Despite the buzz about Sweet Micky and his band and all those who preceded him, there is this vexing question: What did Haiti do wrong? In continuing with our series 100 hundred years of blatant foreign interferences in Haiti, we’re going to take a look at what has Haiti done to deserve such harsh treatment from its foreign neighbors and such shocking betrayal from so many of its own children. Throughout its history, Haiti has achieved unimaginable successes. First, Haiti gained its independence in 1804 during the dark era of slavery, and our forefathers, who did it, received no tangible support from any corner of the world. Despite the obvious differences between the colonial powers in their war of subjugation of Africans, Haiti’s independence was their point of unity. They all understood the dreaded but necessary consensus of keeping Haiti in isolation.
Albeit the United States, Haiti was then the only other country in the Americas that could claim to be free—at last, after 300 years in bondage. In the aftermath of Haiti’s independence, the country emerged as a major geostrategic power. Fifty-two thousand men under arms and another 100 hundred thousand framed in a civil defense force, the country was ready to defend the newly acquired independence against possible foreign invaders. Early Haitian leaders knew they could not depend on any neighbor to come to the rescue should they be facing another invasion from the French army. They had learned their lesson from the Toussaint Louverture’s mistakes, for they all were officers in the Toussaint’s army.
Historian Thomas Madiou in History of Haiti (Volume 2) states Dessalines was able to succeed where Toussaint had failed precisely because of his uncompromising stand against all foreign interferences and against all traitors from within. Preserving Haiti’s territorial integrity was a holy creed that all 19th century Haitian leaders upheld to the highest standard. Even when the country was split in two, Pétion and Christophe—their bitter quarrel not withstanding—agreed to unite their armies in the face of a possible invasion.
Here are the facts of what Haiti did
The revolting slaves of Saint-Domingue (Haiti’s colonial era’s name) united against the venom of slavery broke the backbones of the Napoleonic army and declared them independent. What could be holier than that? Slavery was the most despicable crime humanity ever witnessed.
In becoming independent, Haiti helped uprooted Spanish colonialism in South America, supplying Simon Bolivar with all the logistics he needed to win against the conquistadors. Haiti’s help had no strings attached. The only thing Alexandre Pétion—then Haitian President—asked was to free all slaves in liberated territories.
One can argue that Haiti was wrong in occupying the eastern 2/3 of the island of Hispaniola, but one must also understand the geostrategic reasoning that led to Haiti’s occupation of the Dominican Republic. The French, having lost Haiti, still retained control of what is now the D.R., thus making the new nation utterly vulnerable to another French invasion. In 1843, in the wake of Dominican independence as Haitian occupation ended, Haiti guaranteed the D.R. independence for 60 years.
For more than 80 years after independence, Haiti was an oasis for every man and woman seeking refuge from the horror of slavery. Blacks from all over the Caribbean ran to Haiti in droves, including thousands from the United States in 1850. Logically, one could understand why there was such international plot against the land of the dignified Negroes. But Haiti stood high on the RIGHT side of history.
The traitors and the parasites
If Haiti failed it wasn’t because it didn’t know how to fend off foreign threats. It was because of the enemies from within. What became the de facto upper class in 1804 was an entity that never supported the independence project. It was made up of pre-independence enfranchised population—mulattoes and old free blacks alike who themselves, amazingly enough, had gotten extremely rich, profiting from the slave trade. Arguably, their interests lie with slavery, not with independence. Dessalines’ last master was a black man. Consequently, the new Haitian bourgeoisie never understood its role in history. Feudalistic in its nature, the nouveaux riches did not think “nation,” they only dwelled in greed and outright exploitation.
The last 5th column from within was and still is the petite bourgeoisie made up of intellectuals, opportunistic in all its forms, whose sole ambition is to become bourgeois, using the only means at its disposal: the State bureaucratic machine. As a thin but important layer of society, they will never relinquish their holy desire to become bourgeois, and once they have a chance at securing a spot in the country’s service industry, filling their lots becomes their prime priority. Haiti can reel, cry, wail, rot and even bloat out of existence is none of their business. They are the parasitic drain that is eating away the very survival of the country our forefathers fought so bitterly to create.
The only way to break this vicious cycle of despair is the creation of a united front made up of patriotic Haitians with the sole aim is to retrieve the country from the brink, from the grip of its enemies. Haiti must not perish. It was never destined to suffer this fate. The land of Dessalines will someday land on its feet. Washington, Paris or Ottawa will cease to rule Haiti through coons and evildoers. Before that happens, though, unity has to come first. Twenty-nine years of democratic struggles has done nothing to bring salvation for millions of Haitians who wallow in poverty every day. There is an old Creole folksong grandma used to sing, which goes this way:
Danbala wè do, se bon, se bon
Ayida wè do, se bon, se bon
Lè m a monte chwal mwen gen moun ka kriye
Hey man, I’m warning you, I’m warning you
Hey man, I’m warning you, I’m warning you
When I get on my horse, the enemy will cry
Haiti will live on!
Note: This article is part of our awareness campaign, using the upcoming “One Hundred (100) Years of Foreign Interferences in Haiti,” which begins with the direct US military occupation of Haiti in 1915. Since then, Haiti has been ruled by people who owe their allegiance to foreign governments, not to the Haitian people they have hypocritically vowed to service. To this end, we recommend a great book to read: Midnight at Noon by our Chief Editor, Dr. Ardain Isma.
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