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Haitians taking care of each other amidst earthquake, storm, and Presidential assassination

 By Barrington M. Salmon 

Despite having to withstand the assassination of a president, a devastating earthquake followed closely by a tropical storm, Prof. Bayyinah Bello expressed pride in the way her fellow Haitians dealt with the adversities. 

On the morning of July 7, 2021, gunmen stormed the private residence of then-President Jovenel Moïse in Petion-Ville, a suburb of Port au Prince. They shot him more than a dozen times. Haitian police arrested close to three dozen suspects after a countrywide manhunt and shootout. Yet two months after the assassination, it is still unclear who the suspected masterminds are and their motivation for Moïse’s murder. 

According to Landmark Research and the National Emergency Operations Center in Haiti, the death toll following the August 18 earthquake stands at 2,000, with more than 9,900 people injured. The Haitian Civil Protection General Directorate (DGPC) estimates that more than 137,000 families have been affected in the Sud, Grand’Anse and Nippes departments.  

Meanwhile, more than 500,000 people – about 40 percent of the total population of those departments – need emergency humanitarian assistance. 

“In spite of all the so-called big media who assumed Haiti would be turned upside down, that didn’t happen,” said Bello, founder of the non-profit charitable organization FONDASYON FELICITEE. “In fact, after the assassination, everyone stayed at home. There is a large group who don’t think, who are programmed and take things as given. But the population and the masses do think.” 

“There is a non-reaction to the assassination. It’s ‘wait and see,’ ‘who did it,’ and if the Colombians did it, who hired them?”’ 

Haitians helping Haitians 

Bello – who created the Foundation Marie Claire Heureuse Félicité Bonheur Dessalines or FONDASYON FELICITEE (FF), named for Empress Félicité of Haiti – said she cannot recall any political situation in the past where so many people questioned what they’ve heard about the assassination. 

“I was sort of taken aback by the amount of questioning and people wondering who did it,” said Bello, a world-renowned historian with expertise in Haitian and Pan African history, “I was very surprised and pleased. It shows the growth of our people.” 

She said it’s anyone’s guess if those responsible for the assassination will ever be found. In the meantime, rumors are rife. “There are 10,000 theories and there are persistent questions about why, who’s involved, and the implications of all that,” Bello explained. 

“The turmoil from the assassination, earthquake, and tropical storm has left Haitians feeling insecure and deeply traumatized,” she said. Still, that hasn’t stopped those from taking care of their brothers and sisters most in need. 

“I see a lot of Haitians inside and outside of the country mobilizing,” said Bello. “People are walking 3, 4, 5 hours with foodstuff to affected towns. If they have two dresses or shoes, they’re splitting and sharing with those who need it. They are walking up and down the hills that are wet and slippery. To me this is very important. A lot of doctors are leaving their jobs, despite certain insecurities and dangers, to help.” 

“People are renting small planes at $300 and $400 to help. There is international help, but a lot of in-house help is going on. There may be as many as 3,000 dead, the affected areas are so rugged with hills and valleys. I doubt that rescuers have gone everywhere. Two mountains hit each other, meeting over a river. It has stopped the flow of the river.” 

“We have a population that has great needs. We’re really counting on the insight that they are us and we are they.” 

Bello said her organization’s staff has been trying to secure tarpaulins or tents. They’re also working to find school uniforms for six and seven-year-olds. 

“Right now, schools should be opening in the next couple of weeks. Given them uniforms would be the biggest thing we could do for them,” she said. “We are trying to find the means to at least have all the 6- and 7-year-old in uniform so that they can feel some degree of equality.” 

Politics and Turmoil 

When another earthquake shattered Haiti in 2010, killing between 250,000 and 300,000 people, international donors promised between $13 and $16.5 billion to rebuild the capital and other areas in the island nation. In addition, it would provide money for rescue and recovery, housing, food, and an assortment of other needs for those Haitians affected by the 7.0 earthquake. 

But most of that money never reached the Haitian people. That’s because of mismanagement, embezzlement, and outright theft of funds. Haiti is often called ‘the Republic of NGOs’ with anywhere from 3,000 to 10,000 organizations on the island supposedly helping Haitians most in need. 

But there are layers and overlays preventing the proud Haitian people to handle their own affairs and determine the direction they want their country to travel. These include western colonial oppression, constant foreign interference, and meddling that punishes, cripples and stifles any effort. 

The manipulation by the United States, Canada and other nations to ensure the politician they support succeeded Moïse is a case in point. 

Dr. Jemima Pierre, a Black Studies and anthropology professor at UCLA, was surprised how blatant the international community acted following Moïse’s assassination. 

“The UN special representative announced that Claude Joseph would be prime minister. Then the Biden administration sent down a delegation and the CORE group said Ariel Henry will be president and the State Department said a new government would be named. They decided,” Dr. Pierre explained. 

