News and opinions on situation in Haiti
October 17, 2006 marks the 200th anniversary of the death of Haiti’s founding father, Jean Jacques Dessalines. Join HLLN in remembering his life, triumphs and three greatest ideals and philosophical contributions for a more humane and united world
Date: 19 September 2006
HLLN recommended Links:
DIALOGUE BETWEEN TWO HAITIANS (in 2004)
Thank you Father Dessalines* by Morisseau-Leroy
See last year?s commemoration: Oct 17 ? ?Day of Heroes In Haiti?
See also: The Utility of Haiti by Faiz Ahmed
Onè e respè la sosyete,
President Preval is now in office in Haiti. Some of the most recognized political prisoners have been released and through Leadership Network’s international agitations and the ceaseless sacrifices of the people of Haiti, the truth about the neo-liberal agenda that led to the 2004 coup d?etat is more readily visible and in the news than it was at the beginning of the 2004 occupation and dictatorship years.
But we still have many basic human rights, as outlined in HLLN?s Free Haiti Movement?s 2006 resolution that have yet to be fully realized, including release of all the political prisoners, the de-militarization of Haiti, the equal application of DDR, full investigation of the bi-centennial coup d?etat, justice for its victims, respect for Haiti?s sovereignty and the Feb. 7th vote, a stop to the UN killings of Haitian civilians, and a stop to the coup d?etat killings, rapes, arbitrary arrests and political persecutions in Haiti; (For the full text, see, the 2006 Haiti Resolution at
HLLN appreciates all who have supported and joined the Free Haiti Movement over the years and helped Haitians press forward these most basic of freedom goals. We believe there is no nobler a cause than to defend the most powerless against the atrocities, tyranny and ravages of the most powerful nations and military powers on earth.
October 17, 2006 will mark the last of HLLN’s four yearly events for the Free Haiti Movement in 2006.
Consider sponsoring, as a show of solidarity with the struggling peoples of Haiti, or, if you’re Haitian, to honor Haiti’s founding father, an October 17th FreeHaitiMovement event, activity or essay/article on Jean Jacques Dessalines’ achievements. All creative ideas are encouraged.
HLLN will gather all the “Dessalines is Rising” events, essays and contributions to promote and circulate them through our international network. The best essays and creative contributions on Dessalines? achievements shall be published on our website.
To endorse and sponsor, write to Erzilidanto@yahoo.com with your contributions, and any flyers and announcements dealing with Dessalines events in the month of October, 2006 (See last year?s commemoration: Oct 17 ? ?Day of Heroes In Haiti?
You may also support the work of the Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network by making financial contributions to this work. Go to:
Haitians were the first Blacks to be brought, in chains, to the Western Hemisphere.
After more than 300 years of European enslavement, Haitians were also the first and only captives, in world history, to gain their independence in combat with their enslavers.
General Jean Jacques Dessalines is Haiti’s founding father.
When, in 1802, the French kidnapped and spirited away Haiti’s first revolutionary hero, General Toussaint Louverture, Jean Jacques Dessalines would rise up to lead the struggle which would defeat the white settlers and create the nation called “Ayiti,” meaning “land of mountains” in the Taino-Arawak Amerindian language.
Dessalines was assassinated on October 17, 1806. This was Haiti’s very first coup d’etat. One month from now, on October 17, 2006 Haitians will mark the bi-centennial of Dessalines’ death.
For its part, HLLN will honor the achievements of one of the modern world’s greatest heroes – Haiti’s brilliant founding father, Jean Jacques Dessalines, by underlining the greatest of Dessalines philosophies and ideals.
We shall do this by bringing to, on-line, to our Ezili Danto Listserve, on October 17, 2006, an HLLN ?To-Tell-The-Truth” About Haiti Forum centering on the achievements of Jean Jacques Dessalines.
By then, those interested will know a bit more about:
1. The three most important philosophies and ideals of Jean Jacques Dessalines;
2. Haitian Culture: The Symbolic and Archetypal nature of Vodun;
3. How the Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network (HLLN) empowers Haitians, encourages Haitians to network with one another, be self-reliant and address their grievances people-to-people;
4. The biggest problems facing Haitians in the Diaspora;
5. Why Haiti is so poor;
6. Why the 2004 Coup D?etat, and
7. Why Haitians are the most hated and discriminated against peoples in the Western Hemisphere.
The post on these issues will be taken directly from interviews, workshops, writings or the “To-Tell-The-Truth”-About-Haiti forums held by HLLN since the February 2004 coup d?etat.
We begin by outlining what Ezili Dantò/HLLN teaches are the three most important philosophies and humanitarian contributions of General Jean Jacques Dessalines:
1. Black is the color of liberty. In Dessalines’ Haiti, “Black,” is deracialized.
All Haitians, – Ayisyen yo – “shall hence forward be known only by the generic appellation of “Blacks.” (See, Dessalines’ 1805 Constitution).
Dessalines defined those who fought for the abolishment of chattel slavery in Haiti and against colonialism, including the few whites that did fight on the side of the Africans, as “Blacks.” To study Dessalines’ life, achievements and first Constitution is to come to know that a “Black” is a person (no matter his/her skin color, European or African) who stands for freedom, human dignity and against slavery, colonialism and imperialism.
No ideal in this modern world so directly confronts and conquers the biological fatalism of white privilege. In Dessalines’ 1805 Constitution, Haitians are Blacks. And “Blacks” included even the Polish and Germans who fought with the African warriors on the side of liberty and equality, not slavery, plunder and profit. Black people in Dessalines’ Haiti are “lovers of liberty” who are willing to live free or die. To reiterate, there is no modern philosophy or ideal that has so directly provided the world with an ALTERNATIVE to the manufactured “race game,” based on skin color, as this Dessalines ideal.
