Let’s face it: Haiti should be a force in the world economically in 2021. Afterall, on Jan. 1, 1804, Haiti made history by being the first Black republic in the world and the first country in the Western Hemisphere to abolish slavery. Under the surface, Haiti also holds vast riches: high-quality deposits of gold, copper and other minerals. There also are vast areas of sparkling white calcium carbonate, 2.5 million tons of which are used each year in the United States to make everything from antacids and aspirin to paint, paper and plastics.
But neither the historic accomplishment nor the riches it holds is aiding its people, 217 years after its independence. It not simply because of western powers, but because of the corruption of its own leaders and the fact that a mere 20% of its population control the wealth.
That has led to the dilemma poor, Black Haitians find themselves in today. Not just is the country cursed with the label: “poorest nation in the Latin America and Caribbean region and among the poorest countries in the world,” but some 64% of the population of 11.26 million live in poverty.
Little wonder they are fleeing like any animal or human being would––to better lands to survive. But because of the adject poverty the 64% are kept in, they have become some of the most hated in the world.
Their own Caribbean neighbors do not want them in their countries. In the Dominican Republic, The Bahamas, the Turks & Caicos, Saint Martin and other countries in the region, they are largely vilified. Guyana, Antigua & Barbuda, In The Bahamas, Belize, Jamaica, Barbados, St. Lucia, Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago, St. Kitts & Nevis and St. Vincent and the Grenadines––all CARICOM (Caribbean Community) nations of which Haiti is a part––Haitians are required to have a visa to enter. So much for the so-called free movement of travel of nationals within the community.
In Latin American nations, where many have also fled, they face increased and rampant discrimination. In Mexico, they were chased like animals while merely trying to get to the U.S. border to apply for asylum.
And the United States, which invaded and occupied the country from 1915-34 and still continues to meddle in its politics today, has determined it will continue to deport them back to a country where gangs rule, the government is illegal; its president has been murdered and the prime minister he appointed a day before is accused in his murder; and an earthquake has decimated the southwestern part of the country.
As of Sept. 18, 2021, the Joe Biden administration’s Department of Homeland Security, (DHS), announced plans to “secure additional transportation to accelerate the pace and increase the capacity of removal flights to Haiti and other destinations in the hemisphere” as part of its plan to deal with the thousands who have crossed over into the Del Rio sector of South Texas.
The majority of these migrants will continue to be expelled under CDC’s Title 42 authority for COVID-19, which harkens back to the Donald Trump era. Those who cannot be expelled under Title 42 and do not have a legal basis to remain will be placed in expedited removal proceedings.
The move comes as the White House also directed appropriate U.S. agencies to work with the Haitian and other regional governments to provide assistance and support to returnees.
But what are they returning to? More gang violence and abject poverty? Haiti’s leaders are to be blamed primarily for the way their people are being treated around the world. They must take responsibility and strive to change the stereotype and mistreatment of Haitians. Two hundred and seventeen years later, Haitians deserve to live and prosper in their own country without having to flee to other nations––only to be mistreated and abused. It is high time that the narrative is changed from “poor Haitians” to “proud and prosperous Haitians.”
The writer is publisher of NewsAmericasNow