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‘An International Crime Scene’: How The US Is Stoking Crisis In Haiti

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The drumbeat of intervention is rolling once again for Haiti. Since last year, plans have been laid for a US-sponsored intervention in Haiti nominally led by Kenya, ostensibly in the name of fighting “gang violence” in the Caribbean nation. While corporate media has breathlessly pushed the narrative of a lawless Haiti overrun by criminal organizations, such framing deliberately excludes the role of the US and its allies in the so-called Core Group in destabilizing Haiti over the past 20 years in particular—not to mention the past two centuries since Haiti’s independence. Quebec-based activist Jafrik Ayiti joins The Real News to help set the record straight on Haiti’s history, and how the social disorder splattered across the front pages of Western media outlets has been manufactured by the very governments now calling for intervention.

Studio Production: Maximillian Alvarez
Post-Production: Alina Nehlich


Transcript

The following is a rushed transcript and may contain errors. A proofread version will be made available as soon as possible.

Maximillian Alvarez:

Welcome everyone to The Real News Network Podcast. My name is Maximillian Alvarez. I’m the editor in chief here at The Real News, and it’s so great to have you all with us. Before we get rolling today, I want to remind you all that The Real News is an independent viewer and listener-supported grassroots media network. We don’t take corporate cash, we don’t have ads, and we never put our reporting behind paywalls. We got a small but incredible team of folks who are fiercely dedicated to lifting up the voices from the front lines of struggle around the world, but we cannot continue to do this work without your support, and we need you to become a supporter of The Real News now. So just head on over to therealnews.com/donate and donate today. It really makes a difference.

Haiti is in crisis right now. Ariel Henry, a former neurosurgeon who has served as the unelected prime minister of Haiti since the 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse has resigned. Henry left Haiti last month to travel to Kenya to rally support for a UN-backed international police force to be deployed to Haiti, and he returned to a revolt. At the beginning of the month, Henry signed an agreement with Kenyan President William Ruto that would have fast tracked the deployment of a Kenyan police force to Haiti to, as Reuters put it, quote, “tackle spiraling violence in the Caribbean Nation,” end quote.

Quote, “On Tuesday, March 12th,” Reuters continues, “the Kenyan government did an about face announcing that it was pausing the deployment after Henry resigned overnight and would reevaluate once a new Haitian government was in place,” end quote. As Jake Johnson wrote for the Center for Economic and Policy Research on March 12th, quote, “In a pre-recorded message released on social networks just after midnight, Ariel Henry, who has held de facto power in Haiti since shortly after the 2021 assassination of Jovenel Moïse, agreed to resign, sort of. Henri has been holed up in Puerto Rico for a week, unable to return to Haiti, has coordinated attacks from armed group shut down the airport. Once the US pulled its support last week, he was left in limbo and had not issued any public statements until early this morning. It is unclear to what extent he was under pressure from the US to remain out of the country and to stay quiet. Henry’s announcement came shortly after the conclusion of a series of political negotiations among dozens of Haitian stakeholders, CARICOM, heads of state, the US Secretary of State, the Canadian Prime Minister, and other foreign diplomats held in Kingston, Jamaica.

A proposal agreed to by those foreign powers and accepted by a number of Haitian political parties and civil society organizations who participated via Zoom calls for the formation of a seven-member presidential transitional council that will name a new prime minister to replace Henry. Henry made it clear that he intended to resign once the presidential council had officially formed after a period of intense attacks beginning in late February targeting the airport, police stations, and other government institutions, the situation in Port-au-Prince has calmed over the last two days as the political negotiations played out in Kingston, but it is unclear if the new government will do anything to appease the disparate armed groups that have come together in recent weeks. Much remains in flux,” end quote.

Now, gunfire and violence in the capitol of Port-au-Prince is reportedly a daily occurrence, and people are suffering and many are in danger and in need. Four million people face acute food insecurity and one million of them are one step away from famine, the UN Food Agency’s director in Haiti Jean-Martin Bauer said this week. The recent increase in gang violence has made a very bad situation even worse and displaced an additional 15,000 people, which brings the total number of displaced people in Haiti to over 360,000, he said. Quote, “It is desolation that we are feeling, it is terror that we are living, and it’s horrifying what we are going through,” Monique Clesca, a Haitian pro-democracy advocate in Port-au-Prince recently told Democracy Now.

So what the hell is happening in Haiti right now? How can we make sense of the images that we are seeing and what are we not seeing in the media coverage? How can working people here in the US and around the world stand in solidarity with the people of Haiti right now? To talk about all of this, I’m truly honored to be joined today on The Real News Podcast by renowned author, analyst, activist, radio host, and member of Solidarity Quebec Haiti, the great Jafrik Ayiti. Jafrik, thank you so much for joining us today on The Real News. I really appreciate it.

Jafrik Ayiti:

Thank you for the kind invitation, Maximillian.

