Senegal offered sanctuary to any Haitians that wish to emigrate. So far I haven’t heard much
more about it. Just the President’s announcement.
I also haven’t heard of any other nation in the world willing to take Haitian refugees.
The basic statement made by the collective Earth is; Stay in Haiti; we’ll bring the Aid to you.
Now living in Jamaica, which is virtually next door to Haiti, the anti-refugee sentiment is about 80%.
Although there are those who feel we can take a few, most have images of a million Haitians pouring
into Jamaica like a swarm of locusts.
Cuba is silent, the Dominican Republic has constantly policed its borders.
Simply put, we don’t want them.
The relationship between Haiti and the rest of the world, primarily the Caribbean has not been one
of more than on paper amicability.
Going back in History we will find that the Spanish captured the islands which were then taken from
the Spanish by other nations. England was pretty much the busiest conqueror, so from the Bahamas
to Trinidad, you can pretty much expect to hear English save in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and
Puerto Rico, were Spanish is spoken, in Curacao where Dutch is the language, and in Haiti which
speaks not French but ‘Creole’…and language not spoken outside of Haiti, save by Haitians.
During the 1700s Saint Dominque, (the French name for Haiti) was the richest colony. The sugar
production dwarfed that of other nations.
There were numerous slave uprisings until the French Revolution when the colony seised Independance.
The French tried to retake the island, were defeated, and in 1804 it became the first independant black
nation under the name of Haiti.
The slaves had risen up, the ex-slaves made up the government.
The rest of the world pulled away, and France demanded reparations for the cost of the war.
There was little contact with Haiti by the other islands.
Unofficially pirate continued to use Haiti and a clandestine trade built up with Jamaica.
Jamaica often sold indigo as locally produced when much of it came from Haiti.
The problem with Haiti before 1834, was that the other islands practiced slavery, and tried to
present their images of Blacks being unable to govern themselves. The existence of Haiti
partially disproved this precept.
Haiti was governed by Blacks. But it was bady governed.
Within a short time, Haiti broke into three pieces; the East was Santo Domingo and Spanish,
the south west was occupied by mixed blood, and did not join the north for sometime.
Eventually there were two nations; Haiti and Santo Domingo. The relationship between them
was not cordial.
Haiti quickly developed an ‘over class’ of people who owned everything, a very large underclass
which was extremely poor. And kept poor. Kept poor by the absence of education, opportunity,
and their inability to speak French.
As time passed things did not improve for the majority of Haitians. They lived in squalor, they
went hungry, they resorted to crime, they were killed. There was no way out for most of them.
They lived as they had when they were slaves but without a Master.
The other islands of the Caribbean had populations of educated Blacks and mixed race people.
When Britian abolished slavery there was a two year period of ‘appentiseship’ which was to
transition. Many churches stepped in as halfway houses.
By the end of the 1800s in most English colonies there was a large black middle and working class
and English was the standard language, although various pidgeons were spoken privately and
among the uneducated, the majority understood English, and those who could read, could read
the newspaper and enlighten others.
There was no Creole paper in Haiti, and the majority did not speak or read French.
As time progressed, the British colonies moved for levels of self-government. Beginning with
local legislatures passing local laws, creating local entitites. However, the fact that the British
colonies were still colonies meant the British civil service occupied governmental offices.
The policies and procedures were fully British. Building a hospital or a road was undertaken by
British archetects and engineers. Yes, local labour, but under the British system.
By the time the first British colony became independent in 1962, the civil service was as is,
where is, meaning that the British citizens who occupied positions slowly demitted office, unless
retained by contract.
This allowed a smooth transition, and which is why many of the ex-colonies entered Independence
with little more than a flag change.
The police remained the Royal Barbadian Police, still using the same stationery. Name changes
were slow, the redirection from British heroes to local took time. The use of the British pound,
then local currency based on British currency continued for some years.
In short, the rest of the Caribbean islands did not go from slavery to freedom overnight. People
were not thrust into positions for which they had not trained.
In Haiti ex-slaves continued to live as slaves, a minority continued to dominate them, and corrupt
ruler after corrupt ruler exploited what little Haiti had or could obtain.
The recent earthquake exposes the reality of Haiti. Of Ten million people living on a land mass which
should not hold more than three. Of living in such squalor and poverty, that the city collapsed because
it was so poorly constructed. And that the people who survived simply stood where they were, waiting.
We all saw images of people tossing away their dead with less care than one would dispose of a dog.
We all saw Haitians bathing on the street, in full view of all and sundry, defecating where they stood,
acting pretty much like cattle.
Those on the other islands of the Caribbean do not want Haitians in their midst. Even in the most
depressed areas of the inner cities, people will defecate in a plastic bag, tie it, and pitch it somewhere.
They don’t stand in public view and open their bowels.
This image of bathing in the street, of defecating where they stand, of tossing away their dead without
ceremony has always been the image we have had of Haiti, as well as dishonest Voo Doo practitioners.
This image is held by the rest of the world, except Senegal, who offers them a home.
Yet, they do not seem interested in Senegal.
The rich Haitians, those who were requested to move their private planes so that relief flights could
land are not interested in the average person. Living in their gated communities and palaces, none
of which suffered damage, as they were properly built, rich Haitians occupy a different world.
The possibility exists, though perhaps slim, that out of this disaster will come some progress. That
the average Haitian will be brought into the world community, with schools, and hospitals, and
Of course, it is more than likely that Haiti will remain where it was on January 2, 1804.