Haiti

The Black Jacobins: the Haitian revolution against slavery

This is a speech by Dan Davison, a labour activist and sociology PhD student at the University of Cambridge, for a talk on C.L.R. James and the Haitian Revolution held in July 2020. All page references are to C.L.R. James, The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L'Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution (London: New edn., Penguin 2001). Video, text, and audio.

The French revolution and black liberation

I’ve never read anything by the French novelist Alexandre Dumas. I might now, after reading the remarkable story of his father in Tom Reiss’ remarkable book, Black Count. I didn’t know that Dumas the novelist was mixed-race. His father, Thomas-Alexandre Dumas Davy de la Pailleterie, was born in the French colony of Saint-Domingue (today’s Haiti), the son of a French nobleman and a black woman he owned as a slave. Eventually also known as just Alexandre or Alex Dumas, he became a top general in the French revolution - not in Haiti, but in Europe. He was the highest-ranking black officer in a...

Capitalism leaves Haiti to rot

On 12 January 2010, Haiti was rocked by an earthquake which killed 230,000 people. One year on, in the capital Port-au-Prince, between 1.3 and 1.7 million people continue to live in squalid tents with little hope of moving. Despite the huge sums of money charities and aid organisations received in a show of international solidarity following the quake, less than 30,000 of those displaced have found permanent homes. A recent cholera outbreak killed more than 3,300 people; and of the 20 million cubic metres of rubble created by the disaster, less than 5 per cent has been cleared. Already the...

Haiti solidarity

No Sweat activists met in London for a forum on Haiti to follow up the massively successful music and comedy benefit which raised over £1,000 for Haitian workers' organisation Batay Ouvriye. The meeting heard from Andy Taylor of the Haiti Support Group, who gave an inspiring account of how grassroots organisations in Haiti have tried to pick themselves up and continue organising after the devastating earthquake. He explained how the hyper-exploitative sweatshop capitalism operating in Haiti directly worsened the impact of the earthquake; 500 workers in a single factory were killed because...

'No Sweat' raises £1,000 for Haitian workers' federation

Anti-capitalist activists and comedy fans (and a few people who fell into both categories) packed out London's Cross Kings pub on February 10 for a music and comedy benefit to raise money for Batay Ouvriye, the radical Haitian workers’ federation with a proud history of organising amongst Haiti’s hyper-exploited workers and urban poor. We were responding to an appeal for international solidarity in the wake of the devastating earthquake. High-profile comedians such as Jeremy Hardy, Robin Ince and Shappi Khorsandi appeared on the bill, alongside folk-rock singer Robyn Hitchcock. The comedy, as...

Haitian workers call for solidarity

In the aftermath of the devastating earthquake that rocked Haiti, some sections of the British labour movement are stepping up to deliver the solidarity that Haiti’s workers and poor so desperately need. With aid being delivered predominantly by various US or UN military bodies, or by unaccountable NGOs, there is (as ever) no guarantee that aid can be delivered on the basis of need or without strings. For this and other reasons it’s vital for the left and the workers’ movement to organise direct material support and solidarity for our counterparts in Haiti who have experience in self...

Haiti, emergency aid and the left

For the call for funds and solidarity from the radical Haitian workers' organisation Batay Ouvriye, see here. For Liverpool TUC's initiative in support of Haitian workers, see here. On 12 January Haiti was struck by a gigantic 7.0 magnitude earthquake. The scale of the devastation is difficult to comprehend. In a desperately poor country of around nine million people between 200,000 and 300,000 have died. The Haitian President, René Préval has said that in the first eight days after the quake 170,000 bodies were cleared from the streets and rubble-reduced buildings. Perhaps two million people...

Haitian workers call for solidarity

CALL FOR SOLIDARITY AFTER THE FATAL EARTHQUAKE IN PORT AU PRINCE, HAITI, on 12 January 2010 Batay Ouvriye After the fatal earthquake in Port au Prince, January 12, 2010 For us, the Haitian people, the earthquake in Port au Prince, on 12 January 2010 hurt deeply. In fact, apart from the destruction of the public buildings most of our neighbourhoods were destroyed. Not surprisingly they are the most fragile and the most unstable: the state never gave them any service, any attention or helped them consolidate. On the contrary, we need to be able to move, so we have neither time nor capacity to be...

Tubeworker 26/1/10

The new issue of Tubeworker celebrates a 'triple whammy', as Underground workers fight back on Alstom, Signals, and against the five pound minimum Oyster top-up. Other reports include the fight for Bakerloo drivers' jobs, the absurdities of the mystery shopper surveys, and the CSS bonus. Another article explains why Haiti needs not just charity but change. Click '1 attachment'/ file name to view and download it. Click here to read Tubeworker's blog.

Haiti: whose recovery?

A recent post on the blog of The Heritage Foundation, a US think tank, argued that any humanitarian intervention in Haiti should "prevent any large-scale movement by Haitians to take to the sea ... to try to enter the US illegally." The document goes on, "Long-term reforms for Haitian democracy and its economy are also badly overdue." In 2009 the Heritage Foundation was rated by the journal Foreign Policy as the fifth most powerful think tank in the US. That an organisation with such serious political clout is arguing for "humanitarian forces" to take advantage of a natural disaster to...

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