Maximillian Alvarez:

Well, I truly have been thinking about you as I’m watching all of this unfold, and I’m like, “What …” I want to know what you’re thinking and I want our audience to have access to your knowledge, insight, perspective, and I’m really grateful to you for making time for this. Speaking of time, I just want to use the rest of the time that we have to hand things over to you and ask if you could help walk us and our listeners through this. So let’s start with that first basic question. What the hell has been going on in Haiti in the recent weeks? What do you most want people to know about the situation unfolding over the past month that they’re not getting if they’re following a lot of the media coverage out there?

Jafrik Ayiti:

Yes. There are a few things that I will say here that will require folks to go and dig to understand further what supports these assertions. For instance, the first thing I’d say is that what we are watching is an international crime scene. That doesn’t mean the local actors are not really doing what they’re doing, but if you’re only looking at the local actors, you will not understand what is happening because, of course, it is surreal. How could a small group of criminals hold a whole country hostage like that for so long? The only reason that it happens is because they are not really alone. Their backing is from powerful states, the United States, Canada, Europe, and they’re playing both sides of this conflict. Another thing people need to realize is that although you’ve heard that the so-called gangs, which are really paramilitaries, they are US armed militias have been fighting Henry’s government. There’s been no casualties on either side.

None of the big gang leaders have fallen and no member of Henry’s government have been hit or Henry himself. In reality, the game that’s being played here is to force decent Haitians who want to establish a social justice reform program in their country to accept accommodation with the criminals that have been running the country for the past couple of decades.

Now, this is a way to say it very briefly, but when you go and look into the details to talk about the forces that are really making decisions in Haiti, a name that people need to Google and search is the core group. The core group is an informal structure, but don’t let the word informal fool you because they make all the real decisions in what’s happening in Haiti. It’s composed of the ambassadors of the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Brazil, the representative of OAS, the Organization of American States, and United Nations.

Now, someone might ask, what does Germany, Brazil, what do they have to do with France for crying out loud? Well, it’s because Haitian independence has never been accepted. Another term they usually, improper term they usually use for the core group when they’re talking about the decisions of the core group, for instance, the core group is the entity that named Ariel Henry prime Minister. It’s not any Haitian entity. They published a tweet and that’s how he became prime minister, and it sounds surreal, but that’s how it’s been happening.

So people need to understand that Haiti is under occupation. That’s the reality. If you compare it with the 1915 to 1934 occupation of Haiti, there is no real difference in how it happened in the sense that the occupiers pretend that, “No, there’s no occupation. Haiti has a president.” We had a president back in 1915. Our president even declared war to Japan. Well, another one was so bold, he declared war to Japan, Italy, and Germany at the same time. Of course, what it meant was that the US had declared war to these countries, and since the US occupied Haiti, the fool that they had imposed as president of Haiti issued statements of solidarity with the American position.

So people need to understand the current mess is Haiti under occupation. This is one of the things that they’re trying to hide. The fact that the disaster that you are observing is the result of what is called the Ottawa Initiative on Haiti. What is the Ottawa initiative on Haiti? It’s a meeting that took place in the town where I live, Gatineau, Quebec, which is, I guess, a twin town with Ottawa, which is the capital of Canada. There on January 31st, February 1st, 2003, a set of White men and women met, and you will see why I emphasize that it was White men and women. They had two days of discussions on the future of Haiti. Who participated in that meeting? Now, their names are unknown, at the time it was secret, but you had foreign ministers of France. There was one lady from El Salvador. The other ones were from the United States and from the Organization of American States. Luigi Einaudi was there, all White men and women, and they decided that the government of Haiti at the time had to be overthrown, the country put under UN tutelage.

The country was then being led by Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a former priest, liberation theologian, who came to power for the first time in 1990 when he won the election, landslide election. Now, the reason why they wanted to overthrow him is that the policies that he was applying in Haiti were what these people consider socialist, really modest reform. He doubled the minimum wage. He and the legislature at the time came up with new laws to protect all children, including street children, built a lot of schools and things like that, and hospitals, nothing revolutionary really, but even that was considered unacceptable to whom? To Washington, their cousins in Ottawa and in Paris, but also and importantly, and these people never make it to the front pages of the New York Times or CNN Canada or BBC, but they are the ones running the economy of Haiti. That’s what I call the 15 White Mafia families.

The richest person in Haiti does not look like Haitians. The second richest person in Haiti does not look like Haitians, the third, the fourth, the fifth. I know there are other countries in the Caribbean where that reality can also be observed, but you have to understand, Haiti gained its independence from White supremacy, and there was a law instituted as soon as the revolution was successful to say that no White man shall set foot on this territory as owner. So that means something must have happened after the revolution to make it so that the richest people on the island are all White.

Maximillian Alvarez:

Well, let’s talk about that because this is, like you said, even the shadow puppet decision making body that is controlling Haiti now comprised of White people, and it’s an international cohort that’s determining what this country and its future and its people is going to be. That is not an exception. That is basically the struggle that Haitians have been engaged in since the very beginning, right?

Jafrik Ayiti:

That’s right.

