by Ezili Dantò
The U.S, France and Canada aren’t the only countries engaged in stripping Haiti of its national sovereignty. “Even ‘progressive’ Venezuela is investing in Haiti tourism at Ile a Vache, instead of pushing to end the US occupation and the use of Haitian resources and lands to make foreigners wealthy.”
End the Left-Right White Solidarity Against Haiti
by Ezili Dantò
This article previously appeared in EziliDanto.com.
“It’s about grabbing all of Haiti’s offshore islands, privatizing Île à Vache, evicting citizens to make room for tourists and calling the outrage ‘helping the Haitians.’”
A few years ago, in “Haiti: Time to remember Kandyo, the Malfini and Mongoose,” I wrote about the United States Left/Right, Democrat/Republican racist solidarity against Haiti. But the forces against Haiti are not only a US-Left-Right white solidarity. The former colonized nations and current anti-imperialist nations also collaborate with white supremacy in Haiti. Cuba, Venezuela, Latin America, the African Union and CARICOM turn a blind eye to the US occupation of Haiti, even participating in the pillage and plunder. The US occupiers are privatizing Haiti, including Haiti offshore islands like Île a Vache. Is this United States and United Nations white supremacist/racist solidarity against Haiti what Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro calls “supporting revolutionary change?”
Black Independence threatens white beliefs of Superiority. This explains current US occupation, plunder and pillage and why the US and Europe constantly destroy and defame Haiti.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
On August 14, 1791 at Bwa Kayiman, the Vodun gathering that began the continuing Haiti revolution, the Haiti revolutionaries, addressed all the forces of white supremacy with this simple call: stop the Black collaborators, stop the white colonists, stop all their evil forces.
To win its freedom, Haiti fought against England, Spain and Napoleon’s colonial army. Napoleon’s army was made up of soldiers from conquered nations and colonial representatives from within the imperial government called – in the white gaze of things – the equivalent of today’s “progressive” forces. Similarly, the US colonial army in Haiti is a multinational force of conquered nations, some of whom are anti-imperialistic and progressive, in the white gaze of things. These otherwise anti-imperialistic nations see nothing contrary or brutal about their racist participation in the United Nations’ colonial forces in Haiti. ALBA countries like Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina, Uruguay and Chile willingly participate. For over 10-years now, although “progressive” Brazil has officially commanded the UN troops in Haiti, the foot soldiers for the UN-MINUSTAH troops in Haiti are made up mainly of poor soldiers from Latin America, Asia, Africa with the top commanding officers mostly from the ranks of Europe and North America. This is the 21st century colonial army, exploiting and repressing Haiti’s black masses on behalf of the number one superpower in the world, the United States.
“ALBA countries like Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina, Uruguay and Chile willingly participate.”
Three of their Black overseers, Ghanaian diplomat and Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan along with the United States’ Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, played pivotal roles for the George W. Bush administration in 2004 to help obfuscate the blatant racism involved in taking down Haiti’s democratically elected government. Later on, after the earthquake, Bill and Hillary Clinton under the Obama administration – the husband at the UN as UN special envoy to Haiti, the wife as head of the Obama State Department – would surpass the three Black overseers along with Lula’s generals in Haiti in their “progressive” destruction of Haiti to abscond with $9billion in quake funds, while supervising the US/Euro yet-to-be unveiled amendments to the Haiti constitution. Amendments reminiscent of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s brutal and repressive Haiti actions during the first US occupation of Haiti from 1915 to 1934. This time, the purpose is to eliminate Haiti laws and mining prohibitions in favor of land grabs such the Ile a Vache with “tax waivers,” – thus taking from the traumatized and defenseless Haiti poor to give to the super-rich.
Haiti’s Washington advisors are conveniently “making use of a little-known “investment code” that gives 15-year tax breaks to the owners of new hotels, many of whom are from the country’s powerful and wealthy families. This law also allows hotel owners to ship supplies through customs without paying taxes.”
