By Marty Goodman
May 6, 2023
U.S. imperialism and its U.N. proxies have not yet decided who would take part in the third imperialist occupation of Haiti but the answer may come soon. An intervention will surely be pitched as a “humanitarian” multi-national mission to curb Haiti’s rampant gang violence, mass hunger and a re-emerging cholera epidemic. But military occupation would actually reinforce a system of neo-colonial oppression that spawned today’s crisis due to Washington’s decades long embrace of Haiti’s corrupt elite, which includes its current dictator, the de-facto Prime Minister, Ariel Henry.
Mass protests have engulfed Haiti for the past several years that challenged Henry’s refusal to step down according to Constitutional mandates requiring elections, plus massive corruption scandals, and anger over Henry’s rise in gas prices which more than doubled gas prices overnight. Henry’s price hike reduced price subsidies which helped buoy the trucking and taxi sectors in this chronically impoverished country. The decision was in compliance with the demands of the International Monetary Fund, the enforcement arm of the U.S. dominated World Bank.
Mario Joseph, the managing attorney of the Institute for Justice & Democracy based in Port-au-Prince, said in a November letter to the Caribbean Community (CONICOM), that intervention would “prop up the unconstitutional, corrupt and repressive de facto government and stifle legitimate dissent.” Joseph slammed the last major U.S.- led UN military occupation in Haiti (2004-2017) that “set the stage for today’s spectacular rebound of gang violence,” leaving an even less democratic state than before.
Haiti’s constitution mandates that elections be held within 120 days of the presidential vacancy that followed the murder of former President Jouvenel Moise on July 7, 2021, a period that’s long over. Moise, like Ariel Henry, was a member of the right-wing Parti Haïtien Tèt Kale PHTK (Haitian Bald-Headed Party).
Elections have not been held for years, parliament is suspended, leaving Henry the last major government official. As massive anti-Henry protests rocked Haiti demanding that he step-down, President Biden notoriously maintained support for the despised de facto Prime Minister.
Henry’s phone calls were traced to a key assassination member before and soon after the 18-member goon-squad mowed down Moise in his home. Several assassins were Colombian ex-military trained by the U.S. Top Haitian judges were fired before and after evidence mounted of Henry’s possible involvement. The plot was coordinated among several suspects in South Florida, Haiti and Colombia, now awaiting trial in Miami.
Calls for intervention
On Oct. 7, de facto Prime Minister Ariel Henry called for foreign military intervention in violation of Article 26 of the Haitian Constitution which forbids foreign troops on Haitian soil. Luis Almagro, chief of the Organization of American States (OAS), an organization long seen as a U.S. surrogate, stated in a tweet on Oct. 6 “I called on Haiti to request urgent support from the international community to help solve security crisis and determine characteristics of the international security force.”
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Turk, called on member states to “urgently consider the deployment of a specialized force,” breaking with his job as a “peace advocate.”
Last October, the Biden administration helped draft a U.N. resolution authorizing the deployment of international troops to Haiti led by a “partner country.” António Guterres, the U.N.’s Secretary-General, had earlier proposed the dispatch of a multinational “rapid action force.” The final UN resolution (2653) was adopted unanimously on Oct. 21, 2022. Beijing was the first within the Security Council to propose the U.S. backed ‘targeted sanctions’ on criminal gangs, opening the road to increased imperialist intervention. Beijing and Russia both voted for intervention, despite some previous criticism.
The year 2022 ended with the United Nations Security Council once again debating whether foreign troops should be deployed into Haiti. Haiti’s self-appointed “friends,” i.e., the U.S., EU, France, Canada, Brazil, Spain, Germany, also known as the “core group,” are still discussing the form of a militarized solution.
Military intervention in Haiti has also been advocated by the Dominican Republic President, Luis Albinader, responsible for the ongoing mass racist – often violent – deportation of Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian origin across their shared border on Hispaniola island (See Socialist Action.org, “Racist U.S. & Dominican Rulers Massively Deport Haitians!”). The Dominican ruling class has a long and sordid history of racism toward Haitians. Racist genocide was led by the pro-U.S. Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo, who slaughtered as many as 30,000 Haitians living in the Dominican Republic in 1937, with minimal U.S. reaction to the mass slaughter.
