Monster Returns to Haiti

I endeavour when I write to deal with reality rather than inhabit the realms of  fantasy. I try very hard to remove the veil that hides the reality that exists within, to dig beneath the surface to expose the rot that lies at the core of the issue. In my last article I tried to put in its proper perspective the political reality facing the Lucian People’s Movement (LPM) in its quest to form the next government of St Lucia. In a nutshell I argued that the LPM cannot be considered to be a serious contender in St Lucian politics and the upcoming general elections.
The accuracy or validity of one’s observations can only be proven by historical outcomes. I await the general elections which are due in St Lucia on 6th December 2011, unless extended by ninety days due to a state or emergency or other legitimate reasons acceptable to the people and the parliamentary opposition. The outcome of the general elections will determine the veracity of my evaluation of the LPM’s chances, and who are the ones harbouring political delusions.
As far as the Haitian situation is concerned I take no comfort from the predictions I made about that country that have all come to fruition. I predicted that Haiti would be exactly where it is today, with no advancement in its beleaguered and impoverished state, a year after it was devastated by the earthquake, and still will be for decades to come.
In the spirit of telling the  unvarnished truth at the time, in the aftermath of the earthquake that took an estimated 250,000 lives, I castigated former Prime Minister of Jamaica, PJ Patterson, who on a jaunt to St Lucia would state the following: We (i.e. CARICOM) are not going to become mere passengers on the bus taking Haiti in whatever direction they choose. CARICOM must be the column of the steering wheel while Haiti must be in the driver’s seat. And we cannot and will not abdicate our responsibility to our kith and kin in their hour of need!
As events have unfolded in Haiti those words have turned out to be pure hogwash, for they were uttered just after a high level delegation from CARICOM, comprising then Barbados Prime Minister David Thompson, Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skeritt, and CARICOM Secretary General, Edwin Carrington, were unceremoniously prevented from landing in Haiti by the Haitian authorities. I will submit a further view that may offend the sensitivities of our Caribbean politicians, and that is that two American journalists, Anderson Cooper and Sanjay Gupta of CNN have more clout and influence over the authorities in Haiti than the political directorate of CARICOM. I had earlier asserted that CARICOM was in no position to assist Haiti in any meaningful way as they were claiming because they just did not have the resources financial or material. Amidst the doom and gloom that has afflicted Haiti, comes the news of the return to Haiti of Baby Doc Duvalier. As descendants of Africans like the Haitians, we should be outraged and appalled by this sickening development. Today, 207 years after earning its independence in 1804 after a prolonged war with France, Haiti finds itself being raped, its national treasures pillaged, exploited and controlled by outside forces other than the people of Haiti.
Haiti today epitomizes the universal plight of the black diaspora captured in a famous poem by black poet Kamau Brathwaite, which eloquently expressed the controlled rage and anger of the black man after centuries of slavery, exploitation and segregation. Despite his horrendous history the black man by nature remains a civil and peaceful race. Haitians must feel, the utter despair that one feels when he has lost all hope, when the rage within him feels like a turbulent volcano waiting to erupt and explode with the utmost violence to destroy all in its path with its terrible fire. The people of Haiti have been battered by nature, betrayed by their own people and the world, but are too weak and powerless to protest.
In Brathwaite’s words, a characterization that can be applied to Haitians as they live in human degradation surrounded by garbage and human filth: “I feel bad mother—I feel like a drum with a hole in its belly, an old horse lost at the hurdle. But don’t touch me now, don’t hold me now. For the good Lord’s sake, if you scheming now, to relieve me now, to sweet talk me now, to support me now, just forget it now. Please forsake me now—Just watch me fall in the mud of my dreams, with my face in the cow pen, down at heart, down at hope, down at heel.” That is just how Haitians must feel under the control of foreign forces, for reimposing a despicable tyrant in their midst, as the unkindest cut of all.
There is undisputed evidence that Baby Doc Duvalier who ruled Haiti from 1971-1986, continued the legacy he inherited from his father Papa Doc, of a reign of terror against the Haitian people. Accounts abound of the brutal tactics used by  Papa and Baby Doc whose Tonton Macoutes and their murderous methods instilled  widespread fear among Haitians. According to Human Rights reports those who spoke out against the Duvaliers would disappear at night, or people were burned alive and their corpses
were put on display in trees for everyone to see. The number of Haitians
killed by the Duvalier dynasty are put at between 40,000 to 60,000.
