Haïti, Africa, Aristide: The history of one humanity

Published on Pambazuka News, by Jacques Depelchin, May 17, 2012.

The story of Haiti represents that of the Africa of today: trying to stand up, to reconstruct, to rebuild, she stumbles, hesitates, and sometimes retreats in the face of threats from the watchdogs seeking to liquidate humanity and replace it with a substitute known as humanitarianism. 

Since the time when the Africans, forced against their will to live in Saint Domingue (Haiti), revolted to end slavery (1791-1804) without the endorsement of abolitionists, these latter, and the allies of those who lost that battle, organised so that the emancipation of humanity would happen according to their will. In light of this, it is no exaggeration to conclude that it has always been a matter of a deadly, vengeful and predatory will that has a greater interest in the liquidation of humanity than in its emancipation. Therefore there is also an interest in the liquidation of the history of the struggles for emancipation as well.

In a context where there is an ill-disguised submission to predation as a way of life, it will be difficult if not impossible to have the curiosity to discover what it is that fuels this desire to amass power in all its forms. How does one describe the meeting between Europe and Africa? It took place in the wake of the discovery of the Americas and at the beginning of the American genocide (David E. Stannard, The American Holocaust). It is from there that the process of the accumulation of power (both military and financial) began and which continues even today. It is this process that will establish as a principle, now increasingly evident, the reduction of justice to the law of the strongest … //

… Some will say that there is no connection between the violence of Atlantic slavery and that which happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In one as in the other, the objective was humanity. Those responsible for the decision to drop the atomic bombs might argue that they did not realise it, but violence as a means to control, to subject humankind to a system founded on its systematic violation is that which leads to slavery; from its alleged abolition to a slavery even more violent, modernised, and explained by the exculpatory arguments of its beneficiaries. The arsenal of the powerful include proponents of all types ranging from philosophers to lawyers, from financiers to chaplains, from bankers to industrialists, from linguists to anthropologists, from courtesans to propagandists, from servicemen to militarists, from journalists to historians.

If Haiti, its history, its people and its willingness to carry out the revolution of 1791-1804, did not scare the greatest military power on Earth, how does one explain that, after the January 2011 earthquake that devastated Port-au-Prince and killed hundreds of thousands of people, this same military power made use of the automatisms that have become typical since Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Because it considers itself to be the only one capable of making the distinction between the enemies and the benefactors of humankind, the greatest military power in the world relies on heavily militarised humanitarian expeditions to ensure its control over humankind through force. Inevitably a living, vibrant humanity will be perceived as threatening by a power founded on the will to monopolise and dictate to all humankind how to live life, liberty and peace.

Aristide is not a dog. How many times must we remind the watchdogs of a system that continues to torture and to liquidate humanity, that the poor of Haiti (and elsewhere) are not dogs? Aristide is not a dog. Undoubtedly, these watchdogs would have liked Aristide to disappear like a dog that has been run over, without any newspapers ever writing about it, and without any grave marker, just like what happened to heroes such as Patrice Emery Lumumba, Osende Afana, Ruben Um Nyobe and so many others whose remains are scattered on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.

Now that Aristide is back in Haiti, the propaganda that had been used to get rid of him is happening once again. The accusations are the same: corruption, drug trafficking, etc. Some charges are no different from those that were made against, for example, the head of Hezbollah, Sayyid Nasrallah.

On the side of the accusers, the motivation remains the same: keep in place the system that made Saint Domingue the economic pearl of the French colonies, through the use of slavery. And there are voices rising, from Haiti, to preach to the heirs of all those who put an end to slavery, the following: ‘Look at Haiti today the poorest country in the Western hemisphere’. This poverty is part of the war organised by the rich and powerful to force any member of humankind that rejects the modernisation of slavery, to beg in order to survive.

A prominent Haitian who joined in the propaganda to demonize Aristide once stated that Aristide was not Mandela. He was told at the time, certainly there is only one Mandela just as there is only one Aristide, as there was only one Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Kimpa Vita, Harriet Tubman, etc. The list of people who have significantly contributed to the emancipation of humankind is infinitely long, too often unknown and/or misunderstood by those who should stand with these figures.

With World War II, a system personified by evil collapsed without losing any of its financial, mental or memorial structure. As with the abolition of slavery, the beneficiaries of Nazism were not affected. As Alain Resnais depicts very well in his film (Night and Fog), large industrial groups such as Krupp continued to prosper. The lesson of the Second World War was so well learned that those responsible for the pursuit of the liquidation of humanity and its history have proclaimed themselves to be its only defender by inventing humanitarianism and R2P (Right to Protect). In accordance with this argument, the impunity of the United States was established as a non-negotiable principle by the Government of the United States.2

Resnais’ film was made in 1955, during the war in Algeria, with the explicit hope of the director that a film about the camps would lead the French to make the connection between what happened in Nazi Germany to what was happening in Algeria, and, hence, react. We are in 2012. How many people know that the title of the film by Resnais, unknowingly reproduced the title of a decree of 7 December 1941, the ‘Night and Fog’ Decree (Nacht un Nebel Erlass)?

While reading the content of this decree, it is hard not to think about the context that led the United States not only to put itself beyond the reach of the International Criminal Court, but also to put in place a system of police control that supported its ambitions to be a global power.

In light of the message that Alain Resnais wanted to get across, it is reasonable to wonder, as did Aimé Césaire in his Discourse on Colonialism and Frantz Fanon in The Wretched of the Earth, if there has ever been a real awareness of the dimension of the enormity of the crimes against humanity, during, before and after the Second World War. In light of the current behaviour of the world’s superpower and its allies, questions will continue to be asked, but the necessity of appropriate responses to the crimes against humanity call upon all of humankind with increasing urgency.

Humanity is all-inclusive and non-discriminatory. It does not have to be reinvented under the guise of selective humanitarian missions against individuals who are then taken before an international criminal tribunal which appears to function largely as a court of law of the strongest in order to get rid of those who defy such a situation. In order for there to be real justice for all humankind, we must eliminate the practices that make the law of the strongest an instrument of justice in the service of the strongest military power ever seen. We must finish with a court of law of the strongest that manifests itself through the media which is completely under the control of the most powerful forces in the global hierarchy.

Aristide is the voice of the Africans, the Haitians, and the cursed of the Earth who want to heal the wounds from which humankind suffers, a wound that has mutilated the consciences and the wills of those faithful to justice and truth. He also speaks for people in other parts of the world seeking to be heard above the hell of punitive wars waged against human beings who want to thrive and not just survive by being forced to accept charity from the powermongers. The more the voice of Aristide troubles their consciences the more the powerful should pay attention to him and not accuse him of invented crimes.
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(This article was translated from French for Pambazuka News by Lorraine Thompson).

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