ALAI, América Latina en Movimiento
Citigroup Must Return to Haiti the Gold it Illegally Removed from the National Bank of Haiti in 1915-1934!
One Hundred Years is Enough!
(A Contribution to the Preparation of the June 1, 2012 Continental Day of Action for the Immediate Withdrawal of the US-UN/MINUSTAH Troops from Haiti)
In 1915, the armed forces of the United States (US) militarily occupied the Republic of Haiti and even though the occupation officially ended in 1934, almost 100 years later Haitians are still reeling from military occupation as the Republic of Haiti barely continues to function under the power of the veto-wielding member-nations of the Security Council of the United Nations (UN).
The inability to prevent this military presence of external armed forces has been the greatest source of social instability among the 10 million Haitians that inhabit the western part of this island once known as Ayiti Kiskeya. Yet it is at the economic level that the impact of military occupation has been most devastating since in effect it continues to darken the future for the majority masses who face a living condition reminiscent of colonial life prior to January 1, 1804, the day Jean-Jacques Dessalines accompanied with his chiefs of staff proclaimed the independence of Haiti.
In 1825 twenty-one years following the Independence, France, the country's former colonial ruler, coerced Jean-Pierre Boyer, President of Haiti, to pay an indemnity of 150 million Francs through the threat of using military force. This debt, according to Gusti Klara-Gaillard, author, L'experience Haitienne de la dette exterieure ou une production caffeiere pillée (the Haitian experience of external debt or the pillage of a coffee production) became a double-debt since the Government of Haiti was obligated to take bank loans to pay compensation to France for losses suffered during the War of Independence won on the battlefield at Vertieres, Cap Haitien in November 1803.
The freedom to rob and steal
Often, the people of Haiti are proud to make it known that the country they inhabit is the first black republic; however, to this historical legacy must be added the world's first debtor nation. In other words, Haiti is the first casualty of capitalism; that is, capitalism, to function effectively, requires lots of debt. The function of this truth works for the many African, Caribbean, and Pacific nations that are as indebted as Haiti.
From this historical context it is clear that through this nexus of state-capital and/or finance the people of the Republic of Haiti were dispossessed and; eventually, scores of people from the rural sector have been displaced and the country has become marked by great inequities. For instance, the majority of the working-poor presently are at major risk of cholera from a strain brought by Nepalese soldiers that are part of MINUSTAH the UN Mission for the Stabilization of Haiti. The Security Council mandated this peacekeeping force after the forced removal of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, former President of Haiti, in 2004 the Year of the Bicentennial of the Independence. According to President Aristide, US military and/or paramilitary forces kidnapped him and then they exiled him to the Central Republic of Africa.
The collusion of Western heads of State and bankers to rob and steal resources from Haiti, and other countries might have a long history but it remains relatively unknown among common folk living and residing in the US. Alas, the US military occupation of Haiti illustrates this complicity beyond any shadow of a doubt. Indeed, the literature review indicates commercial as well as financial and banking interests were the primary reason the US military invaded the Republic of Haiti "Gwo zam fann fwa nan men" (with heavy weapons of mass destruction in their hands).
On this finding of State-Capital duplicity Suzy Castor, author, L'Occupation Americaine d'Haiti (The American Occupation of Haiti), is unequivocal. "On December 8, 1914, Roger Farham, an employee of the National City Bank (herein Citigroup), sent a cable to the American government requesting a transfer of Haiti's gold deposited at the Banque Nationale d'Haiti (National Bank of Haiti) to the US. On December 17th, from the Machias frigate, a detachment of Marines covertly disembarked, took 500.000 dollars in deposit from the National Bank of Haiti belonging to the Haitian State. This amount of money was transferred to Citigroup." Farham justified this military intervention on altruistic grounds; however, Castor noted "This was a classic case of imperialism and it did not constitute an isolated case. Like all the republics of Central America and the Caribbean, Haiti was a victim of the US's policy of imperialist expansion."
