Solidarity as defined by President Aristide takes root in the African philosophy of Ubuntu, Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu: “a person is a person through other human beings. A person becomes a person through the community. A person is a person when she/he treats others well….Ubuntu is the source of all philosophy grounded in solidarity, cooperation, unity, respect, dignity, justice, liberty and love of the other.” – Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Haïti-Haitii?: Philosophical Reflections for Mental Decolonization
“Haiti has no debt with Venezuela, just the opposite: Venezuela has a historical debt with that nation, with that people for whom we feel not pity but rather admiration, and we share their faith, their hope.” – Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez upon absolving Haiti of all financial debt in the wake of the 2010 earthquake.
After 35 years of incarceration, political prisoner and freedom fighter Oscar López Rivera was released in 2017. One of his revolutionary lessons urges us to recognize that “colonialism is the problem” we continue to face today. While he specifically referred to Puerto Rico and its colonial status, his reflection is applicable to anywhere in the world devastated by exploitation, occupation, and invasion at the hands of European colonialism and US imperialism. As such, we can examine the current and historical challenges facing both Venezuela and Haiti, as well as their complicated relationship, as cases that expose the open wounds and lasting effects of colonialism and counter-revolutionary attacks against revolutionary processes committed to liberation and the reconfiguration of global power.
Colonialism explains why United Nations forces implicated in mass rape, human trafficking rings, and the cholera epidemic continue to occupy Haiti. Colonialism is the driving force behind former US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s spring 2018 tour throughout the Caribbean, intimidating, threatening, and bribing states to vote at the Organization of American States (OAS), in favor of foreign intervention in Venezuela. Colonialism has cultivated the root of complex political, economic, and sociocultural relationships between the states, peoples, and grassroots movements of Venezuela and Haiti.