Our good friends

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Louis-Joseph Janvier, excerpt from Haïti aux Haïtiens (1884), “Nos bons amis” (pp. 16-18) 


They live among us; they are numerous, petty, obsequious, and insipid. They flatter us a thousand different ways, cajole us a thousand different ways. When we need them, they slip between our fingers, then condemn us, ridicule or vilify us the best they can. 

They all aspire to dominate us. The contracts they present to us contain thousands of pitfalls and traps into which we fall. 

Each contract of general interest should be discussed in the press, should be known to all. The watchword should be: Nothing to foreigners except advisedly. It is best to be informed, to choose, in order to avoid repenting. 

We do not have the right to tie the hands of future generations for the pleasure of a few good, yet short-sighted souls too naïve or too eager for a good time. 

Haitians have the duty to be serious about matters that can later justify foreign interventions such as those that killed Poland and those that are killing Egypt at this very moment.

When they come, our good friends, honeyed words upon their lips, we will tell them nicely, but firmly: We want to study the contracts in order to better discuss them. We cannot play around with the future of the country; it is not a matter of little consequence. Give us time. We think it dangerous to always entrust ourselves to the formerly bankrupt or swindlers. We want to get to the bottom of things. 

They will give Parliament time to gather itself, and the country time to consult its children, who living far from it, by it, or for it, and thinking only of it, do not ignore what is being said about it and what is being conspired against its existence. 

And the latter will cry: Be wary of sharks. Trust only yourselves. The Haitian land must be free. Let it be populated. May the nation wait and slowly grow, as waited and slowly grew those that today are great nations. 

Our good friends will scream, will shout abuse, and go elsewhere. We will let them. What matters above all is that Haitians be the only masters in autonomous, independent Haiti. 

All that is contrary to this doctrine is nothing but danger or chimera. 

May 29, 1884

English translation, Nadève Médard

Our adjacent islands

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