Haiti Advocacy Week in Washington. HSG reporting from Capitol Hill, Washington DC, 28-03-2011
The beginning of Haiti Advocacy Week brought to the American public and their lawmakers courtesy of the Haiti Advocacy Working Group (HAWG), a loose coalition of Haiti interested NGOs, CSOs, solidarity groups and others, the US equivalent of CoEH. As part of the week, HAWG is setting up a photo exhibit (see the exhibits here) in the Foyer Room of the House of Representatives Rayburn building at 7.30 am. It’s an extraordinary room, like the building’s exterior, all 1950s neo-imperial grandeur, reflecting the confidence and solidity of U.S. society and government at the time. Thirty foot tall windows look out onto the blooming, manicured grounds of the Capitol and its famous dome. Taking the occasional visitors round, I point out that Haitians freed themselves from slavery more than 60 years before the Dome, ironically constructed by African slaves during the American civil war, was completed. Yes, that’s right: the second most important symbol of American freedom, the only one conceived and built by Americans themselves — the Statute of Liberty was a gift from the French – was built by slaves. Some of the visitors see the irony, some to not care to have it pointed out. In fact, of course it is one of a myriad of contradictions and hypocrisies that lace U.S. history, most of which have been reflected in US policy towards Haiti for over 200 years.