NewsFrom: by I.K. Cush - GlobalBreakingNews.com
02 Feb 2011 06:00 am
In 1801, Napoleon Bonaparte of France ordered his foreign minister, Charles Maurice de Talleyrand, to inform the English government, with whom he (Bonaparte) was negotiating a peace treaty, that: "My decision to destroy the authority of the blacks in Haiti is not so much based on considerations of commerce and money, as on the need to block forever the march of blacks in the world." Haiti at that time was governed by formerly enslaved Africans who had earlier routed the Spanish, British and French armies during the Haitian revolution which had begun, ten years earlier, in 1791.
Napoleon's suggestion that commerce and money were unimportant was, at best, disingenuous. During that period of history, Haiti generated one quarter of France's global profits and Napoleon was not about to lose that to, what he considered, some lowly Africans who had humiliated his much-vaunted army.
However, Napoleon still wanted to "block forever the march of blacks in the world" so he sought succor from the ‘Anglosphere.' The ‘Anglosphere' is defined by Ted Bromund of the American conservative think tank, the Heritage Foundation - ranked as one of the most influential economic and social policy think tanks in the world - as constituting "the values that have created the modern international state system of which the U.S. and Great Britain are leading members." Countries which are members of this ‘Anglosphere,' according to Bromund, were founded on the values of liberty, self-government, the rule of law and the right to private property.
What cant! For, alongside those self-righteous and rhetorical values were also the values of enslavement and mass murder of African people and the grand theft of Africa's resources. The French slave owners were especially barbaric and gruesome: they exploded gunpowder in the anuses of enslaved African men and the vaginas of enslaved African women who were recaptured after escaping from their slave plantations.
It was those shared "values" which motivated the British, the Dutch, the Spanish, the Portuguese and the Americans to destroy the first free African nation in the modern era. According to Dr. Hilary Beckles of the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, after the Haitian revolution, the country asserted in Article 44 of its 1805 Independence Constitution "that any black person or indigenous native who arrived on the shores of Haiti would be immediately declared free and a citizen of the republic." More significantly, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, Haiti's leader at the time, offered captains of slave ships forty dollars per head for their enslaved African victims if they diverted their ships, en route from Africa to the Caribbean and the United States, to Haiti. Many captains took advantage of Dessalines's offer.
Haiti's constitutional provision undermined the economic viability of the slave-holding states in the region - the United States, England, Spain, Holland and Portugal - for Haiti now provided a geographic space to which enslaved Africans could flee without fear of being returned to their mutilation and death. And, that is precisely what happened. After 1804, thousands of enslaved Africans fled Jamaica, the Bahamas, Central and South America for Haiti and freedom.
Haiti was, therefore, isolated at birth, according to Dr. Beckles, "ostracized and denied access to world trade, finance and institutional development," by the European slave-holding nations and America, much like Zimbabwe is today. Dr. Beckles explained that "the French refused to recognize Haiti's independence and declared it an illegal pariah state. The Americans refused to recognize them and offered solidarity, instead, with the French. The British, who were negotiating with the French to obtain the ownership title to Haiti, also moved in solidarity, as did every other nation-state in the Western world."
By 1825, Haiti's economy was in a tailspin and its political leadership was isolated. With an economy teetering on the brink, the Haitian government invited representatives of the French government to Haiti. Dr. Beckles explains what happened next: "French officials arrived and told the Haitian government that they were willing to recognize the country as a sovereign nation but it would have to pay compensation and reparations in exchange. The Haitians, with backs against the wall, agreed. The French government sent a team of accountants and actuaries into Haiti in order to place a value on all lands, all physical assets, the 500,000 citizens who were formerly enslaved, animals, and all other commercial properties and services."
The French valued "their" assets at 150 million gold francs which the Haitians were compelled to pay in exchange for recognition. Final payment wasn't made until 1947 - one hundred and twenty two years later. Haiti's payment amounted to the equivalent of approximately 70% of the country's foreign earnings throughout the 19th century and part of the 20th century.
What cruel irony - the victims of French mass murder and grand theft were forced to pay for France's crimes; much like a rape victim paying her rapist so that she can leave her house, attend school, go to work, start a family, and otherwise get on with her life.
The present value of Haiti's extortion payments to France is 22 billion dollars. Exiled Haitian president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, demanded that money from the French government in 2004. Because of his demand, "French soldiers, with the military help of the United States and Canada" overthrew President Aristide and forced him into exile, according to attorney Ezili Danto of the Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network. President Aristide now lives in South Africa.
Danto revealed that, upon arriving in Haiti in 2004, French soldiers went to Vertieres, in the north of Haiti, and "pushed the Haitian peasants off the land, at gunpoint, and re-claimed the area for their heretofore beaten slave-owning French fore-parents." Vertieres was the site of the last major battle of the Haitian revolution which was fought on November 18, 1803. It was led by Jean-Jacques Dessalines who defeated, ignominiously, the French army led by General Rochambeau.
