Historians have revealed that Christopher Columbus, when he stumbled upon Haiti on December 5, 1492, exclaimed: “But this is marvelous!” He was so enchanted by the view in the island that he decided this should be his last stop. He would wander around the tropical basin but would make the island of Hispaniola his home base to discover other places in the Caribbean. On his return to Spain to show to the Queen Isabella his prized acquisitions, indigenous Indians and other tropical products, his sailors profited from his absence to massacre and decimate in one generation more than one million Indians through imported disease, alcohol, beatings and all other types of cruelty.
Las Casas, a defrocked priest, used the fate of the Indians to suggest and obtain from the queen the rights to import blacks from Africa to replace the declining population of aborigines, for mining the land for gold and later toiling in the plantations to produce coffee, sugar and cocoa for the traders in Europe.
For some 300 years, Haiti was the place to receive, brutalize for submission and dispatch black slaves to all parts of the Caribbean, the United States and Latin America, in particular Brazil. During that period, Spain, England, France and Portugal combined together to write and enforce laws policies and practices that would define the black race as an inferior category of the human species.
It was also from Haiti that the revolution in November 1803 put a final blow to the world order of slavery as it was institutionalized by the church, the philosophers and the current global practice. From there, the concept that slavery is repugnant to human dignity spread to Latin America and later to the United States.
Meanwhile in Haiti, slavery returned in new clothes, the forced borrowing on the state to impede any prospect of nation building. By imposing an international embargo against Haiti lifted only through international exaction and extortion, the fate of the daring nation was doomed from the start. Since only education could create a critical mass of individuals who would take their destiny on hand, Haiti and all other countries similarly situated were condemned to live in permanent poverty, internal dissent and environmental disaster.
The occupation of Haiti by the Americans in 1915 followed by several others throughout the world to bring internal order and civilization did not ensure either of them. As in the Middle East today, throngs of Haitian citizens then left the country for Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Panama.
The Revolution of 1946 that could be compared to the struggle for identity politics complicates the situation. Dumarsais Estime ones of the most cherished Haitian presidents could in the end be the one who caused the most harm to the future of the nation. In adopting the policy that black skinned Haitians should also have their time as the light skinned ones (mulattoes) in captivating the national legacy “he atomized Haitian politics, undermined civic culture and destroyed the possibility of the ethos of appurtenance the glue for true nation building”.
The politics of common good that could revolutionize the world in offering to share the national legacy with all the citizens of the land is put aside for a politics of liberalism where all types of ingredients such as racial preference, gender equality, sexual identity, disguised human rights values have the high hand leading the bigots and the racists to also ask for their fair share in the national cake.
That policy opened the way for the Western world to disrobe the nationalists of the new nations of Africa or old ones like Haiti and impose dictators like Ida Amin in Uganda or Duvalier in Haiti. They lasted for years and, when they left, the shadow of democracy under the disguise of liberalism or human rights made you wish you could revert back to the dictatorial era. Because at least there was a governing state.
This long introduction was to lead us to a new book written by a professor of history at Columbia University, Mark Lilla, The Once and Future of Liberal after Identity Politics. He argued that the Democrats in general and Hillary Clinton in particular lost the recent American elections because of their espousal of the concept of liberalism that slipped into a kind of moral panic about all types of causes going from gender to sexual orientation, missing the real fight, which should be the sentiment of appurtenance for all.
Said Lilla: “We need no more marchers, we need better mayors.” Observing American politics from afar, I am looking at a war of tweets. Who could gain the more followers through their tweets, Trump, Obama or Hillary! The business of pacifying America and creating the one and un-divisive nation under the same banner as prescribed by Abraham Lincoln, rebranded by Dr Martin Luther King and pursued by Lyndon Johnson, is distorted into a clan politics where there is no end in pulling the sheets to one’s side.
A whole city is in riot because the N word has been used by an official or a renowned business entity. Yet leaving a large part of the population squatting or living in squalor is a scheme design accepted by all.
While the N word is popular and widely used in Haiti, there is a niggardly way in the way Haiti treats its citizens. It seems there is a national plot to mistreat the women and the rural world while there is an international plot to mistreat Haiti. The MINUSTHA is leaving the country in a worse state than it found it, yet it was sent to Haiti to stabilize the nation. You could see the members of the Corps from small nations like Senegal or big ones like Brazil or Chile using their soldiers for a dolce vita in Haiti with big pay and no positive impact for the country.
“We need no more marchers but better mayors!”
A three-day strike has been proposed in Haiti this week to protest the 2017-2018 national budgets. Whether the budgets will be amended or remain the same as it has been signed by the president, nothing will be changed for the average Haitian citizen. I have formulated a classic national budget roadmap in my essays that has attracted little traction in the Caribbean except maybe in the Dominican Republic and there again the Haitian Dominicans are not part of the inclusion.
It included funds to create:
1. The sentiment of appurtenance amongst all citizens with the support for the creation of wealth for all.
2. Excellent infrastructure and sane institutions everywhere so the citizens will cease to be nomads in their own country and abroad.
3. Extend a helping hand to those who have been left behind; in the case of Haiti, the women and the rural world.
4. Reach for the divine and international mission set by God for your nation. In the case of Haiti it is an emancipator mission.
5. Teach the youths they must see the nation as a continued creation fulfilling the dreams of the ancestors.
This is not on the agenda of neither the government nor the opposition.
Cape-Haitian has sensed this dichotomy? The city was immune to the strike. The citizens went to their usual occupation, children went to school and business was hot as in a bee’s nest.
I must anyway express my deception with the new mayor. Magistrate Mondé, as he is fondly called by everybody, was supposed to be the alter ego of another mayor of another era: Cléomain Jean Pierre. It was around the 60s before the dictatorial period. Mayor Cléomain kept the city in a state so clean and beautiful it was the pride of the Caribbean and of the nation.
Sixty years later we thought we have another Cléomain but Mayor Mondé is no Mayor Cléomain. There are no excuses for the amount of detritus left uncollected every day by the sanitation department. The public market Hyppolite is in a state so deplorable that any well functioning government would have closed the structure because it is unfit for public safety and public hygiene.
While we are at it! Is it not time for the son of the city, Councilman Eugene Mathieu from New York, to step in and bring help that would do much good to Cape Haitian, particularly in this period when the hurricanes are coming by waves, it was Irma now Maria preparing to create havoc in a city that is overwhelmed by overpopulation and governmental neglect?
Maybe after all Haiti might show it is in the avant garde for the good, not the bad and the worst!
By: Jean H Charles LLB, MSW, JD – September 25, 2017