In late March of this year in a one-on-one between Joe Biden and Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Canada balked at leading an occupation, despite Canada’s key role in previous U.S.-led Haiti occupations, leaving both nations to pursue occupation scenarios. Thus far, only Jamaica and Bermuda have committed to sending troops. At an April 10 U.N. press briefing, a spokesperson for the Secretary General said that the Haiti intervention proposal (2653) had not been heeded at the level that he would have liked to have seen it. Trudeau however agreed with Biden to return 50,000 Haitian and other refugees to the U.S. who crossed into Canada to seek asylum. These refugees would be processed by US officials for possible deportation to Haiti or be returned to Canada. Many immigration rights organizations have protested the racist treatment of Haitians by U.S. immigration authorities, including U.S. politicians.
The occupation has already begun
Whatever the final actions of U.S. imperialism, Canada announced Feb. 16, according to Kim Ives, editor of the English version of Haiti Liberté, the “dispatch of two military ships with 90 sailors to patrol Haitian waters. Canada is implementing the strategy of small steps towards a real military intervention already proposed by Washington.” Pamela White, a former U.S. ambassador to Haiti, told a UN Security Council last December that the Biden Administration should deploy 2,000-armed law enforcers to Haiti by sending in a couple of hundred at a time over six months with little fanfare.
In a Feb. 19th interview, Canadian Ambassador to Haiti, Sébastien Carriere, estimated that the operations to send armored vehicles, surveillance and the imminent arrival of military vessels are a “significant military deployment in Haiti.” Carriere continued, “We delivered armor. There have been two deliveries since October. There would be a third delivery in the next few days and another one later in February. There is this CP-140 surveillance operation, intelligence sharing, there are ships arriving, listen, it’s still military deployment in a significant way.”
Last October, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 2653 to sanction just one man, the leader of the “G-9” federated gang’s spokesman, Jimmy “Barbeque” Cherizier, as threatening “the peace, security, and stability of Haiti.” More U.S. sanctions of gang leaders and the wealthy elite said to be connected to gangs followed.
Western imposed sanctions have served as “regime change” vehicles to advance imperialist goals, i.e., Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, etc., not to advance human rights. Sanctions can be preludes to actual occupation, as the 1994 occupation by over 20,000 U.S. led UN troops. During past coup governments the U.S. used embargoes and sanctions to shape Haiti’s future economy toward export agriculture and preserve Haiti as a low-wage haven for capitalism.
It may be a short time before a U.S.-led UN military occupation or perhaps a Caribbean US/UN proxy force, will once again violate Haiti’s right to sovereignty as the world’s first Black republic. In addition to military incursions, Haiti has been militarily occupied by U.S. imperialism three times: 1915-34, 1994-2000, and 2004-2017, the last two by a U.S. led UN occupation, imperialism’s preferred post-Vietnam aggression scenario. In addition, a heavily armed occupation force of 2,000 troops was cynically deployed by Barack Obama to prevent “rioting” expected by Pentagon planners in the wake of the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti, which killed up to 225,000. Racist Pentagon planners expected post-quake riots – but Haitians helped each other! Protesters in New York chanted “Doctors in! Soldiers Out!”
A key part of the U.S. intervention rationale pitched as “humanitarian” concerns is to “protect” Haiti from its alleged pandemic of violent, heavily armed gangs, which control 60 percent of Port au Prince, Haiti’s capital, with more gangs taking over farther northward. The number of reported killings in Haiti last year increased by 35 percent to 2,183 victims, while the number of reported kidnappings more than doubled to 1,359 victims.
The gangs are seen as extensions of a pro-U.S. predatory elite and responsible for an explosion of theft, kidnapping and rape. The Haitian elite are historically Washington’s anti-Communist allies and a reliable bulwark against nearby revolutionary Cuba.
