One et respe to all;
At the end of the post above (Tue Aug 05, 2003)
http://winterludes.net/phpbb/viewtopic.php?t=343 I wrote something I want to clarify. I wrote:
"I want to point to the fact that Aristide’s government has made child labor illegal."
That’s statement is not true. I knew it as soon as I reread the post.
Fact: Child domestic labor in Haiti is LEGALLY on the books under the Labor Code.
The point I wished to make is VALID REGARDLESS. Child domestic labor in Haiti is NOT chattel slavery in the way of Western European-styled slavery was. http://matah.com/whatismatah.ihtml
I was just going to make this correction. But perhaps a Haitian rights advocate need speak up about this issue. So here goes my two cents on the issue. I write this in order to empower Haitians but not to minimize the suffering of the restaveks. I write to give Haitians a few of the comebacks they need on this issue that is now being highlighted by the foreigners to make us feel ashamed, inferior. No need Beloved. You don’t have to get played by the Man, yet again.
ENTER THE GAME WITH SOME CRITICAL INFORMATION:
Rural agricultural societies all over the world are known to send their children to relatives in the cities in order that these children would have greater opportunities than the family in the rural areas have available. Pick any current developing country, and, a form of this phenomenon is going on.
Look at any pre-industrialized European country you’ll note how parents sent their children to relatives in the richer urban centers where the hope is that they’ll get an education and be exposed to better opportunities than are available in the destitute rural areas.
For the US authorities, to use the word "slavery" with reference to child domestic labor in Haiti is not only insidious but to mislead and minimize the Matah - European Slave Trade of Africans for over three centuries. http://matah.com/whatisthematah.ihtml
NOT A LEGAL ISSUE: Haitians don’t even know, in general, that there are laws on the books authorizing child domestic labor and regulating it in Haiti. It’s not and was never a legally contrived disenfranchisement, like for instance, the Slave Codes, the Black Codes, the Dred Scott decision and the Jim Crow apartheid/segregation laws in the US. Any comparison to the Haitian law regulating child domestic labor with these racist US slave or segregation laws is way off the mark. In such a negotiation with the US the task is to OWN and define this Haitian social reality as it is and not as the US ideologues are trying squeeze it to be.
Strategic basics dictates one should not work within the framework and eyeballs of the Powers-that-be, who, as we-Haitians know, are always in denial and creating and rewriting history to service their own privileged self-interests.
STAY OFF HIS BATTLEFIELD:
In such a negotiation, Haitians should NEVER let the Euro/US set the framework for discussion and then try to defend ourselves from that framework. That’s pretty foolish. Any negotiator worth her/his salt would tell you, always set off from your own reality, not the reality of the guy across the table, trying to win over you at all cost.
The Haitian reality: 90% percent of our peoples are left vulnerable, in the hinterlands of Haiti, to live under pulverizing rural poverty, crushing unemployment, no schools, health, electricity, sanitary or other such state services. And when there are some technical rural schools, the destitute agricultural parents have no money to pay for sending their children to these schools.
The Haitian reality: Haitian peasants were oppressed by the local imperial agents of US/Euro power in Port-au-Prince beginning, more or less in 1806, with Dessaline’s assassination. Haitian peasants have traditionally been exploited, their lands stolen with their taxes returning no services. For instance, the already destitute peasants where the ones who shouldered the backbreaking 1825 French debt, promised by Boyer so that France would recognize Haitian independence by growing coffee and export products to fund Port-au-Prince’s debt.
The Haitian reality: Up until the 1990 Aristide election, the poor in Haiti had never had a voice in Haiti’s governments, run mainly by the pro-etranje, anti-Ayisyen elite’s ever since the assassination of Dessaline in 1806. Said elite’s themselves have endlessly been fighting tooth and nail against the US/Euros to maintain even that little turf called the Republic of Port-au-Prince, and, by extension, to maintain the national
Haitian reality: Before the US corporations made the light/Black and moun andeyo paradigm in Haiti worst with it’s Jim Crow and the "no land, no food" exodus from the rural areas to the cities, the urban centers had been richer and "more sophisticated" and cosmopolitan than the rural centers. Peasants, who wanted their children to have some "sophistication," better economic and social opportunity and access to education and jobs when they got older, send their children to the richer urban centers.
Haitian reality: The restavek phenomenon was founded on the often-fruitless poor peasant Haitian’s thirst and search for education, acceptance and upward mobility. My point is the intent of the parents, when they placed their children with relatives or a "wealthier" Haitian was not to legally enslave or promote moun vini inferiority. Au contraire, it was to elevate as best as they could, given their limited resources. These Haitian parents’ intent DO NOT compare to the barbaric intent of the Europeans when they enslaved Africans and then created laws to make said enslavement legal.
INDENTURED SERVANTS: There is absolutely no comparison in terms of societal intent. In application yes hungry and poor Haitian children are and have too long been left unprotected and lost their innocence and childhood because of child labor. But the more correct legal term, in the more severe cases, would have been to identify these destitute children as "indentured servants", not "slaves." Many orphan children in the US did not stop being indentured servants until the first quarter of the 20th century! These US children’s rights and best interests were not even paramount until the late 1960s! http://www.childabuse.net/usachildwelfarehistory.html And, I guarantee US officials know this.
