Mister! You Cannot Share My Pain!
by John Maxwell
“If you share their pain, why don't you stop causing it?”
If you shared my pain you would not continue to make me suffer, to torture me, to deny me my dignity and my rights, especially my rights to self-determination and self-expression.
Six years ago you sent your Ambassador Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to perform an action illegal under the laws of your country, my country and of the international community of nations.
It was an act so outrageous, so bestially vile and wicked that your journalists and news agencies, your diplomats and politicians to this day cannot bring themselves to truthfully describe or own up to the crime that was committed when US Ambassador James Foley, a career diplomat, arrived at the house of President Jean Bertrand Aristide with a bunch of CIA thugs and US Marines to kidnap the President of Haiti and his wife.
The Aristides were stowed aboard a CIA plane normally used for “renditions” of suspected terrorists to the worldwide US gulag of dungeons and torture chambers. The plane, on which the Aristides are listed as "cargo," flew to Antigua – an hour away – and remained on the ground in Antigua while Colin Powell's State Department and the CIA tried to blackmail and bribe various African countries to accept (“give asylum to") the kidnapped President and his wife. The Central African Republic – one of George W. Bush's “Dark Corners of the World” – agreed, for an undisclosed sum, to give the Aristides temporary asylum.
Before any credible plot can be designed and paid for – for the disappearance of the Aristides – they are rescued by friends, flown to temporary asylum in Jamaica where the government cravenly yielded to the blackmail of Condoleezza Rice to deny them the permanent asylum to which they were entitled and which most Jamaicans had hoped for.
“The Marines were replaced by foreign troops paid by the United Nations.”
Meanwhile in Haiti the US Marines protected an undisciplined ragbag of rapists and murderers to allow them entry to the capital. The Marines chased the medical students out of the new Medical School established by Aristide with Cuban help and teachers. The Marines bivouac in the school, going out on nightly raids, trailed by fleets of ambulances with body bags, hunting down Fanmi Lavalas activists described as “chimeres” – terrorists.
The real terrorists, led by two convicted murderers, Chamblain and Philippe, assisted the Marines in the eradication of “chimeres” until the Marines were replaced by foreign troops paid by the United Nations who took up the hunt on behalf of the civilized world – France, Canada, the US and Brazil.
The terrorists and the remains of the Duvalier tontons and the CIA-bred FRAPF declared open season on the remnants of Aristide's programs to build democracy. They burnt down the new museum of Haitian Culture, destroyed the Children's television station and generally laid waste to anything and everything which could remind Haitians of their glorious history.
Haitians don't know that without their help Latin America might still be part of the Spanish Empire and Simon Bolivar a brief historical footnote.
Imagine, Niggers Speaking French!
About ninety years ago when Professor Woodrow Wilson was President of the USA his Secretary of State was a fundamentalist lawyer named William Jennings Bryan who had three times run unsuccessfully, for President.
The Americans had decided to invade Haiti to collect debts owed by Haiti to Citibank.
General Smedley Butler, the only American soldier to have twice won the Congressional Medal of Honor, described his role in the US Army:
"I helped make Mexico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long.”
General Butler said: "I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. … My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical in the military service.” Butler compared himself unfavorably to Al Capone. He said his official racketeering made Capone look like an amateur.
Secretary Bryan was dumfounded by the Haitians; "Imagine" he said, "Niggers speaking French.”
Smedley Butler and Bryan were involved in Haiti because of something that happened nearly a hundred years before. The French slave-masters, expelled from Haiti and defeated again when they tried to re-enslave the Haitians, connived with the Americans to starve them into submission by a trade embargo. With no sale for Haitian sugar, the country was weak and rundown when a French fleet arrived bearing a demand for reparations. Having bought their freedom in blood, the Haitians were to be oblige to purchase it again in gold.
The French demanded, essentially, that the Haitians pay France an amount equivalent to 90 percent of the entire Haitian budget for the foreseeable future. When this commitment proved too arduous to honor, the City Bank offered the Haitians a “debt exchange" paying off the French in exchange for a lower interest longer term debt. The terms may have seemed better but were just as usurious and it was not paid off until 1947.
“The French slave-masters connived with the Americans to starve them into submission by a trade embargo.”
Because of the debt the Americas invaded Haiti, seized the Treasury, exiled the President, their Jim Crow policies were used to divide the society, to harass the poor and finally provoked a second struggle for freedom which was one of the most brutal episodes in colonial history.
Long before Franco bombed Guernica, exciting the horror and revulsion of civilized people, the Americans perfected their dive-bombing techniques against unarmed Haitian peasants many of whom had never seen aircraft before.
