Amy Goodman interviewed Mildred Aristide just before they landed in Haiti. Mrs Aristide rarely speaks in public so I was very interested to hear what she had to say. She spoke of her time in South Africa and learning about the connections between Africa and Haiti – learning about Africa and teaching about Haiti. In answer to the US government’s statement to President Aristide not to look to the past but to the future she quoted BarthÃ©lemy Boganda of the Central Africa Republic [CAR] response to the French colonial government who made a similar statement “I would stop talking about the past, if it weren’t so present”. It is convenient and in the US’s interest for Haitians and any of us for that matter to forget the past. The past is full of betrayals, violence and exploitation carried out by the US so no wonder they would prefer we all forget it.
And I think that what I’ve learned from Africa is how much Africans carry the past with them, and the past being lessons from their ancestors, the lessons of their culture, all of which happens in time, in a time space. So it’s not that you live in the past, but you carry with you the lessons and the good and the experiences of the past.
I think it’s–it’s an inability, maybe, by the American political process to understand the kind of relation that Titide has with the Haitian people, and it doesn’t fit within the kind of policy frameworks that perhaps they have of–and so, it’s an unwillingness to see beyond that. I’ll attribute it to that.
I think that the United States and a lot of those western European countries see politics a certain way, and I think that they have no right to impose that on other peoples.