How does Zimbabwe fit into this picture? In 2008, an "Anglospheric" cabal - the self-described "international community," - attempted to impose its will on the United Nations. This group of countries, led by the United States and the United Kingdom, wanted the United Nations Security Council to support a U.S.-sponsored resolution which would have tightened the U.S.'s economic stranglehold on Zimbabwe. In addition to the U.S. and the U.K., Belgium, France and Italy supported the resolution.
And, in 2010, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia opposed the sale of Zimbabwe's diamonds on the global market. Zimbabwe's recent diamond find constitutes, according to industry experts, 25% of global reserves, the sale of which will generate some $500 million in monthly revenues.
However, unlike 1804 when the nascent "modern international state system," crafted by slave-owning states, imposed its will on an independent but isolated Haiti, Zimbabwe was not alone. The African Union, led by South Africa and Libya - along with China and Russia - permanent members of the U.N. Security Council - and Vietnam - voted against the U.N. resolution. And, 72 member-countries of the 75-member Kimberly Process - the U.N.-mandated organization established to ensure the orderly extraction of diamonds - voted down the US-led effort to further strangle Zimbabwe economically. Those countries that opposed the US-led cabal included all diamond-producing African countries, Russia and India.
The historical parallels between Haiti and Zimbabwe are striking. Like Haiti in 1804, Zimbabwe is governed by formerly oppressed Africans. Like Haiti, the people of Zimbabwe won their independence by defeating a European colonial/settler army. Like Haiti in 1804, Zimbabwe is besieged by a coterie of morally bankrupt European nations determined to prevent the country from controlling its resources; thus, inspiring their fellow Africans across the continent to assert similar control, the same way Haiti inspired enslaved Africans to flee their enslavement in the Caribbean, Central and South American to freedom.
Had the U.N. resolution passed, member countries would have been compelled to enact legislation similar to the United States - in place since 2001 - which prohibits the World Bank, IMF and other international financial institutions from providing loans, lines-of-credit and loan guarantees to the Zimbabwean government, frustrating that government's program to improve and expand its healthcare and sanitation infrastructure, engage in institution building and otherwise focus on the business of delivering nation-building services to its citizens.
Had Zimbabwe been denied the opportunity to sell her diamonds, the country would have been unable to finance healthcare and sanitation improvements, expand educational opportunities for her citizens and engage in building institutional capacity.
Two hundred and eight years ago the Haitian revolution ushered in a new global paradigm: African people were masters of their destiny and slaves to no one. Two hundred years later Zimbabwe ushered in its new paradigm on the African continent: Europeans' grand theft of Africa's resources with impunity is over. Fortunately, unlike Haiti of 1804, the "Anglospheric" countries must now contend with a global family of nations that's no longer the passive victim of European and American suzerainty and imperial edacity.
The "modern international state system" imposed on the global community by the European slave states in the 18th and 19th centuries was an architecture of global white supremacy, designed to keep African people in a perpetual state of dependency and subservience. The catastrophic results of that centuries-old architecture are manifest in the aftermath of Haiti's earthquake. The lessons to be learned are manifold.
Dr. Molefi Asante of Temple University observed that one of the lessons "the Caribbean and African countries can learn is that when their infrastructures are weak and they have few credible institutions that people can count on, the impact of a natural disaster will be catastrophic. In Haiti's case, the fact that the last president was kidnapped and later exiled in South Africa by American and French forces means that no nation, without a strong military, can withstand the encroachment on its sovereignty in times of disasters of the magnitude of this earthquake."
Attorney Brian Concannon, director of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, added: "the best way for a nation to prepare for any natural disaster is to provide its citizens with basic government services such as housing, urban planning, healthcare, education and support for agriculture."
The consequences of the "Anglosphere" on African countries were devastating: inflation because of forced devaluation of Africa's currencies; food riots because of the removal of food subsidies; increased child mortality because of the removal of healthcare subsidies; less indigenous ownership of land and industries and higher unemployment because of forced privatizations; and, transfer of some 40% of African countries' budgets to the economies of Europe and America in the form of debt payments. Of course, the most devastating consequence of all is the inability of countries, such as Haiti, to develop an institutional capacity that can be deployed in the event of a natural disaster.
Zimbabwe has dumped the "Anglosphere" into the garbage heap of history. Its government has transferred most of its land and wealth from the white, settler minority to black Zimbabweans, much to the chagrin of the "Anglospheric" nations. Now, there are over 400,000 new, small-scale family farmers in the country; and, several thousand black businessmen and women who own commercial farms (tobacco, wheat, cotton), banks, insurance companies, mines, hotels and real estate companies.
Zimbabwe is the new paradigm for Africa: she has developed an institutional capacity which will enable her to respond to any natural disaster within her borders in a manner befitting a sovereign state.