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Use Trump’s alleged statement as a teaching moment – Gonsalves

Use Trump’s alleged statement as a teaching moment – Gonsalves


While recent statements allegedly made by the President of the United States are unacceptable, Vincentians should use the resulting discussion as a teaching moment.

This is the position of Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, which he shared Monday, during a press conference at Cabinet Room.

It is alleged that at an Oval Office meeting last Thursday, January 11, Donald Trump referred to Haiti, El Salvador and unspecified African nations as “s**tholes”.

“We don’t need more Haitians,” he is alleged to have said, and of the African countries, “Why are we having all these people from s**thole countries come here?”

The definition of s**thole is, “an extremely dirty, shabby, or otherwise unpleasant place.”

Gonsalves said he is at one with a statement issued by CARICOM over the weekend, which described Trump’s statement as “totally unacceptable”

Giving a history lesson, Gonsalves said Haiti, in his opinion, is the oldest democracy in the hemisphere.

“I would say it is the oldest, because in 1776 when the United States was established, it was established with slavery in operation; it wasn’t until the 1860s that slavery was abolished in the United States and some time after, black people had the right to vote in the United States,

whereas from the beginning, the Haitian slaves, under Toussaint L’Ouverture, overthrew the slave regime and the French colonial regime…,” said Gonsalves.

The Prime Minister said that we should take from Trump’s statement, a teaching moment, noting that one cannot understand the extent of underdevelopment in these countries without understanding that Europe and the USA underdeveloped these countries.

He said also that from the beginning of the 20th century, and certainly the late 19th century, the USA joined Europe in the underdevelopment of Africa and the Caribbean.

Gonsalves said that CLR James’s book, “The Black Jacobins”, Walter Rodney’s book, “How Europe underdeveloped Africa” and his own book, “The case for reparatory justice,” four essays by Ralph Gonsalves, explain what happened in Haiti and the need for reparations and make for good reads, as they help give an understanding of history as it relates to underdevelopment.

“Trump will not pay any countries in the Caribbean any attention, because if he thinks that Haiti and Africa are s**tholes, he may think that all of us in the Caribbean are in occupation of such holes,” said Gonsalves.

“The point is this: we can do something about educating ourselves and using that knowledge to steel ourselves against this kind of an ignorance and to put us in a position to uplift ourselves and carry us on a different path out of underdevelopment to development”, said the Prime Minister.  

He said that as his understanding of a s**thole goes, it means that a location is “an unpleasant place and contains human waste with smells; a nasty place, irredeemable…,” but we must realize that in all of this, we are not better than anyone, but no one is better than us.

Gonsalves told journalists at Cabinet Room that British industrial capitalism was fuelled by slavery in the Caribbean and that is the basis of issues connected to reparations, along with what slavery has done to Haiti (genocide, exploitation), “and people want to sweep these things under the carpet.”

“When people call us s**thole, it is to arm ourselves with knowledge and to study and to use that knowledge to uplift ourselves,” said Gonsalves, who noted that the USA has an extremely high rate of sending black people to prison, but no one refers to them as a “s**thole”.