Return the Toxic Waste to Sender: HLLN Position on the Current Shitty News Cycle on Haiti
Nearly twenty years ago, the co-author of this Èzili Dantò/HLLN note, Doumafis Lafontan, worked tirelessly to send back a ship loaded with toxic waste from the United States, dumped into Gonaives, Haiti.
Haiti has been the depository of the ruling classes’ toxic waste, racist notions, cholera, foul vaccines, and other atrocities, including their apartheid lifestyles. There is no agony or ugly names Haitians have not been subjected to for being the first to put liberty into application in the Western Hemisphere; for abolishing slavery, direct colonialism, forced assimilation and the West’s human trafficking trade agreements. Haiti is routinely and ferociously punished for taking its independence, in combat, against the most powerful European nations and a United States (US) embargo.
Systemic White Fragility and today’s Bretton Woods forms of colonialism continue to fuel planet earth’s containment-in-poverty and endless wars for other people’s lands and resources. These are the root causes creating illegal immigration.
The current corporate news cycle centered on immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and Africa present an opportunity for Haitians to educate officials of the United States, as well as, to advocate on behalf of the eleven (11) million immigrants who came to the US seeking a better life.
The question is: how will good people, on both sides of the immigration debate, prevent further stigmatization of immigrants who are eager to make a significant contribution to this country through their labor?
Wide public engagement in this policy debate is a key component to answering this question. In addition, it’s in the best interest of all the parties involved in policy making to focus on collaboration; the root causes for illegal immigration; and, the realities of Western imperialism.
In spite of the angry and bitter statements, we would argue that it is premature to rule out a win-win solution on immigration reform for all parties concerned in the US. We understand the game of the Establishment – Left and Right – playing to their political base, using emotionally charged issues and the “Haiti card,” while US structural inequality always remains intact. The sound and fury generally signifies nothing structurally positive for Haitians living at home and abroad.
Previous administrations have dodged the necessity for comprehensive immigration and anti-imperialism reform. DACA and TPS are bandages as well as cash cows that keep a sector of legalized immigrants in constant instability, while not acknowledging international rights to asylum, the fire of US imperialism, and failed Neoliberal policies which are the root causes forcing people to leave their home countries.
The uses of Haiti and Haiti’s imposed colonial pains and racist imagery are a lucrative commodity. The Haiti and race card plays better than the gender card. Ask Hillary! (53% of white women cast their votes for President Trump.)
Just a few weeks ago the political and press mileage harvested was from repeating, again and again, the falsehood that people from Haiti have more HIV-AIDS carriers than presumably US citizens who are, in fact, over 10 times more affected.
Èzili’s HLLN takes the opportunity of this most recent sensationalized, un-contextualized and racist news cycle on Haiti to advise President Donald Trump that, as the supreme commander of the number one superpower on earth: When you sneeze our name, impoverished Haitians and other such vulnerable groups, catch a cold. The point that we’re making is that everyone knows there is a manner to sneeze; that is, the mouth must be covered to prevent the host’s bacteria from spreading and hurting others.
Therefore, beyond the need for civility in the public discourse, maintaining a principled stand is key to achieving success both as a president and on obtaining comprehensive, bi-partisan immigration reform to give you a better and more humanistic legacy than the one known as the Deporter-in-Chief.
We agree with you, President Trump, that past trade agreements have failed to protect local industries and have increased the level of poverty among both the US and Haitian populations. In the case of the latter group, we were compelled to escape colonial misery by desperate means, such as taking to the high seas on overcrowded, un-seaworthy boats to come to Miami, Florida and most recently, after the apocalyptic earthquake, tracking through 11 nations, braving death and human traffickers to get to San Diego. Undoubtedly, no American can imagine what it is like to try to run away from Neo-Liberal Policies that make it impossible for local populations to pursue their lifestyle. We say it is unfathomable because no American has had to endure internment, behind barbed wire fences, guarded by soldiers, and dogs ready to devour the human flesh, at a detention facility like Guantanamo, Cuba or the old Krome Detention Center in Florida.