The Americans set up a Haitian Army in the image of their Jim Crow Marines and it was these people and the alien and alienated Élite who with some conscripted blacks like the Duvaliers have ruled Haiti for most of the last century.
When I flew over Haiti for the first time in 1959 en route from New York to San Juan, Puerto Rico, I saw for the first time the border between the green Dominican Republic and brown Haiti.
First world journalists interpret the absence of trees on the Haitian side to the predations of the poor, disregarding the fact that Western religion and American capitalism were mainly responsible.
Why is it that nowhere else in the Caribbean is there similar deforestation?
Haiti's Dessalines constitution offered sanctuary to every escaped slave of any color. All such people of whatever color were deemed “black” and entitled to citizenship. Only officially certified “blacks” could own land in Haiti.
The American occupation, anticipating Hayek, Freedman and Greenspan, decided that such a rule was a hindrance to development. The Assistant Secretary of the US Navy, one Franklin D. Roosevelt was given the job of writing a new, modern constitution for Haiti.
“The Americans perfected their dive-bombing techniques against unarmed Haitian peasants.”
This constitution meant foreigners could own land. Within a very short time the lumberjacks were busy, felling old growth Mahogany and Caribbean Pine for carved doors for the rich and mahogany speedboats, boardroom tables seating forty etc. The devastated land was put to produce rubber, sisal for ropes and all sorts of pie in the sky plantations.
When President Paul Magloire came to Jamaica fifty years ago Haitians were still speaking of an Artibonite dam for electricity and irrigation. But the ravages of the recent past were too much to recover.
As Marguerite Laurent (Ezili Danto) writes: Don't expect to learn how a people with a Vodun culture that reveres nature and especially the Mapou (oak-like or ceiba pendantra/bombax) trees, and other such big trees as the abode of living entities and therefore as sacred things, were forced to watch the Catholic Church, during Rejete - the violent anti-Vodun crusade - gather whole communities at gun point into public squares, and forced them to watch their agents burn Haitian trees in order to teach Haitians their Vodun Gods were not in nature, that the trees were the "houses of Satan."
In partnership with the US, the mulatto President Elie Lescot (1941-45) summarily expelled peasants from more than 100,000 hectares of land, razing their homes and destroying more than a million fruit trees in the vain effort to cultivate rubber on a large plantation scale. Also, under the pretext of the Rejete campaign, thousands of acres of peasant lands were cleared of sacred trees so that the US could take their lands for US agribusiness
After the Flood
Norman Manley used to say "River come Down" when his party seemed likely to prevail. The Kreyol word Lavalas conveys the same meaning.
Since the Haitian people's decisive rejection of the Duvalier dictatorships in the early 90s, their spark and leader has been Jean Bertrand Aristide whose bona fides may be assessed from the fact that the CIA and conservative Americans have been trying to discredit him almost from the word go.
As he put it in one of his books, his intention has been to build a paradise on the garbage heap bequeathed to Haiti by the US and the Elite.
The bill of particulars is too long to go into here, but the destruction of the new museum of Culture, the breaking up of the medical school, the destruction of the children's television gives you the flavor. But the essence is captured in the brutal attempt to obliterate the spirit of Haitian community; the attempt to destroy Lavalas by murdering its men and raping its women, the American directed subversion of a real police force, the attacks on education and the obliteration of the community self-help systems which meant that when Hurricane Jeanne and all the other weather systems since have struck Haiti many more have died than in any other country similarly stricken. In an earthquake, totally unpredictable, every bad factor is multiplied.
The American blocking of international aid means that there is no modern water supply anywhere, no town planning, no safe roads, none of the ordinary infrastructure of any other Caribbean state. There are no building standards, no emergency shelters, no parks
So, when I write about mothers unwittingly walking on dead babies in the mud, when I write about people so poor they must eat patties made of clay and shortening, when I write about people with their faces “chopped off” or about any of 8 million horror stories from the crime scene that is Haiti, please don't tell me you share their pain or mine.
Tell me where is Lovinsky Pierre Antoine and ten thousand like him?
If you share my pain and their pain, why don't you stop causing it? Why don't you stop the torture?
If you want to understand me, look at the woman in the picture, and the children half buried with her. You cannot hear their screams because they know there is no point in screaming. It will do no more good than voting.
What is she thinking: perhaps it is something like this – No mister! You cannot share my pain!
Sometime perhaps, after the camera is gone people will return to dig us out with their bare hands.
But not you.
John Maxwell is a veteran Jamaican journalist. He has covered Caribbean affairs for more than 40 years and is currently a columnist for The Jamaica Observer. He can be contacted at [email protected].
Copyright ©2009 John Maxwell