Haiti is a nation of Blacks, of lovers of liberty.
This Dessalines philosophy directly and humanely defeats the socially manufactured white/black ?race? dialogue of the US/Euro powers that Dessalines and his peoples in Haiti confronted and is one of the primary reasons why the spread of Haiti’s revolution, was, and still is, so feared by the US/Euro slave owners and their descendants.
2. What’s in a name?
The name ?Ayiti? or “Haiti” honors the spirit, calls forth the force, of the original inhabitants of Haiti who suffered complete genocide at the hands of the white settlers.
When it came to naming the island the African warriors had freed from the white settlers’ tyranny, it took a great humanist to remember the original inhabitants, the Taino/Arawaks, who had been brutally decimated by the white settlers. Dessalines is that great genius who would name the country that defeated white privilege and imperialism “Haiti” – Ayiti- an Amerindian term.
Though the original inhabitants are no more, the country called “Ayiti” lives, still exists through the African peoples who defeated the slaughterers of the original Ayiti. Taino/Arawak bloodlines and culture live in African bloodlines in Haiti and in Haiti?s syncretic Vodun culture. Through the living of Africans who name themselves in their language, they did not die out.
Dessalines is the ONLY one of the revolutionary heroes of Haiti, to become a Lwa.
To name the country “Ayiti” is to honor the spirit, the memory of these native Taino/Arawak Amerindians who owned the land before the white settlers arrived. This too also unnerves the imperialists. HLLN’s To-Tell-The-Truth-About-Haiti Forums teach that, ?To say ?Haitian? ? Ayisyen ? is a profoundly important utterance. For to say ?Haitian? – Ayisyen ? is to raise up the souls of the destroyed Amerindians. To vilify a Haitian because of his/her revolutionary legacy and desire for independence, is to stand against all that Haiti is. It is to stand against the courageous Amerindian spirit Haitians animate with each breath of existence. It is to undermine, not only the former owners of the land called Ayiti, but also the amalgamated African tribes and the few European freedom lovers who were the first to put liberty into application since the coming of Columbus to the Americas.
3. And finally, the greatest of Dessalines visions and ideals is that Haiti would be a Black independent nation.
Dessalines v. Toussaint (Black ruled Independent Nation vs. Black ruled French Colony, with Black overseers/feudal lords governing for the colonist/imperialist.)
Toussaint Louverture fought for a Black ruled French colony. This was absolutely unthinkable to the slave-owners. Until, that is, Dessalines came along with a greater demand, the bigger achievement – to make Haiti a Black ruled independent nation. Then, to the Euro/US tribes, Toussaint Louverture’s aspirations for a “Black ruled French colony” didn’t seem so extreme! You’ll notice even today Louverture is lauded; Dessalines still vilified, criminalized and demonized. His achievement is still unthinkable to the powers-that-be.
For centuries now these powers, with their black overseers in Haiti, have pressed forward Toussaint Louverture’s vision of Haiti as a Black-ruled colony first for the French now for the US and demonized Dessalines’ dream. In fact, Dessalines? very name was forbidden to be spoken and for decades, to speak his name was to face alienation, even prison, criminalization or death.
But, as we all know, criminalization, imprisonment and death cannot destroy the indestructible. Dessalines’ dream of a “Black ruled independent Haiti” is what Haitians have been struggling to achieve, within a hostile American Mediterranean, for over 200 years.
Dessalines? faith, insistence on the right of a Black person to take up arms in self-defense, his dream of a Black independent nation and is what all the coup d’etats since 1806, including the latest one in February of 2004 are trying to bury. Yet, no matter the atrocities suffered by the most vilified peoples in this Western Hemisphere, Dessalines dream cannot be cut from them, still lives in Haitian veins. Jean Jacques Dessalines is still being born, rising everyday. No matter what you?ve read, Jean Jacques Dessalines, not Toussaint Louverture, is Haiti?s founding father and the masses? most revered revolutionary heroes, a Vodun Lwa, Vodun God ? an irreducible essence, indestructible spirit and one of the world?s greatest humanitarian, political strategist, and wisest world philosopher.
The spirit of Jean Jacques Dessalines? is the force the Haitian masses recalled and called upon, after the kidnapping of president Jean Bertrand Aristide on February 29, 2004. His vision of a Black-ruled-independent nation is the vision that still animates Haiti?s Black majority and their current struggle against UN/US orchestrated deaths, foreign occupation, debt, dependency, domination, imprisonment and criminalization.
Dessalines wakes up everyday in Haiti and in the Haitian Diaspora. He left his descendants only one option to slavery and colonialism and his three ideals are brought into focus with this one dictum: live free or die
On October 17, 2006, HLLN and the People of Haiti will mark the 200th anniversary of the death of Haiti’s founding father – General Jean Jacques Dessalines. Please join us in the last of our four yearly event for the FreeHaitiMovement. Join HLLN and the grassroots pro-democracy movement in Haiti in honoring Haiti’s centuries of struggle and triumphs over tyranny.
Please support this endeavor. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org with your contributions.
You may also support the work of the Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network by making a donation. Go to:
Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network
“Haiti is hallowed ground, set by our African ancestors as a place Black people could be free within a sea full of Euro/U.S. enslavers.
See also: The Utility of Haiti by Faiz Ahmed