Orlando, FL: Educational event on Africa, Haiti and imperialism
Orlando, FL – On Saturday, September 16, around 45 community members gathered at Knowledge for Living in the Parramore district for an educational forum on U.S. and Western intervention in Haiti and West Africa. The event was hosted by the Revolutionary Education and Action League (REAL) and the Florida chapter of the All-African People's Revolutionary Party (A-APRP).
The presentation began by highlighting the connection between imperialism abroad and political repression and police violence domestically. For example, the Department of Defense’s 1033 Program allows state and local police forces to acquire surplus military equipment including weapons, tanks, drones, and more for next to no cost. These highly militarized police agencies then serve as occupying forces in working-class and oppressed nationality communities. The police also utilize that same military-grade equipment to suppress popular movements, as seen most recently with the George Floyd uprisings in 2020 and in the current efforts to build Cop City in Atlanta.
On the other hand, the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) operates 46 military bases across the African continent, with tens of thousands of troops currently stationed on African soil. In many cases, the police and militaries in these African countries receive training from U.S. and NATO military forces, and are taught the same tactics of oppression used here in the U.S.
“We cannot understand our struggle for justice, our struggle against police brutality as isolated from what's happening in Nigeria, what’s happening in Burkina Faso, what’s happening in Haiti or what’s happening in any part of the world resisting imperialism. We have to understand that we have more in common with the poor and working-class masses, with those youth fighting back against police violence than we do with the people in power here,” said Onyesonwu Chatoyer of the A-APRP.
Chatoyer then laid out the historical and political context through which imperialism and neocolonialism arose. This gave the audience the background necessary to understand the recent anti-colonial military take overs springing up throughout West Africa and the Western imperialist meddling in Haiti.
The main goal of these military takeovers, spearheaded by military leaders like Ibrahim Traoré in Burkina Faso and Abdourahamane Tchiani in Niger, is to secure their country’s natural resources and sever the extractive and exploitative relationship with Western imperial powers, namely France and the U.S. For example, one in three lightbulbs in France are powered using electricity generated by nuclear power using uranium ore extracted from Niger. At the same time however, 80% of Nigeriens do not have access to electricity in their own homes. Shutting down foreign military bases and kicking out foreign – namely French and U.S. – troops occupying the land is part and parcel with this goal.
One of the main ways we can support revolutionary movements – not just in Africa but around the world – is to staunchly oppose U.S. economic sanctions against these progressive governments, sanctions which only serve to crush and starve the everyday people of these countries. Chatoyer added, “The same that we show up for Cuba, that we show up for Nicaragua, that we show up for Venezuela, we have to show up for Niger, for Zimbabwe, for Azania, for Algeria.”
REAL and A-APRP hope to host more educational forums for the community, especially in the Pine Hills and Parramore district, one of Orlando’s historically Black neighborhoods. Their next event will be on Saturday, September 30 at the Hiawassee Branch Library. See @aaprpflorida on Instagram for more information.