Randall Robinson Credit: Public Domain photo

An African American lawyer and rights activists who played a key role in the fight against apartheid in South Africa, and railed against negative and oppressive American foreign policy initiatives against Haiti and other parts of the Americas, died at his adopted home of St. Kitts over the weekend.

Randall Robinson, 81, had become best known for his work to dismantle the apartheid system of white domination in South Africa in the ’80s and ’90s, as well as for his spirited resistance to American foreign policies to keep Haiti in turmoil.

Those who aren’t familiar with the Richmond, Virginia-born Robinson might recall his strident resistance to American government efforts to remove and exile elected Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide from office two decades ago by way of a CIA-inspired coup.

Robinson was one of the leaders of the Free South Africa Movement that sprung to life in the early ’80s to resist western policies and pressure to maintain the apartheid system. The movement tried to engage governments and rights organizations globally to end apartheid in South Africa, raining awareness about the issue. “He led a range of foreign policy campaigns in his life-long advocacy in defense of democracy and justice in Africa and the Caribbean,” Robinson’s family said in a release announcing his death at the weekend in the Eastern Caribbean nation of St. Kitts.

He was also a founder of the Washington, D.C-based advocacy group Trans Africa, which was aimed at promoting diversity and equity in foreign policy formation and justice for Africa, even organizing a sit-in at the South African embassy in the U.S. to highlight white atrocities in Southern Africa.

Robinson was also part of a group that held a 27-day hunger strike to attract greater attention from Washington to push for the reinstatement of Aristide, who had been ousted in 2004 by a CIA-inspired coup and banished to the Central African Republic against his will, and later to South Africa, where he remained for seven years. Robinson was adamant that the U.S. had not only wanted Aristide out of Haiti for pressing for reparations from France, but also out of the Caribbean entirely, hence his abduction to Africa. 

Robinson wrote several books about American foreign policies toward the Third World, including the 2008 classic “An Unbroken Agony: Haiti, from Revolution to the Kidnapping of a President” and “Quitting America: The Departure of a Black Man from America,” detailing his frustration with racism and inequality in the U.S. as he joined his Caribbean-born wife Hazel Ross-Robinson in the tiny tourism paradise of St. Kitts. He lived there full-time for just over two decades.

As an indication of his level of frustration and dejection with American and western approaches to the Third World, Robinson said the U.S. is basically only concerned with political and economic dominance, and little else.

”As long as one member nation of the global family of nations is free to behave toward a fellow member nation with lethal impunity—to bully, to menace, to invade, to destabilize politically or economically, to reduce to tumult—no country, so threatened, can hope to enjoy the social and political contentment that ought inherently to attend democratic practices,” he told international media. “Where the poor were concerned, the United States invariably opposed the efforts of the poor’s own governments, whenever and wherever those governments tried in any serious or structured way to ameliorate the poverty of their own people. If there has ever been a circumstance in which the Americans did not take the side of the rich in efforts to quash even modest reforms to help the poor, I do not know of it.”

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