Smedley Butler, US administrator of Haitian Gendarmerie (1915-1917), offers without a doubt one of the most vivid accounts of US imperialism.
"I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents."
The final analysis
At times, the small area that the Republic of Haiti occupies has led many observers to question the extensive interest it attracts from the Western powers. Undoubtedly, the dispatch of MINUSTAH is due to a real fear that the prevalent infrahuman condition the result of Washington Consensus and Structural Adjustment Policies (SAP) the Neoliberals from the US Treasury, World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) imposed in the early 1980s could provoke unrest in other parts of the region.
Today, the working-poor cannot continue to be fooled by this Western interest since it is clear that all this attention is intended to ensure Haiti continues to be one of the many sources of cheap labor for the circulation of capital and unlimited profit. It then follows our struggle against imperialism cannot be won without a revolutionary theory. Thus this anxiety that Haiti causes is very real since it is the place whereupon indigenous folk achieved Confluence of Cultures to face the common enemy. For instance, it is reported that on the Bahoruco mountain the indigenous folk of Ayiti (Taino) and an unknown number of Africans, brought onto the island to be enslaved, lived free away from the Colonial-Slave system. This resistance to Colonialism was not confined to the establishment of mountainous free communities in Ayiti alone. For example, it is recorded in the writings of Las Casas, portrayed as the protector of the Indians who suggested the enslavement of Africans, "circa 1511 Cacique (Chief and/or King) Hatuey and 400 of his followers climbed into canoes and headed to Cuba with the following message: The colonists worship gold, fight and kill, usurp our land and makes us slaves. For gold, slaves and land they fight and kill; for these they persecute us and that is why we have to throw them into the sea."
Cuba eventually became a country of tropical plantations worked by slave labor it was then a typical slave-holding society. "In defiance of the international agreements of the day, the number of slaves increased from year to year with the growth of the material wealth and prosperity of the ruling classes. Both commerce and administration were dominated by the Spaniards; rich Cubans owned the plantations. This social class, while having an interest in overcoming the colonial obstacles, which hindered economic development and its access to political power, could not do without the military force of the metropolis in order to keep the slaves in submission. It feared a repetition in Cuba of Haiti's heroic history, and did not hesitate to subordinate the question of national independence to its interests as a slave-owning class. In 1841, those who were subjected to this terrible form of exploitation numbered more than 400,000 in a population of just over one million.
That is why, although the Spanish monarchy came to regard this country as the "always loyal Island of Cuba," this class interest also generated, within a section of the rich Cubans the baneful trend toward annexation by the United States, because, among other reasons, they feared that Spain itself would give in to international pressures and abolish slavery. This trend was strongly supported by the Southern slave-holding states of the USA in their conflict of interest with the industrial states of the North, and in their hope of having another slave-holding state on the Island of Cuba.
"The urge to annex Cuba had been simultaneously strong among the leaders of the United States since the very beginning of the Republic and was voiced on many occasions by its various rulers and public figures as a logical expression of the principles of the "manifest destiny" which the United States believed itself called upon to realize in this hemisphere. This trend continued for years after the abolition of slavery in that country and throughout the history of the relations between the United States and Cuba".
The series of revolts throughout the 18th Century, winning the War of Independence in the 19th Century and subsequent efforts to further the cause of liberation with tangible aid provided to freedom fighters such as Simon Bolivar of Venezuela and; finally, the movement that led to Haiti's first free and fair elections in December 1990, which had deep roots in liberation theology prove the coming together that must be continued. Moreover, we would be remiss if we did not point out the existing cooperation between Haiti, Cuba, and Venezuela that the Government of Haiti deems more effective than the one with the Western powers. Indeed, thousands of Cuban doctors on any given day can be found providing health services to millions of Haitians throughout the country.
