|Commentary: Blaming the victim!|
|Published on Wednesday, July 23, 2008||Email To Friend Print Version|
|By Jean H Charles
In a letter to the Editor of Caribbean Net News a concerned citizen of the world (George Grunner of Altanta, Georgia) wrote that Haiti a failed state by all indices of good governance “has also produced a failed Diaspora” in the United States. I beg to differ and cry loud: Ah, blaming the victim!
The Republic of Haiti, that enjoyed its independence in 1804 after the American Revolution in 1776 and the French Revolution in 1789, was instrumental in helping the United States became what it is today, a vast, rich and beautiful land from sea to shining sea.
The Louisiana Purchase, a by-product of the Haitian Revolution, was possible because the Haitian Titans defeated the mighty Napoleon armada sent to that country (with the tacit support of Thomas Jefferson) to re-establish slavery in Hispaniola. Disgusted by the new development, Napoleon offered Louisiana to the United States for almost a peanut by acre of land.
Haiti during its first 150 years of history, was shunned, insulted and exploited by the rest of the world including:
– Latin America countries that received funds and ammunition to fight their own independence;
– France that extracted billion of dollars to accept the independence that Haiti conquered and won with the gallant genius and military strategy of its heroes.
– Holland and Germany that armed several Haitian factions to exploit better the country natural resources and
– The United States that refused to accept Haiti independence until some sixty years later and finally invaded the country in 1915 leaving very few roots of nation building, setting the stage for the failed state status of Haiti some fifty years later.
I used to laugh at those who advocate about a suspicious international conspiracy against Haiti for daring to strike the first blow to the world order of slavery, a detailed analysis of the last 50 years of Haiti’s life as an independent country would certainly give credence to the rumor.
Haiti was ruled by national dictators (from the right and from the left) imposed upon and maintained by the United States. I remember as a youngster when, after two decades of brutal and demoniac dictatorship of Francois Duvalier, the United States, through the sinister hand of Ambassador Knox, arranged for a swift transfer of power to Baby Doc Duvalier (then 18 years old) insuring the prolonged life of the filthy dictatorship for another seventeen years.
When the people of Haiti on February 7, 1986, took their courage into their hands to butt out Jean Claude Duvalier and his arrogant wife, Michelle; the United States was again in the front line arranging the transfer of power to a military junta against the will of the people who favored a champion of human rights (Gerard Gourgue)
Jean Bertrand Aristide who succeeded the military junta (in that case Mr. Grunner is right) was a creature of the Northeast white liberal cum leftist ideology. I remember again in 1991, those white women from and around New York University raising funds to help the non-declared candidature of the fiery leftist priest who denounced capitalism as an original sin. When Aristide, on the left, became as violent a dictator as the military junta, on the right, he was butted out of the country.
The Democrat Party in bed with the Lavalas organization arranged for his return to Haiti under the auspices of 20.000 US military forces. Four years later (2004) the people of Haiti chased Aristide again because his policies of dividing the Haitian family were too much for the country to endure. In the meantime, Aristide had opened the door for the Friends of Haiti (France, United States, Canada, Argentine, Brazil and Venezuela) to establish the presence of the United Nations into the country. It was supposed to be a blessing; it has been a curse since the first mission in 1991.
– There was first the MICIVIH solicited by Aristide, February 1993 – May 1998
– Then UNMIH a military mission from September 1993 to June 1996
– Rene Preval, Aristide former Prime Minister, actual Haiti President requested a mission UNSMIH from July 1996 to July 1997
– Another mission was again requested (UNTMIH) August 1997 – November 1997 by President Preval.
– It was followed by MIPONUH another UN mission from December 1997 to March 2000.
– President Preval requested the UNSMIH mission from March 2000 to February 2001
– Finally Jean Bertrand Aristide demanded the present UN- MINUSTAH mission that started in April 2004 and is still in the country today, a force of some 9,000 military and 3,000 civilians.
This long, almost twenty years of UN direct involvement should have put Haiti on the track of development and nation building. I will rest my case and let the reader be the jury on the first count.
On the second count, the Haitian Diaspora as all Diaspora is a reflection of the state of the country of origin and also a mirror of the reception mat received in the host country. When refugees from Cuba are received with a welcoming arm and those from Haiti are led into jail en route to be sent back to Haiti, the starting point is already discriminatory.
I have visited the social service agencies dedicated to the Jewish Diaspora from Russia. They are met at the airport with a ticket, to college (City College) to food stamps, to temporary housing and a complete network to resources and information. In spite of the fact that there are now, very few refugees from Russia, you would expect that vast structure redirecting its mission to the immigrants from the Caribbean in general, Haiti in particular. The door is not yet open for the people with black skin.
The Haitian Diaspora started with the United Nations sending a contingent of Haitian professionals (doctors, lawyers, and teachers) to Congo Brazzaville to initiate nation building in that country. The same group of technicians migrated to the United States to the United States at the peak of the dictatorial regime of the Duvalier. The Congo experience did not lasted long. Most of the Haitian professionals did not return to Haiti but settled in Quebec, Canada where they have contributed to create a vibrant province.
To the point of being labeled an iconoclast, I dare to argue that the discriminated group of Jews, gay, artists and Haitians constitute a ferment that transform any decaying urban setting into a vibrant neighborhood with or without the support of local government.
Whether in housing, education or work ethics, the Haitian Diaspora has led the black experience into a level of excellence that was not there before. In New York, the neighborhood of Cambria- Heights, Rosedale, Laurelton, Canarsie have become strong and vibrant communities in spite of the hasty white flight from those neighborhoods.
The New York hospital system is sustainable in terms of manpower because of the labor and the expertise of the thousand of Haitian doctors and nurses that man the system day and night.
The colleges and the universities are filled with young Haitian males and females that are setting the tone that scholarship and leadership are not only the province of the white students. The astute Jamaican mothers are keen to snap up those well polished Haitian male graduates for their daughters. The silent revolution of the Haitian Diaspora is spread all over the land,(New York, New Jersey, Boston, Florida, Atlanta) transforming America for the better every day.
The State of the Haitian Diaspora is a mirror of the state of the black experience in the United States, an unfulfilled agenda. The United States might be the best country in the world for a black immigrant or for a black man, period. Yet it remains a racist country where the most innovative initiatives in civil rights took place some twenty five years ago under the administration of Richard Nixon.
(COLA cost of living adjustments for Social Security recipients; self determination without termination for the Indian tribes; SSI Supplementary Security Income; guaranteed annual income for the aged, blind and disabled; National Student Loan Association; National Endowment for the Humanities; set aside for minority contracts putting civil rights on par with affirmative action; revenue sharing programs facilitating urban renewal)
We have not seen better since.
Mr Gunnar, creating an aura of hospitality for the citizens of the land and for those who want to belong has nothing to do with being a Republican or being a Democrat, hopefully, Mr Obama or Mr McCain will both understand that principle and built on the legacy of President Lyndon Johnson (a Democrat) and President Richard Nixon (a Republican) to create an America that is hospitable to all.