August 2, 2021

“Haiti is neither a nightmare nor a postcard”

Ne especially not wanting to react hot to the assassination of the Haitian Head of State, I declined the solicitations of journalists. To react on the spot is often to cut off an event of its deep causalities. Through the inevitable shortcuts by which we process the information that makes the headline, we end up feeding, in spite of ourselves, the abyssal reservoir of clichés and prejudices. And when such a spectacular event has taken place in a country like Haiti, the temptation is even greater to turn to the abyss of clichés.

Because Haiti, more than any territory, has this capacity to panic the logos for those who do not want or cannot get out of their intellectual comfort zone, as this island is at the same time emblematic, recalcitrant and disturbing. However, who has not grasped the place held by Haiti in this modernity, this dominant world-model in its genesis, its transatlantic deployment, will see in these events nothing but fire, namely again a coup d’etat, again poverty, more blood and, above all, still these negroes.

Read also Assassination of Jovenel Moïse: the mystery remains, Haiti asks Washington to send troops

The events in Haiti must always be linked to an inescapable bundle of explanations which can be summed up in a few points: its unthinkable independence in 1804 (defeating slavery, colonialism and nascent capitalism) at the time when the Western powers s’ were preparing to consolidate their world empire in the XIXe century. Independence which made it the first country of the South, therefore the mold and the matrix (I cannot say it enough) of North-South relations.

She will know before the others all the avatars: quarantine (one would say today embargo) decided by all the colonialist powers of the time, payment of an indemnity to the former French colonists of Saint-Domingue to be able to leave. forty twenty years. This burdened her start-up with a heavy mortgage and at the same time dragged her hands and feet into a spiral of debt that she would not finish paying until the middle of the 20th century.e century. Haiti, however, during this difficult period of quarantine, helped Bolivar to liberate five Latin American countries and even Greece to wrest its independence.

Politics of the great powers

Laurent Dubois in New World Avengers (Les Perséides, 2006) reports that, already in 1801, in a conversation with the representative of France and England around the possible independence of Saint-Domingue, the American President Jefferson (1743-1826) defined for the ‘Empire the conditions under which the future state, a bad example for the slave countries of the region, should exist. “Just don’t allow black people to own ships. ” In short, Haiti will be able to exist as a large village of maroons, there is no question of accepting it in the concert of nations. But it’s been a long time all the same, you will tell me. And since ? Alas, the spirit, and even the letter of the subject have endured and justified a policy of the great powers throughout the XIXe century to the present day.

You have 69.48% of this article left to read. The rest is for subscribers only.