May 24, 2022 Letters
For those among us who thought they knew a mindful about Haiti, I urge rethinking. I have to include myself in that call. Thanks to an ongoing series of articles in the New York Times, the torturing, terrorizing, and traumatizing of Haiti and its mainly poor masses have been exposed as never before in all of their harrowing circumstances. There are no heroes, only the usual villains, some of which should be familiar to our own dear Guyana. I think this is particularly relevant now that we have the glorious riches of oil; and given that this week we celebrate 50+6 years of something that goes under the name of Independence. The Haitians celebrated what the liberty that they thought they had earned over two centuries ago and look at where they are today.
It is of how the French (the French first) pillaged and plundered in their extractions of what amounted to colonial reparations for the grueling liberation won so valiantly for enslaved Haitians by Toussaint, and Dessalines more than any other. I encourage my fellow Guyanese who have access to the ‘Old Gray Lady’ to read and get breathtaking insights of the promises of rapacious European capitalists, followed by my own dear fellow American ones. The words of American General Smedley Butler tell the delightful story of the pain inflicted upon the weak and helpless: “I was a racketeer for capitalism.” It is a different time today, so we will never hear such boastings from the lady head of Duke Street or the macho men in Texas, but Guyana is the Haiti of today. Nobody calls himself or herself a state-sponsored brigand in these politically correct times.
It is why they come in droves here. To help and develop they say. But where? Under the umbrella of what amounted to nothing less than a criminal organization, the French bank Crédit Industriel contributed immensely to the French building their monument to civilization in the City of Lights, the Eiffel Tower, America’s Wall Street got what was National City Bank, but known as Citigroup today, among other luscious delights plucked from stricken Haiti kept under the heel of the foreign jackboot. It was as Secretary of State Robert Lansing called to end “anarchy, savagery and oppression.” The Americans were supposed to bring civility and Christianity, but conveniently forgot to mention that other ‘c’ which is capitalism and all of its chilling cruelties.
For their part, the Haitians were left to revel in local leaders who promised them the world, but delivered snakes. Their names are a pantheon of the perverse that profane just by the mere mentioning: Big Doc and Baby Doc, Jean-Bertrand, Preval, Jovenel, and Moise. And, right next to the criminal political elite, were the rapacious business and professional elites that amassed fortunes on the backs and off the blood of their vulnerable countrymen and women.
Examine our leaders here of before and today who paint sweeping portraits of how much they are and will do for Guyanese, versus the still largely hidden realities of what they engage in secretly for their own benefits. Examine their bureaucratic arms marshalled and deployed to keep the unruly and the objectionable in order. I identify law enforcement, the prosecution (of who and who not), the auditors who see and don’t see. And I insist on including Guyanese Haitian equivalents in our commercial and investor sectors, whose ties to the political heights guarantee their own ascendancy and incredible prosperity. Of course, they are all committed to what is good for Guyanese. That is, until our own Haitian history is written up the road.
Instead of Crédit Industriel (C.I.C) and National City Bank (Citigroup) and Gen. Butler, we have Exxon and Baker Hughes and the American spearheaded diplomatic corps, with the self-helping B&C &E parts, none of whom are the Boy Scouts (and Girl Guides) they make themselves out to be. They give us democracy’s riches; we give them our soul, while our leaders surrender selected sections of their anatomy. It is how our wealth depletes today, and will vanish in time. Haiti had its Laforestrie and Celestin, we have our two-headed leadership apparatus, and the elite cohort of self-enrichers.
It is all there in the Times, and it is highly recommended reading for Guyanese wishing for this country not to be another Haiti. As much as I recoil in horror at the mere thought, the eerie parallels are present today in 21st century oil Guyana. Read, emancipate self.
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