Patrick Elie has long been a democracy activist. Moreover, during President Aristide’s administration-in-exile during the 1991-94 coup d’etat, Patrick was coordinator of the anti-drug unit of the National Intelligence Service, where he was key to exposing the collusion between the
The Shock Doctrine, the book by Naomi Klein, shows that often imperialist countries shock another country, and then while it’s on its knees, they impose their own political will on that country while making economic profits from it. We’re facing an instance of the shock doctrine at work, even though
One thing to watch is a humanitarian coup d’état. We have to be careful. Especially in the early days, the actions weren’t coordinated at all and they overtook the goalie, which is the Haitian government. The little bit of state that’s left is almost irrelevant in the humanitarian aid and reconstruction. What is going to happen is that it’s not Haitians who will decide what
This doesn’t make sense from a moral perspective, and it also won’t work. A people can’t be developed from the outside. What’s more, in
We know the Haitian government is weak, and we can’t count on it alone to lead the battle. We all, organized Haitians and our friends, have to stomp our feet and say, “No, this can’t happen. Haitians have to develop their own country.” We need help and support from others, as they say here, to grow the plantains. But they’re our plantains. Haitians have to be the ones to construct the country we need. We have to be in charge.
We have to speak of the role the international community played before the earthquake, and how that role contributed to the destruction of the earthquake: why there were so many victims and so much damage. The politics of certain foreign countries – especially the
The soul of the country is the peasantry, and that’s where the true resistance to attempts to put the country under foreign power lies. So foreign policies have focused on undermining the peasantry, as well as weakening the Haitian state. They [the
The peasant migration to the capitol: it’s part of our history, in which Haitians are meant to be the lowest paid manual workers. Slavery was the cheapest labor force you could get. Afterward, following the
I’m afraid that this vision for
Today, we have to put the three rocks back under the stove, or it will tip over. What this new
One thing is land. I can’t believe how some people have such a quantity of land while others have none at all, even though we are all the inheritors of [revolutionary leader Jean-Jacques] Dessalines. I don’t say that we should cut up
Look at access to education, too, where inequality manifests today as historically. Education is one of the main tools which can bring equality between citizens. For centuries, the elite didn’t let people have education. Now we’re making progress in the number of children who are going to school, but still the quality isn’t good; it’s not equal.
A country with this kind of inequality doesn’t have a chance to survive this shock.
We have to highlight these questions and insist they get addressed forcefully, so the
You know that often earthquakes provoke tsunamis, huge waves that come after the quakes that sometimes cause more damage than the quakes themselves. I’m afraid that there may be a social tsunami after this earthquake. There are people – Haitian and foreign – who, for their own reasons, can use the frustration of the Haitian people to create disorder, and then use that to pursue their own agenda. I’m not scared of the plots of Haitian politicians, but when they marry them with other governments or businessmen, it’s always very dangerous for
I can’t accept that there is no alternative. I see one, but it will take a lot of work. It will require the Haitian people to begin organizing themselves again. It will also require a new political class to enter the scene. This political class is finished; their capacity to propose valid things is spent. For this new political class to emerge, we need youth, but youth with training – not just formal education, but political education that can take from their minds the idea that we can model
Beverly Bell has worked with Haitian social movements for over 30 years. She is also author of the book Walking on Fire: Haitian Women’s Stories of Survival and Resistance. She coordinates Other Worlds, www.otherworldsarepossible.org, which promotes social and economic alternatives. She is also associate fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies.