CNNInternational interview with Nigeria'sPresident Obasanjo and Publisher Chido Nwangwu onDemocracyand Security Issues

Again, Haitian blood onAmerica's hands

Exclusive commentary

Special to USAfrica The Newspaper,Houston,and TheBlack Business Journal

Asthe violent political crises in Haiti continued, Pentagon spokesmanLawrence DiRita announced on February 19, 2004, the United Statesdecided to send a military team there to ensure the safety of its ownembassy staff. Basically, the Haitians are, again, on their ownamidst uprisings and counter-killings.Meanwhile, embattled President Jean-Bertrand Aristide of Haiti hassworn to defend his country's democracy and the honor, saying a fewdays ago: "I, too, am ready to die if that is what I must do todefend my country.... If wars are expensive, peace can be even moreexpensive." We'll take a look at the background to recent events.

The history of Haiti has always been

written in blood. Its history has alwaysbeen entangled in the American mind because of the geographicalcloseness of this pioneering independent Black nation. (In thepicture

: U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell andPresident George W. Bush, at a recent press conference; belowPresident Aristide of Haiti).

Haiti, like America, was a centrifugal force in the giant Atlantictriangle slavocracy. But unlike their American cousins, Africans inHaiti revolted and threw off the irons of European hegemony, creatingthe second free republic in the Western hemisphere. America was thefirst.

Christopher Columbus called Haiti SaintDominique when he landed on the island of Hispaniola in 1492; theSpanish and then the French ruled it after the treaty of Ryswick in1697. It was inhabited originally by Arawak Indians who called theisland Haiti. The island was a paradise in the middle of a cleargreenish-blue sea. Being constantly heated to perfect temperature bythe warmth of the tropical sun, it was called the Pearl of theCaribbean.

As a French colony it became the richest ofall European colonies. It produced an abundance of sugar, cotton,coffee and indigo. Not only did it supply all of France, but alsohalf of entire Europe enjoyed the luxury of Haitian tropical produce.But the greatest legacy of Haiti was that it became one of theworld's greatest markets for the African slave trade.

The regimen of torture and the harsh inhumanconditions of the slaves that were brought to Haiti was the harshestof all of the European slave trade.
For the few who survived and lived, death was in many ways desirable.Thousands over the years have attempted escaped by suicide or anymeans necessary. To this day the Haitian people have a rich heritageof trying to escape the island. Escape has always been a part of thepolitical instability of this Caribbean paradise.

Haiti has since the days of the Haitianrevolution of 1791-1803 been considered irrelevant in most renderingof world history. But it is the Haitian Revolution that did in factshake the world to his core. It actually illuminated the newlydeveloped thoughts of freedom, equality and democracy. Haiti becamethe first nation to eradicate slavery as it promoted the Jeffersonianideas of the universality of human rights. It was through therevolution that the assumptions of racial inferiority were challengedas the slave people defeated the mighty armies of Europe and declaredit not only free but equal.

Of course, this struck fear in the hearts ofAmerica, as did the Liberians in 1847 when they sued to be their ownmasters. The fear being that the Haitian model would spread to ourshores and galvanize American Blacks to attempt the same freedom.Therefore the new Haitian nation was quickly ostracized, ignored andgenerally rejected by America, as she would later do Liberia. It isthis social and political isolation that have caused the Haitianpeople to suffer from the very beginning of their existence. Themanipulation of these poor people's history coupled with ourpathological ideology of race has done nothing but wreaked havoc onthis nation from day one.

In the early 1900s, all in the misleading name of humanity, morality,and westernization/civilization (other wise known as imperialism),America took over the island nation of Haiti. In 1915, Americaactually invaded Haiti and ruled it for 19 years with an iron fist.It brought with it the infamous prevailing brand of American racismof the day, 'Jim Crowism.' The United States of America picked theHaitian president. President Theodore Roosevelt, it was reported,prescribed and ordered the text of the Haitian constitution. TheAmerican occupation abolished whatever liberty, justice andindependence the Haitians had left. America exploited the Haitian anddestroyed the psyche of the 20th century Haitian man. In 1934 Americaleft Haiti but continued to control her fiscal operations thoughuntil at least as late as 1952. When the U.S left, Haiti was socially, economically and politically in shambles.

