Biden expels Haitians, latest sign of foreign takeover

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A man carries planks of wood on Route Nationale 1 near Canaan on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince.

Hector Retamal / AFP / Getty Images

About the authors: Chisler joseph is from Haiti and a graduate student at the University of Florida. Jason von meding is a professor at the Rinker School of Construction Management at the University of Florida.

Colonization. Invasion and occupation. Brutal dictators receive international support. Coups and political interference. Help ineffective. This is how external power was imposed on Haiti.

The world watched with horror as the US border patrol intimidated Haitian asylum seekers on the southern border. The Biden administration attempted to repatriate as many of them as possible to a country facing political uncertainty, violence and the effects of disasters caused by an earthquake and tropical storm in August. The administration’s actions led Dan Foote, the United States’ special envoy to Haiti, resign this week.

As built environment professionals and researchers, we are deeply interested in how disasters are shaped by where and how we build, which often defines the severity of impacts and, therefore, the response. necessary in the event of devastation. But an even bigger problem may be who respond. Our point of view is that foreigners must step back and let Haitians lead the recovery of the country.

In Haiti, the disaster response has been systematically based on the tales of foreigners who see the country as a place of poverty and crime that prompts calls for “more aid” and, recently, for “better aid” – which only serves to promote dependence on foreigners. . Foreigners bring rice, the rice seller is bankrupt. Foreigners bring shoes, the shoemaker is bankrupt. Strangers bring clean water bottles, the convenience store is closed. Build houses on land without tenure, civil unrest ensues. Endorse some form of Eurocentric governance over a group of Afro-centric people and cognitive dissonance ensues, with fragmented and corrupt institutions.

And yet, outsiders continue to make important decisions that affect all Haitians. Misguided interventions and sympathy are paternalistic and so often lead to the violent imposition of the will of donors, professionals and corporations on those affected by disaster. The $ 13 billion in aid pledged to Haiti after suffering a major earthquake in 2010 was supposed to help the country recover and provide it with a stable future. But few resources reached people on the ground or strengthened the country’s institutions, largely because Haitians were not really allowed to make decisions afterwards – Haitians on the Interim Haiti Reconstruction Commission led by Clinton Claim that they were only there to approve external agendas.

Being billed as an “aid state” does not benefit Haiti, but the arrangement is hugely profitable for many foreigners. It has contributed to a situation of permanent deprivation for most Haitians, compounded by centuries of exploitation and foreign interference. Aid-type initiatives, especially when they undermine self-determination – for example, by pushing to keep the minimum wage low in the service of American corporate interests – may sound good but do not represent justice.

Foreigners must reckon with their complicity in the creation and perpetuation of systems of corruption and oppression in Haiti. The list of historical injustices inflicted on Haitians is long – from the Spanish and French colonization to the brutal US occupation of 1915-1934 and the agricultural policies that benefited American farmers but destroyed food security and independence. Haitian women – and we cannot claim that the exploitation has stopped. . While Haitians welcome resources from outside in support of disaster recovery and development in general, they also advocate that these resources be provided unconditionally.

Haiti is much richer and stronger than the image of impoverished people seeking help that the media and outside organizations often give. An example of this is the informal city of Canaan, which the creativity, dynamism and solidarity of ordinary Haitians have given birth to and prosper, with the support of NGOs ready to support local efforts.

Most of the new jobs in Haiti are created by small local businesses. While Haiti maintains an open stance towards foreign investment, the seeds of a diverse and self-sufficient economy lie within local communities. The position of foreigners must be shifted in this new recovery effort, allowing Haitians to take center stage and define their own goals through community initiatives.

It is not easy to take a step back as a professional, as an academic, as an expert. Beyond the required humility, this type of approach is based on solidarity rather than charity. We must be aware of the wrongs perpetrated against Haitians by outsiders in the name of “development” and support Haitians as they lead the way in providing a deeply and uniquely Haitian recovery response.

Guest comments like this are written by authors outside of the Barron’s and MarketWatch newsroom. They reflect the views and opinions of the authors. Submit comments and other comments to [email protected]


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