The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

The murder of Haitian workers

Feb 19, 2001

(Translated from an article in the February 11, 2001 issue of Combat Ouvrier, (Workers Fight), a bi-monthly Trotskyist newspaper from the French West Indies.)

In the past week, soldiers of the Dominican Republic shot at a bus full of Haitian workers, killing two and wounding dozens. The same thing happened a few months before in the Dominican Republic –the soldiers don't hesitate to murder workers coming to the Dominican Republic in hopes of a better life.

Each day, hundreds of workers try to flee Haiti –by sea, air or land. Most are intercepted and sent back. They say they are trying to flee the misery, the hunger, the unemployment, the insecurity. They are certainly fleeing a country where workers pay for the troubles caused by politicians fighting each other over the state treasury. They are fleeing a country of fierce exploitation where badly paid labor brings them nothing. Many who leave to try another way to live are peasants, who in Haiti can't survive because the sharks rob them blind.

These Haitians come to the cities in hopes of finding work but they find nothing. They leave for the border with more false hopes. But outside the border of Haiti they discover the same exploitation, the same shameful situation wherever they go.

In the Dominican Republic, the sugar cane planation owners want field hands at exceptionally low wages. The authorities there shut their eyes, or they actually organize a kind of traffick in slaves at the border, so that the sugar cane owners will have labor at their mercy. When there is a need for less labor, the Dominican authorities promote a climate of racism and anti-foreign sentiment against the Haitians –which is what allows their soldiers to shoot at a bus full of workers!

Other murderers in Haiti itself

The United States is also a place to which Haitian flee; the authorities there try to stop the constant arrival of Haitians on their shores. In order to get rid of these people, the U.S. government gives aid packages to the Haitian government –which aid never gets to the poor! So many young people feel they must risk their lives to try to save their families. So they try the hazardous route of becoming "boat people." They risk being killed or wounded by U.S. immigration authorities. They risk all kinds of mistreatment and humiliation, caught like animals in a trap, in order to escape.

Soldiers and their officers capable of murdering unarmed workers are certainly to blame. But what do we say about the bosses, the big exploiters who force the workers to flee? They may not shoot at workers themselves, but they leave workers shipwrecked, prey to murderers. They are the ones responsible for hundreds of deaths each year of workers fleeing the misery these bosses impose by their unceasing greed to enrich themselves and pillage the country.