On Wednesday, August 5, 2009 Stabroek News reprinted an article (and photograph) first carried in the Trinidad Express under the headline ‘Region must save Haiti – Andaiye’ (I believe the Express used the same headline). I write to make a correction to the article and a comment on a letter published in Kaieteur News of August 11, 2009 whose headline was ‘Why the silence or lukewarm?’ (sic), which was in part a response to that article.
The correction to the article is that I never said that the region should “save” Haiti. My whole presentation, which I was invited by the Emancipation Support Committee of Trinidad and Tobago to make as part of their 2009 Emancipation observance, was on the 200 plus years of resistance by Haitian working people to uninterrupted assaults on their liberty by Europe, North America and Haiti’s tiny elite, often referred to as its “permanent government.” What I said was that everyone in this region who struggles to expand and defend their freedom has owed a debt to the Haitian people from the time they waged the world’s first successful revolution against slavery, which ended in 1804 – 60 years before the US Civil War; and I called on the region to begin to pay that debt by supporting the resistance the Haitian people are continuing to make.
The most recent example of this was a massive boycott of elections from which Lavalas, the party of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide who was removed in a US-backed coup in 2004, had been banned; estimates of the percentage who voted in the two stages of the elections range from 3% to 11%.
Only people who don’t resist need saving as distinct from solidarity from outside – and it may be despair about the relative lack of resistance in Guyana that leads people to call for others to save Guyana.
My comment on the August 11 response of a letter-writer to the August 5 article is this: even when Freddie Kissoon accuses me wrongly of commenting on the situation in other countries of the region while not commenting on corruption, torture and other evils in Guyana (he didn’t and wouldn’t say that I didn’t comment on the murderous violence of 2002-2007), I will accept his right to criticize me or anyone else because every criticism he makes is made in his own name; besides, I think I should be saying more. But as for the letter-writer who signed his or her criticism of me and others as “Concerned Guyanese” – how can anyone condemn others by name for what he/she sees as not speaking out bravely while hiding his/her own name? This is the worst kind of self-serving cowardice.