Maximillian Alvarez:

Since the slave revolt for freedom in Haiti, for which the White Western world has never forgiven Haiti, and it’s shown even from the time that the revolution was won, and immediately, Haiti was slapped with trade embargoes from the United States. It was paying just for over half a century all of its wealth back to France for the crime of claiming independence. It was occupied by the United States less than a century ago. Like you said, you cannot understand the crisis you’re watching now, the poverty, the violence, any of that that you’re watching now only looking at the local context and trying to piece something together. You cannot tell this story without telling the other side of the story about how Haiti has been pillaged and punished since it’s beginning. So I want to ask if you could just keep tugging on that thread for our folks who are watching this. How far back do you want folks to go to know how we got where we are right now?

Jafrik Ayiti:

Well, I think there are a couple of articles that I would encourage people to check on the web that I have published. One of them is titled Time to Stop Resisting Haiti’s Resistance, and this tells the story of that conflict. A quote from this article comes from the French foreign minister at the time. His name was Prince Talleyrand, and he wrote to James Madison, who then was Secretary General, sorry, yeah. How do you say it?

Maximillian Alvarez:

Secretary of State?

Jafrik Ayiti:

Secretary of State before he became president. Talleyrand in 1805, so Haiti had barely had one year of existence, he wrote to his cousin that the existence of a Negro people in arms is a terrible threat for all White nations. So he was calling for White solidarity. At the time, that’s the kind of language that they used. The US did respond. Like you said, they started with the embargo in 1805, 1806. It was renewed in 1809. People need to understand, you have half a million Africans on an island. They were still struggling to liberate the whole island because the White cousins, although they were in competition with each other, were already collaborating to stop the liberator of Haiti, Dessalines, from liberating the city of Santo Domingo and then liberating the whole island because there was a French general named Ferrand, who occupied Santo Domingo and, of course, the Spanish had maintained slaves.

So the Haitians understood that if you let parts of the island maintain racial slavery, you haven’t done anything. You have to chase all of the Europeans out of the island. The Europeans, they knew what was going on because just the neighboring island, Jamaica, was a British colony. Britain, although they were talking about abolishing the trade, but they still did not abolish slavery, they had thousands, if not millions of slaves in Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbean.

So what they did is that they helped the French, the French, not the Spanish. That’s what you need to understand that when it comes to White supremacy, these people don’t care about nationality anymore. It’s White solidarity in wickedness. That’s what’s been applied against the Africans in the Americas. Unfortunately, many other Africans in the Americas don’t understand that what they’re doing to Haiti is also what they’re doing to them.

Maximillian Alvarez:

Well, and just to add a parenthetical here for people listening to this in the US because I think what Jafrik is saying really translates to what we were doing here and why the United States government was so quick to slap trade embargoes on the newly independent nation of Haiti in the early 1800s because we still had slaves.

Jafrik Ayiti:

That’s right.

Maximillian Alvarez:

Because we still had an economy based on chattel slavery that Southern slaveholders did not want that economy challenge and could not bear the reality of a free Black nation just like south of the United States when we were here imprisoning and enslaving the entire Black population for the sake of the slave economy. So it’s not just like that we’re saying that White supremacy in these airy terms. It is concrete. That is why these things were happening from the US to Britain to France.

Jafrik Ayiti:

So that coalition, the fact that, for instance, at a time when the 20,000 White French who were on the island enslaving 450,000 Africans, when they felt threatened and they knew that for a French army to come all the way from Martinique Guadeloupe or all the way from France to come, it would take too long, they called on the governor of Jamaica. They call on the British to come and rescue them, and the British did come, and that’s another thing that people forget. 55,000 British soldiers had to be killed in order for the Africans to liberate themselves from slavery because slavery was practiced by all of them. That’s why they all ganged up on Haiti.

So for instance, when France came in 1825, some people say, “Well, then if you were strong enough to fight all three of them, how come when they came back in 1825 your leaders capitulated and paid the ransom?” By the way, that ransom was paid from 1825 to 1947, and that’s over 100 years, but it’s even more than that because money had to be borrowed from the French banks and then from the American banks, and they play games to inflate the amount of money that they’re ransoming from this impoverished population.

Maximillian Alvarez:

We’re talking tens of billions of dollars in today’s money extracted from Haiti over the course of that time paid back to France for the crime of independence.

Jafrik Ayiti:

That’s right. The New York Times did a report, a feature on it two or three years ago. Their estimate is $115 billion. Now, when President Aristide asked for restitution back in 2003, he estimated it at 22 billion, and now it’s 115 billion. Of course, interest is going to continue to accumulate because generation after generation, we will continue to demand justice because that money that was stolen from Haiti, it’s armed robbery, it’s 15 warships, and they came to the Port-au-Prince armada, a harbor, and they demanded that ransom, and the threat was re-enslavement. It wasn’t just French boats. They had boats from Holland, from all over Europe who were part of that armada.

