Haiti's elite are growing increasingly desperate, as many experts predict that the current electoral failures could exacerbate an already critical situation. Although the world knows Haiti primarily for the humanitarian crises which often bombard our TV screens, leaving us emotionally devastated and weeping for the poorest nation in the western hemisphere, the fact is that Haiti has a long, rich history, and an intellectual elite who carry on that rich, polyglot legacy.
In accordance with that long, polyglot legacy, drawing from Haiti becoming the second country in the Americas to gain its independence after the United States, under the guidance of Toussaint L'Ouverture, who traced his origins to the West African nation of Benin, the Haitian elite today have openly begun to welcome the idea of the nation disembarking completely from the Americas.
Since the US and French-led overthrow of Haiti's democratically-elected president, Bertrand Aristide, the new elite have had to rely on the United Nations's MINUSTAH stabilization force to execute their desires over the Haitian population. As Haiti has no army, and the elite fear that a new military force could upend their established economic order, one subservient to Washington's free trade and low-cost labor desires, they have subsequently sought outside powers to help them tame a people that they themselves see as increasingly foreign.
I recall a conversation with a member of Haiti's elite I had at Yale back when I was an undergrad; I asked him where he was from and he told me that he was Haitian, but that he felt a greater connection to Africa. I'm Dominican and his skin was lighter than mine, but this is what he asserted upon meeting me, to make sure that I didn't see him as an outsider or usurper of our shared Quisqueyan identity.
Today, this is what many of Haiti's elite preach: that although Haiti is geographically part of the Americas, it is historically and in every sense part of Africa. Haiti’s high commissioner to South Africa, Jacques Junior Baril, openly said that Haiti's membership in the African Union is "not something we decided, it’s a place that we earned after we fought for our independence 212 years ago. We paved the way for every other African nation to be free today, so historically speaking Haiti should have been in the AU already."
|Soon patrolling in the Americas? HRW|
The Caribbean island nation already enjoys observer status in the African Union, and it is likely only a matter of time until the Haitian elite solidify their membership in the organization. United Nations peacekeepers have already been in Haiti over a decade, and eventually they will leave.
Most experts predict that Haiti's status as a collapsed state will continue for at least another decade, which would mean that the nation faces the prospect of a multi-decade United Nations occupation.
The only predictable replacement, upon the departure of UN peacekeepers, is for African Union troops to help train a new Haitian army. Given the speed of training and development in Haiti, it may be yet another multi-decade affair until African Union troops have successfully completed their training mission in the only failed state in the Americas.