U.S. imperialism now has a willing partner in yet another imperialist contemplated occupation of Haiti. On Jul. 29, Kenya’s Foreign Minister Alfred Mutua volunteered to do Washington’s dirty work in Haiti. He promised to “positively consider” leading an armed intervention with 1,000 Kenyan police officers. On Jul. 14, the United Nations Security Council (Resolution 2692) gave UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres 30 days to submit a report that would include a plan for a multi-national police force in Haiti to assist and train Haitian police in combatting an epidemic of gang violence which has engulfed 80% of its capital, Port-au-Prince.
The UN decision to return Haiti to Chapter 7 status by imposing a “sanctions regime” was originally made last October (Resolution 2653) at the prompting of the Biden administration and the de facto Haitian Prime Minister, Ariel Henry, and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.
Another prominent supporter of intervention is Dominican Republic President Luis Abinader, whose nation borders Haiti on the island of Hispañola. The Dominican Republic is carrying out a racist mass expulsion of Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian origin. The Dominican ruling class has pointed to U.S. racist immigration policies as an inspiration for its historic “anti-Haitianismo” ideology. In 1937, the U.S. trained dictator Rafael Trujillo conducted an extermination campaign that murdered some 30,000 Haitians. Haiti was the first independent Black republic born of the world’s first and only successful slave revolution, which defeated – arms in hand – the mighty French empire. Haiti declared independence in 1804.
In Africa, Kenya is a prominent promoter of racist Israel. On Kenyan President William Ruto’s personal invitation, apartheid Israel was invited to attend meetings of the 55-member African Union as an observer. But in February, the AU suspended Israel’s observer status.
Haiti’s US-backed dictator calls for intervention
Henry, widely seen in Haiti as a corrupt U.S. stooge, appealed to the United Nations on Oct. 7, 2022 for a foreign “special military intervention” to fight the country’s rampant “gang violence” conditions that are the result of decades of U.S. imperialist policies and military occupation. Over the last two years, tens of thousands have marched in Haiti opposing U.S./UN intervention, demanding that the unelected Henry step down. The Biden administration, which maintains unwavering support for the unelected dictator, categorically rejected all such demands.
There are no elected officials in Haiti
Mario Joseph, managing attorney of Haiti’s International Lawyers Office (BAI) based in Port-au-Prince, stated in a November letter to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), that intervention would “prop up the unconstitutional, corrupt and repressive de facto government and stifle legitimate dissent.”
Western imposed sanctions have long served as U.S. “regime change” vehicles to advance imperialist goals, i.e., Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, etc., not to advance human rights.
Guterres, Washington’s handmaiden, enthusiastically echoed U.S. calls for military occupation since October, suggesting that a “rapid action force” be sent to Haiti to aid its “security forces.” But, until now no country stepped forward to take the lead, although Jamaica and the Bahamas pledged troops and Canada made some empty shows of force. In his latest report to the Security Council, Guterres said: “Time is of the essence to take concrete action to stem the violence and the erosion of state institutions.” Guterres called for a “non-UN” force of UN member states. The CARICOM alliance of Caribbean states, an often pliant tool of U.S. imperialism, has warmed to an occupation following a Guterres presentation to a CARICOM conference. In late November and early December Canada imposed unilateral sanctions on a number of current and former Haitian government officials and businessmen. In a Feb. 19 interview Canadian Ambassador to Haiti, Sébastien Carrière, supported a “significant military deployment to Haiti” including operations to send armored vehicles, surveillance equipment and the rapid deployment of military vessels.
Meanwhile, the U.S., paying lip service to mass opposition to a handful of corrupt Haitian officials, revoked the visas of 11 unidentified “current and former Haitian government officials,” making a total of 44 banned Haitian nationals since October. The U.S., Canada and the UN Security Council also sanctioned a number of criminal gang leaders, including Lanmou Sanjou (Joseph Wilson) of the 400 Mawozo gang, Vitel’homme Innocentof the Kraze Baryè gang, and Izo (Johnson André) of the Five Seconds gang.
