THE xenophobic attacks on citizens of Haiti, a geographic island of the Caribbean and a bona fide member of the Caribbean Community of nations, whose arrival and passage through Guyana to other destinations have seen the worst extremes of racist behaviour.
We are all aware of the questions that had surrounded the serious plight of citizens from neighbouring Venezuela, particularly those that dealt with issues of security, given the many incidents of the sindicato gang activities between the two borders, and the capacity of the state to cater for the socio-economic needs of the many thousands, now living within this nation’s borders.
What had been clearly significant about this situation were the many private organisations, inclusive of a very prominent religious body with traditional historical ties to the entire continent, that was very vocal in its calls for the government to give sanctuary to what were definitely refugees, apart from coordinating assistance from some NGOs. All were dumb, silent, as to the delicate risks involved in having large volumes of Venezuelans seeking haven in our territory.
Contrast this position of ready sympathy and assistance to what was a refugee situation, to one of instant, baseless accusations against the government for allegedly allowing the territory of Guyana to be used for trafficking of Haitians, the moment increased numbers began arriving.
Editor, your media house would have relayed more than sufficient detail, as explained by the relevant authorities, as to reasons for the increased numbers of Haitians arriving in Guyana, so there will be no repeat of same, except to say the following:
That Guyana has always been the most generous of CARICOM member state, of admitting persons into our country, once they satisfy the landing requirements. The last two decades have witnessed steady drifts of persons from Asia, without any hue and cry, or public objections from any section of our population, or political bodies. In fact, both categories of ethnic citizens have been a historical part of our six peoples; hence their welcomed presence. One must also add, the large presence of Brazilians.
It is recalled, too, the manner in which Guyanese citizens were treated in Barbados by the island’s immigration. It was demeaning that reference was made to “strange cultures’’ beginning to appear on the island. As a Guyanese, I was extremely angry, since many Barbadians would have been visiting Guyana; welcomed, and made to feel at home.
But not the Haitians, whose African ethnicity is as much a part of this nation’s historical collectivity of six peoples, as much as the two categories alluded to above. And listening/reading to the numerous unfounded and vulgar statements surrounding the Haitians in Guyana, again brings home the sad fact and reminder that there is a problem of race, made even sadder by the fact that it is politically led, and used for ends which can only continue to degrade efforts at unity. The mere fact that a certain high-profile, Guyanese media practitioner continued to refer to the Haitians in a manner which suggested that they came from another dimension, says as much for the descent into the man-made iniquity of race, to which sections of this nation have descended. In fact, it was this same Guyanese who vehemently objected to a security check by Louis Farrakhan’s security at the National Park, in the 1990s. And going back to early 1970, he had then taken issue with some comments made by the late black power activist, Stokely Carmichael, when the latter spoke at the Queens College auditorium on the black civil rights struggle in the United States. It is up to the public to draw their own conclusions at these three instances.
For those who have led the outrageous attacks against the Haitians, with crappy slurs about ‘AIDS and deforestation,’ they ought to be ashamed, especially the political leaders and their cohorts, who seem to have been having imaginary dreams of the Haitians voting at the next national and regional elections.
I share R.Hamid’s views as expressed in his “Xenophobic fearmongering of Haitians,” Guyana Chronicle September 10, 2019. Indeed, they are profound truths, of which those who have emitted the political obscenities about Haitians and their country, are guilty.
It is not my intention to give a history of Haiti here, except to say that it took a very special kind of people, slaves, and led by a very special kind of person, also a slave, to have fought such a defining revolution against Napoleon’s top general Francois Le Clerc and his formidable army of tens of thousands, in addition to reinforcements. This successful defeat of the French forces resulted in the founding of the first state freed of slavery and ruled by non-whites. Thus, all of us, the entire South American continent, owe this unfortunate, but great country, a huge debt of moral and spiritual gratitude for the example that it set in becoming the hemisphere’s first independent state. And it cost the Haitians much in blood and lives for their heroic freedom.
Let it be known that Haitians have a right to be here as any other member of the CARICOM sister states; and those who seem offended, ought to be ashamed of their narrow and blinkered view of the world in which they live, and of themselves.