By Caleb T. Maupin
Two hundred Haitians on July 26 crammed themselves into a small sailing vessel, according to news reports. They were seeking to escape from a country that continues to be occupied by foreign troops and whose people suffer from massive poverty and starvation.
A survivor, Alces Julien, said the boat hit a reef after it spotted a police vessel off the Turks and Caicos Islands and tried to hide. (AP, July 28) The boat split open and those in it were cast into the sea. While more than 100 were eventually rescued, at least 85 Haitians drowned.
Countless other Haitians have drowned seeking to escape the results of U.S. intervention and the imposition of its “free” system of unregulated capitalism.
The Haiti from which the 200 people sought to escape is one where United Nations troops patrol the streets to keep in power a government installed by the U.S. The elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was removed by the United States in February 2004 in what Haitians refer to as a “coup-napping.” Later that year, a study by the University of Miami Law School found that “summary executions,” in which Haitians were put to death without due process, were a common “police tactic.” (“Haiti Human Rights Investigation,” Nov. 11-21, 2004)
Aristide had refused to sell off state-owned industries and demanded reparations from the French government for its crimes against the Haitian people. He was kidnapped with the assistance of the CIA and flown to Africa.
Some 80 percent of Haitians today live below the poverty line, even according to the CIA’s own “World Factbook.” Haiti has the highest infant mortality rate in Latin America and the lowest life expectancy as well. Only 52.9 percent of the population has had enough education to be considered literate.
As the world economy continues to be in crisis, Haiti’s U.S.-backed government continues to privatize state-owned enterprises, forcing unemployment to soar as those who worked in these enterprises are laid off. The Haitian Confederation of Workers continues to endure suppression by the government as it attempts to organize workers for a better life, which is supposedly legal under Haitian law.
On July 26—the same day this ill-fated ship left Haiti—Cuba, another Caribbean nation, was celebrating the anniversary of its Moncada rebellion. Revolutionary forces there eventually smashed and overthrew capitalism in Cuba and brought full employment, full literacy, and free health care, education and housing to all.
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