White solidarity between the “anti-imperialist” nations against Haiti is evident in the current tourism push by Venezuela in Haiti and the blind eye of the rest of Latin America, CARICOM, African Union nations and the OAS to the brutal repression and dehumanization associated with the Ile a Vache land grab.
The right wing Haiti puppet government employs over 115 Motorized Intervention Brigade (BIM) police officers to forcefully evacuate residents of the Ile a Vache rural community in order to facilitate the Lamothe/Villedrouin cabinet’s acquisition of large parcels of coastal lands on the island.
Jean Lamy Matulnes, the Vice President of the Gathering of Ile a Vache Farmers (Konbit Peyizan Ilavach, or KOPI) has been put in prison for championing Ile a Vache peasant protests against land seizures for foreign “tourist” interests. But part of the land being taken is for permanent housing for the wealthy, who can purchase the 1500 seaside luxury condos and 2500 villas that are to be built on lands previously inhabited by relatively poor Haitians. A mere 2,000 “new jobs” for local Haitians is projected for this massive disenfranchisement of the 20,000 Haitians living on the island. This new Haiti earthquake is being financed, in part, by Venezuela.
“Part of the land being taken is for permanent housing for the wealthy.”
20,000 Haitians living on the Island have had their entire lives turned upside down. Resident are faced daily with the heavily armed Motorized Intervention Brigade (BIM) that is helping a Dominican Republic construction company, Ingenieria Estrella, bulldoze peasant properties.
The reign of terror has forced many community leaders into hiding. Protestors are brutally beaten, intimidated by BIM’s constant show of force, and KOPI members, in particular, are hunted.
The lie about “reconstructing Haiti back better” is no longer centered on raising funds for homeless quake victims, a con game mostly used to evict peasants in the North in order to build a Caracol sweatshop factory for the South Korean friends of the Clintons. The game is no longer about investing in for-profit hotels for tourists in Port au Prince. No. It’s about grabbing all of Haiti’s offshore islands, privatizing Île à Vache, evicting citizens to make room for tourists and calling the outrage, “helping the Haitians.”
The Haiti media generally travels with the government officials pushing tourist projects. There is little international media reporting about the exploitation and brutalization of the population. And since most folks are trained to see tourism – which in Haiti is generally a reproduction of Dixieland plantations with Black and Brown as maids, sexual objects and servers – as Haiti development, Haitians who condemn and denounce the land grab and evictions are branded as short-sighted.
The fact that tourism at Ile a Vache about favoring mostly wealthy white folks to come live and play on Haiti lands taken unfairly from Blacks, escapes the Western-schooled and assimilated mindset. In fact, the colonial narrative is that white supremacy is development for Haiti. Even “progressive” Venezuela is investing in Haiti tourism at Ile a Vache, instead of pushing to end the US occupation of Haiti, the disenfranchisement of the people, the use of Haiti resources and lands to make foreigners wealthy.
Venezuela has invested invested $27 million directly into the Haiti’s tourism ministry that presides over projects such the Ile a Vache debacle.
Some say the Latin American/CARICOM/African Union nations with troops in the US colonial army in Haiti are just tramps. The UN jobs are just that – jobs for poor countries in the global South and Africa. It’s just about: “take the other Negro master and leave us alone” – a cowardly position that will not work because vulture capitalism/white supremacy has to eat up everything in its path. But what is Cuba and Venezuela’s strategic, unprincipled reason for ignoring the imperialist occupation of Haiti, even participating? Is investing in a Haiti land grab what Venezuela’s president Nicolas Maduro calls “supporting equality, justice and participatory democracy for the masses?”
“Venezuela has invested $27 million directly into the Haiti’s tourism ministry that presides over projects such the Ile a Vache debacle.”
The Ile a Vache tourist project is nothing less than a corporate land grab to increase inequality, apartheid, create slums on the Island for the people and further contain them in poverty. Is this what the “Bolivarian” revolution is about? Investing in Haiti’s brutal repression, dehumanization? Dispossessing the local residents to further plunder the billions in Haiti’s underwater treasures at Ile a Vache?
Haiti is at ground zero, the laboratory for the global Left-Right white solidarity going on everywhere: either objectively championing U.S./Euro imperialist aggression or providing, like Venezuela and Cuba, tacit support for that aggression through silence. (Left-Right White Solidarity?-The new face of 21st century neo-fascism.)
But has it ever really been different for Haiti?
There’s been some rare times of brief solidarity over the years. There was the time when JP Patterson of Jamaica refused to be intimidated by Condi Rice’s ultimatum for Jamaica not to give asylum to Jean Bertrand Aristide in 2004. There was the time when then South African President Thabo Mbeki, rejecting US warnings, attended the Haiti bicentennial. Mbeki later sent weapons to the Aristide-Neptune government, weapons which would have reached Haiti the day (February 29, 2004) the US accomplished its regime change. China also, once upon a time, helped veto UN colonial missions to Haiti.
But these rare moments are the exception to the rule, generally reversed quickly by Empire’s economic hitmen, its jackals and bureaucratic institutions and international financial establishments that are structurally racist. The lessons of history show that, in the long run, so-called progressive credentials are put on show to lull the agitated masses into accepting the lies and deliberate confusions spread by Empire. The intensity paralyzes you. You don’t want to charge the prestigious super leftists, like Cuba and Venezuela, with colluding with the very empire they’re fighting against that also denies Haiti the right to self-determination.
But a humorous Native American’s take on the matter is salient here:
The Haitian people identify as enemy, to varying levels and degrees, those who directly or indirectly treat them as less than human. Painting Cuba or Venezuela on the wall of Imperialism’s forts, so-to-speak, won’t stop Haiti’s masses from attacking the super-leftists role in today’s white supremacist occupation in Haiti.
It’s no coincidence that Ajamu Baraka recently addressed this topic from a more global perspective, maintaining that the Left-Right White solidarity is the most recent face of 21st century neo-fascism. He explained that racism/white supremacy is the foundation of Euro fascism which is always ready to explode:
“Cross-class white solidarity in defense of ‘Western values,’ civilization and the prerogative to determine who has the right to national sovereignty …is at the base of the rationalization of the ‘responsibility to protect’ asserted by the white West.”
Haiti activists at Ezili’s HLLN have been pointing out the solidarity of the white saviors from the US/Euro Left and Right spectrum since the second US occupation of Haiti began in 2004. The Ile a Vache expropriation of lands, with the racist Dominican Republic as investor and Venezuela’s involvement, requires a critical look.
Venezuela cannot claim to be anti-imperialists while financing a right wing Haiti government selected by the US. Venezuelan money is partly sponsoring the illegal imprisonment of Jean Lamy Maltunes, the dispossession of peasant lands, the setting loose of police dogs on the people and other such brutal reprisals against Haiti peoples at Ile a Vache.
For over 10-years, since before the end of the Gerald Latorture’s barbaric reign in 2006, Haiti’s people have stood virtually alone, while most of Latin America and the CARICOM nations, along with the OAS, ALBA and the African Union, turns a blind eye to the Western imperialist project, neoliberalism, UN troop massacres and the general colonial whitening in Haiti.
These nations, especially the Latin American nations who mostly hide their large African populations in Favela-type conditions, claim that the UN is a peacekeeping force, a humanitarian force.
“Venezuela cannot claim to be anti-imperialists while financing a right wing Haiti government selected by the US.”
Cuba and Venezuela do not have troops in UN-MINUSTAH, but they simply seem not to want to understand, for their own geopolitical purposes and perhaps for strategic unity with the Latin American and Caribbean participants in Haiti’s occupation.
