Monday, January 18, 2010

Haiti: Orphan of West

Rushing to the aid of earthquake devastated Haiti is a no-brainer. The out-pouring of grief and support for the poorest of the poor in the western world is as it should be. It is only right, despite what the ilk of Pat Robertson or Rush Limbaugh might say. But what happens after we have delivered water, food, and medical help during this emergency? How do we really help them long-term? Is it possible? The knee-jerk answer is yes, but what do we rebuild, and for what reason, really? This is a much more difficult question.

Haiti represents the worse of all that went wrong with the Atlantic Slave Trade. Displacing these people from their African birthplace a continent away, enslaving them under a sketchy government – the French – only to abandon them to their own limitations on a tiny island. And finally, saddling them with a cost of their freedom which guaranteed a bad start and no-win future. This is Haiti.

At the base of the country’s economic tale of woe is a population size that slams its diminishing agricultural base. The population density of the country is 10X that of the US. Ten million is too many people, half of them illiterate! Haiti is a prime example of ‘ecoside’, or suicide by a plunder of one’s living environment. The country has been deforested, over the past 200 years, to the point where living off the land is impossible, and they have no other means of trade. With no exports to trade for petroleum as fuel, they have consumed their forest for heating and cooking, and left themselves no escape route.

So, the world can respond to the current devastation, but only via an indefinite emergency-type aid scenario, where we provide the basics year after year. They are wards of the industrial world, orphans. There is no infrastructure to rebuild, no economy to repair, no confidence to bolster. If the reparations-extracting French had any moral backbone, or true patriotism, they should be ashamed for this mess of a country created in the wake of their colonial exploits. But hey, they are the French.

Anyway, what to do? Our thinking needs to get crazy. Haiti needs to be recognized for what it is, a malnourished ecological/economic/political orphan of colonial Europe and the west. The G7/8 need to collectively take it over, install a provisional government, tear it down and build it back, as if they were freed just yesterday. The French and US - those who blockaded the fledge-ling nation for nearly 60 years, owe them and need to pay up first, and pay big, including paying French-speaking Africa to accept, voluntarily, as many of the ‘too-many’ inhabitants as possible. The population density must be reduced immediately. This may all seem heavy and nut-zo, but drastic is called for, otherwise we should get ready to continue witnessing, from our top-side front-row seat, their annual devastation, punctuated by disaster, accompanied by expensive, high-tech, band-aid rescues.

James C. Collier


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Sonny said...

James I agree with you 100%. I think you pointed out a great point here "There is no infrastructure to rebuild, no economy to repair, no confidence to bolster". These people have been disenfranchised in the worst way. My fear is that the majority of those with the power to help can't see Haiti because they can't get past the practice of voodoo. Not saying I support voodoo, but I understand that they are humans first. One common statement I keep hearing when I watch the footage of the earthquake is, when asked if they want to leave, the people of Haiti never seem to hesitate in saying “no, this is our home”. I understand their pride in their land, it’s a beautiful Island. My point is, how could the population be reduced? No one wants to leave.

Pat Robertson should really be ashamed of himself. The story of Dutty Boukman is a very interesting story and who can blame them for revolting against their slave masters? I can't believe Pat Robertson is more focused on the god they prayed to, instead of the fact that they were fighting for they very lives. Not to mention, whose ancestors are innocent? Damn sure not Pat Robertson’s.

This should be interesting how this turns out.

James C. Collier said...

I guess I'm not the only crazy brother on this planet, with regard to a back-to-Africa Haitian option. Senegal President Abdoulaye Wade has offered land and help to willing Haitians. Interesting. The French and US need to throw in on this.

ogunsiron said...

Haitians aren't unknown in francophone Africa. Just like the 1st wave of haitian immigrants to Quebec and the Usa, the haitians who went to Africa in the 60s were teachers, doctors and other types of professionals. There are a few who actually settled there.
I know a congolese guy who tells me that back home they had a very high opinion of haitians, since they only knew doctors and profs. When he moved here he was a bit dismayed upon meeting the "other" type of haitian .lol.

About leaving : i don't know who they were interviewing but leaving has been major option in the life of all educated haitians for at least 50 years now. My parents left that place since it only promised to devour them instead of letting them build a life and a future.

Haitians are a proud lot but their pride runs on empty.

In any case, James, I totally agree that haiti is too full. Going back to africa isn't such a crazy idea but would it work ? abdoulaye wade offered land in senegal but we aren't in the middle ages like when the king of poland could give land to all european jews who wanted to move there.Which african country really wants a massive influx of foreigners who will ( depending on the country) be either a burden on the population or a possible rival to whatever ruling class is there ? Also, if haiti is to have chance, what should leave is the lower half of the bell curve but who the hell wants that ?

Unknown said...

A few comments:

1) Haiti may be the poorest country on the western hemisphere, but there are quite a few countries that are even poorer than it, most of which are in ... Africa!

