OPINION

If we don’t help Haiti now, then when?

if-we-don-t-help-haiti-now-then-when

It is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and the first independent democracy of former slaves. It was founded by the descendants of Africans who were abducted by slave traders (not only pirates, but also state officials) and transported to the Caribbean island. They were missing, you see, the labor force necessary for the plantations and the mines, after the extermination of the native tribes by the “white sovereigns,” who specialized in genocide long before the term was coined. 

Through it, they “civilized” and Christianized the “pagans” who lived in Haiti countless years before Christopher Columbus discovered them, in 1493, and named the island Hispaniola.

Today’s “white sovereigns,” descendants of the empires that based their power on the slave trade by uprooting people from their homeland and uprooting indigenous tribes from life itself, still believe that history owes them, because they’ve sped up its course for “progress.” In reality, it is they who are in debt to the peoples they “civilized” and whose lives they continue to affect, long after they achieved their freedom – like the Haitians. Spaniards, French, Americans – all Westerners – must now help Haiti, the victim of a deadly earthquake.

Greece, too, is in debt to the Haitians, for different reasons. Also enslaved during the centuries that Westerners expanded their empires, Greece received a valuable gift from Haiti on January 15, 1822: the first recognition of the Greek Revolution against the Ottoman Empire and independent Greece. Responding to Adamantios Korais’ letter, Jean-Pierre Boyer, the president of Haiti, in addition to his warm letter, reportedly sent a boat with volunteers and 45 tons of coffee.

What is Greece’s response today, after the earthquake, while it is celebrating 200 years since the start of the Greek War of Independence? A Twitter post by the Foreign Ministry: “Our thoughts are with everyone affected by the severe earthquake that hit Haiti. We extend heartfelt condolences to the victims’ families. At this difficult time, Greece stands with the Haitian people and government.” A cold message. Just 33 words. About 70 characters, a quarter of the number allowed. Couldn’t we issue a moving prime ministerial message? Send a rescue mission? A ship with 45 tons of basic necessities and tangible support? If not now, when?