NEWS & VIEWS OF PHILLIPS SINCE 1976
Saturday December 14th 2019

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Moment of Silence

By Peter Molenaar

Even as these words are written, another beneath the rubble has given up the ghost. The remaining resistance is fading…
Flashback to 1803. Given a plague of wars, Napoleon Bonaparte’s France is a financial wreck. Concurrently, measures to maintain order in the lucrative sugar colony of Haiti are in jeopardy. Hence, the sale of some 828,000 square miles of “French territory” appears to be prudent (our own neighborhood is but a small parcel of this Louisiana Purchase). Every Haitian child knows the story.
Note: Following the logic of ancestral events, it appears that many of us owe our existence to the Haitian slave revolt!

Now see January 12, 2010. Nearly 12,000 registered nurses have volunteered for Haiti disaster relief—some 300 from Minnesota. They stand ready as the largest contingent of RN volunteers in U.S. history. National Nurses United is working around the clock to find deployment locations. “Medical facilities are completely overwhelmed…we are doing everything in our power to get these nurses engaged”, so states the NNU.

Time will tell. These nurses deserve a massive outpouring of respect from the whole of Organized Labor. They are the advanced guard of the moment. But the pitiful truth is, as of this writing, the logistics of deployment remain unresolved.

Now, flash back to 1804. The people of Haiti have the audacity to break their slave chains and to declare independence. Meanwhile, Lewis and Clark commence the expedition which paves the way for the westward expansion of the United States of America.
Yet beneath the imperial eye of the “master race”…

But again the French came knocking—this time to extort compensation for the “loss of property” i.e. payment for lost slaves (lives stolen from Africa) and payment for lost land (land stolen from the Arawak).

Question: How does a debt burden of $150 million Francs calculate over the course of two centuries? Every Haitian child knows the answer.

And so, what else? There was the U.S. military occupation (1915, 1934) followed by the big-time backing of the “Papa Doc”/”Baby Doc” ruthless dictatorships (conveniently anti-communist). More recently, there were two U.S. sponsored coups against elected governments and the imposition of a trade policy which forced the peasants from the land—yes, crammed them into Port-au-Prince, ultimately to be buried alive. A moment of silence, please.

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