Like I said, when I say this is White solidarity in wickedness, it’s not a wordplay. It’s the reality. On top of that, I really encourage people to go and consult that article because you will see that this strategy, that Europeans have a way of choosing a sexy name for their most outrageous crimes. So they call this strategy gone boat diplomacy. Now, someone might hear gone boat diplomacy and not realize what it is. That’s the armed robbery when it’s being conducted by White people or White nations. They just come to your harbor, they point their cannons on your national palace with your president in it, and they say they will blow it up if you don’t pay ransom.

The Germans did it to Haiti. The Spanish did it. The French did it. Of course, the Americans did it. The Americans stole half a million dollars from Haiti in 1914 to go create national Citibank in New York. That’s the original money for that bank that still exists today, stolen from the impoverished Black people of Haiti. A year like 1883, you had the ambassadors in Port-au-Prince of the United States, France, Germany, but countries that you would never think about. Sweden, Denmark, they all sign an ultimatum to President Lysius Félicité Salomon telling him that he’s going to have to pay reparations to their merchants who came from their countries who claim to have lost property because of uprisings that had happened against Salomon, but that Salomon had to pay them reparations or they’re going to blow up the national palace with him in it.

There are many times where a million dollars was paid to a British national who claimed that the government owed them money and didn’t pay them, and then the British sent their army and say they’re going to take over one of the small islands, Île de la Tortue, which belonged to Haiti.

These things were happening when we had decent leadership. This man, Lysius Salomon, who ruled Haiti in 1880 that you are mentioning, and he was there for a few years, he took the economy of Haiti in such disarray where you needed 1,000 Haitian currency, 1,000 gourde for 1 US dollar. By the time we reached 1887, as part of his mandate, he put so much order and discipline, fiscal discipline in what was happening in the Haitian economy. You needed 1 US dollar, 1 Haitian gourde, from 1,000 to 1.

So that’s another thing that I want to debunk here. The idea that, “Okay. Well, Haiti is in such disarray because of bad governance and they never had good leaders,” this is such a racist statement that sometimes I fail to use the patience that is required to debunk it so that people can understand because it’s such an obvious, ridiculous game. It’s what they call circular logic. So for instance, one of the arguments that often you will hear even from Haitians about why the French cannot return the money that they stole from Haiti as restitution, as was asked by President Aristide, is the fear that Haitian thieves are going to run away with the money.

Now, let’s try to unpack this. So I show up at your house and I steal your furniture, your TV, whatever you have, and then I’m about to leave and you say, “Oh, no, don’t do that,” and then my reply is that, “Well, you’re not managing them properly. That’s why I’m taking them away from you.” Essentially, that’s the childish argument that they’re using. What’s more important is that in the cases of countries like Haiti, the Congo, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, the whole of the African continent, it is the White supremacist forces that invaded those countries, murdered the progressive leadership that we had, whether it is Patrice Lumumba in the Congo, whether it is Thomas Sankara in Burkina Faso or Jean-Bertrand Aristide in Haiti that they kidnapped, and then they put the bad leadership and now the argument is, “Well, you have bad leadership. We cannot give you the money back.” Well, no, it doesn’t work that way.

Sometimes people will say, “Well, you’re always blaming others for your own shortcomings.” Now, of course, we understand that Haitians are not angels. It’s human beings and there are contradictions on the island, and there are things that was created on the slave economy and the plantation that subsisted. So for instance, there is still colorism in Haiti, a preference for closeness to Whiteness, and you say, “Well, I thought you did a revolution against White supremacy.” Well, you need to understand this was 400 years of conditioning, mental conditioning.

So as happened in all of the Americas, what was established in the Great Colombia, which involves Colombia, Venezuela, and all of these countries, Dominican Republic, of course, all of these countries did not create egalitarian societies. These were mulatto-led dictatorships. That’s why when Miranda came for help in Haiti in 1806 and Dessalines gave him printing press, money, soldiers, everything, even the flag that they were using came from Haiti.

Now, the only demand that the Haitians made both at the time of Dessalines with Miranda in 1806 and in 1812 with Bolivar and Pétion was that Haiti asked that wherever that Bolivar and Miranda are victorious, that they abolish slavery. Well, that’s not what they did. Bolivar released his own personal slaves, but they did not abolish slavery because they maintained that economy so that slavery was finally abolished in Cuba in 1886 and in Brazil in 1888. That’s very late.

So what they established were mulatto dictatorships, and that’s a term I hate using, but anyways, the European criminals understood in order for them to get away with the crime that they were committing because there were only 20,000 Whites on the island, so in order for them to maintain that system of oppression over 450,000 Africans, they had to make other allies participate in the crime.

So the rule on these plantations, the only rule that you could not touch was that no White person could be enslaved. Everybody else was fair game. So that meant you had Blacks who had bought or earned their freedom some way who became themselves slave owners and, of course, those who had blood relations with the Whites had more opportunity to be slave owners. That’s how they managed to get away with it, and that’s why even after all of the effort that Haiti deployed to help Latin America liberate themselves from Spain, they maintained the Africans in slavery, and many of them, they weren’t White, many of them were mixed, but I would say more mixed up than anything else.

