Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Haiti/Honduras: Same system, different players

For those of us involved with Haiti, it sometimes seems like a lonesome struggle of Haiti isolated against the world, ever since the war for independence ended in 1804. Then the enslaved Africans in rebellion had to defeat not only the army of Napoleon, but also English and Spanish forces to free themselves. No world government would recognize the newly formed nation, and in 1826 France forced Haiti to start paying 90 million gold francs (more than $21 billion in today’s currency) in “reparations” to their former slave masters. Haiti did not finish paying until 1947, which has made Haiti “the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.” Haiti also opened its doors to slaves fleeing from the United States, a real threat to the US economy, and the United States didn’t recognize Haiti until 1862.

Now countries from all over the world, from China, Nepal, and the Philippines, to countries in the Americas that might be considered “friends,” like Chile, Bolivia, and Brazil participate in the United Nations MINUSTAH army that has occupied Haiti since the February 29, 2004 coup that overthrew president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, elected with over 90% of the vote in 2000.

Haiti has a unique history because it’s an African country in the Americas, plus it’s Kreyol/French speaking. In other regards, however, Haiti is not that unique, especially in relationship to the United States. Since the days of the Monroe Doctrine, the U.S. has considered all of Latin America its exclusive “back yard.” It’s maintained a regionally consistent imperial policy to guarantee subservient governments and business arrangements that submit fully to the discipline of global financial markets at the expense of democracy and human rights.

The recent history of Honduras, in particular, parallels that of Haiti. In Haiti, after a grassroots movement overthrew the Duvalier dictatorship in 1986, this Lavalas (flood) movement elected Aristide as president in 1990, only to see him overthrown in 1991. Elected again in 2000, President Aristide was overthrown in 2004, when US armed personnel kidnapped him and his family and flew them to the Central African Republic into forced exile. During Haiti’s 10 years of democracy, Lavalas administrations built more schools than had been built in the country’s entire previous history, and provided uniforms, books and lunches to students who couldn’t afford them. They also built parks, housing, health care centers, and the University of the Aristide Foundation Medical School among other accomplishments. In place of a popular and democratically elected government, an 8,600 strong (at its height 13,300) UN MINUSTAH army and police force has occupied Haiti ever since.

No comments:

Post a Comment