Regionalism and the recent natural disasters en ayiti

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Empress Verite

Regionalism and the recent natural disasters en ayiti

Post by Empress Verite » Tue Oct 05, 2004 9:52 pm

One and Respe to all!

I was saddened about these natural disasters because I live in South Florida and I am aware about the trauma that hurricanes can cause. I have always been concerned about the environmental issues in Ayiti, primarily deforestation. I feel that these issues could have been dealt with during the Duvalier pere and fils administration but they were not. The Lavalas party could have also dealt with the issue but they never had the resources due to racism and international backstabbers. I am not a Lavalas party member but I feel that their hearts were in the right place. I wish Aristide and his wife the best in their new posts as research fellows in South Africa.

I have come to realize recently (due to all of the problems that happenned in Florida and other Southern states as well as the Caribbean and the little money that was earmarked by the United States governm
ent to help fix the problems) that we must try to mend some fences as soon as possible. On the Corbett list, for instance, someone proposed building shelters and safe spaces and creating a national radio that would alert people of these impending disasters and tell them what to do and where to go. This is a good idea and I hope that the funding that they are receiving goes a long way to help build these structures.

Gerard Latortue, a man from Gonaives, spoke in Miami trying once again to raise money for those who were hurt by the recent natural disaster. He seemed so "humble" and he was so "grateful" for anything that anyone was willing to give him, as if we were not owed anything. In addition, he claimed that there were probably 10 thousand people dead from the storm or hurricane Jeanne. The Haitian Television Network along with the Neighborhood Center Sant La have held a marathon to raise money for the victims of the storm and to rebuild the North. There are numerous concerts going on to raise m
oney for the victims and to rebuild. Wyclef Jean and Sweet Mickey's Michel Martely held a press conference to lay out their plan for a new Haiti and for the upcoming concert to raise money for the victims of the floods. There will be a concert in Miami at the Florida International University's North campus to raise money for the recent victims.

My goodness, so many things and so much money being raised for these victims. While I am proud of these efforts, I cannot help but notice the regionalism that is going on in these events. Whereas most folks in South Florida are from the North parts of Haiti and many hail from Gonaives, the folks from the South East don't seem to have that many powerful folks working for them. We have always associated the north of Haiti with Dessalines, Christophe, Toussaint and the revolution that brought us our freedom from the shackles of slavery. Does the North really deserve that reputation? Have they really earned it? And are the recent brigands who ousted Aristide rea
lly freedom fighters?

I have the good fortune to live amongst the Northerners who hail from Gonaives, Port De Paix and Au Cap. My, what a disappointment! Where are the revolutionaries? And where is that so-called revolutionary spirit? They are dog eat dog and they practice it at all cost! They will work to promote whiteness or white supremacy, just like Latortue, harder than the white folks! This is simply because of petty resentments about immigration status or the supposed material wealth and benefits that one received because of when one's parents emigrated to the US.

Recently, a meterorologist from Haiti said on "Sur Le Tapis" that the next disaster will happen in Port Au Prince because of the sanitation problem. He predicted that many willl die as a result of the problems in the city and I felt such sadness for these folks who migrated from rural communities in the mountains to try and find a way or a better life. Who is helping those folks?

Anthropologists have been acused of pro
moting this stereotypical image of Haitians as being primarily rural people with a strong culture. They dismiss those folks who move out of those communities into the cities because they are giving up on their origins. I am a relic hunter and I love my heritage both in the country, hills, mountains and in the cities in Haiti. Still, I feel that we create culture wherever we are and the search for authencity must stop. White folks have pushed that issue on us and forced us to maintain a way of life that does not encourage us to grow. In other words, we can preserve these old ways such as the architecture, cooking, speaking, relating to etc... in museums but the people must be allowed to move on to build structures that will protect them and keep them alive.

I know that some white missionaries have contributed a great deal to the growth of Haiti and the Haitian people. I thank them and their efforts but we must learn to deal with these problems ourselves and de-missionize our country. The over reliance o
n missionaries and their efforts is keeping us apart from each other and is giving us false hope. Haitian on Haitian crime is high and so is self hatred and the missionaries are not helping.

In terms of the environment, I would like to propose an ecological agenda for the growth of Haiti. This new Haiti must protect its citizens or peoples at all cost, and new homes, structures such as schools and hospitals must be built for our benefit, protection and well being. This new ecology will help to foster and promote a physical well being and health for the physical landscape of the country as well as its people.

kenbe la.

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Post by admin » Wed Oct 06, 2004 9:01 am

[quote]I have the good fortune to live amongst the Northerners who hail from Gonaives, Port De Paix and Au Cap. My, what a disappointment! Where are the revolutionaries? And where is that so-called revolutionary spirit? They are dog eat dog and they practice it at all cost! They will work to promote whiteness or white supremacy, just like Latortue, harder than the white folks! This is simply because of petty resentments about immigration status or the supposed material wealth and benefits that one received because of when one's parents emigrated to the US.[/quote]

