January 25, 2010

Haiti, 1915: …Or, I Have Often Walked Down These Streets Before

US Haiti occupation Corbis

Given America’s 20 year occupation of Haiti starting in 1915; it’s hand (not so publicized these past two weeks) — during Bush I, Clinton and Bush II — in ushering in and out the various dictatorial, military as well as democratically-elected regimes; and the push now to take a defining role in reshaping Haiti (rationalized by many in order to prevent a mass exodus of immigrants), I keep coming back to this photo published last week in TIME’s Haiti “History of Misery” slideshow.

The caption:

America’s Backyard: Citing the Monroe Doctrine, President Woodrow Wilson orders U.S. Marines to occupy Haiti in 1915. They favor the biracial élite over black Haitians, deepening long-standing tensions. The U.S. withdraws in 1934.

Of course, scenes of American troops among the bodies in the streets these past two weeks have an opposite resonance to the picture above. But then, the prospects globalization and imperialism hold out to supposedly helpless and incapable third world societies can hurt in far less obvious ways.

Juan Cole: Milne: Haiti’s poverty is treated as some baffling quirk of history…when in reality it is the direct consequence of ” . . . colonial exploitation

(photo: Bettmann / Corbis)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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