Will Sri Lanka become another Haiti?
Before answering this we need to know a little about Haiti & what happened to it to draw parallels with Sri Lanka. The question is relevant because people are talking about the likelihood of Sri Lanka turning into another Haiti, which means there is a window of hope to ensure that does not happen.
The island known as Hispaniola is the 2nd largest island in the Caribbean Sea after Cuba and the most populous (76,192 square kilometers).
The island’s total population is 22million.
Dominican Republic with 10.35 million & Haiti with 11.58 million people.
Roman Catholicism is the dominant religion.
11% of Dominicans are black while rest are mixed.
Haiti’s population – 95% are black.
Hispanoila (also known as Great Antilles) is home to 2 countries – Haiti (French/Creole speaking) & the Dominican Republic (Spanish speaking – 27,750 square kilometers) (one island shared by 2 countries).
The West wishes to create a Tamil Eelam not for Tamils but as an outpost for Western agenda in South Asia. One island, an artificial border creating 2 countries out of the Island of Sri Lanka will prevail if this quest succeeds.
Hispaniola’s two countries have a population of around 10million each.
But the two countries are poles apart – Haitians are poorer, unemployed & suffering HIV/AIDS while Dominica is a prosperous & popular tourist destination.
One island but people living in almost 2 different worlds – separated from an artificial border.
Was this 224m line border original? Obviously not. It’s a border that exists in paper only. This artificial line came about after the 1937 Parsley Massacre by Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo who was eventually assassinated in 1961 with CIA providing ‘material support’
(James Stanton, Democrat, Chairman of House Subcommittee investigating CIA/Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Senator Frank Church)
Doesn’t this scenario sound too close to home in Sri Lanka?
Bogus ‘discovery’ of America
The wrongly promoted notion is that Christopher Columbus discovered Americas on 6 December 1492 – that is far from the truth because when he landed in Hispaniola, there were civilizations & inhabitants in these lands & islands that came to be illegally invaded & occupied by the Western colonials.
The Hispaniola island was inhabited by Arawak/Taino Indians. There is no exact evidence based figures to their exact population when Columbus arrived but by 1507 there were only 400,000 Arawak/Taino Indians which reduced to just 60,000 and by 1514, only 26,334. By May 1519, as many as one-third of the remaining Taínos had died. The invaders killed & the islanders were treated like slaves.
Sri Lanka too suffered similar fate under colonial rule.
Spain arrived in Hispaniola in 1514 & occupied East part of the Island
1000 Spaniards and 12,000 African slaves arrived by 1574
Spain calls their territory Santo Domingo.
In 1795 Spain ceded 2/3 of the island to France (Peace of Basel Treaty)
In 1844 the slaves rebelled and Saint-Domingo became Dominican Republic .
The French arrived in Hispaniola in1665 & occupied West part of the Island
France calls their new territory as Saint-Domingue
France ruled Saint-Domingue from 1659 to 1804
In 1804 Saint-Domingue (became Haiti), the wealthiest French colony, and known as the “Pearl of the Antilles”.
The poorest colony (now Dominican Republic) is the wealthiest in Hispaniola.
While Haiti, the wealthiest French colony, became poorer than Dominicans.
How did this happen?
Haiti is 27,750 km²
Dominican Republic is 48,442 km²
Sri Lanka is 65,610 km²
France occupied Haiti for over 200 years but refused to accept Haiti’s independence in 1804.
In 1825 France demanded Haiti pay 150million francs.
Haiti agreed to pay 90million to get out of the embargo imposed by France, UK & US.
The interest against loan taken to pay this was only paid in 1947 (after 150years) with US controlling Haiti’s finances.
However, there was no restitution for the crimes committed by the colonialists.
In 1915 the President of Haiti was assassinated leading to US invasion of Haiti.
US occupied Haiti from 1915-1934 primarily to ward off European influence & secure Panama Canal & ensure payments to National City Bank of New York (Citibank)
The US Govt and private banks achieved their goals in Haiti without honoring the promises to the Haitians. US was even accused of extrajudicial killings.
Same likely to happen to Sri Lankans.
In 1991 Jean-Bertrand Aristide the first democratically elected President was deposed by a CIA-orchestrated military coup.
Haiti fell into the hands of insurgents who were killing and burning crops.
US supported puppet Presidents, they created a client-army trained by US Marines who were to become client militias across Latin America. Anyone against US occupation was shot or imprisoned.
US next imposed a constitution upon Haiti, the client-army dissolved Haiti’s National Assembly at gunpoint, resulting in a US-State Dept drafted constitution to be enacted without legislative approval. This constitution included provision to permit foreigners to directly own land. MCC aspires to do same in Sri Lanka, where US will create a private company which will have no accountability to the GoSL and can do as they please in Sri Lanka. These are all clues for Sri Lanka.
