In 1986 I visited the Dominican Republic. I had the misfortune of being in the back of a jeep/taxi when a an army sergeant and private stopped the jeep and asked for my papers. Even though I provided my passport, drivers license and work ID card, they insisted that I get out of the jeep and leave my partner, walk to an awaiting cell. The solder didn’t have to insist very hard as he had his rifle pointed at me, finger on the trigger. I was released after ten-fifteen minutes, and their excuse for holding me was they thought I was a member of Haiti’s feared Tonton Macoute, the dreaded personal army of Papa and Baby Doc Duvalier, the sons of bitches that controlled and fleeced Haiti for decades. While we were traveling from point A to point B in this taxi, over the border, in Haiti, the ordinary Haitian had risen up, Baby Doc had left the country for exile the day before, and many Tontons were also fleeing, their boss and zombie soaked power deserted them, so getting out of the country by any means to avoid the incoming machete blows was a priority. That soldiers that pulled me over didn’t want any nasty Tontons in their zone. A bullshit excuse, but it brought me into the sphere of what was going on.
Papa Doc and his son, Baby Doc, plundered, controlled Haiti since the late 50’s, their army, the Tonton Macountes responsible for killing in the region of 30,000-60,000 people, while multi-nationals earned lucrative contracts and sweatshops blossomed, and a form of slavery took hold again, and the noose of debt had another neck within it’s grasp.
With the recent earthquake bringing Haiti once again to the our attention, two articles, (I’m sure there are a few more) provide a historical, old and recent, look at “Why is it the way it is.” What has happened to the world’s oldest black republic?
I’ve never understood how Bill Clinton had the gaul to set up office in Harlem, NYC. after he left the White House. That appearance on The Arsenio Hall Show, blowing the saxophone was the Kool-Aid of it’s day. The brothers their should have hounded him outta there because of the way he betrayed Haiti and Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the preacher that was elected after the Duvalier regime fell. Aristide, elected on a platform of land reform, reforestation, minimum wage, decent living conditions and all that other left-wing socialist crap, was removed in a coup, then return by Clinton with a much reduced ability to implement his original ideas. Along with the new Aristide regime came all that neoliberal economic plans that continued to keep Haitians wearing handcuffs, denying them the dreams and aspirations and filling the coffers of multi-nationals.