Two comrades went into the Haitian countryside to meet with two groups about the necessity to build the struggle against capitalism. The first group was a reading group made up of 15 high school and university students. The second group was a freedom school (“tilekòl”) of 12 regular agricultural workers and 30 of their friends.
The agendas of both meetings were to discuss a mass campaign to end cholera in Haiti and the historical importance of August 14. This date commemorates the initial planning meeting in Bois Caïman, in the north of Haiti in 1791, of slaves for their revolution against slavery.
In every period of imperialism, the class enemy brings not only a political and an economic oppression, but also genocidal dangers (e.g., yellow fever in the colonial period, “chik,” a parasite which attacks the feet, in the period of the 1915-34 U.S. occupation, and cholera with the current UN/Minustah occupation).
Both groups discussed the source of the exploitation and assassination of the working class — the capitalist system. Even if we are able to win today’s reform struggles, as long as capitalism exists there will be other similar problems to resolve tomorrow.
The only way out of this perpetual struggle is to destroy the capitalist system. We must transform ourselves into determined fighters, build our Party into a mass party internationally, and create an egalitarian communist society that serves the interests of our class.
Cholera: The Bosses’
The youth group began with some information about the continued presence of cholera in Haiti. This disease of poverty has been made worse by the lack of clean water and sanitation. Fifty percent of city-dwellers and 70% of people in the countryside do not have access to clean water; fewer have adequate toilets. It continues to kill four to five each day. After the devastating earthquake in 2010, UN occupation troops brought the cholera virus by leaking their waste matter into the Artibonite River, the source of drinking water for tens of thousands of working-class people in the Plateau Central.
The Haitian government, the UN (including the World Health Organization), the imperialist countries, and the “humanitarian” organizations all maintained their silence. They did not prepare for the possible appearance of any epidemic after the earthquake. They did the minimum necessary when cholera was introduced. Once the main manifestation of the epidemic was over, they all turned their backs and walked away.
Today, cholera continues to spread, not only in Haiti, but in the neighboring Dominican Republic, in Spain, in Ghana and elsewhere where working-class people live in poverty. It was noted that the budget of the hated UN occupation troops — Minustah — for 18 days would pay for the inoculation of every man, woman and child in Haiti!
We debated whether Minustah’s presence in Haiti serves any purpose other than suppressing the will of the masses. We also discussed how superstition about the spread of cholera (not by a magic powder but by the lack of clean water and sanitation facilities) hides the political reality that it was brought to Haiti by imperialism. The ruling class allowed cholera to spread by its racist neglect. By ignoring the continued cholera epidemic, the working-class’s ability to organize and fight back is weakened.
Youth Study History of Haiti’s Revolution
During the presentation about the slave revolt of 1791 we learned that it was the first planned meeting between the “maroons” (those who had escaped slavery and lived freely in the mountains) and slaves. It led to a mass violent uprising lasting 12 years, ending the ability of the slave owners to continue their brutal, racist exploitation of the slaves. It also led to the successful abolition of slavery and the independence of Haiti from the yoke of French colonialism.
Bourgeois education teaches students in Haiti that what happened at Bois Caïman was a spontaneous, religious ceremony that relied on superstition. In our discussion, we learned that the planning of the insurrection used the cultural symbols of voodoo as tools of resistance against slavery. The young people asked why voodoo was no longer a tool of resistance against capitalism but just another religion which weakens workers’ ability to fight. It was pointed out that the capitalist class always corrupts popular culture and turns it into a poisonous substance that alienates workers.
Workers Organize Against Flood Conditions
The peasant group — tilekòl — has been meeting for several months, in part to resolve their water problems. When it rains, instead of watering their fields, it floods them. They have no access to clean water and are forced to pay for drinking water. The contamination and privatization of water is a problem for workers around the world. A similar struggle continues in the 12 districts to the east of Valle de Mexio, near Mexico City.
Tilekòl has decided to organize its community and fight back to change these conditions. They can try to solve the flooding problem and irrigate their fields by creating a system of canals (typically used in Haiti to solve flooding.) They will organize “koumbites” — collective work teams — to dig the canals. However, they don’t have the hand tools necessary to do the job. They also require an adequate system to bring clean water to the community with a series of public fountains.
Therefore, they have agreed to circulate a petition among all the members of their community and organize a huge delegation to present the petition to the local bosses demanding that they act. However, more action will be needed.
All of these steps are important to show that workers have the skills needed to run society for the benefit of all. When workers around the world understand that we don’t need the bosses or their capitalist system, we will be one step closer to breaking the chains of our oppression!