In 1994 President Clinton gave orders to invade Haiti & reinstated Aristide to once again adapt neoliberal economic policies. This is no different to how US demands certain politicians to be placed at the helm to also continue neoliberal policies in Sri Lanka.
These neoliberal policies were the 1995 IMF/WB imposed structural adjustments that slashed import tariffs on rice destroying Haitian agriculture to import rice from America (mostly from Clinton’s home state Arkansas)
Rice has close ties to both Haiti & Sri Lanka.
Many wonder if the fertilizer ban in Sri Lanka was intentionally done to cripple Sri Lanka’s agriculture/rice production.
Haiti grappled for the right to eat. Sri Lanka is on its way there.
Haiti’s hunger crisis was precipitated by US economic policies since 1980s.
Sri Lanka is undergoing same.
Rice is the basic food in Africa, in South America and Asia.
However by 1980s, Haiti was the worlds 4th largest market for US rice exports with US exporting $80m to Haiti by 2004.
In 1984 US created the Caribbean Basin Initiative integrating Haiti into the global market by redirecting 30% Haiti’s domestic food production for export promoted by USAID fully aware that it would lead to widespread hunger in rural Haiti as peasant land was converted to grow food for foreigners.
This is exactly what the UNP PM RanilW in 2002 declared he would do in Sri Lanka
Turning rural Haiti into producing food for export, Haiti had to live off food aid & dependence on food imports. The same will happen to Sri Lanka.
Duvalier and his son received millions for this. Military coups were also supported by US and one such leader Namphy was given $24.6m IMF loan to slash rice tariffs from 150% to 50% and open all Haiti’s ports to commercial activity. This was coupled with US subsidizing rice prices making it impossible for Haiti farmers. Aristade returned to power again with 67% popularity but the US-backed military overthrew him again and unleashed terror upon their own people. Even the Vatican recognized Gen. Cedras military rule.
American Rice Inc is a subsidiary of Erly Industries a powerful international agribusiness. American Rice Inc and the Haitian military signed a 9 year contract to import US rice under name Rice Corporation of Haiti. Eventually Bill Clinton apologized for his role in helping Arkansas agro-businesses reap profits at the expense of Haiti’s rice farmers & acted as mediator between coup leaders and President Aristide to return him as President. By this time US rice consumed 80% of Haitis domestic production while rice was also smuggled.
Aristide refused the US neoliberal plan to sale state-owned assets and privatization. Haiti under Aristide benefited the poor majority, Haiti under US enriched only those that US favored.
Aristide was ousted by President Bush, France & Canada in 2004 & US troops occupied Haiti alongside UN peace keeping mission, which was later accused of instigating a cholera outbreak & committing mass rape.
US next picked Michel Martelly to be Haiti’s puppet President to enforce neoliberal policies benefiting US corporations who were assisted by Hillary Clinton. Martelly picked Jovenel Moise to contest & won Presidency in 2017 with just 5% of vote as only 21% voted.
Govt officials had embezzled billions no different to the spiraling scandals in Sri Lanka. Moise took pains to remain in power by expanding executive powers again similar to the attempts to create an executive Prime Minister in Sri Lanka. Moise was assassinated in 2021 by US-trained mercenaries. https://www.iar-gwu.org/blog/iar-web/a-brutal-history – the masterminds remain unknown.
Sri Lanka saw only 2 assassinations in its pollical history – PM SWRD Bandaranaike in 1959 and President Premadasa in 1993. Haiti has a string of assassinations.
US applied R2P for Haiti via Operation Unified Response with 200 US Marines deployed to support USAID efforts with controversial funding. US-agents drafting security, defense and foreign policies are a subtle attempt to enforce same.
Haiti occupation by US ended primarily due to campaigns in US highlighting US atrocities at Congressional hearings. This is an area Sri Lanka needs to explore.
Haiti’s fate is no different to Sri Lanka. Haiti known as the Pearl of Antilles and Sri Lanka known as the Pearl of the Indian Ocean. Haiti gained independence in 1804 and Sri Lanka in 1948. Both faced external interests. European powers & US interfered and continues to interfere in both.
Leaders of both Haiti & Sri Lanka were corrupt plunging respective nations further into debt. Haiti has almost half the population of Sri Lanka and is considered the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Sri Lanka has landed itself into debt.
In 2004 Sri Lanka suffered the tsunami. In 2009, Sri Lanka ended 30 years of terrorism.
In 2010 Haiti suffered a devastating earthquake that killed 300,000 people. In 2016 Haiti suffered a cholera outbreak linked to UN peacekeepers which killed 10,000 Haitians and sickened 800,000.
Haiti was slapped with international economic embargoes – which Sri Lanka has yet to face.
Sri Lanka like Haiti has been a victim of western interference (Sri Lanka victim of Indian interference as well) under guise of humanitarian assistance, impacting the sovereignty of both nations & bringing masses into poverty via neo-liberalized economic system.
Shenali D Waduge