Empress Verite, I am a little perturbed by this remark. I was born and raised in Cap-Haitien. My father was from Dondon, near the foot of the Citadelle (where I have gone every year, and as many as three times a year, while I was a child). I was always in awe of the vision of Christophe, though I will not certify his metho
ds. My mother was from Port-au-Prince. I do not consider myself a regionalist. Aside from Dondon, Saint Michel de l'Attalaye, Marmelade (three northern towns where the extended family from my father's side has resided), I have visited Ferrier, Ouanaminthe, Saint Raphael, Grande Rivière du Nord, Hinche, Pandiassou, Mirebalais, Gonaives, Saint-Marc, Leogane, Fondwa, Jacmel, Cavaillon, Cayes, Camp-Perrin, Anse d'Hainault, Port-Salut, Port-à-Piment (and several other small towns on the southern coast), Jeremie, and of course Port-au-Prince and its surroundings, and up to the Dominican border. My regret is that Haiti is such a small country and that I have yet not seen most of it and likely never will. It is a country approximately the size of Maryland, one of the United States' smallest states, and yet the majority of Haitians know but a very small part of their land. I have been to more places in Haiti than the average Haitian that I have met, and yet I have never been to the Northwest, to La Gonave, to
as many as four fifths (or nine tenths) of our 300+ communes or municipalities. Whoever plays the "regionalsit" in Haiti must be a very ignorant person. There is not enough land, we do not know it well enough, and the effects of severe underdevelopment are seen just about everywhere. Of course, Haiti has its beauty too and some of its charms can be more localized in the northern, southern, central or southwestern regions. But the riches and poverty of Haiti belong to all of us, Creole speaking Haitians.

I think that your characterisation with respect to northerners as "They are dog eat dog and they practice it at all cost! They will work to promote whiteness or white supremacy, just like Latortue, harder than the white folks!" is too general - and therefore unfair. I don't think that people from the North are worse than people from any other part of the country. Plus, what good does it do to speak of ourselves in such derogatory terms? Those words will not unite us, they will divide us.


Certainly, there are behaviors that should be condemned. No question about it. But I don't see how regionalism plays a part in all of this. Look around and you will see that northerners are not any more guilty than southerners, or those from the center.

Maybe this is a tempest in a teapot. I know that we agree on a lot of points. I just did not appreciate that bit of rhetoric. I don't see its point really. Gonaives is all of us. As Gonaives perishes, so does the rest of Ayiti.

Empress Verite

Thanks Guy

Post by Empress Verite » Wed Oct 06, 2004 6:09 pm

Greetings Guy

I'm sorry that I hit such a sore spot but in South Florida not the North East Haitians from the Northern areas seem to be the powerful Others. There is a lot of regional pride especially since Dessalines is from Gonaives. In fact, in his addresses including the ones on his show L'Invite, Gerard Latortue promoted this cause. He went on almost each time about his roots in Gonaives. I did not mind at all because it was a geography lesson. However, it has been used in my experience to alienate others who are not from that region of Haiti.

I have no problems with regional pride. In fact, I feel that we must seek to teach our people more about geography. In a country as small as Haiti that is supposedly the size of Vermont, folks don't seem to know geography well enough in my humble opinion. I listen to folks call on different shows and I was shocked to hear someone call the Koze Klosa who is a mixed race Haitian woman to ask if there were white folks from that area (Gonaives)? I lived with one such person who was from that region, a mixed race man who was originally from St. Mark and Gonaives, and he always talked about his birth place whereas his wife, my "aunt", did not seem to care too much even though we were from Leogane, the home of Anacaona and Simone Ovide Duvalier.

I don't feel that I am making a mountain out of a molehill. The regionalism which benefits Gonaives, Au Cap, and other northern cities such as Port De Paix and La Tortue is strong in South Florida. When I first moved here it was refreshing and then I realized that this revolutionary rhetoric was invoked at key moments just for capitalistic ends. It was always to get something, not to unite necessarily. In other words, I do feel that Latortue and many like him feel that the revolution and the revolutionaries will always hail from Gonaives and other Northern cities.

In fact, this is widely promoted by the media and even on the Co
rbett list. One writer, Patrick Sylvain wrote sometime before the recent overthrow of Aristide that the North would be the place for the uprising. In other words, he was expecting that descent or consent would be spearheaded by the Norhterners. I know that Patrick has a degree from Harvard and that he is a well known artist, therefore I was somewhat disappointed in that prediction, even though it was corroborated by media reports. Journalists on BET, with the help of Gary Pierre-Pierre of the Haitian Times also promote the same idea. "Gonaives...the place where the upriising against Aristide began... Gonaives the birthplace of Haiti's independence..."

Yet, I don't see any Dessalines or Toussaint, Christophe look-alikes. You are doing a great service for the Haitian people with this site and I command you and now that I know that you are from that revolutionary land, I know that it's in your blood to do good works for your people. However, I have to say that in my 10 years living in South Florida th
at rhetoric is just talk with no real works or substance. I feel that every region in Haiti has contributed a great deal to our history and culture and well being. In fact, Mapou may have something to do with our version of Voodoo and the reverence in Haitian culture for the Mapou tree. And what about Jacmel and the arts and Jeremy for its writers and Au Cayes for Oswald Durand?

I think that the revolutionary characterization of the Northern areas is overstated to say the least. Dessalines himself may have given us the clue to the geography of this issue when he suggested that Polish troops who wanted to settle in the Northern areas move south. I believe that this was an indication as to the ecology of race and race distribtution of the country at the time which may persist today. I have no Northern roots but I promise you that you have not met a REVOLUTIONARY like me yet and this is what I have lived.

The revolutionaries are coming and they have to be made. At this time, the Northerners are working along with the powerful Others to destabilize the country's democratic process. Latortue married a Haitian woman but he invited white colonial rule and I don't feel that this is revolutionary at all. Guy Philippe will do the same thing. He is too comfortable with white Latinos who were nice to him during his stay in South America. I do not see him as a freedom fighter but as a gang banger who will commit the atrocities that FRAPH members did for the same evil reasons--Self Hatred.

Kenbe and it's ok with me to disagree with good and intelligent people. It keeps things interesting and dialogue flowing.

Take good care and thanks a bunch for all of your work.

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