HomeSociétéTogether Against The Disaster Capitalism For An Intersectional Justice

Together Against The Disaster Capitalism For An Intersectional Justice

Together Against The Disaster Capitalism For An Intersectional Justice

On Monday, July 1, 2024, the Karl Lévêque Cultural Institute participated in a workshop on Disaster Capitalism in Jamaica. His representative spoke about the situation in Haiti. We decided to publish this intervention, even though time constraints prevented the presentation from being done exactly as it was written.

I will greet each representative of the organization in the workshop physically, regardless of the country of origin. We regret that there are representatives of organizations that are not present with us for various reasons: ecological threats or the difficulties that exist for people to circulate in the world properly.

I am talking about Haiti today in a context where at the end of June an international military mission entered the country. A first delegation of 400 Kenyan soldiers has landed in the purported purpose of bringing peace. While we know that Haiti’s insecurity is the result of a miscalculation designed to destroy the country.

Unfortunately, there are brother countries in the Caribbean region that agree to send their own delegation to this mission. We can come back to that later.
My intervention has 2 parts. At first, I will emphasize 3 major axes that will help us understand the serious situation of Haiti today, without leaving aside the reality of the Caribbean region, because our history is similar in many aspects. After that I will outline some measures that must be taken, a way for Haiti and other countries in the region to get justice against the exploitation and domination they have suffered in their history.

3 axes to understand the situation of Haiti and the region

1- Colonization and occupation experience

We must remember that Haiti was born on January 1, 1804, after more than 3 centuries of colonial exploitation of this territory and all the population that lived on it. For more than 3 centuries, one after the other, the Spanish, English and French colonizers looted the territory, mistreated the autochthonous population and those they went looking for in Africa as part of the trade operation of people who carried the name Tret negrije. On November 18, 1803, their ancestors won independence in the Battle of Vertière. Twenty years after the proclamation of independence, Charles X, King of France, imposed a ransom of 150 million gold francs on Haiti to recognize the independence. Since then, Haiti has been borrowing money all day long from other countries or international financial institutions. These credit conditions contribute to putting the country on its belly. For example, almost 13% of the country’s budget for the fiscal year 2023-2024 will be used to pay off debt.

The independence of Haiti against Napoleon’s army did not make the power of colonialism, slavery, imperialism and segregationism good at all. This is how it always happens in history: the forces that exploit and dominate never encourage the forces that stand against exploitation and domination. On top of that, they never stop creating the conditions to continue exploiting and dominating. It is in the logic that US soldiers landed in Haiti in July 1915, on the pretext of protecting US interests that would be under the threat of political instability. These soldiers established an occupation on the country for 19 years. This occupation represents another important moment in the looting of the country’s resources. We must also say that these are the same American soldiers who entered the National Bank of the country in December 1914, to take away the country’s gold reserves which had a value of 500 thousand dollars at the time. We can say that this action was carried out in the same logic to make Haiti a slave to US capital in the first place and make the country still have debts to pay.

Put on top of all of this, we can’t help but underline the deforestation practices at the time of colonization and occupation that make Haiti very vulnerable to natural disasters. The colonizers cut down the trees in order to find space to plant coffee and cocoa which were the source of the country’s wealth. From 1915 to 1934, the American occupation also increased the country’s deforestation rate.

2- Crisis ecological

The process of capitalist accumulation that puts money before everything, even before human life, has great consequences especially on the countries that make them poor. As we know, in order for the big capitalist industries to produce, they do a lot of damage to the atmosphere through the amount of « greenhouse gas » they release. The concentration of these gases in the atmosphere is one of the factors leading to the current climate crisis. This is why we do not say climate change, because for us, the destruction of the environment as we observe it is not registered in the evolution of a historical time. It is the relationship between man and the environment that creates ecological threats that are like a sword of Damocles over our heads. While we are at this workshop, the Caribbean region is under the threat of Hurricane Beryl.

What is more serious in this situation, industrialized countries where there are many enterprises that do not stop destroying the atmosphere do not really act to solve the problem. Several protocols have already been signed in this regard, but the results do not mean much. On the contrary, more measures are being taken to continue and strengthen the process of destroying the atmosphere: – sell the right to pollute – use political and diplomatic channels to internationalize more industrial enterprises. On this last aspect, we remember that in 2012, under the power of former president Michel Joseph Martelly and his prime minister Laurent Salvador Lamothe, « Haiti is open for business » was a very fashionable slogan. This power was very interested in bringing multinational companies into the country, without consulting the population on the decision it was making, while the way its power made the decisions was not in the interest of the population. This is how the « Destination Ile-à-vache » project was blocked in the face of strong resistance from the Haitian peasants and other organizations in society. « Destination Ile-à-vache » was a project that wanted to make the Lavach Island area in the South of Haiti a touristic space, without respecting the priorities and demands of the population in this area.

All of this is to say that the ecological crisis that comes from the matrix of the process of capitalist accumulation has great consequences for Haiti, just like other countries in the region. We believe that this situation has led to organizations that have had great difficulties around them today. Capitalist industries that are multinational corporations are increasing their profits while destroying the environment. Many of them even have the right to not pay taxes or not pay the amount they have to pay. It is true that Haiti is not a country that has many multinational companies, but it serves a lot in the process of capitalist accumulation, by providing cheap labor, subcontracting or consuming almost everything they produce. On top of that, there is no real investment in the relevant public institutions to strengthen the country’s capacity to deal with the manifestations of the ecological crisis. As a result, Haiti and many countries in the region are still repairing the damage of ecological disasters, which is one of the situations that harms their progress.

3- Interference diplomacy and political dominance

Since the last 30 years, the countries that dominate Haiti have not stopped intervening in its politics. The Haitian government and the oligarchy cooperate a lot in this sense. Thus, responsibility is shared. The diplomacy of interference and political domination we are talking about began to become clear since the Coup against former president Jean Bertrand Aristide, September 29, 1991. During this coup, the US State Department appeared to be playing a middle game role while it took the opportunity to defend its own interests; 3 years later (October 1994), American soldiers brought Jean Bertrand Aristide back to the country. Can we think that this was done unconditionally? After that, in the various crises that the country has known, we have not stopped to confirm the presence of the ambassadors of the countries that are dominating Haiti. Often, a series of major decisions in the country are dictated by them, such as election results, changes in government, etc.

Moreover, the countries that are dominating Haiti use the diplomatic corridors to prevent it from creating and developing South-South partnerships with other countries, which could serve the nation’s interests more. We have several examples where the Haitian government makes a series of decisions that do not correspond to the history of Haiti’s relationship with other countries. One of the most recent cases happened in January 2019, where Haiti voted against Venezuela in the Organization of American States (OAS, in French). Before that, we remember how the United States embassy worked with the major oil companies to prevent Haiti from entering the Petrocaribe program in 2006. The Petrocaribe program is a cooperation agreement between Venezuela and various countries in the region, which allows these countries to buy oil and a condition that is really in their advantage.

For Haiti and other countries in the region to get justice

 We demand that measures be taken to repair the crime of slavery and the occupation of Haiti and other countries in the region suffered in their history.

 We require that measures be taken to repair the ecological damage done by the process of capitalist accumulation on the planet and to prevent threats.

 It is necessary for solidarity between the peoples, especially in the Caribbean, to force the countries that are dominating Haiti and other peoples in the region to change their approach, so that they know that these countries are adults at all levels.

Live a solid Caribbean!
Live respect in the relationship between people!
Long live Haiti!
Thank you very much.

Jamaica, July 1, 2024

Wisvel Mondélice
Cultural Institute Karl Lévêque

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