THE TROJAN HORSE
- By Sadhu Govardhan
Everyone has heard of Haiti ("land of high mountains"). It is the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere and it shares the island known as Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic. Its population is 11,136,198 (as of September 2018), and with an annual per capita income of $350 to $450.
Looking at these figures, Haiti looks like a young homeless child, left on the side of the road. How difficult can it be to help that child? Easy from a distance, but once you go and try to lift up the child, you realize that its weight is enormous.
For years, people asked me whether I was involved with any work there. As a tropical food crop specialist and sustainable agriculture consultant, there is hardly a more interesting challenge than to get involved with a country that is in desperate need of help.
As the years went by, I always had to answer "No, I haven't but there must be a reason for it.”In the back of my mind I knew that the longer it would take me to get to Haiti, the more ready I would be once it happened. So, I never pushed it. I wanted to let Haiti come to me in a natural way. And one day it did—in the form of a Canadian investor who asked me to set up a sustainable, diversified eco-role model project. I agreed and my journey through Haiti began.
To get updated on all the current problems the country is facing, I started by reading basic history, which is one of the most heart-breaking I’ve ever read about. The exploitation of the island began with the arrival of Spanish conquerors and the newly established tradition of slavery and exploitation was even further cemented by the soon following colonial force, France. France took the exploitation of people and the environment to a new level by whipping 40,000 slaves to work, which mostly meant extracting as many natural resources as possible .
Since women, Black people or animals were considered to have no souls, according to the Christian invaders of the time, everyone and everything could be enslaved, tortured or killed without any perpetrator having to feel remorseful about it or answer for it. Eventually, the Haitian slaves stood up against their oppressors and after 13 years of battle, they became the first and only nation of slaves in history to succeed with a revolution.
France responded by claiming that they had invested much into the country over the centuries of slavery and colonization, so they forced Haiti to pay an obscenely exorbitant penalty for forcing them out of Haiti. The nation celebrated their independence day on January 1st, 1804 but the celebration was only symbolic. Now they had to pay back a financially crushing "penalty" of 150 million gold francs (which is equivalent to approximately $20 billion of today’s dollars).
The eager enforcer in the stand-off between Haiti and France at the time was the U.S., and the Haitian Government eventually realized that there was no way to avoid paying back the fabricated debt. In order to do so, the U.S. invaded the country several times, refusing to accept their independent status and wanting to make sure that the country would keep bleeding for their offense of throwing out a colonial power. Their main fear was that their own slaves in the U.S. would try the same and they wanted to make sure that this would never happen. They forced Haiti to borrow money from French and U.S. banks, and the only option in sight to finance the debt was to sell off the country's wood reserves (mahogany, Lignum vitae, Spanish cedar, logwood). The brutal financial oppression lasted from 1804 until 1947.
Not that I want to leave out countless atrocities committed during decades of U.S. military occupation and further exploitation, but to get back to how I became involved in working in Haiti, I will spare you, the reader, from a lot of pain hearing how brutalized the country was even after its independence.
Fast-forward to March 2018, and it was finally my time to visit Haiti. In order to prepare myself and understand the existing problems in depth, I studied seemingly never-ending PhD dissertations, mostly written by American doctoral candidates. What I read were indeed interesting analyses of the countless problems, but I did not find much value in suggested solutions. After all, the writers of these dissertations had no background in sustainable agriculture or tropical ecology.
I was certain that I could contribute something revolutionary, provided I could get some financial backing. But I also knew that the country would still be extremely volatile: the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and the World Bank are still exerting pressure that can only be described as dictatorship-like behavior. I was aware that the agriculture sector—the most vital industry for the country—had been crushed by the U.S. by dumping millions of tons of U.S.-subsidized rice and other crops onto Haiti. I also learned of the rampant sexual abuse of Haitians by missionaries, soldiers and charity workers, as well as many other forms of exploitations and corruption taking place—which has been going on for centuries.
But I finally got my chance to right some wrongs and I didn't want to have my mind preoccupied with the past, resulting in all the complex problems of today. My goal was to spend my time with finding ways to implement solutions. My work description during my first visit was to evaluate different types of land offered to a charity for the sake of establishing a sustainable agriculture role model that would help the community and serve as the model for the entire country.
Not losing any time, the Haitian team that surrounded me showed me proposed project after proposed project. The more I saw, the more I was certain that Haiti is not just one of many Caribbean islands—it’s an outstanding place, with outstanding people. I was introduced to some of the brightest thinkers of the country, and I loved what I saw: highly intelligent people who could have easily left the country like most "educated" people, but who voluntarily stayed or returned to help Haiti.
