Haitians Defend Historic Victory for Rights and Liberty
“Combat de Vertières” by Patrick Noze, oil on canvas, from Haitian Art in the Diaspora.
January 1, 2016 marked the 212th anniversary of the Haitian Revolution. Beginning in 1791, the organized resistance of the enslaved peoples of the French colony of Saint-Domingue took hold and eventually overthrew both slavery and colonial rule. The revolutionaries led by Toussaint L’Ouverture and Jean-Jacques Dessalines fought off successive European powers — the French, Spanish and British — to proudly establish their independent republic, Haiti, in 1804.
The Haitian Revolution was an earth-shattering development in the struggle for the emancipation of labour all over the world and the establishment of citizenship rights on a modern basis, namely that they belong to people by virtue of their being human as members of a body politic. This was a decisive break from the conception of rights of the colonial powers based on the ownership of property and a system of privileges. Haiti’s outstanding achievement continues to have great relevance for its people today and all the peoples of world who are fighting for new arrangements that recognize rights on a modern basis.
From 1804 to the present, the colonial and imperial powers have worked non-stop to wreak vengeance on the Haitian nation-building project to once again enslave the people so that their historic example cannot inspire other nations and peoples in their struggles against slavery, colonialism and imperialism.
A serious assault on the Haitian people came in 2004 when a military coup was staged against the democratically-elected President of Haiti Jean-Bertrand Aristide, organized by the U.S., France and Canada.
The Liberal governments of Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin were fully embroiled in this dirty deed. Denis Paradis, as Secretary of State for La Francophonie (currently Liberal MP for Brome–Missisquoi) played a key role in setting the stage for this coup in 2003. Paradis hosted a “diplomatic” event in Ottawa in January 2003 called the Ottawa Initiative on Haiti in which representatives from the U.S., France, Canada and the Organization of American States agreed on the need to remove Aristide and put Haiti under “trusteeship.” Paradis’ successor as Minister responsible for La Francophonie was Denis Coderre (current Mayor of Montreal), who also served as special advisor on Haiti to Prime Minister Paul Martin. In February 2004, one year after the Ottawa meeting, Canadian troops took over the Port-au-Prince airport while U.S. marines kidnapped Aristide and removed him from the country.
This coup set the stage for the “death-squad democracy” used to brutally suppress the progressive and popular forces in Haiti. It is to their great disgrace that Canada, France and the U.S. not only staged the coup but, along with the United Nations and legions of so-called non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to this day do not permit Haiti to recover from the devastating earthquake of January 12, 2010.
The ongoing foreign occupation and humiliation of Haiti must be ended. Under the guise of the UN, the MINUSTAH peacekeeping force in Haiti has been directly involved in suppressing the Haitian people’s popular actions against foreign domination of Haiti’s politics and economy. As well, the Haitian National Police, (PNH), disbanded by Aristide for its brutality and corruption, was revived after the coup and its members trained by Canadian police forces. Many NGOs in Haiti have been put in place by the imperialists to do their dirty work of disorganizing the political mobilization of the people for independence and self-determination. With the coup and nation-wrecking imposed on Haiti, these NGOs often operate under the guise of replacing the public services and social programs destroyed by the imperialists.
The consequences of the 2004 coup are also evident in the crisis and corruption imposed on Haiti’s electoral system, to ensure that the people cannot elect a government which defends their interests. Outgoing president Michel Martelly, a disciple of the hated Duvalier dictatorship, was virtually appointed by the U.S. to defend monopoly right and facilitate the further plunder of Haiti and its people. The political crisis is such that the presidential election, in which a runoff was to take place December 27, 2015, has been thoroughly discredited and postponed to January 17.
The indomitable spirit of the Haitian revolutionaries lives on in their descendants who will surely prevail once again.