Last month Pat Robertson had some disparaging remarks against the people of Haiti and stated that their constant misfortune, including the tragic earthquake, was because they made a pact with the devil in their quest for freedom.
Well as it turns out he wasn’t completely wrong. It’s just that the devil wasn’t some evil serpant conjured up in spiritual tales but actually existed in the form of humans who ran France and The United States.
Let’s take a closer look at the pact from hell…
To: James Madison, U.S. Secretary of State
Date: January 1, 1805
RE: Haitian Independence
The existence of a Negro people in arms occupying a country which [they have] soiled by the most criminal acts, is a horrible spectacle for all white nations.
Prince Charles Maurice De Talleyrand, French Foreign Minister
Haitians pissed off a lot of people. There was an order arranged in the world that everyone was expected to adhere to. White men were to govern over all matters of life for the whole of humanity, while darker skinned men were to be lowly subjects, content in their positions and accepting of a life of toil and servitude. Whiteness or fair-skin was to be the defining characteristic of greatness and unlimited potential, while darkness- or even worse, coal black skin was to be the epitome of wretchedness and all things terrible.
So when Haitians, led by Toussaint L’Ouverture, drunk off of vengeance and filled with blood lust took the heads off their white masters, the status quo recoiled angrily and cursed the French for allowing weakness in an otherwise perfect system of organized oppression.
One can only infer that this is why the tragedy of a natural disaster wreaking havoc on an impoverished nation is not a tragedy at all to some. Even as Haitians lay crying, hungry, and dead; the vultures of mass media and opposing cultures pick steadily at the remains of a long time enemy. It is worth noting, that Goodwill stories of rich celebrities and everyday people giving money, food, and water have not been in short supply in the media, but the ominous headlines that read like the rap sheet of a career criminal haven’t been hard to find either.
For every story of compassion and survival, there have been stories focusing on looting, corruption, and violence; and if anyone didn’t know that Haiti was poor before the earthquake, then they definitely know now that HAITI IS THE POOREST NATION IN THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE!
Haiti’s ineffective leadership, high rate of illiteracy, crime and disease have certainly contributed to the countries struggles and failures. Internal strife and discord among mulatto and dark skin Haitians have historically created tumultuous class conflicts that have hindered progression and served only to power instability. However, these are not the only reasons that the second country after America to fight and win its independence is impoverished and subsistent.
Haiti has never had any real friends; at least, not in the political sense of the word. Haiti disgraced its mother country in a bloody revolution and effectively ended Napolean’s aspiration to make France the strongest imperial nation on the globe. Frances strength in the strategic Caribbean was severely compromised by the revolution; and the Louisiana territory, which was Napolean’s door to western conquest, had to be sold to America because of Haiti’s victory.
In turn, the embittered French refused to recognize the independence of their former slaves and scoffed at claims to be settled from the revolution. This anger eventually turned into extortion, as France took advantage of Haiti’s fledgling economy and forced them into what can only be called a “suckers deal.”
In order for France to recognize Haitian independence, the struggling republic had to pay an indemnity to its former oppressor for the loss of its slaves. The 150 million franc, (21 billion U.S. equivalent), indemnity raped the country of its financial resources, as more than half of the countries economy became diverted to French Banks. Haiti’s fragile infrastructure suffered greatly and its growth as a nation was stymied.
America, The Beautiful?
Despite America’s claim of magnanimity towards less prosperous countries, her relationship with Haiti has not been a shining example of altruism. At the conclusion of the Haitian revolution in 1804, slave holding southerners in the U.S. gasped for air and grabbed their guns when news of the tough little slave nation that killed their way to freedom was told. Meanwhile, the sitting U.S. president at the time, Thomas Jefferson hailed checkmate as the slave revolt toppled France’s build up of power in the Caribbean bringing it to a sudden and abrupt stop.
He was more than content about France’s inability to hold on to Louisiana, because of a costly war. As a matter of fact, if history were truly honest, it would say that Haitians put the initial down payment on the Louisiana Purchase with their lives. Haiti’s thanks from the United States Congress came in the form of non-recognition of their sovereignty and even went further by imposing a trade embargo against the nation that just helped increase U.S. expansion and power.
Fast forward 100 years to around 1910. Germany has become a concern for U.S interest as it began plundering Haiti for about 80% of its international commerce and owned and operated utilities in Cap Haitian and Port Au Prince. President Woodrow Wilson had no intention of allowing Germany to establish a permanent colonial presence in such close proximity to America’s Panama Canal. The U.S. policy towards Haiti was about to evolve from the hands off and non-recognition approach to a pimp’s grip.
The National City Bank of New York (Currently Citibank) was sent in to purchase Haiti’s lone commercial bank. Haitian debts and finances were completely controlled by America and Haiti once again saw a substantial portion of its financial resources being diverted to yet another foreign country – a new daddy.
By 1915, America, a nation that practiced open hostility against it’s own Black population, moved it’s Marines into Haiti and occupied the country for nearly 20 years. Under American control there were improvements to Haiti’s infrastructure. Roads were constructed, telephone lines erected, and schools built. However, this was more about white Americans being comfortable in a foreign land, than it was about the prosperity of the Haitian populace. Places like Millionaire’s Row, where American’s resided and the majority of Haitians could only imagine living lent credence to this fact.
The Hefty Price Of Slave Rebellion.
History tells of another great Slave rebellion that took place in Ancient Rome around 71 B.C. Slave soldiers, led by a man named Spartacus, put the Roman military to task by defeating it’s armies in many decisive victories. The rebellion ultimately failed however, and nearly 6,000 slave soldiers were displayed on crucifixes along 130 miles of road leading into Rome. Their dishonored bodies provided a spectacle of death to remind travelers of the penalty of opposing a powerful empire state.
Haitians too, have been crucified for refusing to follow their slave mandate. Their citizens have been humiliated, dishonored, and starved to death by a collective of imperial states that have never given them a fair chance to evolve naturally into the great nation that they are more than capable of becoming. For the oppressed and impoverished around the world, Haiti has always been a beacon of light for those who search to find the path to freedom.
For the imperialist oppressor nations around the globe, Haiti is a weakly burning torch of opposition that must remain cut off from the precious oxygen that would allow its flame to spread and once again become an uncontrolled, defiant blaze.
Yes, everyone knows that Haiti is the poorest country in the West. But to say that this status has been reached due to incompetence, or merely to add up a list of the countries wrong turns, is to deny a history of political racism that echoes across the world.
And, that is a lie that no Haitian or American should ever accept living with.