2) Haiti may be overpopulated, but so is West Africa. Nigeria now has a population of 155 million, which is much more than sustainable. Moving people around to other countries wouldn't help anyway, as long as nothing is done to reduce the birth rates. Kenya, for example, is heading straight for disaster, with an annual population growth of nearly 4%!

3. It is unfair to blame slavery for all the country's problems, 200 years after Haiti gained independence. I believe that the main reason why black people in Africa and the Americas are so unsuccessful are (a) macho culture and (b) always blaming someone else for their problems. Why not follow the example of India or China? They, too, have been colonized. But they've learned from the colonizers and chose to adopt the virtues of science, technology and (in the case of India) democracy, while preserving the best parts of their own traditions. Population control has also been instrumental in both country's success. Africans and their overseas descendants would do well to follow their example. But isn't that the whole theme of this blog? Stop whining, be proud of your African heritage, but stop whining and act white (or yellow!) when it comes to education and work ethic.

Anonymous said...

"how could the population be reduced? No one wants to leave."

Actually pretty much everyone in Haiti wants to leave. The problem is that nobody wants them.

Third world overpopulation is something that the politically correct first world simply cannot deal with in a rational way. The only "solutions" they can come up with are to send money or let them all come here, neither of which actually solve their problem and both of which just create more problems for us.

Anonymous said...

Implant 5 year birth control in every woman and don't listen to the whining liberals that complain about violating their "rights".

There are quite a few countries that need something done on this order to reduce the population since nature and disease is fought tooth and nail and not allowed to lower the human population as it does with the animal one.

Quite a few folks in the USA could use a liberal dose of birth control too.

Anonymous said...

change can only come from within. Until the hatian people have a benovolent authoritarian governement that guides and controls its people it will never prosper. The hatian people would resent and rebel if the g7/g8 tried to govern their country. Like all people, including the people reading this, the hatian people would rather be free and starve than a slave puppet to other governments. There is no pride in that. Even suggesting such shows that you think less of the hatians as a people and more of them as a burden or better yet...slaves who need to be re-enslaved.

Frenchie said...

"Like all people, including the people reading this, the Haitian people would rather be free and starve than a slave puppet to other governments." I was going to say the exact same thing. Clearly you don't know any Haitians, James (nice to meet you). Why fight for your freedom and hold on to your pride for 200 years just to go crawling back to the very people that said you would not live to see this day, that put policies in place to enslave you? We didn't become Haitian when the world took notice of us after the earthquake. Every Haitian child knows that we've been Haitian since 1804. We taught you that black was beautiful and freedom was sweet, and we are prepared to die so that Haiti will remain for our children. Ayiti pap mouri, even after the last newscast leaves.
We do not want to be governed by an outside power anymore than the Japanese wanted to be put in internment camps for "their own good". Your comments came off as paternalistic and insensitive....and therein lies the tension between African Americans and the rest of the African diaspora...You do us no favors by implying that we can not rule ourselves. Help Haiti help itself.

during the Duvalier regime, many Haitians went to "back" to Africa. This is a good option for some but clearly not for all.

On another note, Ann questions why the descendants of former slaves are not doing as well as those in Asia (India is in Asia, Ann). Basic history lesson: While India remained a British territory for years, the rest of Asia was never colonized- brief periods of interaction or invasions from the West do not qualify as colonization. That is the first difference between Asia and Africa/Latin America.Most Asian countries were not turned into profit mills for Europe. Secondly, over 12 million of Africa's strongest, best, and brightest were stolen, raped, and murdered systematically for centuries. Compare that to only 6 million Jews in the Holocaust, for example, and you may be able to begin to comprehend the type of decimation loosing the most able-bodied of your population can do to a country and a continent dependent on manual labor. Asia was lucky enough never to be systematically targeted for genocide by the West- for what else was slavery but the genocide of Africans?. therefore, Asia is not trying to rebound from it's affects.In the US, for example, the trans-Atlantic slave trade didn't end until well after the American Revolution yet slavery was still in place. Lastly, Africa is still being depleted of its resources by rich ), Western nations and multi-national corporations (don't tell me you haven't seen Blood Diamonds?!. The "West" was built through the blood, sweat, and tears, of people of Africans and indigenous Americans-not Asians. Therefore, not only did Africa experience a crippling brain-drain and systematic genocide of it's strongest people, it has not been allowed to control its own wealth to bounce back from the centuries of literal and figurative rape. Also, The history of structural and institutionalized racism faced by the descendants of slaves is important to note when discussing the difference between Asia vs other people of color. When slavery ended, white people didn't just leave, they put systems in place to guarantee that black ppl would remain subordinate. Examples are the Jim Crow laws in America and the $22 Billion Haiti had to pay France until 1940's under constant threat of invasion. In comparison, Asia has been able to develop largely distant from the cruel realities of institutionalized racism. Now that was just a brief history, for more, you should go to a library...