From: A Good Friend
Date: Friday, April 11 2008
Une idée de ce qui s'est passé à port-au-Prince ce 9 avril 2008
A slideshow about the recent situation in Haiti.
Sent: Saturday, April 12 2008
I will not cast blame and I will not demonize. I received these this morning. I don't care where the salvation and help come from. I don't care about being the proud descendant of Toussaint, Christophe, Dessalines and Petion. I don't care bragging about the glory days of 200+ years ago. Today is here. Haitians living in Haiti cannot live on promises, demagogy and slogans alone. Haiti is dying if not yet dead, Guy. We need concerted action, we need to get together, and we need help. We cannot forever keep blaming the light skinned and black elites. All of us have wronged Haiti and all of us should get together to right her. You are young, Guy, but I remember the wonder of Haiti just 50 years ago. Just 50 years ago, Guy. You are the brainy one. What should we do, my Haitian Friend?
I don't know about being the brainy one, but here is my reply:
From: Guy S. Antoine
Date: Mon, Apr 14, 2008
Thanks for the pictures, they are vivid. I do not cast blame and demonize either, because in Haiti there is ALWAYS more than the eye can see. I have learned long ago not to jump to conclusions. You are right that it is not a question of color per se, and that has not been so since, at least, President Estimé (in spite of the cynical, political, occasional exploitation of tensions between blacks and light-skinned Haitians, dating back to the colony of St Domingue). On the other hand, I have yet to see the day when class or elite politics did not matter in Haiti. This is not to say that the commercial and industrial elites (the "big money" families) in Haiti are always wrong and the masses are always pure and blameless. That is of course a knee-jerk reaction, unfortunately supported by a long history of underlying class warfare.
To deny that class warfare exists in our land appears a bit naive to say the least. But I do agree that the salvation of Haiti resides in all of us getting together for the common good. That, in fact, has been Preval's theme during his campaign and during his presidency, but we so easily forget the elephant in the room: Haiti is today an occupied country. Overtly so, since 2004. Less overtly but just as clearly since the September 1991 coup against Aristide (I should really say the most devastating coup against the Haitian masses). You might interpret this as though I am maniacally defending Aristide the person and/or his many and grave sins (mitigated by his resoluteness about not being played again, which led directly to his being played again one more time, in the most humiliating manner possible), but I cannot help it if anyone chooses to color my analysis in that light because unfortunately, this is one fairly common trait of Haitians: casting everyone as belonging to a narrow political movement or as a devotee of some political figure. When I say "fairly common", I am understating the case. The poisoned pills (politically speaking, that is the verbal ones) we pass along to each other are more addictive than crack and go some way to explain why there is so much mistrust in our society. We clearly kill ourselves every day with our "landjèz", false denunciations, character assassinations, and baseless insinuations. It is those "ti dife boule" (little burning fires), easily alimented (financed) by local and external political groups that have a stake in maintaining divisiveness in Haitian society, that occasionally flare up in extremely vicious forest fires.
In my view, the solution for Haiti resides in going back (if only we could) to that marvelous spirit of cooperation we had in getting rid of the Duvalier dynasty and successive military regimes. Having failed to maintain that spirit, we may indeed have to wait for and prepare a new generation of Haiti-loving Haitians, which must include ALL HAITIANS, regardless of where they reside and regardless of citizenry. We must also find the most intelligent way to stop those who spread those little burning fires in their track and promote a new (or renewed) spirit of working together for the common good. We must also insist on liberating Haiti from its current occupation (of which the MINUSTHA soldiers are only the visible components). The 1915 occupation lasted 19 years, officially. How long will this one last? I do not hold my breath, but I do know that Haiti can only be saved by Haitians working with each other, and not by Haitians who constantly break each other's legs for preventing them from being the ones able to claim the prize of having put the country one step forward.
Listen, I am not that young... I remember a different Haiti too. But Haiti in a sense has always been Haiti, with the potential for "konbit" or fratricide. It's always been like climbing a high mountain whose slope is slippery from flash waters. We can either hold each other's hand and pull ourselves up and climb to the mountain top or we may continue our precipitous slide downward. Which do you think is easier?
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