Royal Caribbean as the steward of the historic residence and fort of the first President of free black Haiti?
…It’s a repugnant notion. The cruise line’s private enclave of “LabadeeÂ®” is a name that Royal Caribbean trademarked as a variation of Marquis de La’Badie who settled in Haiti in the 1600’s. That’s right, Marquis de La’Badie, the French slave owner, whose descendants fought against Henri Christophe and his army of former black slaves.
Royal Caribbean wasn’t thinking of the 1791 Slave Uprising or the Haitian revolution when it snabbed the 260 acres of sovereign Haitian land to create its own enclave. It ignored Haiti’s black national hero when it went about marketing its slice of Haiti (elevating the slaveholder Labadee not Janjak Desalin nor Henri Christophe. (See also Vision of Plantation Haiti: A White Pearl Again by Ezili Dantò/HLLN)) So why should Royal Caribbean be trusted to be the steward of such historic sites when it already staked its presence on the island bearing the white de La’Badie slave owner name?
Is it appropriate to sail into the idyllic port of Labadee, Haiti on a pleasure cruise when the dead remain unburied and the impoverished country writhes in chaos? (Cruise Law News, January 19, 2010)
The opinion piece was written by AnthonyL. Hall, whopublishes an interesting and well written blogcalledthe iPinions Journal.Mr. Hall discusses developing tourism aroundtwo of Haiti’s historic sites – the ruins of the Palais de Sans Souci, which was the residence of Henri Christophe, Haiti’s revolutionary war hero and first president,andthe Citadelle Laferrière, which is afort he built in anticipation of fighting off the French.
Mr. Hall iscritical of Royal Caribbean’s attitudetoward Haiti, which he compares to” . . . resort developers throughout the Caribbean who have been invited over the years by local governments to treat vast areas of their pristine coastline as exclusive, almost hermetically sealed enclaves for visiting tourists.”
But he is not content hurling”belated moral indignation” at what I have often characterized as the worstcruise line in the world. Instead,he suggests that ifRoyal Caribbean could develop these historical sites as shore excursions, and in the process raise money for a ten mile stretch of roadway from its private port of “Labadee,”the cruise line might “make itself a better corporate citizen and earn an unprecedented amount of international goodwill.”
In theory that would be great.
But Royal Caribbean asthe steward of the historic residence and fort of the first President of free black Haiti?
From a historical perspective, it’s a repugnant notion. The cruise line’s private enclave of “LabadeeÂ®“ is a name that Royal Caribbeantrademarked as a variation ofMarquis de La’Badie who settled in Haiti in the 1600’s. That’s right, Marquis de La’Badie, the French slave owner, whose descendants fought againstHenri Christopheand his army of former black slaves.
Royal Caribbean wasn’t thinking ofthe 1791Slave Uprising or the Haitian revolution when its snabbed the 260 acres of sovereign Haitian land to create its own enclave. It ignored Haiti’s black national hero when it wentabout marketing its slice of Haiti. So why should Royal Caribbean be trusted to be the steward of such historic sites when it alreadystakedits presence on the island bearingthewhite de La’Badie slave owner name?
Putting history aside, there are practical business concerns that makeitunlikely that Royal Caribbean will open up the gates and send its passengers outside of its barb wire fences which surround Labadee without expecting to make lots of money using the Citadelle as a shore excursion.
The cruise line makes tens of millions of dollars a month keeping the thousands of passengers lockedinLabadee where their only sources of fun are drinking, renting jet skis,para-sailing,and zip lining.
For Royal Caribbean to invest in developing these sites, itwould need a deal where the venture would be highly profitable and it would probably demand the name rights to market the project. Would it advertisethese sites to its passengers as partof the Royal Caribbean”Private Destinations?”
Royal Caribbeanhas already draftedplansto developthe Citadelle for itsguests.You can see the cruise line’s plans here.
For the past 25 years, Royal Caribbean has accomplished littlein Haiti outside of Labadee, other thana$425,000 school which it named after itself as a publicity stunt butit stillcould not figure out how to feed the school kids or provide them with transportation to the school bearing its name.
Mr. Hall’s challenge to Royal Caribbeanto rehabilitate its image andmake itself a better corporate citizenis laudable. But this is a corporation which consistently underachieves when it comes to the interests ofHaiti.
Royal Caribbeanwill neverhelp Haiti developthe historical Haitian sites associated with Henri Christophe without demanding that itcontrol the operation, name the project,and profit the most from it. Itmakes too much tax-free money keeping its passengers safelyensconced in itsfantasy creation ofLabadeeÂ®. And for historical reasons, the notion that a corporationlike this should be the steward of thelegacy ofHenriChristopheis a farce.
For other articles about my view of Royal Caribbean and Haiti, consider reading:
Forwarded by Ezili’s Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network
Oct. 3, 2011: As the authorities turn away, the NGOs keep the donation dollars for their air-conditioned SUVs, high rent houses in Petionville they rent from the Haiti Oligarchy and as Clinton (Slick Willy) helps sell cholera insurance to suffering and dying Haitians – UN-imported Cholera Death Toll In Haiti Rises To 6,435, ill reach nearly 500,000; Hardships Remain In Earthquake Camps
For a sampling of Ezili Dantò essays on the United States’ use of earthquake relief to extract wealth and power for the NGOs, Haiti Oligarchy and US big business on the death, suffering and tears of Haitian children, go to: Colonization of Haiti’s food and seeds is not earthquake relief; The Poverty Pimps Masturbating on Black Pain: Monsanto joins the pack ; Vision of Plantation Haiti – A White Pearl, Again! and The Plantation called Haiti: Feudal Pillage Masking as Humanitarian Aid ; Tell The Truth About Haiti Forum with Ezili Dantò of HLLN – Photos and Agenda ; Haiti’s case against the UN for importing cholera ; UN Responsibility for importing cholera and Ezili HLLN video and audio links on Haiti history, accountability, priorities, earthquake and one year after.)