The rule of the Duvaliers was made even more effective by the people’s belief in voodoo and the  belief inculcated in their minds that people who practice voodoo like the Duvaliers were invincible. Baby Doc is reputed to have practiced voodoo at an even greater level than his father, and his survival from the wrath of his people, and despite the execution of thousands of his people under his regime, his protection by Western Countries, and his return, all reinforce the people’s fear and belief that Baby Doc must have  exceptional powers from the dark forces. It explains how subdued Haitians have been over the return of Baby Doc to Haiti without the widespread protest that should have been precipitated by his return. Instead they are cowed into inaction by their beliefs. There are attempts  in the international media to soften the image of a brutal dictator, with articles referring to his love for Haiti the nostalgic feeling that the people have for Duvalier, and that he could bring stability amidst the chaos that now exists in Haiti.
This duplicitious  attempt to rehabilitate Baby Doc should be condemned in the strongest terms for we should ask, “Is Baby Doc to be  remembered nostalgically for his ruthless execution of thousands of Haitian people? Should he be remembered fondly for his lavish wedding in 1980 which cost US $3 million, whilst the majority of Haitians live in dire poverty? The embezzlement of an estimated US $500 million from a woefully undeveloped country earning the unenviable label as the ‘poorest country in the Western hemisphere? The return of Baby Doc begs several pertinent questions. Who is in charge of Haiti’s governance?  Why is former parish priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide who tried to improve the social conditions of the poor in Haiti, and was never reported to have killed a fly, exiled from Haiti and barred from re-entering his homeland while a monster is allowed to return? How was Baby Doc’s boarding an aeroplane in Europe facilitated when his reputation for committing heinous atrocities in Haiti which are internationally known?”
In an interview conducted by Steven Sacker of the B.B.C. with Jamaican born lawyer Courtney Griffiths, with a reputation as a brilliant lawyer in Europe, Griffiths stated that he was very disturbed by the discriminatory practices of the International Court of Justice in the Hague.  He said that everyone has to be equal before the law. Courtney Griffiths is the lawyer defending  former president of Liberia Charles Taylor for crimes against humanity. Mr.  Griffiths said he noticed a distinct tendency of the World Court to target African leaders to stand trial in the Hague. Asked Mr Griffiths of Steven Sacker ‘does justice and equality really reside in the World Court?  Why weren’t George Bush and Tony Blair hauled before the Hague for conducting a war against a country on false premises, and dealing death and destruction on a massive scale on an entire country?’ The return of Baby Doc to Haiti illustrates that duplicity. He was allowed to live in luxury as a play boy without being put on trial.
While the people of Haiti languish in unspeakable conditions in makeshift tents, children and women remain vulnerable at the mercy of sexual predators and human traffickers. Haiti has vast lands, with an area of 10,641 sq miles and a population of 9.2 million. To envision how huge Haiti is, we contrast the size of Haiti to that of St Lucia with an area of 238 sq miles and a population of 175,000 people. Instead of the dependency syndrome which is encouraged by the donor countries where is the vision to radically transform Haiti into a self-sufficient, truly independent country. With my limited perspective why instead of able bodied men and women lying idle in tents, couldn’t vast expanses of land be opened up and get thousands of people to engage in agriculture, and animal husbandry on a massive scale. With its rich volcanic soil Haitians can produce sugar cane, bananas, citrus fruits, spices, cocoa, coffee, cotton, mangoes, pine apples, rice, all manner of fruit, pigs, poulrty, cattle for beef and milk production to feed its children.
The Colonials were able to get Africans to labour on plantations and produce enough sugar and exotic crops to fill the coffers of Europeans countries. Why can’t Haitians cultivate the vast lands to produce enough to feed themselves and the export market?
Radical measures must be adopted to transform the social and economic degradation that marks this cursed country. There seems to be a dysfunctional government incapable of taking its destiny into its own hands to solve the nation’s problems. Recent events such as Baby Doc’s return should convince anyone with the modicum of mental capabilities that other nations are not interested in improving Haiti to rise from the ashes of dependency & mendicancy.
For any progress to take place in Haiti, they must first abandon the belief in voodoo, and should as in the words of Marley, emancipate themselves from mental slavery. For voodoo is nothing but mental slavery which perpetuates the myth that its practitioners become powerful and feared, and hold the simple people in subordination. No wonder Haitians are cowed by Baby Doc’s return and instead of widespread protest and upheaval over his presence in the country are reduced to cowardly inaction.

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