On a trip to New York City by plane at LaGuardia Airport I grabbed a cab to take me to my hotel in Manhattan. I entered into a conversation with the taxi driver who was from Haiti. I forget most of the details now. His anwer concerning how he arrived in the United States had him telling of a perilous trip involving much danger. It brought him to Canada and then the United States.
I do recall saying to him that he must be a brave man having gone through that ordeal. He smiled. Then he said to me, “it is not people like me that are brave it is the people who have remained behind.” That pretty much said all I had to know about that country.
Haiti has been in and out of the American news since it drove out the French soldiers and declared itself independent in 1804. The Southern slave owners never let it leave the backs of their minds thinking that if it happened there it may happen here. We loaned it large sums in 1910 which it could never pay back. A group of American businessmen invested heavily there. In 1914 they began a campaign to convince the US government it was necessary to invade Haiti and seize its assets to protect their loans. That we did transferring Haiti’s gold to a Wall Street bank.
The country remained in turmoil. One president executing another getting executed himself. The U. S became concerned when the revolt threatened American businesses sugar interest and an anti-American leader emerged as leading contender to be the next president. We would end up sending the Marines in to install our own Haitian president in 1915. We ruled the country with a brutal hand. We stayed until 1934 almost as long as in Afghanistan. After we departed we left a mess behind us. From 1957 onward for 30 years the Duvaliers ran the country with hard handed tactics. In 1994 we sent troops back in who were later replaced by the United Nations.
We not only poured in troops but money. The elite did fine, most of the folk lived in poverty amid much violence. As my taxi driver said, the brave ones remain for who would want to live under those conditions? You would think we learned a lesson from our misadventures in Haiti.
Now the assassination of President Moise. It is not too hard to figure out what happened. From the accounts that I have read it is probable to conclude a group of ex-soldiers from Colombia who speak Spanish and two Haitian Americans who speak Creole were recruited to come to Haiti as security guards to protect Christian Emmanuel Sanon, a Haitian person who lived in Miami before going to Haiti in May. The group which he was part of had made plans to overthrow the government of President Moise and install Sanon as its president. That group has not been fully identified.
It realized that Sanon when he got to Haiti would need protection so it recruited the Colombians and 2 US guys as security, the latter would interpret for the Colombians. That the group did for a month or so. Within the group of security guards unbenounced to the others were a pair of assassins. The security guards on July 7 were told an arrest warrant had been issued for President Moise. They were to go to his home and arrest him. They arrived there announcing they were DEA agents. Some went in, including the assassins, and murdered him. Most were dupes. I believe that will be cleared up as to who did what but the outcome for all remains murky.
Those behind Sanon must be identified and prosecuted, in U.S. courts if they are U.S. citizens otherwise in Haiti. It is right, as we are doing, to assist the Haitian authorities in their search for those involved.
Beyond that we can do little. Especially there can be no troops nor money, the latter ending up in the wrong pockets. We are unable to save Haiti from itself. Perhaps no one can. The great majority of Haitians are fine, hard working people. Among them live their oppressors. They must root them out. That they have not done so and the United States inept involvements is the story of their country.