Haiti: Occupations that dehumanize and that kill

[Translation of an article from Haïti Liberté for July 28, 2010.]

By Hervé Jean Michel

A bust of Charlemagne Peralte on a monument in Hinche, where he was born.

July 28, 1915 to July 28, 2010 — 95 years have passed since the military forces of the United States of America first landed in Haiti. They trampled and crushed this land and its sovereignty, won at the high cost of suffering, struggles and death on the battlefields of Ravine-à-Couleuvre, Crête-à-Pierrot, Vertière, etc.

United States capitalists, who saw in the attainment of Haitian independence nothing but a bad example for the millions of Blacks, their countrymen (historically, Haitian independence was recognized by the United States government during the second decade of the second half of the nineteenth century), wanted to apply the brakes to that rising up of the former slaves by means of their Monroe Doctrine, which opened up for them prospects of the pillage of the continent. They swore to reduce the sovereignty of that country to nothing.

The counter-revolution that stifled the ideals of liberty, equality and independence embodied in the uprising of 1804 opened up prospects to neocolonialism in its search and its concretization of the doctrine of widening the living space for United States imperialism. It was internal contradictions in Haiti, it must be said straight out, contradictions created, nourished, perpetuated by its own élites, partners in mercanilism, that engendered the essential conditions for the first occupation of Haiti.

That de facto military occupation gained legitimacy when, during the administration of President Sudre Dartiguenave, the senators and representatives of the Haitian parliament voted for an agreement surrendering administration of the country to the occupiers. Faced with this knavery, some patriots, under the leadership of the revolutionary Charlemagne Péralte, organized the resistance to kick out the occupiers. Embattled by our fiercely reactionary élites and the occupying forces, the resistance was not able to attain its goal. Péralte was assassinated after being captured in a ruse. Nevertheless, the libertarian ideal, born of the epic of 1804, fertilized the consciences of their countrymen, who risked their lives opposing the fury of an enemy thirsty for blood, power and wealth.

Today, in the year of our Lord 2010, Haiti is seeing a second occupation, worse than the first, this time with the capitalist world, in the tow of the United States of America, on its back. It is the same contradictions and the same politico-economic-idelological élites who have elaborated the second occupation of Haiti. One of the facts making the current occupation like that of 1915 is a vote by the two chambers on the state of emergency and the creation of an Interim Commission for the Reconstruction of Haiti (CIRH), concieved and presented by the Préval/Bellerive government to legitimize, constitutionalize, legalize the occupation of Haiti.

The passing of that law permits the occupiers to take over the running of the country. Thus our élites, after plotting to place the country, by force of arms, in tutelage, legalized that operation (remember that on February 29, 2004, a United States commando force proceded to arrest and deport President Aristide, Haiti’s legitimate and constitutional head of state).

What is the attitude of mobilized popular forces concerning the current occupation of the country at the time of the 95th anniversary of the violation of Haitian territory by imperialist troops?

Despite the current incapacity of popular forces to unite and to set common goals of ending the occupation of Haiti and recovering national sovereignty, many organizations support the demand for a massive unification of effort. Still, the absence of responsible leadership capable of mobilizing around these common objectives hinders enormously the putting into motion of a large movement with large ideas for transforming our defeats into victories.

On the occasion of the 95th anniversary of the first occupation of the country, Tèt Kole Organizasyon Popilè has announced a peaceful march beginning at the Place Jérémie to end the MINUSTAH siege at Bourdon. According to organizers, the purpose of the gathering is to demand the departure of MINUSTAH as an illegal, anti-constitutional occupying force on Haitian soil. In a paper ciculating throughout Port-au-Prince entitled “Down with the Occupation!,” the organizations Mouvman Demokratik Popilè, Plateforme des Employés Victimes des Entreprises Publiques and Batay Ouvriye, among others, issued a call for a general mobilization throughout the country to denounce the lies, the exploitation and the pillage of the country’s resources by the Haitian bourgeoisie and imperialism. “Everybody knows the wealthy want to occupy the positions of power, a power that hands the country over to foreign capitalists in order to dominate us, exploit us, humiliate us, while they themselves, the wealthy, fill their pockets.”

Continuing the reading of this document, one learns, “The dominant class has no solutions. We the laboring masses, the popular masses in general, are sold like pieces of meat. We are perishing while the malefactors continue to place us, historically, in the worst situations. It is they who continue to sell off the country, to sell us off at the same time.” Remember that during the efforts by the Haitian bourgeoisie and the imperialist powers to remove Aristide from power in 2004, the Batay Ouvriye union had received a large sum of money from USAID not only to operate but to fund anti-Lavalas propaganda throughout the country.

Indeed, this call to combat the forces of occupation and their lackeys, recalls the “slave trade,” the commerce that consisted of buying Blacks on the African coasts like animals to resell them in the colonial plantations, where they would work for the blossoming of capitalist accumulation.

In the period from 1915 to 2010, Haiti has known three military occupations. The first bequeathed a culture of blind obedience, a backwardness and naiveté in order to maintain a closed structure of exploitation and domination. The second takes up those same values of alientation, reinforcing them with a dose of resignation (making into myths the power and the potential for changinging the glaring situations of existence) in order to keep the colonized in their place in sub-humanity. The third, under the guidance of three predatory powers out to steal popular sovereignty, claiming to “stabilize” a chaotic situation created from whole cloth by a macoute-bourgeois consortium.

History has not sufficiently called our élites to account, economically, ideologically and politically, in the face of their responsibility for having committed, among other things, three great crimes against humanity: three occupations, one of them in the guise of the United Nations Mission for the Stabilization of Haiti. If after 206 years of history the country is still on the decline, a country in which misery tears at the conscience and the heart, a country profoundly behind and under-developed, the fault rests with the élites, brilliant in their egocentrism, their presumptuousness and their avarice.

What can one say except that in Haiti apartheid has ruled as master without being denounced, combatted or rejected. Thus the alienating ideologies that produce, reinforce and maintain exploitation and injustice in this assymetrical Haitian society should be combatted with the greatest severity, to make room for ideologies that perpetuate open structures of transformation and development.

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