The United States has attempted to assert sovereign control of Haiti for more than 200 years – from the economic sanctions imposed in 1804 when Haitians freed themselves from slavery and established an independent country until the kidnapping and exile in 1991 of democratically elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide – to this very day.
In the past, when the United States intervened in Haiti, American forces and their imperialist allies had the guns, and the Haitians had the machetes – and the guns won. In recent years, Haitians have acquired hundreds of thousands of firearms, some of them very powerful, according to the US Department of Homeland Security.
More than 200 armed groups operate in Haiti. Some of them engage in kidnapping and extortion, while others defend their neighborhoods and provide some security, which the state does not do. Roadblocks are frequent. Official United Nations resolutions, official US statements, and corporate media around the world refer to these groups as “gangs,” which is racist slander.
How is the United States trying to intervene?
One of the effects of these weapons was seen in the October 28 assassination of Eric Jean-Baptiste, a prominent politician, former presidential candidate and secretary general of the Rally of Progressive National Democrats, as well as his bodyguard/driver. They were riding in Jean-Baptiste’s armored car, which was overturned by the force of the weapons used to kill them.
Jean-Baptiste was deeply connected to the financial aspects of the fight against the UN occupation and the fight against cholera introduced by UN soldiers.
The US and international corporate media immediately blamed the attack on local armed groups, with no possibility that it was a US-backed attempt at destabilization.
The last week of October, the UN Security Council asserted that Haiti’s security and stability could be “enhanced” by allowing action to be taken against individuals and groups. Immediately, the United States, acting on its own, imposed sanctions on two prominent Haitian senators, accusing them of links with “drug-trafficking” armed groups. A large US Coast Guard cutter is now on patrol off Port-au-Prince.
While the United States, by some accounts, does not appear to have many “boots on the ground” in Haiti, it has in fact flown in armored personnel carriers, which appear from the videos to be very similar to light tanks. Once they are at the airport in Port-au-Prince, the United States hands them over to the Haitian National Police.
Around November 5, the police used one of these APCs to lift the blockade held by an armed group on Haiti’s oil port, Varreux, which is located in Cité Soleil. International media hailed this as a great victory.
But some drone videos on YouTube estimate there are at least 20 blockages in Cité Soleil, Port-au-Prince’s poorest neighborhood – blockages that would need to be removed to keep gasoline and diesel flowing freely. Meanwhile, at least one Maltese tanker carrying fuel from Curacao was moored at another terminal.
The Haitian masses are saying ‘No!’ to intervene
Hundreds of thousands of people have repeatedly demonstrated in the streets of Haiti since August. These protests erupted when the unelected government doubled the price of fuel.
The protesters raised other issues: hunger; the near total absence of any government service; widespread public violence, including extortion, kidnappings and carjackings; the rise of cholera and other epidemic diseases; the high cost of basic necessities such as fuel and food. Most schools have closed, health care is scarce, sanitation non-existent except in wealthy neighborhoods.
Food insecurity is high; 4.5 million Haitians do not get enough healthy food. Nearly 1.3 million people do not receive enough food of any kind.
The last bourgeois election in Haiti took place in 2019, and almost all electoral mandates have expired. De facto Prime Minister Ariel Henry was essentially nominated by the neo-colonial and imperialist Core Group, made up of ambassadors from the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Spain, Brazil, European Union and the United Nations.
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Brian A. Nichols told PBS that the U.S. strongly supports Henry because he ended fuel and food subsidies. (October 26)
Never mind that this action pushed the mass of people into the streets! Henry was saving the bourgeoisie money.
In addition to the Haitian flag, the flags of the People’s Republic of China and Russia are often displayed in popular demonstrations to indicate their rejection of American intervention.
If the United States intervenes directly, it will first have to figure out how to overcome the armed rejection of intervention by the vast majority of Haitians – citizens of the first country in the modern world where slaves freed themselves and declared their land independent.