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9166: Where Racial Slavery Thrived, Are Some Journalists Destorting , Reality? (fwd)

From: Jean Saint-Vil <jafrikayiti@hotmail.com>

At the Durban Conference against Racism, Xenophobia... the nations that have 
built their fortunes primarily on racial slavery chose to cowardly run away 
from their legal responsibilities instead of facing certain historical 
truths squarely and courageously.   Therefore it is not suprising to find, a 
week or two later, an article published by the online magazine 
BUSINESSWEEK.COM with the suspicious title « Where Slaves Revolted, Slavery 
Thrives». This is indeed the right article for the right magazine, at the 
right time.

In « Where Slaves Revolted, Slavery Thrives», Christina Hoag writes with 
great passion and compassion about the awfull plight of poor and abused 
children living in domesticity in The Black Republic of Haiti. It is 
important here to specify: « The Black Republic». For, as her 
attention-grabbing title suggests, the oddity of what is being purported in 
the article to be «slavery» resides in the fact that such happening is 
recorded in the very country where the only-known successful revolt of 
enslaved human beings led to the creation of a new nation: The Black 
Republic of Haiti, proclaimed on January 1, 1804 by Jean-Jacques Dessalines. 
The National Enquire could not have chosen a better title!

As a Black Haitian man who is well aware of the nature of the practice being 
described in Ms. Hoag's article, I can testify that - almost to a word - the 
author's descriptive introduction is right on the mark.
It reads as follows:

« Marie Dupont--not her real name--recalls that she was playing outside her 
family's shack, located in a remote corner of eastern Haiti, when a lady 
passing by stopped and asked her mother if she could take the pretty 
9-year-old to live in the capital city. Her mother readily agreed, thinking 
she was giving her daughter the chance to fulfill the dream of many poor 
Haitian peasants: to go to school and live in Port-au-Prince.

That dream turned out to be a nightmare. In her host family's middle-class 
home in Carrefour, a smelly, dust-ridden suburb of Port-au-Prince, the 
little girl became a slave.»

In this last sentence, the word «slave» is not at all negligeable for, in my 
opinion, it is grossly misleading.  A Restavčk in Haiti is always poor, 
often exploited and in some instances the victim of sexual abuse. However, 
is a «restavčk» really a slave in the contemporary or any other sense of the 
word? What when one considers the fact that a child that becomes a restavčk 
was never sold nor bought into «slavery» by anyone ? As Ms. Hoag's very 
article points out "The biological family receives no money" and we may add 
to remove all cofusion: neither are any other forms of payment made to the 
familyn or anyone else. The child's parents are simply looking for a way out 
of socio-economic misery. Furthemore, the authorities in charge where the 
child lives do not appoint or recognize a status of «slave» to him/her. If 
and when s/he manages to escape the  oppresive household of the abusers, 
there are no bounties set by the local police to catch and return the child 
to his/her tormentors.

Simply put, dear friends, there are no slaves in the black Republic. But it 
is true that in Haiti, there are millions of extremely empovrished child 
labourers, abused children who are not getting the protection they deserve 
from their government, parents, society, world community. However, being a 
black man who is well aware of the role that missionaries, foreign NGOs and 
other self-appointed friends of my people have played and continue to play 
in our empovrished «black» country, I cannot help being on my guard when, in 
an article titled « Where Slaves Revolted, Slavery Thrives» published in 
businessweek.com, in the wake of Durban, I read passages such as:

"99% of the people consider it normal."

This is a blatant LIE ! And a very suspicious assertion, I might add. Can we 
please see the scientific data on which the woman said to be Haiti's 
representative at the International Labor Organization based such judgement? 
How can this be true if there are various efforts deployed in Haitian 
society to fight this very practice of child exploitation, commonly known as 

The article continues...

«So normal, in fact, that Haitian emigrants have taken the tradition with 
them: Several cases of restaveks have surfaced in Miami's large Haitian 
community in recent years.»

It must be genetic or something!

Can the author, or anyone else, please tell us how many such cases took 
place in the Haitian community of Miami and how many cases of child 
abuse/exploitation took place in the rest of Miami or in White America for 
that matter- over the same period of time?

Ms. Hoag's article also offers highly inspirational passages such as the 

«The tradition seems a paradox in a country that became the world's first 
black republic in 1804 when slaves rebelled and drove out their French 
masters. "We have followed the system of the colonialists because we don't 
know how to do anything else," says Father Miguel Jean-Baptiste, a Catholic 
priest who is crusading to end the restavek tradition.»

Now, if this is indeed an accurate citation, one must wonder what hope 
exists if these were indeed the kind of people fighting for true human 
rights in Haiti. «We (as in «we negroes»?) don't know how to do anything 
else »! This incredible statement, placed in the context in which the 
article cites it, sounds like a passage coming straight from Ms. 
Bleecher-Stowe's «Uncle Tom's Cabin».

