CaribWorldNews, NEW YORK, NY, Tues. Jan. 26, 2010: We should always keep in perspective the United States` initial response to a free independent Haiti. With slave owner Thomas Jefferson in The White House the response was horror.
The incomprehensible idea that Black men and women would control their own future and live as free people and govern a nation was in fact a direct assault on colonialism and slavery and Jefferson did everything possible to stop the `madness.`
The United States boycotted and placed an embargo on Haiti and worked to overthrow the new Haitian government to return it to white European control.
While Thomas Jefferson is long dead and the United States is far more powerful and enlightened 200 years later, Haiti is poorer and more hopeless than at any time in the last 200 years. Why should we think that after the worst earthquake in Haiti in over 200 years, the situation in Haiti is even worse?
Why should we believe things will become far better than they have ever been for Haitians? Is it finally time for a Hamiltonian plan for Haiti`s future? So what will it really take now for Haiti to become a free fully functioning nation?
Nothing less than a radical new approach; one there is no reason to believe the United States government or the world community is prepared to undertake.
What is the `radical` solution? Real capitalism for Haiti that will take the place of paternalism and colonialism. The only way Haiti will change is if it has a real economy – functioning companies inside Haiti furnishing much of what Haitians needs and widespread employment and income for Haitians along with improved education, health services and government with a 21st century physical and electronic infrastructure.
The last thing Haiti needs if it is ever to be a functioning country with a real future for its citizens is massive amounts of outside products and services for years to be brought in by foreign governments and foreign corporations and NGOs continuing to `preserve` Haiti as a welfare state far below the poverty line and continuing to produce a listless population with no future.
If there is going to be a REAL change it will start with the clean up. The first order of business for the new Haiti will be clearing away the incredible devastation caused by the earthquake. How is that going to be accomplished?
Are huge American based multi-nationals like Halliburton along with huge Chinese companies and others going to be awarded billion dollar contracts to bring massive equipment and their own work force to Haiti to clear away all the rubble?
Or are tens of thousands of Haitians going to be given jobs and paid weekly salaries to do the clean up themselves? If it is going to be business as usual, Haitians are going to be left sitting idly by the sides of the road doing nothing while huge international companies are brought in to clear the millions of tons of debris.
Or is the clean up going to be utilized to create more jobs and circulate more funds through the local economy that has ever been seen in all of Haitian history until now? The billion dollar plus clean-up could begin the process of creating a real economy for Haiti for the first time ever while clearing away the broken past in preparation for a huge re-building program.
Even as the tons of debris are still being moved as areas are cleared in parts of Port–au-Price and elsewhere in Haiti not devastated by the earthquake there will be tremendous need for new housing to replace tent cities for all the hundreds of thousands of Haitians made homeless by the earthquake, not to mention all the other Haitian who live in nothing better than sub-standard shacks.
Are we going to witness the clean up huge international companies and international `humanitarian` groups awarded billion dollar contracts to ship in pre-fabricated housing built in factories far outside Haiti? Or are factories and the housing itself going to be built right in Haiti training and employing tens of thousands of Haitians to do so?
Are Haitians going to be trained in sophisticated farming techniques and supplied the tools they need to feed themselves or is American agri-business going to dump even more of its excess crops on Haiti.
Of course new housing and farming is just part of what needs to be a far more complex rebuilding that will include sewers, electricity, roads and all the infrastructure real functioning cities and communities are build on. Likewise schools, court houses, government buildings, commercial structures, broadcast studios, new hospitals and clinics with locally trained medical personnel
and on and on.
All of it will either be built locally or shipped in from elsewhere far away. If it is done at all, will it be foreign workers or Haitians who will do the re-building? Which will it be?
The fact is the re-building of Haiti needs to be as a 21st century society be it still modest by our standards – a functioning society is the golden opportunity to create a robust economy and society. That is if the world and the United States does something very different here. Or rather do what it can be expected to do revert to paternalism and colonialism.
For starters, Haiti needs a master plan that has at its core the Haitian people and their real needs for jobs and a better economy. The first obvious indeed necessary step is for President Obama to issue a directive which states how the United States will participate in the clean up and rebuilding of Haiti addressing the basic issues discussed here.
Is this effort going to be Haitian-centric or foreign based? Tell us President Obama. We all need to know. Most of all Haitians need to know right away but all of us as well.
A basic directive from The White House will become the basic decision document which will define how and who re-builds Haiti. Where and how are the billions of dollars to be pledged by the United States and governments around the world to be spent? And what practices will we encourage and which will we discourage?
A new Haiti is not going to be fully formed in 6 months or a year or even 5 but 10 years is certainly a realistic time frame for a 21st century Haiti which is radically different from the non-functioning Haiti of today. There is no good reason that Haiti cannot become a thriving island nation any less so than other thriving small countries around the world. At least the equal of the Dominican Republic, with which it shares the large island of Hispaniola.
There is absolutely no reason why Haiti, only a few hundred miles away from the U.S. continues be the poorest most backward country in the Western Hemisphere. That should be intolerable but it has been the case for generations and nothing the United States has done so far has changed this reality.
For those who would still raise the argument, the problem lies with the victims – Haitians themselves and they will never change – that is comparable to saying Haitians are sub-human the very same way slaves were described.
The fact, however, is if you were forced to live your life in this hopeless environment as a virtual slave you would lose all your energy and motivation. Likewise Haitians who have migrated elsewhere have records of success and live lives very different than they did in Haiti. Because wherever else they have settled they have reflected these more developed countries.
The best kind of re-building program will be a tremendous inducement for successful expatriate Haitians to return home, bring their skills, experience and success with them; attracted by low interest business loans and outright grants to create new companies inside Haiti.
Hopelessness begets hopelessness. Colonialism begets colonialism. Time to break the cycle of despair in Haiti with real Capitalism; the kind of nation building that makes sense for Haiti, the United States and the entire world.
It is no mystery the world`s biggest problems and scourges drugs and terrorism are rooted in the world`s poorest and most backward nations. Haiti can prove there is a better way for all of them.
As promising and resource rich as the young United States was in the 1780s, it was a nation falling apart near disintegration and probable re-colonization by European powers. Until an American Giant, an immigrant born of the Caribbean named Alexander Hamilton, rescued our nation with his financial and economic plan for America`s future. It`s time to bring Alexander Hamilton`s spirit to Haiti! – Commentary by Arthur Piccolo/Special To CWNN.
EDITOR`S NOTE: The following is a series of observations being written by Mr. Piccolo titled the Haiti Chronicles. See related prior pieces at: