The Sacrifice of Haiti
America's Foreign Policy "Pact
with the Devil"
by Rev. William E. Alberts, Counterpunch
Haiti's history has been cursed by white
nationalism and associated political and economic domination and
not by rebelling slaves' "pact to the devil," as televangelist
Pat Robertson "prophesized" after the fact of the 7.0
earthquake's devastation of the country. Unfortunately, whatever
coverage America's mainstream media gave to Robertson's comment
focused on its outlandishness and not on the real history of Haiti's
liberation struggles against past and present white oppression.
A comparison of evangelical Christian Robertson's "divining"
words with Haiti's actual history provides an informed moral basis
for judging and undoing the real "pacts with the devil"
still cursing Haiti.
The day after the horrible earthquake
buried Haiti in inconceivable destruction and injury and death,
Pat Robertson said on his televised and widely viewed 700 Club
on the Christian Broadcasting Network,
Something happened a long time ago in
Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it. They were
under the heel of the French, uh, you know, Napoleon the third
and whatever, and they got together and swore a pact to the devil;
they said, we will serve you, if you get us free from the Prince.
True story [italics added]. And so the devil said, 'OK, it's
And they kicked the French out, the Haitians
revolted and got themselves free, and ever since they have been
cursed by one thing after the other, desperately poor. . . .
And we need to pray for them, a great turning to God. And out
of this tragedy, I'm optimistic something good may come, but right
now we are helping the suffering people, and the suffering is
unimaginable. ("Pat Robertson Blames Haiti's 'Pact to the
Devil,'" from Jan. 13 edition of the 700 Club program, CBN,
www.youtube.com, Jan. 13, 2010)
"True story. . . . And people might
not want to talk about it. . . . And we need to pray for them,
a great turning to God." Pat Robertson is a white evangelical
Christian taking "liberty" with black people's oppression.
A son and benefactor of America's white-controlled hierarchy
of access to political and economic and religious power. Whose
obvious revisionist distortion of Haiti'strue history reveals
that he did "not want to talk about it." Nor did mainstream
media, with their momentary on-the-scene coverage of the earthquake's
horrific destruction, want to dig into the related racist ruins
of Haiti's early and recent past. But Haitian activist and political
analyst Jean Saint-Vil did "want to talk about it"-and
did so before the earthquake led Haiti to cross Robertson's mind
with his passing and dishonoring judgment.
Instead of a "pact to the devil,"
Jean Saint-Vil called Haiti's "uprising against slavery .
. . 'A Giant Step for Mankind-Made in Haiti.'" (godisnotwhite.org,
Aug.11, 2009). That "giant step," Saint-Vil writes,
was taken against brutal oppression, which Pat Robertson and mainstream
media choose "not . . . to talk about":
Popes, kings and queens enriched themselves
and built vast empires on the profits made with the sweat and
blood of kidnapped men, women and children loaded on ships, stacked
like sardines and reduced to slavery on plantations of coffee,
sugar, cotton, cocoa, all over the Americas. . . . millions
of human beings . . . kidnapped, terrorized, thrown to sharks
in the middle of the Atlantic ocean. . . . It has been estimated
that the population of Africa in the mid 19th century would have
been 50 million instead of 25 million had this catastrophe known
as the MAAFA [also known as the African Holocaust] not taken place.
Following his graphic documentation of
the actual "devils," Jean Saint-Vil then discloses the
"giant step for mankind-made in Haiti," which Pat Robertson
and America's white-controlled dominant press did not talk or
write or report about. Saint-Vil states,
It is within such an atmosphere of unparalleled
terrorism and human decadence that a remarkable gathering of men
and women took place on the small Caribbean island of Haiti, the
evening of August 14-15, 1791. Known as the Bwa Kay Iman Ceremony,
it is said that this revolutionary meeting brought together representatives
of twenty-one displaced African nations who vowed to revolt against
the powers that had unleashed against their people such a relentless
campaign of terror; a genocide that was expertly conceived and
implemented, state-sponsored and financed, justified with numerous
literary works and blessed by the most powerful and influential
religious institutions of the day.
The "giant step for mankind-made
in Haiti" included a "giant step" for the religious
equality of womankind. Jean Saint-Vil states that the main leaders,
of this "first [successful] major revolt against racial slavery
in the Americas," were a female Vodou Priest named Cecile
Fatiman and a male Vodou Priest called [Dutty] Boukman.
Voudou religion (publicized as Voodoo), with its emphasis on
individual respect, generosity and solidarity within community,
and gender and sexual orientation inclusiveness, recognized the
full and equal power of women in religion centuries before most
Christian denominations began cutting their "umbiblical"
cord of patriarchy. (See "About Haitian Vodou-Haitian Voodoo
History & Beliefs," by Mike Rock, www.erzulies.com; and
"Voodoo a Legitimate Religion, Anthropologist Says,"
by Brian Handwerk, forNational Geographic News, Oct. 21, 2002).
With Vodou Priests Cecile Fatiman and
Dutty Boukman leading the revolt's "giant step for mankind,"
Jean Saint-Vil states that Boukman gave the call to action, which
was not a "pact to the devil" but a deeply human and
spiritual pact with the "heart." This pact of liberation
was made at a religiousceremony, with the following prayer by
Boukman signaling the beginning of the revolt:
The god who created the earth; who created
the sun that gives us light. The god who holds up the ocean;
who makes the thunder roar. Our God who has ears to hear. You
who are hidden in the clouds; who watch us from where you are.
You see all that the white has made us suffer. The white man's
god asks him to commit crimes. But the god within us [italics
added] wants to do good. Our god, who is so good, so just, He
orders us to revenge our wrongs. It's He who will direct our
arms and bring us the victory. It's He who will assist us. We
all should throw away the image of the white man's god who is
so pitiless. Listen to the voice for liberty that speaks in all
It was "a great turning to God,"
but not to the white god paternalistic Pat Robertson had in mind
and prays to. It was a god who empowered people, not a white-controlled
institutionalized god who seeks power over people-and then curses
them when they overthrow him and his creators and gain their human
birthright of freedom.
"Something happened a long time ago
in Haiti, and people may not want to talk about it." Five
years ago, Ed Kinane, who worked in Haiti with Peace Brigade International,
wrote that the United States did "not want to talk about
it." He stated, "This was the world's first successful
slave revolt. Ignored in our history books, it was an accomplishment
as significant and as liberating as the French or U.S. revolutions."
("Why the U.S. and France Hate Haiti," MinutemanMedia.org,
July 20, 2005, reprinted in CommonDreams.org.)
If Pat Robertson and mainstream media
did "not want to talk about" Vodou Priests Cecile Fatiman
and Dutty Boukman, they surely would not "want to talk about"
Toussaint L'Ouverture, who became a great leader of the Haitian
slaves' struggle for independence. The Toussaint Louverture Project
on "Toussaint Louverture" states that he "was the
preeminent figure of the Haitian Revolution." The statement
A former slave, he became a brilliant
general and capableadministrator, defeating British, Spanish,
and French troops, emancipating the slave population, and overseeing
the country's initial attempts at reforming its political and
social structure. His extraordinary efforts at reaching across
lines of race and class set him apart from his contemporaries,
and his vision of a race-blind, independent country of equals
was ahead of his time.
Toussaint L'Ouverture's words, upon capture
by the French, are most inspiring for Haiti's earthquake victims,
for those who want to talk about it. Toussaint told his captors:
"In overthrowing me, you have cut down in Saint-Dominque
only the trunk of the tree of liberty. It will spring up again
by the roots, for they are numerous." (Ibid)
In his book, The Negro, civil rights activist,
historian and writer W.E.B. Du Bois called Toussaint L'Ouverture
"the greatest of American Negroes and one of the great men
of all time." Du Bois then quoted Massachusetts Anti-slavery
Society president Wendell Phillips' 1861 lecture on "Toussaint
Some doubt the courage of the Negro.
Go to Hayti and stand on those fifty thousand graves of the best
soldiers France ever had and ask them what they think of the Negro's
sword. I would call him Napoleon, but Napoleon made his way to
empire over broken oaths and through a sea of blood. This man
never broke his word. I would call him Cromwell, but Cromwell
was only a soldier, and the state he founded went down with him
into his grave. I would call him Washington, but the great Virginian
held slaves. This man risked his empire rather than permit the
slave trade in the humblest village of his dominions. You think
me a fanatic, for you read history, not with your eyes, but with
your prejudices. But fifty years hence, when Truth gets a hearing,
the Muse of history will put Phocion for the Greek, Brutus for
the Roman, Hampden for the English, LaFayette for France, choose
Washington as the bright, consummate flower of our earlier civilization,
then, dipping her pen in the sunlight, will write in the clear
blue, above them all, the name of the soldier, the statesman,
the martyr Toussaint L'Ouverture. [See, " 'Toussaint L'Ouverture'
A lecture by Wendell Phillips (1861)")
Published in 1915, W.E.B. Du Bois ends
his "Text on Haiti" with prophetic words:
In political life Hayti is still in the
sixteenth century; but in economic life she has succeeded in placing
on their own little farms the happiest and most contented peasantry
in the world, after raising them from a veritable hell of slavery.
If modern capitalistic greed can be restrained from interference
until the best elements of Hayti secure permanent political leadership
the triumph of the revolution will be complete.
The most accurate account of the Haitian
Revolution is believed to be C. L. R. James's book The Black Jacobins:
Toussaint L'Overture and the San Domingo Revolution. James analyzes
the economic and class differences driving the revolution more
than the influence of racial divisions. He writes, "The
race question is subsidiary to the class question in politics,
and to think of imperialism in terms of race is disastrous. But,"
James also stresses, "to neglect the racial factor as merely
incidental is an error only less grave than to make it fundamental.
(283)" (See "The Black Jacobins: a Class Analysis of
Revolution," by Benjamin Graves '98, Brown //University,www.postcolonialweb.org/poldisco)
Tragically, "capitalistic greed"
engulfed Haiti. And "Truth" has not received a hearing.
Beneath the earthquake's massive rubble in Haiti today is seen
the real "pact with the devil." The historical reality
that Pat Robertson and America's mainstream media do "not
want to talk about." Like, France's demand for "reparations"
following the slave revolt as compensation for lost plantations
and slaves, a demand the United States supported, which crippled
Haiti's economy for over 100 years. The refusal of the United
States to even recognize Haiti's independence from slavery until
its own slavery foundation began to crack during the Civil War
(See "Great television/bad journalism: Media failures in
Haiti coverage," By Robert Jensen, OpEdNews.com, Jan 25,
Robert Flamini talks about "The Risk
of Sending U.S. Troops to Haiti" now. In the January 19,
2010 World Politics Review, he writes, "In 1915, Woodrow
Wilson sent in the marines to Haiti, ostensibly to steady the
country, then beset by coup and counter-coup, but actually to
protect American business interests." Flamini continued,
"Wilson took control of the Haitian National Bank and transferred
$500,000 to the United States for 'safekeeping.' A virtual occupation,"
he added, "with the U.S. marine commander acting as provincial
governor, remained in force until 1934."
There is more on America's "capitalistic
greed" under the earthquake's ruins that America's political
and religious status quo and their guardian media do "not
want to talk about." The United States government's support
of the repressive dictatorships of Francois "Papa Doc Duvalier
and then his son Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier from
1957 to 1986. The BBC News reported, "During their 31-year
rule tens of thousands of people were killed, some tortured to
death," with Haitian exiles in France calling for "Baby
Doc" Duvalier to be tried for "crimes against humanity."("World:
Americas 'Bring Baby Doc to justice,'" Dec. 8, 1998) But
the United States government did "not want to talk about
it." As Gary Younge writes in The Guardian, "Both the
US and France backed the Duvaliers' brutal dictatorships and when
democratic government did arrive it was hogtied by terms imposed
by the IMF and the World Bank. Among other things," Younge
continues, "rigged trade agreements transformed Haiti from
a self-sufficient rice producer to importing the bulk of its rice
from subsidized growers in the US." ("The West Owes
Haiti a Bailout. And It Would Be a Hand-Back, Not a Handout,"
Feb. 1, 2010) Ashley Smith talks about it this way: "Floods
of U.S. agricultural imports destroyed peasant agriculture. As
a result," Smith writes, "hundreds of thousands of people
flocked to the teeming slums of Port-au-Prince to labor for pitifully
low wages in sweatshops located in U.S. export processing zones."
("The Incapacitation of Haiti," Counterpunch, Jan. 14,
2010; see also, "Haiti Earthquake: Made in the USA: Why the
Blood is on Our Hands," by Ted Rell,CommonDreams.org, Jan.
"Something happened" not too
long ago "in Haiti," and America's "modern capitalistic
greed"- controlled government and guardian media and accommodating
religious status quo "might not want to talk about it"
today. The US-sponsored coups that drove democratically elected,
reform-committed, Catholic priest and liberation theologian Jean-Bertrand
Aristide from the presidency in 1991, and again in 2004. The
New York Timesreporting that the C.I.A. had financed Haiti's "most
feared right-wing paramilitary group . . . accused of murdering,
raping and beating hundreds of supporters of Haiti's President
Jean-Bertrand Aristide." ("Haitian Ex-Paramilitary Leader
Confirms C.I.A. Relationship," By Tim Weiner, Dec. 3, 1995).
The US-instigated banishing of Aristide from Haiti and banning
of his Fanmi Lavalas party, the most popular political party in
the country, from participating in elections. Why? Aristide's
Lavalas party threatened US business and political interests with
its emphasis on restoring Haiti's independence and self-sufficiency.
(See "Plan of Death in Haiti," By Vijay Prashad, Counterpunch,
Jan. 27, 2010).
There is much US oppression of Haiti that
our government does not want talked about. Seen in President
Obama appointing former presidents Bill Clinton and George W.
Bush to lead the humanitarian response to Haiti's earthquake victims-the
very two presidents whose administrations overthrew President
Aristide's democratically-elected governments in 1991 and 2004.
(See, "Haiti, Aristide and Ideology," By William Blum,
Counterpunch, Feb. 10, 2010) Sadly, their appointment indicates
that the Obama administration "would rather not talk about
The January 12 earthquake exposed America's
historic "pact with the devil" in Haiti. The pervasive
poverty. The stifling slums and fragile housing in Port-au-Prince.
The lack of adequate life-sustaining infrastructure of clean
water, sanitation and electrical power. The limited and limiting
educational system. The minimal social and health care services.
And a US-weakened and dependent government. These political
and economic fault lines were made in America, and contributed
greatly to the severity of the earthquake's damage.
The response to Haiti's overwhelming catastrophe
should not just be about charity. Though the generous giving
and services of countless individuals and groups and helping professions
is most urgently needed and laudable. But Haiti's overwhelming
need and criminal victimization call for full reparationsfrom
the US government. Citizens' contributions to Haiti should include
demanding that the US government recognize the injustices America
has committed against Haiti and pay full reparations for those
past and present crimes against its people. America's response
to Haiti should not be aboutlooking good in the eyes of the world
but about doing good.
It is also about reparations. As Peter
Hallwood writes in The Guardian/UK,
Along with sending emergency relief, we
should ask what we can do to facilitate the self-empowerment of
Haiti's people and public institutions. If we are serious about
helping we need to stop trying to control Haiti's government,
to pacify its citizens, and to exploit its economy. And then
we need to start paying for at least some of the damage we've
already done. ("Our Role in Haiti's Plight," Jan. 14,
2010, reprinted in CommonDreams.org.)
America should not be about sacrificing
and destroying lives and resources in profit-and political power-driven
imperialistic wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and Pakistan. Our
country should be using its human and material resources to respond
justly and fully to the rights and overwhelming needs of our Haitian
neighbors and to the impoverishment of our own vulnerable citizens.
America's security lies in alleviating the suffering that terrorizes
people not in being the cause of their terror.
Rev. William E. Alberts is a hospital
chaplain and a diplomate in the College of Pastoral Supervision
and Psychotherapy. Both a Unitarian Universalist and a United
Methodist minister, he has written research reports, essays and
articles on racism, war, politics and religion. He can be reached