Haiti – Eternal Punishment
January 17, 2010

Eternal Punishment

Until a few years ago I didn’t know much about Haiti. I had grown up with histories about Duvalier and the Tonton Macoute, and I knew about voodoo from popular culture. In a nutshell, a barbarian country with barbarian customs.
That changed in the Argentinean Patagonia, a place where natives, the Mapuche, are the workforce for the descendents of European immigrants, brought there to implement an agricultural project of British capital, a concession related to the railway that enabled a genocidal military campaign of “pacification” against the Mapuche.    An impressive monument to the leader of that campaign, Gen. Julio Roca, whom later would become Argentina’s President, was built near Choele Choel, facing south – the direction of the conquest, and Roca’s statues are omnipresent throughout Patagonian cities, one is even named after him.  It was there that an Agronomist told me some of the details of that campaign, how the soldiers were paid against the presentation of the dead native’s testicles.

He recommended a few books on Argentina’s History and one of them was Eduardo Galeano’s “The Open Veins of Latin America.” That book gave me the basis to understand what happens in that part of the world, and it was in it that I first glimpsed at the true History of Haiti.  Eduardo Galeano is a man I immensely respect and I try to keep up with his writings. One of them “The White Curse” was written by the time of the last US invasion of Haiti to oust President Aristide. It is a short timeline of Haitian History, and I would like to share with you it’s beginning and end:

“On the first day of his year, freedom in this world turned 200. But no one noticed, or almost no one. A few days later, the country where this birth occurred, Haiti, found itself in the media spotlight, not for the anniversary of universal freedom but for the ouster of President Aristide.  Haiti was the first country to abolish slavery. However, the most widely read encyclopedias and almost all educational textbooks attribute this honorable deed to England. It is true that one fine day the empire that had been the champion in the slave trade changed its mind about it. But abolition in Britain took place in 1807, three years after the Haitian revolution, and it was so unconvincing that in 1832 Britain had to ban slavery again.”
“On the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic, there is a large sign that reads: Road to Ruin.  Down that road, everyone is a sculptor. Haitians have the habit of collecting tin cans and scrap metal that they cut and shape and hammer with old-world mastery, creating marvels that are sold in the street markets. Haiti is a country that has been thrown away, as an eternal punishment of its dignity. There it lies, like scrap metal. It awaits the hands of its people.”

The first time Hugo Chávez met Obama he offered him “The Open Vein”. There was some hope, then, that things could change. Honduras showed us that those hopes were vain. The marines are once again on the way to occupy Haiti. Obama’s peculiar “Humanitarian Help” proves the only difference to his predecessors is just a matter of pigment, nothing else.

Estouxim   17 Jan 2010