HAITI: Caribbean Dignity Unbowed – By Professor Sir Hilary Beckles (UWI)

HAITI: Caribbean Dignity Unbowed

University of the West Indies (UWI)

The following statement is issued by the Vice-Chancellor of The University of the West Indies, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles.

The democratic, nation-building debt the American nation owes the Caribbean, and the Haitian nation in particular that resides at its core, is not expected to be repaid but must be respected. Any nation without a nominal notion of its own making can never comprehend the forces that fashion its origins.

Haiti’s Caribbean vision illuminated America’s way out of its colonial darkness. This is the debt President Trump’s America owes Toussaint L’Ouverture’s Haiti. It’s a debt of philosophical clarity and political maturity. It’s a debt of how to rise to its best human potential. It’s a debt of exposure to higher standards. Haiti is really America’s Statue of Liberty.

The President’s truth making troops might not know, and probably care little for the fact that Haitian people were first in this modern world to build a nation completely free of the human scourge of slavery and native genocide.    

It might be worthless in their world view that Haiti’s leadership made the Caribbean the first civilization in modernity to criminalize and constitutionally uproot such crimes against humanity and to proceed with sustainability to build a nation upon the basis of universal freedom.

The tale of their two constitutions tells this truth. The American Independence Declaration of 2nd July, 1776, reinforced slavery as the national development model for the future. The Haitian Independence Declaration, 1st January, 1804, defined slavery a crime and banished it from its borders. Haiti, then, became the first nation in the world to enforce a provision of personal democratic freedom for all, and did so at a time when America was deepening its slavery roots.

The USA, therefore should daily bow before Haiti and thank it for the lessons it taught in how to conceptualize and create a democratic political and social order. Having built their nation on the pillars of property rights in humans, and realizing a century later that slavery and freedom could not coexist in the same nation, Americans returned to the battlefield to litigate the century’s bloodiest defining and deciding civil war.

Haiti was and will remain this hemisphere’s mother of modern democracy; and the Caribbean, the cradle of the first ethical civilization. For President Trump, therefore, to define the Caribbean’s noble heroes of human freedom, whose sacrifice empowered and enlightened his nation in its darkest days, as a site of human degradation is beyond comprehension. It is a brutal bashing of basic truths that are in need, not of violation, but celebration.

Haiti, then, is mankind’s monument to its triumphant rise from the demonic descent into despair to the forging of its first democratic dispensation. It is home to humanity’s most resilient people who are the persistent proof of the unrelenting intent of the species to let freedom rain and reign.

Thankfully, many fine souls dedicated to social justice have risen to ‘write this wrong’ into the public record. Let’s take comfort in recalling one such line drawn on the highway of history. In this 2018 White House attempt to diminish Caribbean Civilization let’s read aloud a part of William Wordsworth’s 1802 celebratory sonnet to Toussaint L’Ouverture of Haiti, the greatest democracy mind of modernity:

“…though fallen thyself, never to rise again,

Live and take comfort. Thou have left behind

Powers that will work for thee,

Air, earth, and skies;

There’s not a breathing of the common wind

that will forget thee; thou have great allies;

thy friends are exultation, agonies, and love,

and man’s unconquerable mind.”

 

Professor Sir Hilary Beckles

Vice-Chancellor, The University of the West Indies

 http://sta.uwi.edu/news/releases/release.asp?id=21776

END

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Comments

  • Rosaliene Bacchus  On February 10, 2018 at 12:07 pm

    Thank you Professor Beckles. And for this, the people of Haiti had to be broken and made to suffer.

  • Gigi  On February 10, 2018 at 12:22 pm

    If Haiti, and the Caribbean at large, is a vision of democracy, democratic nation-building, ethical civilization, etc, then the rest of the modern civilized world ought to be not only grateful, but thankful for this practical lesson of despotic degradation parading itself as a beacon of light to emulate.

    Scarier yet, since the modern civilized world seems set on implementing this Haiti/Caribbean lesson, its ordinary citizens should act post-haste and steer their countries well away from copying/following bad practices.

  • Mark  On February 10, 2018 at 8:08 pm

    Haiti is poor because Western countries invaded, pillaged and oppressed the country. American foreign agents went to Haiti to change the laws regarding foreign ownership of property.

    Once they changed that law, Haitians were forced out of their homes so that American-owned corporations can take over their lands to construct tourist attractions for the oppressor.

    No one can blame Haiti for being poor—It’s purposely being forced into poverty.

