Mustafa Harabou argues that the hostilities at the US-Mexico border over the past week echo centuries of anti-Haitian racism
Chaos at Del Rio, Texas, as thousands of mostly Haitian migrants, were met with whips at the US Mexico border crossing, with videos and images of the events surfacing causing widespread disgust and condemnation.
Mounted US border guards used coil whips against the oncoming flow of human suffering, beckoning uncanny resemblance to the images etched into the history of the US’ slave trade.
Border patrol guards on horses hurled racially-charged abuse at the desperate migrants who were soaked crossing the Rio Grande river, with one officer yelling “This is why your country’s shit, because you use your women for this.” Many of the migrants had been crossing back and forth, trying to get food and water for those held up in the camps and migrant holding centre.
Contrary to the racist rhetoric spewed by the border guard, the reality that has made Haiti into the poverty-stricken place it is today is none-other than 300 years of brutal french colonisation and the 100+ years US imperialism.
The French colonial project in Haiti was notorious for having some of the most brutal and inhumane conditions, with the enslaved Africans being responsible for the economic surge of Europe’s industry (half of all coffee produced in the world and 40% of all sugar in France coming from the small island).
Despite all of this, the honour and determination of the Haitian people prevailed with formerly enslaved heroes like Toussaint Louvertur and Jean-Jacques Dessalines leading mass-scale slave rebellions and turning Haiti (previously known as Saint-Domingue) into the first independent black republic in the western hemisphere and the first country to permanently abolish slavery.
But when the physical shackles were finally broken, the economic shackles were unsheathed with France demanding 150 million francs be paid to them for no longer owning the now free Haitian population . This ‘independence debt’ along with debts to IMF coupled up with US invasion and imperialist political interference has debilitated the once independent and hopeful nation.
The recent influx of migrants coming to the US from Haiti has been exacerbated by the recent 7.2 magnitude earthquake in August which has claimed more than 2000 lives. Instability ensued with the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse and the subsequent unrest which triggered food and fuel shortages.
The fate of the migrants remains woeful after having risked death embarking on the perilous journey across South and Central America (through the notorious Darien gap jungle a vast wilderness that connects Panama to Colombia), and being mistreated when they reached their destination with abuse and humiliation by the hands of the border authorities. The US government will be sending the thousands of migrants back to Haiti, with the Biden administration cunningly using the ‘Title 42 expulsion’ – A COVID related the expulsion order from the Trump administration.
From within the morally-defunct US political sphere, senators and governors rushed to express their own disapproval of the situation at the border – but not for the safety of the migrants, instead exposing their own xenophobia. Texas Governor Greg Abbot – a man who ordered Texas child care facilities to not house unaccompanied migrant minors and filed a lawsuit in 2015 to block Syrian refugees – encouraged the abuse, sending a fleet of cars to the border to form a “steel wall”, stating “the Biden administration is doing nothing to secure our border, it has been the state of Texas that has had to step up and address this challenge”.
The hypocrisy of the American Empire knows no bounds. As these horrific events were taking place, Joe Biden was before the UN assembly lecturing the world about the Islamic Republic of Iran (a sovereign nation), alleging that they would be a threat to global peace if they had the access for development of nuclear weapons. However, a couple of days prior, Biden met with the leaders of Australia and Great Britain agreeing develop up a new pact that would push western imperialist aggression against the People’s Republic of China.
If the double standard and disregard for human life were not as obvious, a video tape has emerged of Biden in a 1994 interview with PBS saying “it would not matter” if Haiti sunk into the ground – this psychotic rhetoric bearing similarity to that of the racist border agent.
If history is a good marker of things to be, US Empire is once again getting away with the utmost violation of human life and dignity whilst simultaneously ramping up aggression and sanctions against sovereign nations that refuse to capitulate to their imperialist orders.