“Ariel Henry was appointed by a man (Moïse) who had no mandate. He’s a USAID, International Republican Institute person. He was a counselor in the Council of Sages (a U.S-appointed unelected group of prominent elite Haitians who supported the 2004 coup d’état that deposed exiled Haitian president” Jean-Bertrand Aristide. 

“(Secretary of State Antony) Blinken said there’s a unity government, the State Department had already issued a statement and civil society was ignored. This is a continuation of imperialism. They use the language of bringing democracy … but the US has created absolute chaos.” 

Continued Uncertainty 

The political uncertainty roiling the island of 11 million people continues unabated. On Tuesday September 14, Prime Minister Ariel Henry fired the chief public prosecutor after they accused him of complicity in the Moïse assassination. 

Henry followed that up on Wednesday by firing Justice Minister Rockefeller Vincent. Rénald Luberice, who served more than four years as secretary general of Haiti’s Council of Ministers, resigned Wednesday too. 

He said he couldn’t remain under the direction of someone under suspicion and who “does not intend to cooperate with justice, seeking, on the contrary, by all means, to obstruct it.” 

Dr. Pierre echoed a common refrain among Haitians, Black activists, and opponents of white settler colonialism that “Haiti continues to be punished for having the nerve to destroy white supremacy.” This refers to the slave revolt in 1791, under Toussaint Louverture, which ousted the French, British, and Spanish armies and routed white planters in the only successful slave revolt in history. 

“Haiti continues to be punished for having the nerve to destroy white supremacy. Haiti has been under occupation since 2004 when it has been run by Brazilians and white Europeans,” said Dr. Pierre. 

“They meet in a room with no Haitians present. When the occupying UN forces landed, they had a civilian and military contingent. Brazil under Lula wanted to show that they can lead in the region, so they offered to lead the military wing. This is Brazil’s Haitian Training Ground.”  

“They were afraid of what Aristide represents – the power of the people. Hilary Clinton threatened Rene Preval with exile if he didn’t send Aristide away from the region.” 

Dr. Pierre, author of The Predicament of Blackness: Postcolonial Ghana and the Politics of Race, said every time Haiti suffers a natural disaster it sets off a foreign aid bonanza for western countries and the thousands of NGOs on the island. 

“They don’t call Haiti the “Republic of NGOs” for nothing,” she said in an article outlining the money grab. 

“The American Red Cross raised $500 million and built six houses in Haiti. NGOs and official aid agencies, like USAID, act like a parallel government in Haiti,” Pierre wrote.  

“Indeed, between 2000 and 2003, USAID and the dubious “international community” completely bypassed the Haitian state and doled out millions of “aid” money to their own NGOs,” she said. 

“It is no wonder that after the 2010 earthquake most foreign NGOs did not even bother registering with the Haitian government. They were only accountable to Haiti’s white rulers.” 

“Foreign aid” is often nothing but a make-work program for westerners with a degree in “Development Studies” and no employment prospects at home, Dr. Pierre asserted.  

“As the Guardian reported on Haiti’s earthquake relief aid back in 2013, “about 94% of humanitarian funding went to donors’ own civilian and military entities, UN agencies, international NGOs and private contractors. In addition, 36% of recovery grants went to international NGOs and private contractors,” she said. 

Bello agreed. 

“I don’t know if donations will be better. The International Red Cross takes 60 percent for administration fees. After the first earthquake, Haiti got about $6 billion in donations.”  

Dr. Pierre said the US-Canada-French-backed coup in 2004, plus the UN’s brutality, destroyed the Haitian state. This left people to say, “these Black people don’t know how to govern themselves.” 

Critics and observers point out that while Haiti could use international aid in its recovery, the country has suffered from a history of colonial oppression and interference that leaves its citizens wary of efforts to help. 


Another problem is the inability of Haitians on the island and abroad to come to consensus on the direction of the country. Dr. Pierre criticizes the Haitian elite for deepening an already difficult set of challenges for the nation. 

“No one talks about color and class. The 10 families ruling Haiti are white. They are white/Jewish/Syrian, all have money, all have contacts,” she said. “The elites bear a lot of responsibility because they’re so brainwashed. Black politicians have no self-esteem. They are vying for positions from their white overlords. They have internalized racism and snuffing out young people.” 

“We need some kind of consciousness-raising here to make sure that the Left Haitian Diaspora mode is not pulled into the bourgeoisie. It’s complex, as it is in any society. What makes the situation so terrifying is the frigging elite. I blame everyone who called for international intervention.” 

Dr. Pierre said she believes that the United States is using Haiti as a social experiment. 

“A part of what Haiti is a laboratory for imperialism. They work out all their stuff there. They create dissension and destroy states,” she said. “This is the perfect lab for seeing how imperialists maintain power, effect regime change. This is the depth of imperialist machinations. They destroyed Somalia as a state. Anything that comes from the US about other countries is a lie. This is the moment to end Pan-European democracy.”

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Barrington M. Salmon

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