Now, I’m saying that not to dis our brothers and sisters from Brazil, Venezuela, and Colombia because the same thing happened in Haiti. In 1806, they murdered the founder, Dessalines, and established exactly the same thing that you had in the rest of Latin America, a mulatto dictatorship, where basically the formerly enslaved Africans were confined to the countryside. All of the schools, the public schools that were built by Dessalines and Christophe in the north of the island, they closed them up because the only desire that these mulatto leaders had both Pétion and then after him, Boyer, who ruled the island for the longest time, was recognition from the White world. They’re the ones who paid that ransom, and that ransom we need to understand that, yeah, you can say that Boyer accepted to pay the ransom, but the ransom came from the backs of the Black peasants in the mountains who were producing coffee, cocoa, and all of these things that they sold in order to generate currency to send to France for over 100 years.

That’s why when these people became … So a simple example at the cultural level, when Dessalines became emperor, and with our first constitution, we have articles 50, 51, and 52 that deal with religion, for instance. The Constitution, that’s the first way ahead of the American constitution, the French constitution, the Haitian constitution said that everybody have the right to practice whatever religion is of their liking. The state does not have a preferred religion and does not take care of any religious leader. That’s what our Constitution said, total freedom to exercise whatever religion you wish.

Well, as soon as those mulatto fools took over in 1806, they started changing the Constitution, and then their anxiety was to get the Vatican to recognize Haiti as a state. Then they changed the rules and all of a sudden Haiti became a Catholic, and then the president is going to theorems and all kinds of ridiculousness like that and, of course, all kinds of malicious racist attacks on people who practice African religion like voodoo, et cetera.

So to tell you that there is also an important blame that needs to rest on the shoulders of Haitian intellectuals who accepted to make belief. They accept to pretend that Haiti is independent when Haiti is occupied. They pretend that we have a … For instance, that sentence, Haiti the first Black republic in the world, what’s so special about being a republic as opposed to, or whatever? This is this whole anxiety of wanting approval from the White world.

We had empires in Africa. We ruled the planet. So what’s this thing about first Black republic? So it’s really like pitting Haitians against Jamaicans, against Barbadians like we freed ourselves first. What’s that? Africans broke their chains in Guadeloupe, risked their lives and helped Dessalines fight in Haiti. Africans left Jamaica and came and participated in the Haitian Revolution. So it wasn’t a revolution for a territory where some of us are Haitians, some of us are Jamaicans. They have erased our memory, which causes us to not even understand something simple that Malcolm told us long ago like, “The offspring of a cat born in an oven is not bread. It’s a kitten.” So we were Africans while we were on the continent. While we were crossing, we were still African. While we landed, whether we landed on the eastern side of Haiti, which is called Dominican Republic today, or we landed in Brazil, we were still African. I did my DNA test. I’m still 72% African. So clearly, there’s been some of my ancestors who were raped by British and others, but that’s inconsequential.

The other day, I was having discussions with some brothers and sisters from Dominican Republic, and all this animosity between Haitians and Dominicans came up, and I’m saying, “What are we talking about, folks?” Look at what’s happening on the Atlantic Ocean. When the boats are flowing from the island going to Florida, what do you see in those boats? Do you see any White Dominicans? No. Do you see any White Haitians? No. It’s us Black folks who are still being denied nationhood on that island. So these flags that they’re giving us … Anyways, but it doesn’t limit itself to Dominican Republic and Haiti.

I once dated a sister from The Bahamas, and if she’s watching, I say hello. I remember how funny it was in 1991 when I visited for the first time in The Bahamas. Of course, her parents were ready to have a heart attack when they found out she was dating a Haitian guy. I went to visit my aunt who lived in The Bahamas at the time because as you know, many Haitians who are trying to get to Miami end up in The Bahamas thinking that they’re still in transit 20, 30 years later, they’re still there, but they’re still going to Miami. So that was the case for my aunt.

When I told her that this is my girlfriend and then that she is from here and et cetera, and I saw her face transform. Later on after my girlfriend had left talking to her, she’s saying, “These people, they are dangerous. They’re all dealing with drugs.” So the stupidity, no limit, man.

Maximillian Alvarez:

Well, and that’s why we’re having this discussion is because, for everyone listening, if you are trying to, again, piece together, it’s like what does this have to do with Kenyan police forces possibly being deployed to Haiti? What does this have to do with barbecue and the militia groups over there in Haiti right now? What does this have to do with the migrant crisis that we’re seeing on our southern border? How is this connected to the garment workers strike that we saw two years ago? Because we’re really going back to the basics of understanding how to talk about people and nations like they’re complex things and not just basic human-shaped cardboard cutouts without any agency.

Jafrik Ayiti:

That’s right.

