Slavery in Haiti

gdunkel at gdunkel at
Fri Nov 21 21:32:02 MST 2003

On 21 Nov 03, at 9:44, Louis Proyect wrote:
With Kim Ives and Pat Chin, I've been working on a book for the 
International Action Center & the Haiti Support Network to answer racist 
twadle, like the piece from the LA Times, which is consistent with over 
two hundred years of racist propaganda against Haiti.

The book "Haiti: A Slave Revolution" is currently at the printer and it is 
tentaively due back the second week of December.  I intend to post large 
sections of it and will announce where it can be read online as soon as it 
is available.

But since it is not currently online, I am going to include some of the 

As the bicentennial of Haiti's independence approached, we 
considered how to commemorate this singular event in the history of 
the world, the successful revolution in Haiti against the French slave 
owners. Just holding a meeting or a series of meetings didn't seem to 
be enough. So we decided to write a book to mark Haiti’s 200 years 
of struggle against racism and colonialism, to mark the only time slaves 
managed to rise up, break their chains and set up a new state and 
social order that reflected some of their aspirations and hopes.

The mainstream press and the politicians say they celebrate the 
bicentennial of the world's first Black republic and its achievements. 
But they explain its poverty and political instability by pointing to "poor 
leadership," a lack of  "democratic traditions" and isolation due to 
geography and language.

This book is going to combat 200 years of racist indoctrination and 
propaganda about the Haitian Revolution. It is essential to challenge 
these stereotypes in order to build true, informed solidarity with Haiti.

Chapters in this book point out how the United States and other 
imperialist powers like France and Germany have persecuted, 
exploited and from time to time, occupied Haiti and how the Haitian 
people have resisted by any means possible.

At least half of Haiti's population in 1790 were killed before 1812 and 
still the Haitian people won. They crushed France's genocidal attempt 
to re-enslave them by crushing Napoleon's army. This hard-won 
victory meant Haiti was a beacon of hope and inspiration to enslaved 
African people of the United States, even after they obtained their 
freedom. Frederick Douglass, the famous Black abolitionist who was 
the U.S. consul in Port-au-Prince in the 1880s, expressed this clearly 
in a speech, included in this book.

This book is not a traditional history of Haiti. It's a people's history. 
We link historical events to current realities and show a continuity of 
oppression and resistance.

This book exposes some little known and carefully hidden history. For 
example, how the slave-owning George Washington got his slave-
owning secretary of state Thomas Jefferson to send $400,000 -- a 
vast sum at the time -- to support the slave-owners of Haiti in their 
vain attempt to put down the revolt. We connect this, the first 
significant foreign aid the United States ever granted, to the millions 
the U.S. gave Marc Bazin, a former World Bank Official, to run 
against Aristide in his first campaign. 

The Jefferson-Washington grant and the money granted to Bazin are 
the historical precedents for the funds the International Republican 
Institute gives to fund the so-called Democratic Convergence, which 
opposes the current Aristide government. 

We include the explanation given by Ben Dupuy, the leader of the 
National Popular Party, of why the United States invaded Haiti in 
1994. We have an analysis of the huge demonstrations that the Haitian 
community in the United States held to protest the coup against 
Aristide, police brutality and how they were stigmatized using the 
AIDS hysteria. These were not just demonstrations, they were also 
one-day strikes.

Fleurimond W. Kerns, a columnist for Haïti-Progrès, points out in his 
chapter on the birth of the Haitian flag that the Congress of Arcahaie 
in 1803 was the occasion when the more privileged sectors in the 
Haitian revolution put themselves under the command of the most 
oppressed. Former U.S. Attorney-General Ramsey Clark, who is the 
founder of the IAC and investigated the 1991 coup as a member of 
the Haiti Commission, has an overview of Haitian history. 

We were very happy when Local USWA 8751, representing Boston 
school bus drivers and monitors, a union which is 75% Haitian, asked 
to contribute a chapter.  about how the struggle that the Haitian 
working class in the diaspora has waged against racism and U.S. 
colonialism has been part and parcel of the local's daily activity.

We hope the translations from two of Haiti’s most celebrated poets – 
Paul Laraque and the late Félix Morisseau-Leroy – will give the 
reader an impression of the Creole language’s beauty and imagery and 
how Haitian poets raise political themes.

We could not cover every aspect of Haitian history we would have 
liked: for example, Haiti's intervention in the Dominican Republic, 
which ended slavery there; the cacos' struggle against the U.S. 
occupation from 1916 to 1922; the mass uprisings against the U.S. 
occupation in the late '20s and early '30s. We wanted to focus on the 
impact Haiti has and has had on the United States. 

We hope this book builds a better understanding of Haiti’s importance 
in the history of this hemisphere, and indeed, the world.


> LA Times, Nov. 21, 2003
> A Nation Loses Its Childhood
> In Haiti, 200 years after a successful slave rebellion, thousands of rural
> children work for the urban poor for no wages and little else.
> Foreign relief workers and Roman Catholic charities lately have been 
> encouraging Haiti's child slaves to come out of the shadows to seek help —
> and to expose a century-old practice that has subjected them to shocking
> abuse. Their growing numbers have prompted questions about whether the
> world's only successful national slave rebellion 200 years ago was really a
> victory.

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