  • Clyde Duncan  On February 11, 2018 at 5:02 am

    Up here, Poverty is Legislated – End Legislated Poverty

    • Mark  On February 12, 2018 at 2:00 pm

      Are you referring to ‘Workfare’ laws where one has to work for free or for wages lower than minimum wage in order to receive a measly welfare check?

  • Ron Saywack  On February 12, 2018 at 5:37 pm

    In its courageous battle for independence from France, the Haitian people set the wheels of democracy in motion in the Caribbean and nearby states. With their victory over Napoleon’s forces secured, in 1804, the newly-emancipated proceeded to change the country’s name from Saint Domingue to Haiti (Land of Mountains, an indigenous name) and instituted a bold constitutional provision banning white folks from owning land.

    (A significant number of the Haitian people are ex-slave emigrants from the U.S.A., pre-and-post Civil War. One of the notable outcomes of Haiti’s independence was France’s ‘reluctant’ sale of Louisiana to the U.S. in 1803.)

    The Big Elephant (U.S.) decided to invade and occupy Haiti from1915 to 1934. After the occupation, one of the first things the occupiers did was to amend the Haitian constitution to remove the ban on white people owning land. The U.S. meddling/occupation directly led to a systematic and steady decline in the standard of living of the Haitian people. Today, Haiti is one of the most impoverished nations in the region.

    Guyanese are all-too-familiar with U.S. meddling in their country’s affairs. Now that the country is on the verge of a possible economic boom, will the dastardly Americans find another convenient pretext to invade and occupy a small nation?

    That ominous probability may come as no surprise, considering that the U.S. currently has a military presence in more than 150 nations around the world. Alas, Guyana must resolve to stand up against the U.S., and against all foreign influences and agents.

    Ron.

    • Mark  On February 13, 2018 at 12:16 am

      Hello Ron,

      I don’t think Guyana will pose as much of a challenge to the US empire. I’m noticing that on this website, which is catered to Guyanese and the Diaspora, that several commenters have sent personal attacks against myself and another critic of the oil contract. This looks like one of those conspiracies where the US establishment pays people to troll on websites to change public opinion and discredit their critics.

      On a serious note, former Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson wanted Trump to invade Venezuela because of the way Hugo Chavez seized the assets of Exxon under his nationalization of the oil resources for the Venezuelan people.

      I think that America will place more sanctions on Venezuela until it collapses, and then invade it to take control of the oil. It isn’t a co-incidence that when Exxon was starting to find oil in 2015, a foreign agent who works at a Human Rights NGO in Georgetown, Guyana confronted a Minister of a traditional “Marxist-Leninist” party (PPP/C), spat on him, and then when he reacted, he was forced to resign because of international outrage, and the PPP/C lost the elections in favour of President Granger, who is loyal to the American empire.

      The USA also invaded Guyana when it was controlled by the British in 1953 because they feared that the PPP under Jagan would nationalize the resources and prevent US corporations from taking over the continent.

      The US empire knows its ways to control and dominance.

    • Mark  On February 13, 2018 at 12:27 am

      Speaking of Haiti, the whites live in villas, while the African majority live in mud huts and eat mud cookies because they are unable to find food to eat.

      When white America fears an illegal immigrant invasion from ‘s-hole’ countries, these hypocrite white Americans fly business class to these same ‘s-hole’ countries, buy out the country’s land, and cause house prices to skyrocket beyond the average wages in those countries.

      Whites are also intolerant of the foreign country’s culture, that they complain to the US/Canadian/UK/European Embassy, and this causes Western countries to coerce governments to change their laws to suit the whites.

      One example is the infamous street harassment law which a white feminist activist videotaped in the African-Latino hood of Brooklyn, complaining that men looking at her and telling her ‘good morning’ is harassing, and it should be considered a criminal offense.

      White America is implicated in the times of racism when thousands of Africans were hung from trees to die because of imaginary complaints of ‘harassment’ from white women.

      When these white Americans flock to Guyana to take over Guyana, my African brethren will suffer and end up in agony because of these racist whites. Unfortunate and regrettably, a majority of Diaspora Guyanese take the side of the whites because that’s what they have to do for survival,

      and when these whites take over Guyana, it will make Dutch and British colonization re-emerge with terrible racism and contempt for racial minorities, though the pillaging wouldn’t be used with slaves and indentured labourers, but lopsided oil contracts and prison labour.

      Whites have cause destruction, agony, suffering and pain where ever they go.

  • Mark  On February 13, 2018 at 12:36 am

    White Americans use their ‘freedom of speech’ to ridicule the plight of the impoverished in Haiti. This is what whites think of us:

    while the whites in Haiti live in 4 storey mansions.

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