aristidou

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Link to Twitter thread on Haiti

“Haiti was one of the riches colonies int he world. In 1789, Haiti produced 75% of the world’s sugar and was the leading producer of cotton.

The island is the source of roughly 1/5 of France’s wealth. France turned Haiti into a slave colony and started massive deforestation.

When the French were driven out in 1804, this was a frightening shock to the world—Haiti became the first free, black, former slave country.

Haiti was immediately punished for this liberation: France imposed an extreme indemnity on Haiti to enter the international economy.

Haiti didn’t finish paying until after WWII. The United States imposed yet a harsher sentence—they refused to recognize Haiti until 1862.

Interestingly, 1862 was the same year the US recognized Liberia, and for the same reason: it was the year of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Unsure with what to do with a massive population of freed Black people, the most popular idea was to ship them off to Haiti and Liberia.

That plan was dropped after the South was given authority to institute a system that was, in many ways, worse than slavery: convict leasing.

The first US prison boom resulted from convict leasing, where millions of mostly Black men were arrested & thrown in mines & cotton fields.

In the 1870s, the US took over from France in torturing Haiti. In the late 19th century there were dozens of military interventions.

The worst, led by Woodrow Wilson (Nobel Laureate), was in 1915, when the US military brutally attacked Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

It was bad in DR, but worse in Haiti because they were “n*****s,  not spics.” Wilson re-instituted slavery in Haiti & killed ~15,000 people.

The US marines drove out the Haitian parliament at gun-point because they wouldn’t accept the US version of a new Haitian Constitution.

The US Constitution, written by FDR, included provisions for US corporations to buy up Haitian land-“progressive legislation” it was called.

The only way to develop Haiti was to allow US corporations to buy it; since Haitians couldn’t understand, Parliament had to be disbanded.

The Haitan people–“n*****s speaking French” as William Jennings Bryan referred to them–didn’t want the US Constitution.

The marines then *did* hold a referendum: 5% of the population voted, and the US Constitution won 99.99% of the vote.

Most of the population was driven off, and the US left both countries—Haiti/DR—in the hands of brutal militaries, trained by the US marines.

In the 1980s, the atrocities escalated again: the World Bank/USAID were created and determined to make Haiti “the Taiwan of the Caribbean.”

The proposal included policies that were the exact *opposite* of the ones pursued by Taiwan.

Haiti—under threat of force—followed the advice of the World Bank, which was to drive the population from the countryside into the cities.

The World Bank plan required they gut spending on education, social programs, and infrastructure, because economics explains that’s a waste.

There were political developments: an "election” in 1986. Baby Doc, the 2nd of the Duvaliers, was elected after winning 99.98% of the vote.

Ronald Reagan praised “Democratic progress” in Haiti, and subsequently increased aid to the military junta.

Nobody was paying attention, but behind all of the terror and monstrosities, the Haitians were engaging in remarkable grassroots activism.

In 1990, Haitians committed a major crime, which required serious punishment: there was a free election, & the Haitians voted the wrong way.

If you want to know what happens when you vote the wrong way in a free and open election, ask the people in Gaza.

Amazingly, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a populist priest and a strong proponent of liberation theology, won the election with 2/3 of the vote.

The United States immediately shifted all military aid to the business-led opposition to lay the basis for overthrowing the government.

Aristide was quite successful–it looked, for a while, that Haiti might not only become free and democratic, but fall out of US hands.

The military coup took place 7 months after Aristide’s election. In response, the Organization of American States imposed an embargo.

The US technically joined the embargo, but within a few weeks, Bush 41 modified the terms, allowing US corporations to violate the embargo.

Bush (+ Clinton) issued Presidential Directives blocking oil shipments to the military, but both secretly permitted Texaco Oil to send oil.

In 1994, Clinton did send in the marines and allowed Aristide to return, but under very harsh conditions:

Aristide must accept the program of the defeated candidate in the 1990 election–neoliberal policies that destroyed Haitian agriculture.

Well there was another election in 2000, and Aristide won handily. The United States, under George W. Bush, blocked all aid to Haiti.

Haiti had to pay interest on the aid it wasn’t getting.

Meanwhile, the country was being hit by natural disasters, magnified by the destruction of the land and society over the past 200 years.

In 2004, Haiti’s two main torturers (France & the US) invaded, kidnapped Aristide, exiled him to Central Africa & re-imposed the military.

And now we’re reaching the present moment. In January 2010, a major earthquake hit Haiti and killed ~300,000 people.

Aristide submitted a request to France to provide aid to Haiti to help after the indemnity they imposed; they put together a govt committee.

Headed by Régis Debray, a liberal French politician, the committee determined that there was no merit in the request.

After more than 200 years of terror and torture, it is time for the United States and France to pay *substantial* reparations to Haiti.”