Reflections on Haiti (Part 1)

By Immortal Technique

I recently arrived home from Haiti. While I was there I worked in a few aspects of the relief effort including a solidarity mission to aid the Earthquake survivors. In addition to all of this myself, Cormega and Styles P participated in a show to support Haitian Hip Hop and rebuild the community. I would like to thank Arms Around Haiti and Hip Hop for Haiti for inviting me to be a part of this movement. While I was there I saw both devastation and rebuilding efforts. I also broke bread with people who had lost their entire family. Literally, everyone but them was deceased. Then there were those whose grief centered around losing a mother, father, brother, sister, son, or daughter as a direct result of what happened. It should make everyone reading this feel blessed to have anyone in his or her life. Think about that… Now think about it some more.

I saw so many different things as I walked through the slums and rode around Port-Au-Prince (as well as the area surrounding it.) I met mayors, townspeople, and the Arms around Haiti (Sobs staff) introduced me to several visionary Haitians with good ideas to rebuild the country that I am seriously considering investing my time into. But one of the most powerful experiences came to me when I was holding this little baby girl who couldn’t have been more than a year old. She was crying because she was hungry, thirsty and tired. I picked her up and she hugged onto me with the newfound control her young muscles had recently provided her. She was one of the many orphans that I met while I was there, and as I held her I wondered what the future would hold for this little precious life. Her father would never hold her again and rock her back and forth to sleep while whispering stories to her. She might find good hearted and righteous people to one day adopt her, but her father, the man who created her would never tell her that he loved her or that she was special, save for the length of a dream or a subconscious memory. So I told her in French that I loved her, that she was beautiful and that she was special to me. I gave her all my water and her young face was immediately full of focus and comfort. After a few minutes of holding her, she fell into slumber. I gave her back to her to a 11-year old girl who had also lost her parents and was acting like a surrogate mother to most of the younger children.

Then I looked at my hands, they seemed like such strong hands before I went to Haiti. Strong like my will that is made of iron, and my resolve, which I consider unbreakable. But the strength of this young adolescent Matriarch and her newfound responsibility served as God’s gentle reminder and it humbled greatly as I realized what she carried on her shoulders. I am a Revolutionary but rather than just going to places around the world to bring people freedom, I seem to find it among them. I felt great sadness leaving this place but I also felt anger at the things I saw. So I began to detail a few observations about Haiti and Revolutionary action associated with it in general. I wrote these things as I saw them or felt them but I waited until I was home for a few days so as to not elicit an emotional response but rather one of logic and understanding concerning the various things I saw.

The Spirit of Toussaint is Alive: Francois-Dominique Toussaint. Although the people have suffered here immensely, I still see their spirit still very strong, unbroken and defiant. Even though the sun floods the day with sweltering heat, the vast majority of people are working in some capacity. Many have their own small business or hustle and they take great pride in what they do. They find no shame in their work, however menial because, as it was told to me they felt blessed to have anyone to provide for. In the camps when dusk settles in, children play soccer with pieces of garbage tied up or maybe an old volleyball. They are survivalists as their history has taught them to be. The tent cities are home to usually 2 or 3 families per tent. Perhaps it is their past dealings with dictators sponsored by this nation, or by years of civil strife and a long Revolutionary history but they have become so resilient, so much so that they now serve as a personal inspiration to me of what mankind/orig.man can overcome.  

All about the Benjamin’s, Mon Cheri: Foreign Aid. That is a deceptive phrase. Many times the countries who, pledge money to a disaster-ridden nation are not giving that country money at all. They are really pledging the money to their corporation to rebuild the country at an inflated price set by the global conglomerate. It changes the very nature of what that means. Imagine if your house burnt down and I told the news and every local media outlet I was going to “donate” $100,000 to rebuild it. This is the catch the job really costs $20,000 to do. Yes, from the Capitalist pro business point of view I am providing a service that I deserve to be compensated for. But the characterization of what I am doing is purposefully altered so as to disguise the real motivation for “aiding” you. I’m not condemning the idea of foreign aid on a whole although there are aspects of it that create dependency and de facto vassals. But the system by which some of this “aid” is raised and distributed sometimes has little to do with anything resembling a humanitarian effort.

Let’s recap. I give you money, which you’re essentially giving back to me plus interest for doing something at twice the cost. I don’t give you fish anymore. That was Imperialism. This is Neo Liberalism, we teach you to fish, and collect 75% of the profit…forever. This system is actually the one that seems rational to first world powers now and is still implemented today all over the planet. Corporate Non-Govt Organizations (NGO’s) raise billions of dollars just to spend a fraction of that on the people who are actually affected and suffering. Then as if overpaying themselves wasn’t enough they act like they really did something. This system gives a bad name to real non-profit NGO’s and people that are selflessly doing something out of the kindness of their hearts. The Foreign Aid field is infested with corporate socialites and poverty pimps who troll around the mud with us dark people so you have something to talk about at your bourgeois industry parties. And where is the money going?

Waiting in Vain: Haitian Camp. There is about 12 Billion dollars of Aid, waiting to be distributed, (conveniently earning interest for someone by the way) and since world agencies (take your pick) do not trust the shell of government left in Haiti, the situation has spiraled into a game of tit for tat in some instances. Corruption is not relegated to the surviving members of a fractured government. The customs area has thousands of pieces of clothing and non-perishable food that is simply sitting in store-rooms because customs is sometimes demanding $8,000 (US) to allow it into the country. You read it right, $8,000 American dollars to let a few boxes of supplies collected by people like you into the country. There are organizations such as the one I was there with, and Wyclef’s ‘Yele’ that use their longstanding connections with local power players and government officials to navigate around these bureaucracies, but it made me wonder how many good hearted people’s donations were just sitting there in some hangar collecting mold and dust. The supplies I handed out, the stuff I brought myself to give to people, the houses we put people in seemed like a good first step but now I wish more than anything to return and really make an impact having studied the situation. (* I remember after the Earthquake happened the mainstream media did a few stories criticizing smaller Aid Organizations on the ground and encourage people to direct their donation to the Major ones. Now I wonder if it was to promote efficiency or was it to safeguard their corporate partners monopoly?)

Children’s Story: In Haiti, child trafficking is still going on, because it’s a lucrative business. It hasn’t stopped just because the news has stopped covering it, this right here is still happening. I have even heard rumors about aid workers trading food for sex with little girls and boys. I’m not repeating these charges to try and substantiate them in any way. Because I hope they’re a lie, or at worst an exaggeration of an isolated incident. Far be it for me to try and pass innuendo off as fact but when you hear something like that from dozens of people from different walks of life, it makes you think. The reality after the Earthquake was that many of these children were (and still are) stolen and shipped out immediately or taken over to the Dominican Republic whose government is also very corrupt and sold to every corner of the world. Sad to think that the nation that showed the world that a successful slave revolution was possible has its sons and daughters sold into slavery in 2010. More info at: http://myspace.com/immortaltechnique & http://twitter.com/immortaltech

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Categories: International News, Political History, Racism

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