It is important to note the year 2012 marks the anniversaries of several defining moments in the histories of the Caribbean, particularly for people of African ancestry. For instance, August is the 50th anniversary of liberation from British rule in Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago; the Cubans will be celebrating the Bicentennial of the Aponte slave and free black rebellion led by Jose Antonio Aponte in 1812 who was inspired by Haitian independence, and the Centennial of the Massacre of 1912 a devastating event for the Partido Independiente de Color that resulted in the mass execution of several thousand Black Cubans in Oriente province.
We undertook to write this short essay to educate the English speakers on the events and developments that led to the impoverishment of Haitians. Most importantly, we urge them to consider imperialism as the main cause of the poverty prevalent in many countries throughout the world. In the case of Haiti, we ask them to join and support the following actions steps, which are intended to achieve justice and equity for millions of Haitians:
1. End the military occupation of Haiti; and
2. Citigroup to return to the Government of Haiti the gold it illegally removed from the National Bank of Haiti.
-- Doumafis Lafontan, Miya X, and Roy Walker collaborated to write this article.
(April 25, 2012)
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Related Articles and Books
1. Gaillard, Gusti, K. (1990) L'experience Haitienne de la dette exterieure ou une production caffeiere pillée. Henry Deschamps. Port-au-Prince, Haiti
2. Caston, Suzy (1988) L'occupation Americaine d'Haiti. Henry Deschamps. Port-au-Prince, Haiti
3. History of Haiti - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia_en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Haiti_U.S. occupation and Duvalier regime ... The recorded history of Haiti began on December 5, 1492 when the European navigator Christopher Columbus ...
4. History of Haiti (1915-1986) - Military history of Haiti - Category:History of Haiti
5. United States occupation of Haiti - Wikipedia, the free
encyclopedia_en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_occupation_of_Haiti_Template:Campaignbox US occupation of Haiti ... History of Haiti ... The United States occupation of Haiti began on July 28, 1915, when 330 US Marines landed ...
6. BBC News - The long history of troubled ties between Haiti and the US_news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8460185.stm_Jan 16, 2010 - US President Barack Obama has pledged one of the biggest relief efforts in recent US history following Tuesday's earthquake in Haiti.
7. Bill Quigley: Why the US Owes Haiti Billions -- The Briefest History_www.huffingtonpost.com/.../why-the-us-owes-haiti-bil_b_426260.ht..._Jan 17, 2010 - The current crisis is an opportunity for people in the US to own up to our country's history of dominating Haiti and to make a truly just response.
8. The history that "binds" the US and Haiti_www.wsws.org/articles/2010/jan2010/pers-j15.shtml_Jan 15, 2010 - In a statement on the earthquake in Haiti, President Obama spoke of the "long history that binds us together." Neither he nor the US media, ...
9. US-Haiti (1804-2005) - History Commons_www.historycommons.org ð ... ð Regions ð Caribbean ð Haiti_Robert V. Hayne, a senator from South Carolina, summarizes US policy toward Haiti: "Our policy with regard to Haiti is plain. We never can acknowledge her ...
10. Haiti in U.S. History: A Timeline_www.theroot.com/views/haiti-us-history-timeline_Mar 31, 2010 - A look at the complicated relationship between Haiti and the United States.
11. History of U.S. Intervention in Haiti_soc.hfac.uh.edu/artman/publish/article_94.shtml_Dec 2, 2010 - From 1804 until 1864, the United States refused to give diplomatic recognition to the world's first independent black republic, fearful Haiti might ...
12. History of Haiti - United States Occupation, 1915-34_www.travelinghaiti.com/history_of_haiti/united_states_occupation.asp_Representatives from the United States wielded veto power over all governmental decisions in Haiti, and Marine Corps commanders served as administrators in ...
13. US-Haiti, by Noam Chomsky_www.chomsky.info/articles/20040309.htm_US-Haiti. Noam Chomsky. US-Haiti, March 9, 2004. Those who have any concern for ... two centuries of history in 1994, reflecting on the prospects for Clinton's ...
15. First Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba, Pages 18-9
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