Who can properly conceive the Middle Passage terror of Haitian migrants getting their crowded, overloaded sailboats rammed by angry and bitter countries afraid of Haitians? Or, walking and otherwise making the staggering 7,000-mile journey that starts in Brazil and traverses through 11 nations to San Diego because after the earthquake, the US told Haiti quake victims not to seek refuge in the United States; that Haiti would be “built back better” by the Obama-Clinton Administration so they should stay home.
But it wasn’t built back, much less “better.”
In this hostile American Mediterranean, the descendants of the Liberators who influenced freedom movements in North and South America and across the globe, cannot find liberty for themselves nor their children. The Obama-Clinton Administration and the charitable industrial complex missionaries used quake funds to build luxury hotels for the rich instead of homes for the homeless quake victims. Virtually no necessary public infrastructure was built for local Haitians. The Western carpetbaggers further eviscerated local Haiti development, stole Haiti lands and resources, gave Haiti cholera, fake elections and squandered the $13 billion in country quake funds with total impunity.
It then follows, speaking as an organization made of people of African ancestry, we would like the Trump Administration to take responsibility to redress the wrongs of the previous governments of the United States. Toward this goal, we encourage President Trump to dedicate his time to unite the country on the basis of justice and equity.
In concrete terms, we would, again, like to propose a new strategic partnership between Haiti and the US, with a particular focus on respect for territorial sovereignty and political integrity. In the case of Haiti, it means an end to foreign occupation; reparation for the victims of cholera, rape, and murder committed by the soldiers of the United Nations; no more foreign interference in local elections; ending immunity for diplomats and elected officials involved in money laundering, as well as weapons and drug trafficking. Donald Trump’s Administration should nix the deep state manipulations and focus on new, more humane policies that conserve local livelihood, natural habitat; local production, distribution, manufacturing and that protects local food sovereignty both in Haiti and the United States.
Many of our organization’s Haiti policy analysts believe President Trump has the potential to achieve a breakthrough from the business as usual that has characterized the behavior of the previous governments of the US. We are prepared to discuss with the Trump Administration the terms and agreements, conceived for the development of the natural resources of Haiti, which would be mutually beneficial. Most importantly, we want President Trump to champion the change that would put an end to trade policies that only favor the special interests of well-connected cronies of the Clintons and Bushes.
In the final analysis, the current news cycle regarding President Trump’s alleged comments will soon be followed by a more sexy and more lucrative sensationalism for the US establishment’s political and economic gains. But the plundering of Haiti’s resources, demeaning narratives, negative perceptions and portrayals will continue.
After over 200-years, most free Haitians are immune to it. We fight for life, economic justice and liberty. There are only soldiers here. We don’t reflect the negativity back. We return all Western toxic waste to sender. Our advice to Africans, El Salvadorians and Haitians who may give attention to the colonial narrative is stop; focus on that which empowers our people and families. Ignore the grade school name-calling and pettiness. If it doesn’t bring empowerment to the lives of the masses of people in the US, Africa, El Salvador or Haiti, it’s a Deep State manipulation. We are the Haitians, granmoun – adults, with legitimate concerns about peaceful co-existence, human dignity and an economically just planet earth.
Doumafis Lafontant and Èzili Dantò, Esq.
Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network
January 19, 2018
Doumafis Lafontant is the author of After the dust settles, the next practices for the transformation of Haiti; Krik Krak, dèyè mòn gen mòn; and a contributing writer at Potomitan, an online journal dedicated to promoting Haitian Kreyòl.
Èzili Dantò is an internationally recognized human rights lawyer. Attorney Dantò helps run the Free Haiti Movement, the Haitian Lawyers Leadership and Zili Dlo: Clean Water, Renewable Power and Solar Energy for Haiti