Surrounding the anniversary of the tragic earthquake which left the island nation of Haiti devastated, the US has opted to increase Haitian deportations.
The US repeatedly promised to help Haiti overcome its humanitarian crises. Forcing many to wonder why America is now deporting so many Haitians back to the impoverished nation.
Most American woman can relate to Jani Montrevil.A working wife and busy mother home with the kids while dad is at work.
“We’re laid back. Work hard, so we can provide the best for our children. But I also describe my family as a family that can’t make plans for the future,” said Jani Montrevil, the wife of a Haitian immigrant being deported to Haiti.
If the US government gets its way, Jani will soon enter the pool of single US mothers struggling to make ends meet.Her children, Jimya, Jahsiah, Janiah and Antoine will become forever fatherless.
“I’d probably have to put the home up for sale. Or get a roommate or something to help offset the bills,” she said.
At any moment, Jani’s husband Jean Montrevil, the breadwinner and 25-year US resident can be torn away from his family. Today, the father of four works as a church custodian in Manhattan. Tomorrow, the Haitian immigrant can be deported back.Back to the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere rocked by an earthquake and deepening humanitarian crises.
“I’m tired. I’m tired. I’m tired. I’m tired. I’m tired.Every day you gotta keep thinking about, deport Haitians. Deport Haitians. It’s not a good feeling. My wife is getting tired of it. I can tell. It’s killing me. It’s killing my wife and my family,” said Jean Montrevil, a Haitian Immigrant facing US deportation.
Last year’s seven-point-oh earthquake killed nearly 300-thousand Haitians, and left more than one million homeless.A tragedy so grave, the US issued an immediate suspension on deportations for Haitian Immigrants. Yet last month, the Obama Administration quietly lifted the ban, resuming deportations for those with criminal convictions.
Even those like Montrevil, who already paid his debt to society by serving 11 years in prison for selling drugs in the 1980s.
“I’ve been home now for more than 10 years. Without any infraction. I’m married. I use to own my own business. I work, I pay taxes, I take care of my family,” said Montrevil.
The very same day immigration officials resumed deportation of Haitian immigrants; the US State Department issued a travel warning against non essential travel to Haiti, warning Americans of continued high crime, limited police presence, lack of medical care and a cholera outbreak.
An epidemic so bad, the United Nations has made a $174-million appeal to fight the outbreak.
“It’s not good. It has now spread all across the country because cholera is a contagious disease. It’s affected over 100-thousand people so far. Over 2,500 people have perished from the disease,” said Stephanie Bunker, UN Humanitarian Affairs Spokesperson, New York
According to attorney Sunita Patel from the Center for Constitutional Rights, the deportations are a violation of the convention against torture and the UN Declaration of Human Rights.
“Sending someone back to a situation where they are likely to die or a situation where they are facing the possibility of death is potentially a violation of international law,” Patel explained.
Yet according to US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, up to 700-Hatians with criminal records will be sent back this year. To a nation racked by violence, food shortages and disease, a prospect that brings a feeling of fear to the Montrevil family – a family broken not by divorce, but by their government.
“I just don’t understand it. It doesn’t make sense to me. And Obama really needs to take into consideration the separation of families. He’s leaving a lot of children fatherless,” said Montrevil.
Glen Ford, the editor of the Black Agenda Report said Haiti has never been allowed to seek its full independence because western powers have continued to oppress their efforts.
The US has a past of non-recognition, invasion and interference in Haitian domestic affairs, preventing the nation from achieving its own level of independence.
“Haiti was isolated from world development. Britain and France and other European powers forbade Haiti to even have a navy or merchant marine. They decreed that any Haitian ship caught on the high seas would be seized and its Capitan be put to death as if he were a pirate,” said Ford. “From the very beginning Haiti has not been allowed to engage in international commerce and its internal affairs have been intervened with repeatedly.”
This continues today, he argued.
“The United States uses so-called aid as a political tool in order to bend countries to its will,” said Ford.
He argued the investment is an effort at domination and empire expansion, not helpfulness. The US interest is political and based on control.
“When you’re an empire, any example of independence from the United States, and break with the Washington consensus is a threat to the empire,” commented Ford. “It’s about the politics of the situation. If a little black country stands up and says we want to be truly independent, then that represents a danger to the empire not to be tolerated.”
He added, “Haiti is now ruled by foreigners, it does not have sovereignty.”
Pepe Escobar, a journalist with the Asia Times also explained Haiti has been a troubled nation for some time, going far before the earthquake of a year ago.
The island nation was the first slave state to rise up and fight for its independence, an action much of the rest of the world was hesitant to support.
“Haiti is a global tragedy. It’s a global shame in fact,” he said. “We start in the 18th century and after that it was a catalogue of disasters culminating with the response to the earthquake.”
The nation is run by five major families, with western connections, Escobar argued.
“Haiti is still an enormous slave plantation with five oligarchic families controlling everything, allied with the military of course,” he explained.
The US, along with Canada and France, has an invested interest in controlling the region, Escobar said. They want to carve up Haiti in order to access oil and other natural resources. The US is interested in greater ties and control, similar to relations with some other Latin American nations.