Today, we stand by and watch the Haitians again set flames tothemselves. The Bush administration and other influential parts ofthis soceity refuse to go in to save lives; quell the violence andassist President Aristide. Recall that the U.S worked to havetheformer priest in power -- not once but twice. Yes, it is true thatAristide promised land reform, security, free schools and housing,justice, transparency, and participation; but these promise ringhollow especially when Haiti is really being run by forces other thannationalists like Aristide. Fact is the World Bank, the InternationalMonetary Fund (IMF), and the Inter-American Development Band (IDB)who are all influenced by the United States basically determine thedirection of things.

The aid, ($1 billion) that was promised toHaiti under Aristide comes only if he privatized Haiti's stateindustries so that American and European capitalist can, again, gettheir hands on Haiti's wealth as an independent people. Privatizationat this time in their existence would mean the removing of economicpower from the hands of the government and placing it in the hands ofthe private sector, which has shown to be against the people andagents of outsiders. It would mean an end to the unions, which haveacted as the only voice for the poor and disenfranchised. Is therecorruption, of course there is, but to force an American styledemocracy on these people at this time will only add to thatcorruption.

Aristide's hands are tied. He is trapped. Heis really being held hostage. He followed the dictates of theAmericans and now that he refuses to go all the way they haveabandoned him. They sit and watch -- as they did in their otherAfrican colony of Liberia -- while the Haitian people destroyedthemselves. America did the same thing when the southern Africancountry of Rwanda went up in genocidal flames. The Pentagon and theWhite House and the White House looked the other way. But yet whenBosnia appeared that it was about to self-destruct, America's leaderssent troops in and stayed until order was restored. But I guess wemust never forget that we are talking about Black people here.

Aristide, born on July 15, 1953, insists that his group is "for ademocratic process. The opposition, so far, prefers violent actionsinstead of being reasonable. The people want peace. They are dyingfor democracy, they are dying for peace, and we hope the oppositionwill stop the violence and embrace democracy."

Yet, most people in Haiti are blamingAristide. What they fail to understand is that when Aristide is gonethe next leader will be under the same pressure, unless the Haitiansstand up to the mighty forces of imperialism and racism as they didin 1803 there will never be any fundamental changes; because it isnot Aristide that has the most blood on his hands; it is the Americangovernment and some members of the business establishment.
Dr. Sanders, contributing editor and columnist for TheBlack Business Journal magazine, USAfricaonline.comand CLASSmagazine, is a Suffragan Bishop in the Pentecostal Assemblies of theworld, is the founder and the pastor of the Emmanuel Temple church inSandusky, Ohio. He holds a Ph.D in American Culture Studies and hasserved in many leadership capacities in the organization that includenational evangelist, international youth leader and missionary toWest Africa.

Bush,if not Affirmative Action, then what: Reparations?:Affirmative Action has worked for the last 30 years to create a Blackmiddle class. It has helped to integrate the American society and totruly diversify the American culture. It also has served to helpnurture the socialization and the psychosocial development of Blackpeople in this country. It was through affirmative education thatBlack people finally were able to assimilate into the Americanmainstream; but now the president wants to end the one social programin the history of America that even came close to the closing of thegaps of racism. No other program has had as much success.....Affirmative Action is about attempts to bring historicallyunderrepresented groups who have suffered discrimination into ahigher degree of participation within the society. Affirmative Actionattempts to remedy some of the vile-ness by allowing for opportunity,chance and redress of being historically taken advantage of by thestate all because of the color of ones skin. Bush has proposednothing to replace the progress of Affirmative Action. While hecertainly is no visionary; he still must be aware of the tremendousstrides that have been made because of the bold action taken by theAffirmativeAction. By Dr. G.W Sanders

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