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Diary: Neighbors

Marassa nou nan nwa e (bis)

Marassa Ginen nou nan nwa devan bondye

Dossou Marassa pote chandel pou klere nou”

“Marassa we are in the dark (bis)

Marssa from Guinea we are in the dark in front of God

Dossou Marassa bring the lamp to shine upon us”

The Marassa, descendants of mawu and lisa from west Africa, are invoked after Legba in Haitian Vodou. Legba is asked of from sevite, Haitian creole for servants, to open up the gate to access the loas, or deities. Then come the Marassa, which are especially invoked to weigh in on and intervene in issues pertaining to children. An offering must be made to the Marassa, candies, popcorn, on a banana leaf. They are twin deities, sometimes triplets, eternally playful.

In our case, the child in question is a world a world freshly born with the end of European colonialism and the birth of widespread neo-colonialism in the mid 20th century. This child is oppressed by the system that finances it, international finance and its tool national governments, and this is not breaking news. The “third world” debt crisis that came with loans being forced on nations weakened the countries that make up this child of a new world. Today this child is the “planet of slums” that Mike Davis speaks about; from Port-au-Prince to New Delhi, capitalism is primarily working for classic white patriarchal supremacy, and secondly for local elites who are complicit. Our contemporary global human world is primarily the product of vicious capitalist relations of production wherein the rich dominate everyone else aided and abetted by the departments of states, foreign secretariats and ministries. “This gourd is cracked in 7 places” is how poet Lyonel Trouillot would put it, on a planet that produces enough and has enough space for us all. Most of us can point to the capitals of this genocidal inequity: New York City, London, Beijing, etc, the usual suspects. Furthermore, this oppression, neoliberalism some will call it, violence being my prefered term, is empowering capitalist elites through political capital and capital capital, an empowerment that expresses itself through fascist politics. This fascism, rooted in international finance, is producing a state of affairs that will lead to war and misery. Just look at how we center of international finance affect our neighbor Haiti.

The Haitian Economy

Take Haitian American relations as an example of American internationalism, relations that go back to the late 18th century, began by Toussaint L’ouverture during Haiti’s revolutionary war against the French, through contradictory years of FDR’s Good Neighbor Policy. Is it not absurd that a country that close to the US, geographically and politically, is this poor? How is that the wealthiest economy is a neighbor to a country wherein the majority of the population suffers from malnutrition? As Auguste D’meza, a leading Haitian sociologist and political analyst says, “the white person at the Department of State is much more interested in working with the fair haired Westerner than with the majoritarily black Haiti as equals”. Classically an agricultural society that could always feed itself even when as politics were a brand of Caribbean caudillismo, today over 70% of the population suffers from malnutrition. Today Haitians are nostalgic about Papa Doc’s perversely and criminally paternalistic state because the society after “Operation Restore Democracy” that saw Bill Clinton restore Jean Bertrand Aristide in power as President in Haiti as a trojan horse for economic imperialism, which the US participates in heavy handedly, having the largest embassy on the third of an island, is that bad. As Raoul Peck notes, Haiti went from being a rice basket to a big consumer of Arkansas rice with “Operation Restore Democracy”. This same Haiti was racially and ethnically profiled as an H in the original HHHH name to Aids. Guantanamo prison was created to lock up this same Haiti’s “dangerous” migrants. Perhaps it descends from Thomas Jefferson’s refusing to recognize Haiti, or American Hero William Jennings Bryan’s explaining Haitians as “niggers speaking french”. Why does the US continue invest billions in the largely white power elite (with a vast architectural preservation policy to “protect” whiteness and a Nazi party) Dominican Republic, that partly immigrated from Cuba with their capital during the Cuban revolutionary war for independence, but not in Haiti? Why did this investment began in the middle of the 20th century, when Haiti was a better off country than the Dominican Republic? Perhaps or is because the investing in the DR makes more financial (racial) sense to some.

Cowboy Diplomacy

What’s worse is that American favoritism walks hand in hand with the State Department’s love for facilitating, mediating, and participation in financing and sanctioning the global economy, manifested in American control of global finance institutions such as the World Bank. This has led to Eurocentrism in continued power, NATO’s existence despite the military budgets in Europe, Europe’s continued domination in Africa (Francafrique for example). As Samir Amin notes, the American military complex traditionally provides the arms needed for (xenophobic) Eurocentrism to dominate.

There are much more examples and they are in now way obscure. The tricontinental, third world project, and the non-aligned movement were all formed to combat this racist colonialism that has not missed a beat and continues to this day. How do we stop this? We must finance the world democratically.