By Michael Lashley
“My dear friend,
…I do not know if you remember the extent of my anguish[ when we first discussed this drastic change in the Americans’ policy towards Haitian migrants].Haiti certainly does not have in place the structures to welcome back home her refugees who had left , each of them for their own reasons. The North American politicos know this more than anyone else.”
Those are the painful words said to me by a Haitian patriot here in Canada. Over the many, many years of our friendship, I have come to hear and see first-hand concrete evidence of his love of and commitment to Haiti.
It has long been a source of pain to me, to many private persons and to the executives and members of dozens of foreign organizations that the Haitian population continues to suffer from a host of disasters, a lot of them man-made.
In the most recent development, the US government has decided to cease granting Haitian refugees preferential treatment at US ports of entry, and possibly within the USA as well for those who are already there awaiting a court hearing for refugee or asylum status.
United States Secretary of Homeland SecurityJeh Charles Johnson offered one explanation of the change of policy:conditions have improved enough in Haiti to lift the post-earthquake humanitarian policy against the deportation of Haitians.
However, it has been confirmed by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Sarah Saldana that the sudden decision was triggered by the massing of thousands of Haitian migrants at US/Mexico border crossings in California and by the stark reality of 40,000 more Haitian migrants who have left Brazil and are in transit,on the long trek to the USA/Mexico border via a string of South and Central American countries.
What is to be said and done about this immediately effective policy change?
Firstly, it must be stated that the USA will always put its narrowly perceived national interest above anyother considerations. Regardless of which politician or political party controls the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives, that will be the American policy position.
Therefore, even when a foreign crisis is a very serious one, the humanitarian and humane considerations will be subordinated to the famous twin criteria: what is in it for us and what will it cost us?
Most countries are likely to ask themselves the same questions. But in the current case, the USA does not ask itself certain other unpleasant but very relevant questions.
One such hot potato is a question that political analysts would like to answer on the front pages of the media of the USA, France and Canada, and then in the rest of the world.
How much has the USA contributed to the many and varied challenges that have plagued the Haitian people in the recent decades and in the centuries since Haiti snatched its independence from France?
Among the three countries I have just mentioned, the USA has patented the art and the science of massive intervention in the politics, the economy and the finances of Haiti. We are not just talking about the American military occupation of Haiti (1915 -1934) and the continued cornering of business opportunities and disaster relief operations in Haiti for the preferential benefit of American interests.
Those are just two aspects of the subject. What is equally scandalous is the frequent, blatant and crude manipulation of Haiti’s electoral and constitutional processes.
Which country masterminded the fancy footworks that brought Michel Martelly to the Haitian presidency in 2011? Which country several years earlier ensured the ouster and exile of Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide?
In that negative vein, intellectual honesty requires that mention bemade as well of France and Canada’s complicity in some of those American shenagins.
Most specifically, France has been engaged in the most egregious case of economic genocide, the one that remains the least known crime against humanity. As of 1825, the French government has been forcingHaiti to pay90million gold francs (the current equivalent of billions of dollars) as a price for Haitian independence.
In the context of Haiti’s many and varied challenges, whatcan be done to work around the developmental stalemate in Haiti? Who is to do it? And how is it to be done?
From a very personal point of view, I agree that giving back to society and to the world is a good thing.
But a higher level of moral, ethical and political conviction does exist. It is called GIVING. It is much more than showing gratitude.
If ever there was a case for the international community to act, this is it.
A permanent International Development Fund for Haiti is a must.
This initiative should be championed by the CARICOM countries and, on a point of principle, it should be supported by the USA, France and Canada among others. It is not to be an imposition on the sovereign rights of the Haitian people.
Most of all it must NOT be subject to the whims and fancies of any foreign powers.