Attending a meeting to discuss a proposed bi-partisan (Republican and Democratic) immigration compromise, President Donald Trump went ballistic when he saw some accommodations to Haiti, El Salvador and some African countries. Calling them “shitholes”, he demanded to know why they should be sending immigrants to America. Rather, the US should solicit immigration from Norway and suchlike!!
Not surprisingly, the reaction from the maligned countries and the liberal establishment were not long in coming: Trump was called out as a “racist” and worse. Entirely coincidentally, just before the immigration meet, Trump had a meeting at the White House with the nephew of Martin Luther King, who afterwards described the President as “racially ignorant”.
But affixing a “racist” label to the leader of the most powerful country in the world isn’t going to change anything in the relations of that country and the ones he considers “shitholes”. No one was really surprised at Trump’s opinion of much of the Third World, were they? The brouhaha is just about Trump saying it openly!! And maybe it’s for the best.
The relationship between the now “developed countries” in the West – epitomised by the US – and the countries now described as “shitholes” – was succinctly described by Rodney in his book, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa. In “underdevelopment”, a country isn’t just exploited for its natural resources (which includes people!) but is PREVENTED by the exploiter from developing the infrastructure and value-added industries that could take it out of poverty.
Take Haiti, which seems to be perennially stuck as the “poorest country in the Western hemisphere” – with us just above it. Haiti was the second country after America to defeat a major European power – France – in a Revolutionary War of Independence. But how did America develop while Haiti remained stuck in the bottom of the barrel?
Simple: the new US Government took over Haiti’s governance of France’s most valuable former colony – wealthier than the US – and exploited it for decades. They later established dictators like Papa Doc to keep the status quo. The defeated France was awarded compensation for its defeat – which took the Haitians more than a century to repay!! Britain, the country the US defeated, on the other hand, increased its investments in the US and forged a “special relationship”.
And if you scratch the surface (of history) of any of the “shitholes” this is what you’ll find, dear readers. Their resources were all exploited by the West – while they were kept “underdeveloped”. Guyana wasn’t mentioned specifically by Trump – but we’re also a card-carrying shithole!
And APNU/AFC seems determined to keep us that way by giving away our oil.
…and sugar plantations
In addition to relationships of “underdevelopment” formed and sustained BETWEEN countries, they can also exist WITHIN countries. Certain regions/groups can be exploited with nothing given back in return so that “internal colonies/shitholes” are formed. Under British colonialism, the sugar plantations were the internal shitholes – and nothing changed after the PNC nationalised sugar in 1976. Sugar prices skyrocketed but rather than allowing the super-profits to be shared with the sugar workers who’d won “profit sharing” in 1968 – the PNC imposed a levy that scooped off all the profits.
The sugar money was used to subsidise the rest of the country for over three decades. While the PPP later tried to reverse sugar underdevelopment – some factories were over 100 years old! – time wasn’t on their side. Rather than following the recommendations of their CoI, the succeeding PNC-led APNU/AFC Government, immediately started closing down estates – now with 5700 workers thrown on the breadlines.
They’re callously ensuring that the sugar belt remains “shitholes” for the next century.
Called to account for the disaster inflicted on sugar workers, the Government spokesperson blamed the PPP and pointed to their “efforts”: the CoI, a State Paper and the SPU!!
The CoI was ignored; the State paper said close four estates; and the SPU would sell them off!!
Larwah for sugar workers!!