DEFINITION: An indentured servant was someone who voluntarily or involuntarily committed to working for someone for a fixed number of years ...usually 4 to 7...in exchange for passage to America, or some other financial advantage. As the lowest person on the totem pole, an indentured servant had few, if any rights, but people without skills or money accepted this position in order to emigrate. After the period of work was over, the servant usually became a freeman." http://members.tripod.com/~mccurtain_2/ ... tip12.html and http://www.vp.k12.mo.us/eschool/es/blop ... laves.html )
So, if the US is looking for Triangular-trade epoch labels, than this definition, fits a bit more, though not completely, than "slave." Especially if you really know Haitians and how proud they are NOT to be slaves!!! But this is all academic discourse with little or no relation to Haitian reality. A restavek is not a "slave" as slaves were slaves for life and not given their freedoms after a certain length of time. Nor, are the children of restaveks made slaves too, as the laws of European chattel slavery required.
US/UK COMMON LAW: Look at children in pre-industrial Europe, specifically England where we inherited US common laws and all our US pathologies. Before the industrial revolution, agricultural work was the norm and the more children one had, the richer one was because life was so hard so difficult that many hands were needed for the family unit to survive.
RETARDED MONARCHS: Would the European workers/serfs, of pre-industrial time, deem their children doing agricultural and domestic work "slaves?" Please! They all were serfs actually sold with the land no less! Except those-retarded-never-did-an-honest-work-in-their-life-European-monarchs who mostly all married their underage first cousins to keep the bloodline and power in the Western European family tree!
These Euro/US descendants are the ones now looking a Black woman straight in the face and calling all child domestic labor in Haiti, "slavery" in the same manner, degree and magnitude as US/Euro chattel slavery was! And we know full well how said Euro/US chattel slavery was a complete deprivation of humanity, of unbeknownst-to-the-world barbaric scale until these white Europeans invented it.
DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE: For these officials to compare said slavery, which, by the way is still LEGAL as a punishment for crimes in the US, to Haitian child domestic labor is absolutely too conniving and reprehensible for words. What can I say? They are just giving me WORK. Don’t believe the hype. The Man (Category One) is always promoting his clean hands, clean history, his divinity and our (Category Zero’s) barbarity.
Category One won’t ever publicize that, with all His avowed enlightenment, slavery is still LEGAL in the US under the Thirteenth amendment "as a punishment for crime." No.
But don’t get it twisted. You now know why we (Category Zero) are always criminalized in the US!
SLAVERY IS STILL LEGAL IN THE US:
Fact is: "When African Americans were no longer legally held as slaves or property, there was a tremendous increase in the number of African-American convicts." http://www.prisonactivist.org/crisis/la ... -time.html
THE CONVICT LEASE SYSTEM:
Fact: After "emancipation," back in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, et cetera, the prison establishment would keep replenishing their Black and poor white inmate pool and then "loan" the prisoner out to US businesses.
Fact is: "In the late 19th-century South, an extensive prison system was developed in the interest of maintaining the power, race, and economic relationships of slavery." (id)
Fact: "This is illustrated by the fact that in 1878, Georgia leased out 1,239 convicts, 1,124 of whom were African Americans. Through the convict lease system, bidders paid an average $25,000 a year to the state, in exchange for control over the lives of all of the convicts. The system provided revenue for the state and the profit of unwaged, unprotected workers for plantation owners or private industries. Racial and economic motivations were far more central than public safety and rehabilitation." (Same site as above: http://www.prisonactivist.org/crisis/la ... -time.html or read, http://www.wsws.org/articles/2000/may20 ... -m08.shtml )
The brutal chain gang concept these Southerners brought to Haiti during their first occupation (1915 to 1934) did not stop for US-Blacks until the late 1950s, to be replaced, again, by convict leasing and other types of convict labor programs. The chain gang briefly returned to Alabama in 1995. In some states, each day worked reduces a prisoner's sentence by one day! Visiting right with families, telephone calls and other privileges are conditions on the Black prisoner "volunteering" free labor…..
That’s, perhaps why, US AID’s legal "experts" in Haiti and other foreign strategic advisors to Haiti want to promote the CRIMINALIZATION of our young people. It’s the better to bring their treatment of the destitute US-Black into Haiti. These racist imperialists know no other way to "contain Black people" and maintain their development edge in the world. Our forced labor is their get-rich-quick-card.
In the US, such involuntary servitude is still taking place right now, in some form, as I write. http://www.prisonactivist.org/crisis/la ... -time.html
Hey, but what do I know? I’m just the daughter of two Haitian peasants, from a peasant Haitian family lineage.
TALK TO A DECENDANT OF RESTAVEKS (WHO BY THE WAY IS NOT A SLAVE) IF YOU WANT TO KNOW:
Perhaps I could tell you that all of us unpretentious Haitians know Restaveks. We are them to put it plainly. I believe that generally, most peasants are descendants of Restaveks. Let me explain:
(To be continued)