|Nou se roz, nou pliye, nou pa kase.|
One must constantly ask out loud, “How much can the people of Haiti take?” It seems like the little country gets more than its fair share of tragedy and suffering. Last year, Haiti was hit with an earthquake of devastating proportions. The rainy season came before it could recover. The latest in their living nightmare was the unexpected return of Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier.
The terrorist regime of the Duvaliers (Papa Doc and Baby Doc) lasted for almost 30 years and, with the assistance of the U.S., accelerated the economic instability of the country, from which it has never recovered. Transparency International reports that Baby Doc embezzled between $300-800 million from the Haitian treasury before getting the boot in 1986. Human Rights organizations believe that between 60,000-100,000 Haitians were murdered under the Duvaliers’ rule while thousands more were jailed and tortured.
And while Baby Doc claims to have returned to help in the reconstruction of Haiti, the best that he can do for the country is to accept the punishment for his crimes and do his time. That would close one ugly chapter of Haitian history.
Three hundred thousand people killed in 33 seconds and over one million are still homeless without sanitation, clean water or proper shelter. An outbreak of cholera has taken the lives of over 3,000 Haitians. Where is the $13 billion that has been raised and/or pledged to aid in the reconstruction of the ravished country?
We are lucky to have a local, vibrant Haitian community. Recently, I attended the St. Louis Project for Haiti’s program to recognize the anniversary of the earthquake. I was especially struck by the main speaker’s story about his trip to Haiti after the quake. Halsey Julien, a nurse anesthetist, was able to use his skills to help his people, but he also remarked how the Haitian people were helping themselves. Every day, he saw the dignity and resilience of the Haitian people at a time when it would be totally understandable if their spirits were broken and their hope crushed by the enormity of the situation.
Many Haitians are calling for the return of democratically elected President Jean Bertrand Aristide, the end to U.S. and U.N. occupation, the end to the NGO charity industry and the end to Western-dominated exploitation of Haitian resources and lands. According to the World Bank, there are as many as 10,000 non-governmental agencies in Haiti who purport to be aiding and assisting the people. But are they really? The Haitian people have already started to challenge the over-saturation and motives of these organizations in their continued quest for self-determination.
Those of us in this country have our own crosses to bear as it relates to US exploitation and oppression in Haiti. The history of US aggression and destruction is long and naked. We must make this government respect the aspirations and sovereignty of the Haitian people. If we do our part here, it will definitely ease the pain and struggle of the Haiti.
Nou roz, nou pliye, nou pas kase. This is a Haitian saying that means, “Just like the strong winds may bend the bamboo tree, it never breaks.” The Haitian people may bend but they won’t break, and they will always stand back up.
BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board member, Jamala Rogers, is the leader of the Organization for Black Struggle in St. Louis and the Black Radical CongressNational Organizer. Click here to contact Ms. Rogers.