Maximillian Alvarez:

Yes, of course, people have agency. People do bad things with that agency. They do good things with that agency. People are also struggling as individuals trying to express that agency against larger systemic forces that they did not control, that shape the world that they live in. People operate within those conditions like the ones we’ve been trying to educate y’all on over the past 40 minutes, trying to live free, trying to build a semblance of democracy or trying to gain approval from the White world in a nation that is struggling to actually maintain its independence, that is struggling within a complex internal culture with colorism and class and so many other things that … This may sound like a lot of background basic stuff, but what we’re really asking everyone to do is just see Haitians as people, see Haiti as a complex country that’s complex as ours-

Jafrik Ayiti:

That’s it.

Maximillian Alvarez:

… that has a lot of different explanations for why things are looking the way they are right now, and we’re trying to open the scope of your vision so that you are taking all those things into account instead of just assuming that Haitians are inherently unable to maintain a democracy, that the country of Haiti has just fated to never be the democracy and thriving economy it says it’s going to be because of Haitians themselves got some problem with them. We’re really starting at that basic level of shit right now, and there’s so many other things we need to discuss. I wish I could talk to you for hours more, but I so appreciate what you’ve been able to go over with us so far.

I just wanted to ask in the remaining minutes that we’ve got now that we’ve really tried to refocus and reframe the way people are approaching the crisis we’re watching unfold in Haiti, try to give that historical perspective, all that good stuff, I wanted to just ask, where do you see things going now? What do you think folks should be paying attention to? Ultimately, how can folks, working people here in North America and around the world show real concrete solidarity with the people of Haiti and their seemingly endless struggle to be free and live well?

Jafrik Ayiti:

There’s a statement that I’m going to share with you that came from a meeting that a set of Haitians from many different cities organized the other day, which essentially summarizes what we are looking for. So essentially, this is a group that is organizing demonstrations in the coming months, and this would be global days of solidarity with Haiti. They’re planning three coming up at the end of March, April, and May. They say, “We declare the Haitian people’s sovereign right on their territory is absolute and sacred. Foreigners who violate this right are enemies of the nation. Haitians who help the enemy to violate Haitian sovereign are traitors who will be punished as our ancestors and the laws of our country comment.”

To support this declaration, I’d added three bullet points. A, the core group, which is the ambassadors of foreign countries, is declared persona non grata, Kenyan, Senegalese, CARICOM, Spanish, and other mercenaries better remain in their own territories. Michel Martelly, Michel Martelly, Gilbert Bigio, Reynold Deeb, Johnson André or Izo, Dimitri Herard, Jimmy Chérizier Barbecue, Vitel’Homme Innocent, André Apaid, Guy Philippe, all criminals who broke prison walls and spilled the blood of innocent people must get arrested or be punished. The only transitional government we will recognize is one that comes from Haitian leaders who do not have the blood of the people on their hands. So this is to support the first declaration.

The second declaration states, “To defend the life of honest Haitians, we will fight against all wickedness until we disarm all criminals, foreigners, and Haitians alike, and rebuild the legitimate defense forces of our nation.” To support this declaration, we have decreed ongoing mobilization to rebuild all legal forces, police and army, established to guarantee safety for everyone on our homeland as required without discrimination.

B, abolish all private militias that currently protect and serve criminal oligarchs, White imperialist forces and their accomplices. C, we seek due application of international law to force the United States and the Dominican Republic to stop invading Haiti with deadly weapons while these countries are harboring major criminals who have Haitian blood on their hands in their territory, in particular, Gilbert Bigio and Michel Martelly.

Three, the third declaration, we declare relentless mobilization to expose and counter all malicious forces, which gangsterized Haiti with the PHTK militias. To support this declaration, we demand restitution and reparations from the governments of core group member countries, the United Nations, the OAS for multiple crimes they’ve committed against the Haitian people in history as well as in the present era.

B, we open our arms to receive and offer solidarity to all struggling peoples, such as those of Cuba, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Palestine, Venezuela, who are facing the malicious actions of the same clan of colonizers land thieves who form the core group. Stand for Haiti, judge Bill Clinton, justice, dignity, reparations for Haiti.

So this is the statement, and in the document that will be on the web, people will be able to click on the names of the people that we’ve identified in this document to find out what is the charge against these individuals. So for instance, Michel Martelly, who is the former puppet president who was imposed by Hillary Clinton, who entered the country and rigged the elections, and that’s by the admission of the director general of the Electoral Council, Pierre-Louis Opont, who made that admission in 2015. Well, this Michel Martelly guy, he has his name clearly identified in a report of the United Nations published last fall, 2023. The United Nations published a report saying that almost all of the militias in Port-au-Prince were created and are sustained by Michel Martelly. Michel Martelly lives in Miami, so does Gilbert Bigio, who is the richest person on the island, who is a billionaire, the only billionaire on the island. He’s on the list that Canada has drawn of people that they have proof have created and armed the militias.