Did you know that Haiti is one of the few countries that managed to ban Monsanto's seeds? The leader behind that movement is still alive and active, despite a failed assassination attempt. And he is just one of many who work for a better and truly sustainable future of Haiti. Meeting all these great minds made me feel that it wasn’t coincidental that I was brought there. Haiti's problems are too big to be solved by just a few people—it requires an entire movement of brilliant people who have the know-how and willingness to work together in order to uplift peoples' consciousness and help them work out lasting solutions.
The visit went by too fast but I was already "hooked" on Haiti. I had not expected to see so much beauty of consciousness in an otherwise railroaded country. So many smiles, open hearts and relentlessly idealistic great minds. It felt like a new home, despite the mountains of trash, extreme poverty and environmental destruction. There is no waste management and there is no recycling program for even the most toxic trash. An approximate 50 million trees are illegally cut down annually by the charcoal industry—a number that is still growing, and no one can stop it. There isn't much forest left to cut down anymore—Haiti’s side of Hispaniola had billions of shrubs and trees several hundred years ago—an it is down to a few hundred million now.
I used my time away from Haiti to digest my first visit, inspire the investor to move forward with establishing a sustainable role model project, and I kept studying more professional papers written about Haiti, as well as connecting with people who are in a position to help the country.
My next trip was already planned for July 2018. I already had my tickets, and I was ready to go, but the night before my departure I found out about riots in Haiti, caused by a price increase of 38 percent for gasoline 47 percent for diesel, and 51 percent for kerosene (a main energy source for the poor section of Haitians).
There’s a long story behind the complex reasons why the previous subsidies for gasoline, diesel and kerosene were dropped, but it did not take long for the country to stand up and revolt against the sudden and extreme price hike. Parts of Port-au-Prince (the country’s capital) were up in flames and all International flights were cancelled. (American Airlines still charged me a penalty fee for changing my tickets from July to August.)
I changed my itinerary and went to Trinidad instead, planning to return to Haiti once the situation was calmer and safer again. As I hoped for, everything was reasonably calm again by the end of August and I was ready to book my ticket. There was no problem with my return flight (Port-au-Prince to Miami—San Juan to Mayaguez) but there was no way to go on the same day from my place to Port-au-Prince.
I talked to the "Godfather" of Haiti, a pastor who may well be the most connected man in Haiti, and also someone I found to have an uncompromising, unbreakable desire to do something great for his country. He told me that he could meet up with me in neighboring Dominican Republic instead and we could travel to Haiti from there. Since the route is more logical than going through the U.S., I agreed and we met in Santo Domingo (the capital).
I had been working there on several projects years ago, and it was interesting for me to see how the country has changed these past few years. I got to see some interesting farmland in the southwest of the country and I was asked to analyze the land for its agricultural and eco tourism potential. At the end of my stay, I was asked to participate in a meeting of people in Santo Domingo who had invented a special solar powered stove. Not being a big fan of solar (http://www.organicfarm.net/Article_solar_power.htm), I was hesitant, but since my hosts insisted, I agreed.
We arrived late evening at the house of an inventor (I am purposefully keeping all but one name anonymous), who did not waste time to explain the new future of energy to us: "There's a change of (energy) guard, and we are the new guard. We have invented several new energy systems that are the future. One of them is a generator that runs on...nothing!"
"How do you define 'nothing?" I asked.
"It runs on space" was the brief answer.
"Ok, I better stick to the solar powered stoves, they mentioned," I think to myself. "Can I see the stove?" I asked out loud.
"Yes, of course," and they showed me the stove. Its fairly old, not a very attractive design, with two plates for cooking. A cable goes to a battery, and another from there to a solar panel. "Nothing new, but ok," I thought to myself.
Next, they explained to me that they want to distribute 1.5 million of these stoves: 1 per family—to needy people in Haiti—and they want to do so through Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The same Bill Gates who is the richest man on the planet. The same Bill Gates who is also known for pushing vaccination programs with undisclosed vaccine ingredients. The same Gates who is a major shareholder of the GMO as well as the Pharmaceutical industry. The same Gates whose income always rises exponentially, regardless of how many "donations" he is giving away because they are always tied to major kickbacks from the same industries he is investing in. (For every $1 billion in annual donations, he gets $4 billion back. That's one of the reasons why his net worth doubled since 2011).The same Bill Gates whose father is known as one of the world's leading eugenicists—an avid proponent of population control by "any means." "Well, ok, if there's no catch, "I thought to myself, "why not?"
As the meeting went on, the group noticed my fondness for dealing with logistics, statistics, management and ecological issues. Not many people like this, and certainly no one else in the room did. "Would you like to be in charge of the logistics of distributing first 10,000, then 100,000, then 1.4 millions of these stoves in Haiti?" I knew that I should say 'no,' because I knew that it would be a logistical nightmare, but more than that, I don't know the ins and outs of moving a product within Haiti. At the same time, I also know that the 'Godfather' has all connections required, and that they expect me to say 'yes'. So, I say 'yes'. Thus ends the meeting and my mind was focused again on my upcoming work in Haiti.
