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On January 12, 2010, an earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale hit the Republic of Haiti.
The immediate result was hundreds of thousands dead and many more than that wounded and homeless.
Across the world, from Gambia to Gaza, people have opened their hearts and their wallets to the beleaguered people of Haiti. Here, Canadians have donated millions of dollars, and the federal government has pledged to match those donations, while sending human assistance and pledging to expedite adoptions nearly finalised.
But why is such intervention necessary in the first place? Why is Haiti seemingly incapable of stability, security and prosperity?
Why is Haiti, sharing the island of Hispanola with the much wealthier Dominican Republic, home to the poorest people in the Western Hemisphere... even while it’s possessed of magnificent natural beauty, even while sitting next to important waterways, and sitting upon oil?
Are the Haitians simply unlucky, sitting in the path of hurricanes and earthquakes? Or is their pain due to their laziness? Corruption? Stupidity? Cultural deficits? Or genetic inferiority?
If you got your sole understanding of history from corporate media including the CBC, you might be left to conclude that any or all of the above could account for Haitian misery. But you’d be wrong.
Amid the genuine generosity and compassion of citizens, the Canadian government and CBC have engaged in nearly endless backpatting for Canadian intervention.
What each of those parties acknowledges far less is how in recent years Canada has taken part in centuries of misery that France, the United States and England have savaged upon Haiti.
And it all goes back to the second republican revolution in this hemisphere, and why the Euro-American Empire had to crush a shining beacon of freedom from a country that could have been named Spartacus.
After 9-11, Americans asked, “Why do they hate us?” Tonight on the show, we ask that same question, but from the Haitian perspective. Answering it is Randall Robinson, a Harvard-trained lawyer and the founder of TransAfrica, a think tank and activist organisation which starting in 1977 attempted to add justice to U.S. policy toward Africa and the Caribbean.
Robinson worked for years inside the international anti-apartheid and pro-democracy movements of South Africa and Haiti.
A friend of the US-deposed Haitian president Jean Bertrand Aristide, Robinson is the author of five books, including The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks, Defending the Spirit: A Black Life in America, and Quitting America: The Departure of a Black Man from his Native Land, on why he renounced his American citizenship for a life in St. Kitts.
On September 13, 2007, Randall Robinson visited one of Harlem’s best bookstores, Hue-Man Books, to speak on the subject of his then-new book An Unbroken Agony: Haiti, From Revolution to the Kidnapping of a President.