Gilbert Bigio is a very dangerous man because when I say Gilbert Bigio, it’s the whole group because he has also children who are still in the same business as he, so it’s that group. He was for 25 years the Consul of Israel in Haiti. As such, he had diplomatic immunity. This man has his own private port called Port Lafito, which he co-owned with Michel Martelly. For the longest time, we’ve been noticing that illegal weapons were flowing from this port, and this is confirmed by independent studies of researchers who come from abroad who studied the thing and they say that.

So now imagine, Canada has about 56 billionaires from what I’ve heard, but this is a country that has many millionaires and a country that has structure and justice system and whatever. Now, imagine if the richest person in Canada was found to be funding criminal gangs in Montreal and Toronto that are kidnapping people, killing people, who in their right mind would suggest that, “Well, the sanctions that we should apply against this guy is to limit his travel”? No. This person would be arrested.

Now, imagine now in Haiti where 99% of the population is in poverty you have one billionaire and he’s a militia leader, he lives in Florida, and you say you want to help Haiti fight militias and you have not arrested this man all along because what happens is that let’s say we organize an election in a very progressive Haitian president come to power and with a good team and they’re doing all of their good work. Well, it’s not rocket science that if they are good, they’re going to invest in healthcare, they’re going to invest in education. That means these White warlords are going to lose their workforce because no one who has education, who has opportunities for other jobs is going to slave on a sweatshop to make underwear that Gap, Walmart and whatever are selling very expensively in Europe, in North America while these workers were essentially slaves. No one would accept that if they have an education.

So any government that is going to invest in social justice in Haiti will be the enemy of Gilbert Bigio, the billionaire of the island. Well, guess what he’s going to do? Well, we don’t need to guess. Let’s look what he did in 1991. He invested in the coup that overthrew Aristide in ’91. He invested in the coup that overthrew Aristide in 2004. So we know what he was going to do. This is not something that I’m just saying. After the coup in ’91, I was in Gilbert Bigio’s jewelry store in Port-au-Prince. He and his other brother, one of them was in a wheelchair. They were discussing, and as we were going to pay at the cash, these two White men felt so empowered and at ease that they were laughing in our face.

I remind you that Jean-Bertrand Aristide is not like Jovenel Moïse who died, and there was no uprising. No one died defending him. No. Jean-Bertrand Aristide was popular. The people put him in power, and that’s why they had to conduct massacres in the popular neighborhoods after overthrowing him. So we’re in this White man’s shop about to pay for what we were purchasing, and they’re joking about the fact that Aristide who was then in exile is mobilizing to have conversations with world leaders, including George Bush, George Bush the elder, the former director of the CIA who became president.

These guys, these two White guys say, “Well, I don’t understand what George Bush is doing entertaining a conversation with Aristide. Aristide is gone. We got rid of him, and he’s never coming back to Haiti.” Bush, remember that we financed his election.” He wasn’t lying because these guys, that’s what they do. They finance the elections in the United States, in France, and then in return, the presidents of the United States and France protect their rule over the neo colony.

Maximillian Alvarez:

That’s why we call it a ruling class, folks

Jafrik Ayiti:

Mm-hmm, with no class though.

Maximillian Alvarez:

With no class.

Jafrik Ayiti:

We have to specify that because, of course, I’ve traveled in many countries in the world. I was on the African continent earlier this year, last year, and it pains me to see the progress that could have happened in Haiti with the Petrocaribe funding that Martelly and the Clintons stole because there are places in Haiti where people don’t have drinking water, they don’t have anything. Electricity is something that people dream about as opposed to use. There’s no reason for that because there are countries, for instance, Ivory Coast, which I visited in 2021, the whole time I was there, there was no electricity shortage and it still wasn’t that good. They were working on building some of the infrastructure such as the stadiums for soccer and they just hosted the African Cup of Nations this year. You could see the beautiful stadiums.

The reason why they could do that is now that many of the countries in Africa are getting the contracts with the Chinese as opposed to the French and the German who used to steal the money and build some shitty type of stadium or highways they were, that’s good enough for Africans. That’s why you’re seeing a whole lot of African countries are chasing those crazy baldheads out of their countries, and they’re starting to put order in their business in Burkina Faso, in Mali, et cetera.

We didn’t cover the fact that Haiti has a lot of mineral resources. It’s not because it’s not important, but because this is a reality around the globe, just like Haiti has cobalt and iridium and whatever and petroleum and, of course, gold because now they’re exploiting the gold on the Dominican Republic side. The gold doesn’t stop at the border. When Christopher Columbus came and he was stealing gold, it was surface gold. These people didn’t have equipment. So obviously, they want to steal that in Haiti, but it’s more than that. There’s geopolitics involved. They want to use the northern part of Haiti to spy on Cuba and Venezuela. There’s the Panama Canal route that goes between Cuba and Haiti and Jamaica that they want to completely control as they’re having these conflicts with China, et cetera.

So there’s a whole lot of that happening, but I think for the purpose of our discussion here, I would have to end with a special message to Africans in America because as we’re having this conversation, the so-called second most powerful person in the United States is a Black woman or a so-called Black woman, Kamala Harris. We all saw these images. You mentioned migration a while back of our brothers and sisters who were under that bridge in Texas, and they were sending, I don’t know how you call that, lasso from the horse, the sheriff.

