THE UNIVERSITY OF THE WEST INDIES is in the process of conceiving how best to deliver a major conference on the theme Rethinking And Rebuilding Haiti.
I am very keen to provide an input into this exercise because for too long there has been a popular perception that somehow the Haitian nation-building project, launched on January 1, 1804, has failed on account of mismanagement, ineptitude, corruption.
Buried beneath the rubble of imperial propaganda, out of both Western Europe and the United States, is the evidence which shows that Haiti’s independence was defeated by an aggressive North-Atlantic alliance that could not imagine their world inhabited by a free regime of Africans as representatives of the newly emerging democracy.
The evidence is striking, especially in the context of France.
The Haitians fought for their freedom and won, as did the Americans fifty years earlier. The Americans declared their independence and crafted an extraordinary constitution that set out a clear message about the value of humanity and the right to freedom, justice, and liberty.
In the midst of this brilliant discourse, they chose to retain slavery as the basis of the new nation state. The founding fathers therefore could not see beyond race, as the free state was built on a slavery foundation.
The water was poisoned in the well; the Americans went back to the battlefield a century later to resolve the fact that slavery and freedom could not comfortably co-exist in the same place.
The French, also, declared freedom, fraternity and equality as the new philosophies of their national transformation and gave the modern world a tremendous progressive boost by so doing.
They abolished slavery, but Napoleon Bonaparte could not imagine the republic without slavery and targeted the Haitians for a new, more intense regime of slavery. The British agreed, as did the Dutch, Spanish and Portuguese.
All were linked in communion over the 500 000 Blacks in Haiti, the most populous and prosperous Caribbean colony.
As the jewel of the Caribbean, they all wanted to get their hands on it. With a massive slave base, the English, French and Dutch salivated over owning it – and the people.
The people won a ten-year war, the bloodiest in modern history, and declared their independence. Every other country in the Americas was based on slavery.
Haiti was freedom, and proceeded to place in its 1805 Independence Constitution that any person of African descent who arrived on its shores would be declared free, and a citizen of the republic.
For the first time since slavery had commenced, Blacks were the subjects of mass freedom and citizenship in a nation.
The French refused to recognize Haiti’s independence and declared it an illegal pariah state. The Americans, whom the Haitians looked to in solidarity as their mentor in independence, refused to recognize them, and offered solidarity instead to the French. The British, who were negotiating with the French to obtain the ownership title to Haiti, also moved in solidarity, as did every other nation-state the Western world.
Haiti was isolated at birth – ostracized and denied access to world trade, finance, and institutional development. It was the most vicious example of national strangulation recorded in modern history.
The Cubans, at least, have had Russia, China, and Vietnam. The Haitians were alone from inception. The crumbling began.
Then came 1825; the moment of full truth. The republic is celebrating its 21st anniversary. There is national euphoria in the streets of Port-au-Prince.
The economy is bankrupt; the political leadership isolated. The cabinet took the decision that the state of affairs could not continue.
The country had to find a way to be inserted back into the world economy. The French government was invited to a summit.
Officials arrived and told the Haitian government that they were willing to recognize the country as a sovereign nation but it would have to pay compensation and reparation in exchange. The Haitians, with backs to the wall, agreed to pay the French.
The French government sent a team of accountants and actuaries into Haiti in order to place a value on all lands, all physical assets, the 500 000 citizens were who formerly enslaved, animals, and all other commercial properties and services.
The sums amounted to 150 million gold francs. Haiti was told to pay this reparation to France in return for national recognition.
The Haitian government agreed; payments began immediately. Members of the Cabinet were also valued because they had been enslaved people before independence.
Thus began the systematic destruction of the Republic of Haiti. The French government bled the nation and rendered it a failed state. It was a merciless exploitation that was designed and guaranteed to collapse the Haitian economy and society.
Haiti was forced to pay this sum until 1922 when the last installment was made. During the long 19th century, the payment to France amounted to up to 70 per cent of the country’s foreign exchange earnings.
Jamaica today pays up to 70 per cent in order to service its international and domestic debt. Haiti was crushed by this debt payment. It descended into financial and social chaos.
The republic did not stand a chance. France was enriched and it took pleasure from the fact that having been defeated by Haitians on the battlefield, it had won on the field of finance. In the years when the coffee crops failed, or the sugar yield was down, the Haitian government borrowed on the French money market at double the going interest rate in order to repay the French government.
When the Americans invaded the country in the early 20th century, one of the reasons offered was to assist the French in collecting its reparations.
The collapse of the Haitian nation resides at the feet of France and America, especially. These two nations betrayed, failed, and destroyed the dream that was Haiti; crushed to dust in an effort to destroy the flower of freedom and the seed of justice.
Haiti did not fail. It was destroyed by two of the most powerful nations on earth, both of which continue to have a primary interest in its current condition.
The sudden quake has come in the aftermath of summers of hate. In many ways the quake has been less destructive than the hate.
Human life was snuffed out by the quake, while the hate has been a long and inhumane suffocation – a crime against humanity.
During the 2001 UN Conference on Race in Durban, South Africa, strong representation was made to the French government to repay the 150 million francs.
