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Is Obama Continuing Bush’s Discriminatory Policies against Haitians?

April 9, 2009 by  
Filed under News, Weekly Columns

( [President] Barack Obama is following President Bush’s dour treatment of Haitians.

In line with policies put in place by Bush, the United States is set to deport more than 30,000 Haitians to their impoverished homeland.

Hundreds of Haitians have been put in camps awaiting the return home, while others have been put under house arrest and monitored with electronic ankle bracelets.

The deportations are to a nation reeling from poverty, repression, despair and devastation.

It’s a familiar story for Haitians – last in, first out for the hemisphere’s poorest, least wanted and most abused people; and black faces in high places in the US government have done little to help them. To date, Barack Obama has yet to deviate from America’s racist past practices toward Haiti. America’s callous disregard for Haitians is legendary.

Black Secretary of State Colin Powell engineered a coup d’etat in 2004 that sent Haiti’s democratically-elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide into exile.

Known as the poorest nation in the nation in the western hemisphere, Haiti’s troubles increased significantly with the passage of four deadly back-to-back storms in the fall of 2008. Fay, Gustav, Hanna and Ike killed more than 800 persons and devastated the small, impoverished island nation by washing away roads, bridges and crops. It was a $1.3 billion disaster. Over 80 percent of the country’s population was displaced by flood damage.

A World Bank assessment determined that losses from the storms could total 15 percent of Haiti’s gross national product. Insisting Haiti is still struggling to recover from the hurricanes and cannot handle the return of citizens; President René Préval urged the Bush and Obama administrations to grant Haitians nationals in the US temporary protection status as victims of natural disasters. Numerous Haitian organizations have joined that call.

Will he, or won’t he? Haitian advocates wonder if the Obama era will bring fairer immigration practices

The international community has turned its focus on the impoverished Caribbean island. A high-ranking delegation led by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, accompanied by former US President Bill Clinton, recently visited Haiti. Immediately after the visit, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon used his first audience at the Obama White House to address the plight of Haitians and promote “a golden opportunity to bring in investors and create hundreds of thousands of jobs in Haiti.” The World Bank announced a $5 million donation to repair schools.

Obama could be a change agent to what has been the same old American story: White Anglo-Saxons and most Europeans are welcome. But, for poor blacks, Latinos (except for Cubans) and most Asians, far different standards apply; none harsher than for Haitians despite dangers, poverty, devastation at home, and risks they take at sea. The Haitians awaiting deportation should get temporary protection status.

Written By William Reed

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