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Haiti’s petite bourgeoisie reacts to Hugo Chavez’s visit last week

By Ardain Isma

 CSMS Magazine Staff writerAfter a week of bombastic messages against US influence in Latin America, Hugo Chavez ended his crusade in the Haitian capital last Tuesday. As Chavez’s plane touched down the Toussaint Louverture International Airport around 4 o’clock in the afternoon, thousands of supporters greeted him. According to Radio Métropole, the bourgeoisie mouthpiece, most of the people who came to greet the Venezuelan president were members of the Lavalas Party, the political party of the former deposed president, Jean Bertrand Aristide. This was a slick maneuver to undermine the warm welcome for Chavez in Port-au-Prince.     Chavez was received by his homologue, Haitian president René Préval, who, according to news reports, had to wait for hours at the airport’s diplomatic quarter for the arrival of Chavez. Long lines of Haitian supporters stood along the sidewalks of Toussaint Louverture Avenue waving both Haitian and Venezuelan flags, as Chavez motorcade sped down the avenue on his way to the National Palace. “My presence here is to pay a portion of the [historical] debt Venezuela owes Haiti,” Chavez declared at he arrives at National Palace.    Chavez was referring to Haiti’s tacit support for Venezuela’s independence struggle against Spain. Both historic leaders, Francisco Miranda in 1805 and Later Simon Bolivar in 1811, went to Haiti seeking financial, political and military help, which they received, for free (no strings attached). Many historians, including Uruguayan Eduardo Galeano, agree that Gran Colombia comprising Venezuela, modern-day Colombia, Panama, and Ecuador, came out victorious against Spain in large part because of Haiti. The only thing that Alexandre Pétion, Haitian president at that time, asked was that the Bolivarian independentistas free all slaves in liberated territories.     Flanked by Cuban vice-president, Esteban Juan Lazo Hernandez, who also was in an official visit to Haiti, the three dignitaries signed a trilateral agreement to cooperate in the area of health, energy and petroleum. Both Cuba and Venezuela pledged a billion dollar aid package to Haiti.     By all accounts, Cuba’s aid to Haiti has already been well underway in form of medical, social and educational aid. Thousand of Haitian students are currently studying in Cuba. They all had received scholarships from the Cuban government. Eight hundred among them are medical students. Cuba has also announced the arrival of more Cuban doctors, who will be deployed throughout Haiti in order to help the disfranchised poor.    Like Venezuela, Cuba maintains that its cooperation with Haiti is part of its way to reimburse what it owes Haiti. Cuba acknowledges Haiti’s historic participation in its own independence war against Spain, especially from1860 to 1870. José Marti, the father of the Cuban nation, spent his last days in exile in Cap Haitien, Haiti’s second largest city, where he met brilliant and internationally renowned Haitian intellectual and statesman, Antenor Firmin. This was Marti’s last stop on the road to returning home in 1895, where he was killed shortly thereafter.

The petite bourgeoisie rings the alarm bell

 It seems like in Haiti, no matter how intelligent someone appears to be, to acquire notoriety, any analysis MUST not be at odds with US interest in the country. One has the impression that Haitian intelligence has been subordinated to Washington’s dictates. That assumption is so true that it is a rare area where both the government and the opposition find common ground. Despite the obvious fact that Haiti is no where to be found in Washington’s priority list, and that the country has been a de facto US/UN protectorate for some time, no one in the country’s leadership is leading a proactive role in the fight to restore the country’s lost of prestige and, by extension, its effective independence. If the Haitian government is rejoicing over a trilateral agreement signed with Venezuela and Cuba, it is because the Haitian leadership feels abandoned by its political masters in Paris, Washington and Ottawa.    Nonetheless, the decision to sign agreements with other countries on the basis of helping Haiti’s dire situation is a sound one. No one can put a price tag on the help that Haiti has been receiving from Cuba to boost its health care system. Thousands of Cuban doctors have been deployed in the country since the late 1990s, and their work was honored by the UN for “miracles” achieved in some times unimaginable conditions. Miami Herald praised the Cuban doctors for their work in Haiti after tropical storm Jeanne devastated the country after killing thousands in 2003.    No one can put a price tag on the scholarships awarded to thousands of Haitian students who are currently studying in Cuban universities. Haiti’s State University can only afford roughly 200 students yearly, while Cuba is accepting 800 of Haitian students in its medical schools. No other country has ever come close to helping Haiti in such fashion. Human intelligence is the best natural resource for a country’s development.    Yet, there are those in Haiti who see RED in Venezuela and Cuba’s cooperation with the country. Last week, they put forward three principal têtes de pont to speak on their behalf. They were Jean Robert Simonise, Edwige Lalane, both of whom are classified as “specialists in international relations” and Kesner Pharel, a self-proclaimed economist par excellence who sleeps, dreams and lives by his prophetic message that Haiti must follow a mercantile economy of which he believes it is the only salvation for the country’s economic stagnation. “While we need the aid promised by Chavez, we cannot afford to move away from the United States, which is partner certain,” affirmed Pharel, adopting an opportunist position quite in line with tiermondist petty bourgeois who simply cannot afford to take the risk of losing their humiliating relationships with the Metropole. Following the same dubious position adopted by Pharel, Simonise hopes that “Haiti becomes a go-between for Caracas and Washington.”    Edwige Lalane was blunt. “Haiti has a lot to lose in a cooperation with Venezuela…..We cannot trade our strategic partnership with the United States for only 20 million dollars promised by Chavez,” he declared and he went to make a lengthy rebuttal on behalf of George Bush while flatly rebuking Chavez’s accusations against Bush.    It is no joke that Haiti is the country it is today—a country that exists in name only, where everything has be guided by a BIG brother. Truly, what these “ideologues” are afraid of is a possible lost of privilege (travel restrictions, lost visa etc…) that they so enjoy in coming to Miami to shop in exclusive shopping malls. Speaking loudly against Venezuela is to many petty bourgeois a shrewd way to display their capitalist credentials. It looks good in their résumé, especially when another Prime Minister à la Gérard Latortue is needed to be parachuted into the Haitian national Palace.Also see Haiti: the lies will never endNote: Dr. Ardain Isma is also a novelist and chief editor of CSMS Magazine. He teaches Cross-Cultural Studies at Nova southeastern University. You can read a synopsis of his latest novel “Alicia.” Click herehttp://www.themulticulturalgroup.com/books.html

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