The value of this amount was estimated by financial actuaries as US$21 billion. This sum of capital could rebuild Haiti and place it in a position to re-engage the modern world. It was illegally extracted from the Haitian people and should be repaid.
It is stolen wealth. In so doing, France could discharge its moral obligation to the Haitian people.
For a nation that prides itself in the celebration of modern diplomacy, France, in order to exist with the moral authority of this diplomacy in this post-modern world, should do the just and legal thing.
Such an act at the outset of this century would open the door for a sophisticated interface of past and present, and set the Haitian nation free at last.
Sir Hilary Beckles
Pro-vice-chancellor and Principal of the Cave Hill Campus, UWI.
Bahamians does treat one another bad at times but in general we do have a heart for people when they are down it been my experience after hiring haitians to work for me how ungrateful they are..when I know for a fact that hatians treat one another worse than any bahamian. This nonsense about haitian/bahamian is nonsense and all of those people like lincoln bain, debbie bartlett and cyprianna mqueeny need to decide who they want to be haitian or bahamian. My heart goes out to them and their plight during this time of great need and i will assist with all that i have, but i am not sitting back and letting any body of non bahamian extract defame us as a people we need to preserve this little country against the vast conspiracy to destroy us from within and without. A strong bahamas is the best thing for haiti cause we ga help ya ma brudda das how we go
Ignorance and truth may not always be friends but they don’t have to be enemies.
Though virtually unknown to the American people, the use, and perfection, of earthquake weapon technology has a decade’s long history that began with the former Soviet Unions exploding of a 10 megaton nuclear bomb in September, 1978 and then ‘redirecting’ its shockwave towards Iran where it resulted in a catastrophic 7.4 magnitude earthquake, an event which hastened the downfall of the US backed regime headed by the Shah. This attack upon Iran by the Soviets was countered by the Americans in April, 1979 when they unleashed one of their newly developed ‘atomic powered’ earthquake weapons against the former communist Nation of Yugoslavia which resulted in a 7.2 magnitude earthquake. Since the late 1970’s, the United States has ‘greatly advanced’ the state of its earthquake weapons and, according to these reports, now employees devices employing a Tesla Electromagnetic Pulse, Plasma and Sonic technology, along with ‘shockwave bombs’ they have previously been accused by Russia of employing in their war against the Afghan peoples when one of these ‘devices’ was exploded in Afghanistan in March, 2002 triggering a devastating 7.2 magnitude earthquake.
Thanks for your two cents as I am quite aware that some things just dont pan out.Racism destroyed Haiti when those who fear the black man just could not stomach freed slaves exhibiting leadership capabilities.President Obama is now seeing that the song they dont love me they only know me when they need me also applies to him bcos of the colour of his skin.
Of course, 911 was planned by the government; Global Warming is a stunt by social ideologists to acheive world domination; space-alien encounters are being covered up by the government; and the Ssoviet’s and America’s Space program is all a hoax. Excuse me, but I’m quite content in my ignorance.
The colonial powers that be are also doing the same thing to Jamaica and other Caribbean nation states. We have an obligation to teach our children the truth instead of the hate masquerading as religion. This did not happen as a result of the Haitian’s belief in Voodun. This earthquake may have been man made.
I’ve heard about conspiracy theories, but “man-made earthquake”?? Please, consider the real history presented in the article and lets not get carried away.
This article should be carefully read and inwardly digested by the people who are talking foolishness about punishment for Haiti. We need to understand the history and the forces that crushed the country.
this boils my blood! yup a few countires killed haiti from inception and the truth has never been told…guilt has these countries rushing into help right now but lets see what they do once all has calmed down…no matter what people say about us, for good or bad, we have supported haiti more than any other and continue to do so…
Bahamians are a loving set of people; we can’t watch people suffering and don’t try to help them. That’s not in our nature. We being doing for our Haitian brothers and sisters way before this earthquake and we aint never stop doing. Let me tell you how nice Bahamians are, because people coming on here trying to make it look like Bahamians don’t have any hearts. You know much illegal immigrants our police and immigration officers is see walking on the streets and pass them straight? They go to hospital and our nurses and doctors attend to them and they are allowed to go after they have been served, no question asked. They come here we know we could get in trouble for hiring illegal immigrants to work for us, but some Bahamians is still take the chance by hiring them. Just for the record, I don’t hire nobody who aint straight and I don’t agree with it, I am just saying people is do it. Plenty people might say Bahamians is only hired them for cheap labour, which might be true, but never the less they are already here and they need a job to feed and clothe themselves and their family, if they can’t find employment they might do something extremely drastic. When you look at it everybody know where these people are, but nobody is pimp them off, because some of us feel like that’s too cold. Aint like we are not suffering in this country a lot of people don’t even have jobs and it is only through God’s mercy that they are getting by. Them people in Grand Bahamas still trying to recover from the last hurricane, despite all what we are going through you still have people digging in their pockets or trying to help the Haitians any way they can. I don’t understand when Haitians says we are not nice to them; I think that’s mostly because they want what we have. The Haitians are not able to find peace in their own country, but when they come here this is be the most peace they have ever experienced.
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