Once in Haiti, I got to see new land, offered for free by various individuals and groups to the charity I am working with. While meeting with the political leaders of a community, I was requested to bring up the solar stove issue. I had no problems with it, but I also started to warn them about certain potential dangers of distributing the product: for one, it’s extremely toxic to produce acid-lead batteries as well as polysilicon-based solar panels.
Next, the disposal of these products is similarly problematic and toxic. But at least the problem of proper disposal could be worked out, and it could even lead to the opportunity of getting the required recycling plant paid for by the Gates Foundation. After all, it would be highly irresponsible to flood a country with over 1.5 million solar kits that all have to be disposed off properly in the due course of time.
My speech was a bit of a hell-fire-and-brimstone approach, reminding people why we can't afford to trash, poison and rape nature on a daily basis, and how no single product can save Haiti. The only thing that can save Haiti, or any country for that matter, is 'raising consciousness'—which means, working hard on ourselves to get rid of greed, envy, violence, ignorance, pride and similarly toxic traits. The meeting was received in different ways by different people, but I knew that I had struck a nerve and forced people to think beyond what they are used to.
Days go by, and my mind was mostly occupied with surveying agricultural land for the investor who hired me to help in Haiti. In my free time, I began discussing the issue with a brilliant young Haitian business management strategist, as well as the person in charge of all customs offices at the border to the Dominican Republic, and several other people whom I consider remarkable thinkers.
While out in the field, meeting yet another mayor who shows me the community's agricultural production (as well as the main problems associated with it) of his district, a phone call reaches us: "The Ministry of Interior wants to meet with us regarding the stove project." We had to shorten out visit and head back to Port-au-Prince to meet various government delegates. At their request, I made my presentation about the project and I answered their questions regarding the product. To my knowledge at that time, the stoves were a free gift, but the battery would need to be replaced every year or so, for a very reasonable price. Everyone was happy at the end of the meeting and the event was publicized in Haiti's social media.
As always, the time of my visit was soon up and I return back to my farm. It’s the apex of a severe rainy season, and I am still dealing with the hurricane aftermath, as well as all sorts of other challenges at my farm. Along with these issues to deal with, comes more rain—a lot more. Since I want to use my time well, I start to ask more questions to the stove inventors and I began working out a logistics spreadsheet for the eventual distribution of the stoves.
In due course of my exchanges with the inventors, I brought up several issues
- A much needed landfill in Haiti (where all non-recyclable components of the solar kit would go)
- A state-of-the-art recycling plant for batteries and solar panels
- Considerable funds to deal with the illegal and very dangerous charcoal industry in order to prevent violence in the country (after all, the industry, even though illegal, would lose their means of livelihood overnight once the stoves would be distributed in the country
- As well as other crucial issues that need to be worked out in order to really benefit the country and distribute the stoves in a way that is environmentally safe.
My concerns were not met with much response, only a brief comment that the inventors don't understand the amount of my budget request (which was under 7 percent of the value of the merchandise). However, a new issue came up: "We need to know how much the recipients of the stove spend on charcoal, charging their cell phone and using candles per day."
I found the questions strange. Why would it matter if they get a free stove to save on these expenses? The response (with a surprising, new e-mail headline "the business model") doesn't wait for long: "We need to know this figure so that we can calculate a lower price for the use of the solar kit."Enclosed in their e-mail is the following link: https://www.usaid.gov/sites/default/files/documents/15396/USAID-PAYGO.pdf. Along with it, comes the question:"How many cell phone users are there in Haiti?"
I checked out the link: it’s a lame pyramid scheme to charge for the use of a solar power system indefinitely. It’s a new trend to make sure that people don't really own anything, and that everything in life will eventually be taxed.
Why not donating tropical heirloom seeds instead? Even with a small fraction of $600 million, the entire nation could be made food self-sufficient by distributing the best variety of tropical heirloom seeds the world has to offer? Oh, wait! Gates can't do that—he is a major share holder of Monsanto, and he only pushes GMO seeds.
Since I was trying to avoid the inevitable. I first try to reason that only 61 percent of Haitians have a cell phone. (Interestingly, the number of people who ever bought a cell phone is indeed almost 7 million, but a very large percentage of them can't afford to also keep their cell phone, so effectively, less than half of the population actually uses a cell phone on a regular basis).
"You have your figures wrong" was the next response. "There are 7 million cell phones in Haiti." At this point I fully understood where this was all going: all solar powered kits were supposed to be linked to a remote control connected to people’s cell phones. In other words, Gates wants to get the stoves into Haiti as a Trojan horse in order to first force the poorest of the poor to start paying monthly for the use of a cheap solar powered stove. Next, he wants to target the middle and upper income class of the country with the installations of his new generator, and finally take over the entire energy industry in Haiti. All centralized, all in the grip of an absolute and foreign power. It’s a colonial tradition, after all.