Racist Immigration Policy
Decades of racist U.S. immigration policy deported back to Haiti the vast majority of Haiti’s Black refugees fleeing U.S. backed Haitian rulers in contrast to policies that welcomed anti-communist, mostly white, immigrants. Thus far, the Biden administration has deported back nearly 27,000 Haitian refugees, more than the combined deportations by President Obama, nick-named “The Deporter in Chief” by immigrant rights advocates, and the racist Donald Trump, who called Haiti “a shithole country.” Haitians were denied by Biden the option of claiming asylum rights granted by the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (‘1951 Convention’), and the 1967 Protocol. Amnesty International called US immigration policy “racist.”
The deported Haitians are returned to a nation with at least 70 percent unemployment, rampant hunger and the resurgence of a Cholera epidemic. In contrast, the U.S.-welcomed Afghani and Ukrainian immigrants, two blatant examples of imperial hypocrisy and racism.
The previous Cholera outbreak followed the 2010 earthquake. Scientific studies found that the Nepali contingent of the U.S./U.N. occupation dumped feces into a river used by Haitians for bathing and drinking. Some 10,000 died and some 800,000 were infected. For years the UN arrogantly denied responsibility but finally admitted to its deadly role. Obama administration lawyers defended the UN in court against lawsuits filed by the families of Haiti’s cholera victims.
Of Haiti’s estimated 11.8 million residents, some 4.7 million people are near acute hunger, including around 2.4 million children. Cholera is spreading across most of the country’s departments. Over a third of all Haitians face a severe food crisis, and in October, the UN reported that Level 5 (“catastrophic”) hunger has been reached in Haiti for the first time. The minimum wage is $US4.50 per day. Average income is less than $US2 a day.
A succession of natural disasters, including earthquakes and tropical storms, added to these miseries. Economically, Haiti’s inflation has exceeded 15 percent yearly since 2019, and 47 percent for last October. After three years, Cholera is now returning across most of the country, with 511 confirmed deaths between Oct. 2022 and Jan.1, 2023. Gang violence seriously inhibits aid efforts on all levels.
Mobilize to Stop US/UN Occupation!
For all the anger in Haiti, there has been no working-class force that has gained the confidence of the masses, nor has any capitalist formation. Haiti’s mass protests have shown the depth of the crisis, which includes mass opposition to another occupation. But the recurrent protests still lack a clear class struggle leadership aimed at replacing the U.S.-backed capitalist regimes that are repeatedly supported and imposed to defend U.S. imperialist “interests.” Curbing mobilizations for some time now is the deadly omnipresence of heavily armed gangs with clear ties to ruling class politicians and elite families.
Opportunist politicians and organizations assembled in the fractious “Montana Accord,” many of whom opposed the reformist Aristide from the Right, boast that they are seeking a so-called “Haitian-led” solution with free elections as a way out of the crisis, signaling their opposition – for now! – to a U.S. occupation but surely holding out for their cut of any deal concluded with Washington. The liberal ex-president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, has been relatively silent during the last few turbulent years and has failed to provide leadership in the political vacuum that tragically constitutes capitalist politics in Haiti today.
A very different perspective is contained in a statement from Kiki Makandal, a decades long Haitian trade union activist. In his written response to Socialist Action he concludes, “The situation in Haiti is catastrophic. The rule of gang lawlessness and inhuman bestiality has superseded neoliberal structural adjustments. But Haiti is the lowest rung in the imperialist chain and the extreme example of the abject failure of imperialism. Imperialism has no solutions: sanctions, embargoes, invasions, UN missions… all have failed. The only solution is a worker’s revolution!”
Haiti solidarity mobilizations in the belly of the imperialist beast are desperately needed. We must halt Joe Biden’s criminal plans for another U.S./U.N. military occupation of Haiti dead in its tracks. No to any and all U.S./U.N. intervention in Haiti! No U.S. aid to Haiti dictatorship! Asylum now, no deportations!
[Marty Goodman is a decades long Haiti activist and has visited Haiti many times. He is also a trade unionist and a member of Socialist Action’s Political Committee. Read more about Haiti at http://www.SocialistAction.org. ]