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Neocolonialism at its (Canadian?) Best



So, clearly, I need to drop in soon with an update on this weekend’s French election. But, in the meantime, it turns out that France isn’t the only place where colonial history is back up for debate.

A constitutional scholar just published an apparently serious call for Haiti to relinquish its sovereignty–preferably to Canada.

The new Haitian Constitution should do something virtually unprecedented: renounce the power of self-governance and assign it for a term of years, say 50, to a country that can be trusted to act in Haiti’s long-term interests.

Since the US, France, and the UK have a bad record with Caribbean conquests,

The answer may be Canada, for years one of Haiti’s most loyal friends and foreign aid donors — and today one of the most popular destinations for the diaspora. Canadians today yearn for real influence in the world, and there may be no better way than building Haiti anew drawing from Canada’s values of equality, diversity, and compassion, and its unique expertise in humanitarian assistance. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is still looking for a major foreign policy achievement since his election in 2015, and this commitment could leave a legacy that would match his father’s own achievements as prime minister.

Now, this plan is not without its drawbacks:

The optics alone of a majority-white country running Haiti — even if in Haiti’s best interests — revive ghosts of the distant but never-forgotten past of slavery.

Really? In the place where the world’s largest successful slave rebellion resulted in the second independent republic in the post-Colombian western hemisphere? You don’t say.

Difficult times often yield impossible choices, and this would be an extraordinarily difficult decision for Haiti’s political leaders. Yet the greatest gift Haiti’s political class can give their fellow citizens is to give up the power to govern. This ultimate sacrifice would be a triumph of national over individual interests, and it would forever memorialize Haiti’s current leaders as the country’s modern founders.

I get that Haiti is in rough shape right now, but find it hard to see how a new imperial overlord would help things. I can’t even begin to imagine how Haiti’s revolutionary founders–and the thousands who fought with them–would respond to this. But this is what they said at the time:

It is not enough to have expelled the barbarians who have bloodied our land for two centuries; it is not enough to have restrained those ever-evolving factions that one after another mocked the specter of liberty that France dangled before you. We must, with one last act of national authority, forever assure the empire of liberty in the country of our birth; we must take any hope of re-enslaving us away from the inhuman government that for so long kept us in the most humiliating torpor. In the end we must live independent or die.

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