Although not surprised, I am still shocked that even the poorest people on earth are targeted by power and profit hungry people. How much more shameless can the elite be?
I know I have reasoned with the inventors, who have also represented the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for long enough, and it’s time to make a decision. Here was my official response:
I have not missed any of the points that you want to make, but they are superseded by the stipulation of the Haitian Government: there cannot be any external control of the solar powered stoves. They have to function 100% independently (with the exception of a $20 battery replacement once a year), or the Government doesn't want them.
So, from the Gov't side it’s either a gift or it isn't, and I agree with them on this issue.
Whether there are 6 or now almost 7 million cell phones in Haiti is irrelevant. Even if there were 11 million cell phones, the Government refuses to link any technology that can control the solar powered stoves. When they told me that, I assured them that this would not be the case because at that time, I was under the impression that the stoves are meant to be a gift to help the poorest in the country.
What you are proposing is a business model as much as a method to control a nation, not a gift.
This means that we are at a crossroads. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has the choice to either give an actual gift or they can try to sell a business model that will be rejected. Haiti rejected Monsanto, they can also reject the stoves. They may be poor but they still have the strength and intelligence to protect their country, which is their right and their duty.
You can set up a new logistics team, but I know for certain that they too will have to go through the Government, just like we did. I am sure that eventually someone in the Government may be found who is corrupt and who doesn't care about ethics, so you may force your way into Haiti after all, but at least I couldn't live with my conscience, knowing that you want to exert power and control over some of the poorest people in the world. Honestly, I am shocked that anyone can come up with a "gift" concept to make people's most basic needs entirely dependent on a centralized energy controlling power. If Gates wants to control the energy market of poor countries, he should say so. That's what people expect from him. But he should not do so under the guise of giving deceptive gifts to the poor, which is the opposite of true humanitarian work.
The onus of asking for a landfill and recycling plant wasn't on the Government or me, it should have been offered from the get-go by the Gates Foundation. They know very well that it would be highly irresponsible to flood a country with products that are highly toxic when being produced and similarly toxic when being disposed off in an incorrect way.
The onus of protecting the country from a vengeful charcoal industry was not on the Government or me either—the Foundation knows this fact perfectly well. The charcoal industry would react in extremely violent ways once their livelihood was threatened by free solar stoves distributed nationwide. Gates knows that, and he also knows that you can't just shut down an industry (legal or illegal) that is generating hundreds of millions of $$ in one of the poorest countries of the world. To fight this industry is so costly and dangerous that the Haitian Government has failed to control them, despite consistent attempts over the last few decades. Over 50 million trees are cut down illegally every single year, and no one has been able to stop them. Anyone with foresight will have no doubt that people who can kill 50 million trees will have no qualms killing whoever stands in their way. The manpower and money required to control them may well be as much as the entire stove project. Gates may not be concerned about it. I am. And so is the Haitian Government.
So, all of this is boiling down to an ethics issue. Do you want profits, power and control or do you really want to help people just for the sake of helping them?
Needles to say that it got quiet after this letter and no one contacted me anymore.
"Sadhu, you have stopped Gates from cheating the people in Haiti, "a friend told me. "You may have a new target on your back, but you did the right thing. People are often only known for what they did, but never for what they were able to prevent. You prevented a disaster for Haiti, and I hope people there realize that one day.''
Yes, it feels odd having stood up to Bill Gates and some of his henchmen, and yes, I may have a new target on my back. But above all, I am grateful that life put me into a situation where I could warn of or even prevent another scam. Gates may find out other ways to get into Haiti and control the energy sector there, but at least I was at the right time at the right place to warn them about a "gift" that could have very tragic consequences—and for now, the project is stopped.
It’s a reality that we are running out of natural resources because some countries waste them recklessly, while the world's population keeps growing exponentially and all natural resources are systematically being used up. It’s inevitable that we will not only destroy much of the planet because of our unsustainable lifestyles, but we will also have to pay the consequences for allowing the so-called elite to bury us all in their toxic schemes.
We may not be able to keep all the Trojan horses out that are forced upon us on a regular basis, but we still have to try our best to always act on principle and reject what is false, while we work on what is healthy, natural, true and sustainable.
And as far as Haiti's debts go: the U.S. as well as France owe them several times the amount of the debt that was unjustly forced upon them. What Haiti needs is not just cheap, fake or deceptive charity, but justice—real reparations—which in this specific case would be easily tens of billions of dollars. Given to the right people for just distribution, these amounts could be used to turn Haiti into the most conscious- and ecologically-thriving country in the Caribbean, as well as a true role model for the entire world. Or in other words: be the prosperous country again that it was before the Spanish, French and United States invasions.
© Sadhu Govardhan, September 2018.