Just to Stay Alive
Just to Stay Alive
Haitian Refugees and Guantánamo’s Carceral Quarantine
This chapter examines the refugee camp that indefinitely imprisoned HIV positive Haitian refugees fleeing the 1991 coup d’état against Jean Bertrand Aristide. Though officially granted asylum, they were excluded from the U.S. because of their infection with a feared disease. The chapter focuses its analysis on the records of a series of court cases that challenged U.S. state practices against them, Haitian Centers Council v. Sale (HCC). It argues that these refugees emerged from a nexus of historical threads that became entangled at this camp. Untangling these historical and discursive threads reveals how layered forms of subjugation—racism, xenophobia, economic and political violence, U.S. imperialism in the Caribbean, fears of contagion in general and of HIV/AIDS in particular—combined to produce the rightlessness of these imprisoned HIV-positive refugees. Once detained, indeterminacy defined their rightless condition, as they became suspended in a space of limbo created by the camp’s geographical location between the U.S. and Haiti, its ambiguous situation between Cuban and U.S. legal regimes, the refugees’ ambivalent asylum status, and the indefinite detention of their imprisonment.
Keywords: Haitian refugees, HIV/AIDS, Haitian Program, Haitian Centers Council v. Sale, Haitian Centers Council v. McNary, Haitian Refugee Center v. Civiletti, Guantánamo, biopolitics, racism, U.S. imperialism, Haiti
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