Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

Selective Grief and Haitian Resistance

Largely ignored by international media, Hurricane Matthew has left 877 people dead in Haiti. These deaths are not only a product of the hurricane–they are a product of racism, capitalism and imperialism.

Lourival Aguiar Mahin

October 10, 2016
Facebook Twitter Share

Image from Esquerda Diario

This article was originially written in Portuguese for Esquerda Diario.

We need to talk about the hurricane that devastated Haiti last week. This tragedy, caused by Hurricane Matthew, is tied to racism and imperialism. The almost 900 deaths were not merely costs of a natural disaster. The hundreds of deaths cannot be explained by the fact that Haiti is the poorest country in Central America. This is a capitalist disaster, leaving semi-colonies like Haiti with no infrastructure or safety procedures.

We must begin by remembering the struggles and victories of the people of Haiti, the first Black nation to end slavery and declare itself independent. However, the Haitians were forced to paid a high price for their bold revolution. Slave-holding countries made sure Haiti served as an example for the enslaved and oppressed around the world who dared to follow their footsteps.

Long before the hurricane, France devastated Haiti with the desire for profit and revenge. The colonial power took thousands of francos from the newly-freed country thousands for its independence. For over a century, Haiti has been choked by the United States, which invaded and occupied the island on three occasions since its liberation. Haiti is systemically oppressed because its history is a symbol of resistance for today’s oppressed. This brings us to another question that Hurricane Matthew brings to light.

Hurricane Matthew hit the southwest part of the island with its 145 mph winds, leaving thousands of destroyed houses, flooded cities and almost 900 people dead, totaling half the deaths counted in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and ten times those of Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

Despite the high death toll, the mainstream media is more concerned with the possibility of the hurricane encroaching upon Florida than the devastation in Haiti. This selective grief was demonstrated clearly in January 2015. After 12 deaths and 11 injured caused by the attack on Charlie Hebdo in France, there was a strong international solidarity campaign (“Je Suis Charlie Hebdo”). Yet just a few days before, several days of massacre in Nigeria Boko Haram had just come to an end, leaving what Amnesty International estimates to be 2,000 dead. There was little to no international solidarity and very little reporting about it. We cannot ignore this blatant discrepancy. Black Lives Matter, everywhere in the world. Unfortunately, the tragedies that capitalist society grieves over have a color. And that color is not Black.

The human rights organizations, left political parties, labor unions and student groups should organize an active campaign of solidarity for the victims of Hurricane Matthew and denounce the imperialist oppression suffered in that country. Those of us in Brazil loudly declare: Troops out of Haiti! The struggle of our Haitian brothers and sister is also ours!

Translated by Tatiana Cozzarelli

Facebook Twitter Share

Latin America

Alfredo Cisneros, Mexican land defender from Michoacán, stands in a forest. He is the fifth land defender to be murdered in the country in 2023.

Alfredo Cisneros: Fifth Mexican Environmentalist Assassinated in 2023

Alfredo Cisneros Madrigal, indigenous leader and forest defender in Michoacán, Mexico was murdered on February 23. He is the fifth environmental defender to be murdered in the country so far this year.

Axomalli Villanueva

March 13, 2023

Lula Visits Biden to Repair Relations with U.S. Imperialism

Brazilian President Lula's U.S. visit shows that he's focused on maintaining the interests of Brazilian capital while aligning with U.S. imperialism and being careful not to alienate Beijing.

Caio Reis

February 16, 2023

SOUTHCOM Chief Aims to Increase Imperialist Plunder of Latin America’s Resources

U.S. Southern Command Chief Laura Richardson has expressed interest in lithium and other natural resources in South America. It shows the country’s commitment to corporate profits at the expense of workers, Indigenous people, and the environment.

Luigi Morris

January 26, 2023

The Peruvian Uprising: Massive Protests Demand the Fall of the Coup Regime and a Constituent Assembly

Peru has erupted in a massive uprising demanding that President Dina Boluarte resign, that the current Congress be shut down, and that a new constitution be established. The protests are the culmination of years of political oppression of the country’s indigenous communities, drastic poverty rates and precarity for Peru’s workers and poor, and a political regime that continues the legacy of Alberto Fujimori’s dictatorship.


“Lesser Evil” Biden Wants More Border Patrol Than MAGA Republicans

Over the weekend, Biden bragged about his support for even more resources than “MAGA Republicans.” to “secure the border” on Twitter. This is “lesser evilism” in action.

Molly Rosenzweig

March 28, 2023
Customers clear shelves of water Sunday at Fresh Grocer in West Philadelphia.

A Chemical Plant Just Poisoned Philadelphia’s Water: A First-Hand Account of the Crisis

A company dumped thousands of gallons of poisonous chemicals into Philadelphia’s drinking water. This is an on-the-ground account by a Philadelphia worker and socialist.

Jason Koslowski

March 27, 2023
A group of protesters, in the front of whom are a line of protesters wearing red vests. In the front right corner, a white sign reds "vive la retraite," with a skeleton wearing a red hat in the middle of the sign on a black background with a text bubble on its left that reads, "oiv a bosse, c'est pas pour en crever!"

“French March”: The Right to Revolutionary Optimism

Evoking memories of '68, the students enter the fight against Macron. In our chaotic world, the future can only be built in the streets.

Eduardo Castilla

March 26, 2023

Joe Biden Is Deporting Russians Who Escaped Putin’s Draft — Let Them All In!

The United States is deporting Russians who sought asylum following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This is a heinous attack against war resisters and shows that the proxy war in Ukraine is about capitalist rivalry first and foremost.

Sam Carliner

March 26, 2023