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#1449: Taino People in LaGonave : Kaufman replies to Gill

From: Joanne Kaufman <joanne_jake_@hotmail.com>

<clipped from longer message>

have they no rights?  should they not be given land?  if not, then why not? 
the Africans in Haiti live on land that belongs to the Taino....
should not those who claim African descent have to deal with this question?

There is one major difference between the European-American experience of 
land in North America (like mine and my ancestors') and the Haitian 
experience in Haiti.  It could be argued that some of the Europeans felt 
pressure to escape economic or political hardship in Europe and moved in on 
Native Americans, many of whom graciously welcomed them until the newcomers 
showed their lack of grace in return. But that's hardly the same thing as 
being dragged on a slave ship and beaten to a pulp as African ancestors of 
Haitians were.

The larger question of land remains.  No comment on the Taino; I don't know 
them or their background.  But your question is rather laughable for the 
many Haitians "endeyo" don't own their land as it is.  Maybe we should we be 
asking the question of the Haitian elites, of the "grand-ons," the wealthy 
overseas churches and church organizations (Catholic and Protestants alike), 
all of whom own rich land and hire peasants to work it for them  while the 
peasants themselves eke a living off the bare bones of the mountains?

Just some thoughts from Israel-Palestine where the question of land and 
access is as everywhere else at the forefront of everyone's mind. The 
Jubilee 2000 project calls for the Old Testament idea of releasing people 
from debts every 7 or every 50 years to be applied to so-called "debtor" 
countries like Haiti.  Maybe other Jubilee principles, conveniently ignored 
or dismissed by Christians, could be applied to Haiti. These include freeing 
slaves, letting the land rest, and returning land to its original owners.

In Haiti this would be a great idea -- North America should help the people 
who want to to go back to the land in the countryside and reclaim the tired 
land as they know and do best.  I know plenty of capable Haitians who live 
outside Port-au-Prince -- just work with them to get some of the resources 
and give up on the missionary-God-superiority complex.

Give Haiti a break from its international debts, let the elite pay their 
workers a fair wage, let the IMF and World Bank relinquish some of their 
U.S.-directed policies to let local enterprises work for and by the people, 
let the virtual slaves working in factories be paid a fair wage... well, 
that's a small, idealistic start.

Joanne "Jake" Kaufman

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