Sanctions and imperialist intervention
Western imposed sanctions have long served as U.S. “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 demonstrated. In decades past, the U.S. used embargoes and sanctions to orient Haiti’s economy toward export agriculture and to maintain Haiti as a low-wage haven for capitalist exploitation. Most recently, UN Resolution 2692 was unanimously adopted by the Security Council on Jul. 14, 2023, extending the mandate of the UN Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH). The permanent members of the UN Security Council are only the U.S., Russia, France, United Kingdom, and China.
History of imperialist occupation
Haiti has repeatedly been a victim of U.S. and UN military occupations –1915-1934, 1994-2000, and 2004-2017. Thousands died in the “Caco” rebellion against the 1915 occupation. Each occupation reinforced the parasitic, pro-U.S. Haitian ruling elite that preyed on the super-exploitation of the Haitian masses. This included Washington’s propping-up of the vicious Duvalier family dictatorship of 1957-1986.
As is widely recognized in Haiti, these occupations aimed at reinforcing the class structure of corruption and misery in Haiti today. In 2010, a contingent of Nepalese soldiers, a component of the UN occupation force MINUSTAH, dumped feces in the headwaters of the Artibonite River, used for bathing, drinking, and irrigation, thereby causing a nationwide cholera epidemic. Cholera killed at least 10,000 Haitians and infected some 800,000 others. For years, the UN denied responsibility in class action lawsuits brought by affected families, with the Obama administration’s attorneys defending the UN’s crass denials.
Haitians live in extreme poverty
Fifty-nine percent of Haiti’s population today barely exists on less than US$2 per day (World Bank 2012). Another 24.7% live in extreme poverty on less than US$1.25 per day. (UNDP 2013). Rural poverty is at 75.2% vs. 40.8% in urban areas. (MDG rpt 2013). Over two-thirds of the labor force has no formal jobs. Of Haiti’s estimated 11.8 million residents, some 4.7 million are near acute hunger, including some 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. 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.
UN’s limited sanctions on “bad actors”
The UN Security Council did impose a “sanctions regime” that supposedly included “asset freezes” and “travel bans” on supposed bad actors, with a limited embargo on arms sales to “corrupt businessmen and politicians with ties to violent gangs.” Some of these businessmen and politicians are among the pro-U.S. Haitian ruling class the U.S. has fostered and nurtured over decades – the same class that has driven Haiti into catastrophic misery! However it may be pitched as a “humanitarian” alternative to overt and covert military action by imperialism, which is never excluded, sanctions are, in reality, an intrusion into the sovereignty of poor and oppressed nations by the major imperial powers, primarily the U.S. and Western nations, Currently, some 40 countries are subject to mainly U.S.-inspired sanctions, all essentially aimed at imposing or re-imposing U.S. corporate interests. In 1994, a U.S. sponsored sanctions/embargo regime on Haiti was the precursor to the 1994 U.S.-led UN occupation.
Haiti, born of successful slave revolt
The original occupation request by the de facto Prime Minister was, in fact, a violation of the Haitian Constitution, which forbids the presence of any foreign soldiers on Haitian soil, a reminder that Haiti was born of the world’s first successful slave-revolution that declared its independence in 1804 after defeating Napoleon’s imperial France.
Former dictator appoints “Prime Minister”
Ariel Henry was made “Prime Minister” by the assassinated former president, Jouvenel Moise, a corrupt member of the right-wing Bald-Headed Party (PHTK). as is Henry, only two days before his death on July 7, 2021. It was the controversial “decision” of the self-appointed “Core Group,” the so-called “friends of Haiti,” the US, France, Spain, Brazil, Britain and Germany, that confirmed Henry to his current position. Henry’s PHTK was denounced in repeated massive demonstrations with stealing $2 billion in petroleum credits from Venezuela for schools, hospitals and other social projects. The money disappeared.
As of this writing, on Aug. 2, 2023, the U.S. has urged all non-essential U.S. personnel to return home due to gang violence. Crises have always been a handy tool for imperialist intervention in Haiti. Yet another U.S. imperialist-led intervention/war against Haiti today can only be a repetition of past U.S. incursions, that is, to bolster all the reactionary forces in Haiti that declare their allegiance to U.S. corporate interests.
U.S./UN Out of Haiti and Stay Out! Self-determination for the people of Haiti! Build Haiti Solidarity in the Belly of the Beast!
An earlier version of this article was published in Socialist Action.