US propaganda maintains that Haiti needs to be ruled by foreigners. This is justified by focusing on Black fratricide and Black on black crime in Haiti, even though Haiti has less violence (6.9) than most nations in the Western Hemisphere, including the Dominican Republic (25.0), Jamaica (40.9), Bahamas (36.6), Brazil (21.8), Venezuela (45.1), Mexico (23.7) and El Salvador (69.2). But these former colonized nations are not willing to accept that Haiti’s violence and corruption is as underdeveloped as its economic potential.
Cuba’s medical brigade is reputed to be doing good work in Haiti. But some observant Haitians have serious concerns.
These detractors say that Cuba’s medical brigade, just like the typical Western NGOs, cannot be deemed totally positive when it replaces or substitutes for a locally grown and sovereign Haiti public infrastructure.
Others point out that Cuba failed to protest when the US multinational forces invaded Haiti in 2004, and installing their military headquarters in the medical school in Port au Prince.
Even Eva Morales, leader of the Bolivian revolution, has troops in the US colonial army in Haiti.
The radical, anti-imperialists writing today do not ink any of this Haiti reality. These folks mostly laud the great good that Venezuelan PetroCaribe dollars are doing for the Haiti masses. The fact that the Haiti oligarchy charges over six dollars ($6) per gallon to the people of Haiti for this subsidize gasoline while selling it, in bulk, at cheaper prices to wealthy passing cruise ships does not garner their attention. Nor does the oligarchs’ monopoly on petrol in Haiti, their petrol farms warehousing supply to keep prices high.
“A June 13, 2008 Nouvelliste article alleges that then President Preval confided that “more than 40 to 50% of the imported rice that is subsidized by the Haitian State is CONSUMED in the DOMINICAN REPUBLIC… And that even Haitian clandestinely subsidized petroleum products, cheaper Haiti oil products, are also being consumed by wealthy foreign ships passing through Haitian waters, instead of the impoverished and starving Haitians these food and gas subsidies were intended to benefit…”— HLLN archives
For its part, the international media is too busy giving itself awards and winning corporate foundation grants to do any real reporting on Caribbean-Latin American institutionalized racism against Haiti. For instance, CARICOM requires Haitians – and only Haitians – to have visas to travel to other CARICOM countries.
“Even Eva Morales, leader of the Bolivian revolution, has troops in the US colonial army in Haiti.”
The Dominican Republic is the only honest racist amongst the Latin American/Caribbean bunch. It straight out denationalized Dominicans of Haitian descent going back to 1929, to “purify” its country of Black blood, casually committing civil genocide with no great protest from the world’s nations.
True revolutionaries in Cuba and Venezuela must stop the abandonment of Haiti. A good beginning would be to lend a helping hand to the voiceless, vulnerable people of Ile a Vache who built and reforested the Island. The people ask that the May 10, 2013 presidential decree unilaterally making Ile a Vache a zone of tourism development and public utility be rescinded. They want the unconditional release of Jean Maltunes Lamy and the withdrawal of the 115 militarized police from the Island.
We suggest that world citizens write the Venezuelan embassy in Haiti, write to President Nicolas Maduro, and contact Venezuelan activists to ask that Venezuela use its diplomatic powers to secure the immediately release of Jean Lamy Maltunes, and to halt the financing of the neofascist
Martelly/Lamothe government. Tourism, an export economy, sweatshops and privatization of pubic assets are not development for Haiti, Africa, Latin America or the Caribbean. This is a concrete opportunity to stop colluding with Empire.
Ezili Dantò is an award winning playwright, a performance poet, author and human rights attorney. She was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and raised in the USA. She holds a BA from Boston College, a JD from the University of Connecticut School of law. She is a human rights lawyer, cultural and political activist and the founder and president of the Ezili’s Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network (HLLN). She runs the Haitian Perspectives on-line journal and the Ezili Dantò Newsletter. She can be contacted at http://www.ezilidanto.com/zili/contact-us/.