Ms. Hoag states that it is «an encouraging sign» that the same good priest 
who confessed to her, among other things, that Haitians live in a society 
where it's common to hear the saying "children are small animals" also 
pointed out that «a neighbor helped Marie (the restavčk child) to escape». 
Can we safely conclude, along with you Ms. Hoag and your readership, that 
this neighbour is amongst that 1% of non-savage black Haitians who do not 
condone child slavery!!!??

No one can deny that several aspects of child abuse as it occurs in 
modern-day Haiti have their roots or are influenced by the tradition of 
racial slavery that was practiced by europeans on the island for nearly 400 
years (1492 to 1801). The infamous «rigwaz» (cow hide) used for corporal 
punishment at school (up to the early 1990s), at home for one's own child 
and, of course, on the abused restavčk child is one such example. However, 
it is wickedly disengenious to suggest that this form of child abuse is 
practiced in Haiti because, 200 years after fighting for and winning their 
freedom, the negroes who inhabit Haiti know not anything better than what 
the barbaric white slavers taught them.  This may be suitable for the bulk 
of businessweek.com's readership - especially in the wake of Durban - but it 
is nothing more than ignorant white supremacist propaganda. And I, for one, 
find no reason to use hypocritically-correct language to describe it.

Furthermore, I am not at all comforted by the fact that, according to Ms. 
Hoag's article, the Haitian Government has as it's main allies in this most 
important fight against child abuse (including the practice of «restavčk»), 
organizations that have, at best, a very questionable record in these very 

The experiences of empovrished First Nation's children at the hands of the 
Catholic Church in Canada (see: the story of the Children of Duplessis), in 
Australia and, of course black children in Haiti, Africa and all over south 
America  recommends serious caution and alertness. Pingga nou kouri pou 
lapli n al tonbe nan larivyč! Is it not also true that children are 
sometimes stolen from Haiti, the Phillipines and other places by sexual 
perverts dressed as saviours travelling by plane!!!

Perhaps, this article signals that it is high time for the Haitian 
government to recognise and act upon the fact that institutions such as 
Foyer Maurice Sixto, named after this great Haitian intellectual who brought 
the fight against the practice of «restavčk» to the forefront of Haitian 
conciousness and popular culture in the 80's, should be for the most part 
managed by Haitians, for Haitians and, of course, with Haitians funds.  
Otherwise, we run the risk of, once again, seeing the plight of the poorest 
of the poor among us be hijacked and exploited by those who have a hidden 
and most malicious agenda.

I can again see the flashback of my first day watching the images of naked, 
bare-foot, big-bellied black little brothers and sisters, in front of the 
flag of my ancestors, all over the world's TV screens. The add in question 
sollicits support ($$$$$) for Care International Inc.  Poverty for sale !!

Indeed we are at fault for letting such madness continue unchallenged. We, 
Haitians, must take full and complete responsibility for our own affairs in 
order to truly and permanently eradicate the practice of «restavčk», among 
other ills, from our land . We all know too well what the root causes of 
this plight are: Abject poverty; centralisation of all major goods and 
services (including schools, hospitals, jobs..) in the capital city; the 
economic and political frailty of a Haitian State that is being strangled by 
vicious and hypocritical ennemies of the Haitian people (national as well as 
international) who call themselves «friends of Haiti»; And, last but not 
least, a network of empowered and enriched scavengers - collectively known 
as «NGOs» who have been feeding off of the very problems they pretend to be 
fighting  - for over 100 years now.

I suspect that the following week's edition of businessweek.com may very 
well deal with the great efforts being deployed by brave «westerners» that 
are bringing freedom to poor black Sudanese enslaved by their own black 
people. Perhaps, this is or has already been covered by the Wall Street 

Nonetheless, I encourage all peoples who are truly interested in freedom and 
justice (in particular my Black brothers and sisters) to go beyond these 
smoke -screens and to start getting the facts straight on such important 
issues, and, more importantly, to get involved in the real efforts to solve 
them. When it comes to the stories being propagated, not only must we secure 
the means to publish our own true stories, we must always be mindful of who 
control the so-called mainstream press and what their main agenda has been 
for the past 500 years.

It took the investments of hundreds of African-Americans to produce «Malcom 
X», It took the courage of several Africans plus a few true White friends of 
our people to produce «Beloved» (none of them made it big at the 
mainstream's box office - surprise!!!!). It took a Haitian Film Maker with 
plenty of diplomatic savvy to bring Patrice Lumumba's story to the silver 
screen. It will take a «konbit» of such individuals to finally unearth and 
expose (for all to see and grasp)  the importance of the Haitian Revolution. 
Otherwise, we run the awfully real risk of watching Tom Hanks play Sonthonax 
and Arnold shwartznegger play Arnold shwartznegger in the ultimate film 
about «The rise and fall of Slavery - How the West did it !».

«Kaka je pa linčt !»
(Eye dungs are not glasses) - Haitian wisdom.

«Depi nan Ginen bon nčg ap ede nčg!»

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