Maximillian Alvarez:

They were getting whipped with their lasso. This is the, quote, unquote, “border crisis” that we talked about here on The Real News. We’re going to link to that. We’re going to link to all the pieces that have been mentioned here so you guys can read up on it, but yeah, we remember those horrifying images of not just Brown folks like my family, but Black migrants as well coming from Haiti and other parts of America, and they were being treated like animals and whipped by border patrol agents and spoken about as subhuman animals. This is still happening right now.

Jafrik Ayiti:

You know why these images, when I saw them, I thought directly of Kamala Harris because Kamala Harris may not be aware that she probably has cousins in Haiti because some of my ancestors were first enslaved in the United States, and 200 years ago, the boat people were going the other way from the United States, from Canada seeking freedom in Haiti. Haiti, in our first two weeks of existence on January 14th, 1804, Jean-Jacques Dessalines published a decree saying that we’re putting $40 aside for the release of any African person. Truly, we didn’t even specify African, any person who was enslaved who is returned to Haiti, and that’s how many Africans who were in New Orleans and Baltimore ended up traveling to Haiti and gained their freedom there.

Now, the descendants of these people that now are being chased all over the Caribbean, Latin America, the United States as invaders, where are they supposed to live, if not on planet Earth? Is there another planet for us? So the motto of the Haitian Revolution, it sounds simple but it’s deep. It says, “Tout moun se moun,” every human is human. We are not opening this for debate. When we hear fools now in the White House, in Ottawa, in France, after the George Floyd situation, assassination, they’re panicking. They’re trying to prevent uprisings in their own cities spewing trivialities like Black Lives Matter. We’re not impressed by that. We always knew that our lives matter, fool. What we’re saying is Black nationhood matters. Therefore, the people of the Congo who are aware that the culture and that they have in their territory is precious and important for airplanes, for computers, et cetera, they know the value of the culture, and they demand that all of the economies of the world pay the fair price for the culture. So it’s about Black nationhood. It’s not about Black lives. We know our lives matter.

You may need to go tell that to the Ku Klux Klan and the fools in your White House who don’t realize that the world is moving on, but what we’re talking about right now is Black nationhood. Africans in America who may be confused today thinking that, “No, well, this is the problem of the Haitians. We are Americans and America first,” well, what do you think happened in Katrina? What do you think happened in New Orleans when our brothers and sisters were looking for water to drink? They had their own army, the United States Army pointing their weapons at them. Weren’t you American then? No, my friend, you’re an African in America, and just like Randall Robinson who’s written about Haiti, who’s written about the need for reparations in America, has stated again and again, “This America is not worthy of your love.”

You need to understand no one can force you to love a wicked country, and I’ve said that to the Canadian government as well because I worked as a civil servant for 30 years, and people say, “Well, you were an executive in the Canadian government, so how come you criticize in the Canadian government? Is that not betrayal?” I said, “Listen, I never signed up for a White supremacist coalition.” If I see that Canada, a country that I love because I’ve lived in here for so many years, my children were born here, and I see them applying White supremacy in their foreign policy, I’m going to fight it because if I don’t, I am leaving this fight for my children.”

So one of the main requests that we’re making for people who are in the military, whether it is in the US military, in the Canadian military, in the Kenyan military, in the military of Jamaica, Barbados, wherever it is and, again, even the US military, it is your duty to do what Muhammad Ali would’ve done. It’s not sufficient to just say, “Oh, we have Black history month and So-and-So did this, So-and-So did that.” No, you have to do what Kaepernick did. You have to do what the small sister Naomi Osaka had the courage to do. What tall men in the NBA did not have the courage to do Naomi did. You have to stand for what is right.

So if you are in the military of the United States and they’re giving you orders to go invade Haiti, to go invade Palestine, to go invade Venezuela, to go invade Burkina Faso, it’s your responsibility to disobey that racist order.

Maximillian Alvarez:

So that is the great Jafrik Ayiti, renowned author, analyst, activist, radio host, and member of Solidarity Quebec Ayiti. Jafrik, thank you so much for joining us today on The Real News Network. Man, I really, really appreciate it.

Jafrik Ayiti:

You don’t know how precious that is, brother, because some of us, our voices will not be heard on CNN, on CBC Radio Canada, on France Vingt-Quatre. So when we find space where we can discuss this beyond the 15 seconds racist diatribes, it’s really appreciated. Thank you.

Maximillian Alvarez:

Right back at you, brother, seriously, and to everyone listening, go follow Jafrik’s work. We’re going to link to it in the show notes, and please support the work that we are doing here so we can keep opening that space and keep working with other independent outlets to open that space wider for voices that we need to be hearing from right now. So please head on over to therealnews.com/donate. Help us out so we can keep bringing you important coverage and conversations just like this. For The Real News Network, this is Maximilian Alvarez signing off. Take care of yourselves. Take care of each other. Solidarity forever.

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