Conor here. This post doesn’t get into the past four years of protests in Haiti against US interference there, including sanctions on Venezuela that caused fuel prices to soar and the installation of current president Ariel Henry, but is a good counterweight to recent pieces in the New York Times and Washington Post calling for US intervention.
By Brett Wilkins, an author and journalist. Originally published at Common Dreams.
As U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met Thursday in Ottawa to discuss a possible multilateral invasion of Haiti in the name of restoring “stability,” Haitian and anti-war voices denounced the prospect of yet another U.S.-backed intervention—which they say will bring the opposite of stability to the crisis-ridden nation.
The Biden administration is seeking a nation to lead a rapid-deployment international military force, an intervention backed by the United Nations Security Council and requested by de facto Haitian prime minister Ariel Henry to quell the gang violence that has spiked since last year’s presidential assassination, a 7.2-magnitude earthquake, and a hurricane that devastated much of the deeply impoverished nation.
While some Haitians—especially elites—and the U.S. corporate media push for armed intervention, other Haitians and peace activists have taken to the streets and to social media to condemn any new invasion.
“The U.S. wants another country to invade Haiti on its behalf to put down protests against the U.S.-installed government. They’re also ready to make it happen with or without U.N. approval,” tweeted the women-led peace group CodePink on Thursday. “The entire world must demand #HandsOffHaiti right now.”
In a recent interview with Democracy Now!, Guerline Jozef, executive director of the Haitian Bridge Alliance, said that Haitians “are saying no to an invasion, no to armed invasion from the international community, because every time there is the so-called ‘help’ invasion, that people go to Haiti, it results in chaos.”
Look up the “Ottawa Initiative” from 2003 to see how Canada, France, and the US decided to destroy Haitian sovereignty through a coup d’etat of Haiti’s democratically elected president https://t.co/gaUP3hvlCS
— JPierre (@grosmorne29) October 28, 2022
Madame Boukman, a prominent Haitian political commentator, recently tweeted that “U.S.-style ‘humanitarian’ intervention is like a massive blow to the spine.”
“It has completely paralyzed Haiti’s development,” she added. “Haitians call for a localized, Haitian solution based on the principles of self-determination.”
Jemima Pierre, a sociocultural anthropologist, UCLA professor, and co-coordinator of the Black Alliance for Peace team on Haiti, said in a Wednesday interview on the progressive radio show “Between the Lines” that “the Haitian people… absolutely do not want foreign armed soldiers on the ground.”
“Haiti has been invaded many times by the U.S. government,” Pierre continued. “And every single time it’s been complete brutality, rape… And so the last thing people want is to have these soldiers going around with guns and tanks pointing at them, right?”
Each time the United States has invaded or backed intervention in Haiti—the only nation born from a successful slave revolt—it has cited the restoration of order and stability as its pretext.
The U.S., which had coveted Haitian territory since the 19th century, used civil unrest sparked by a gruesome presidential assassination to justify a 1915 invasion and subsequent 19-year occupation.
#Haiti was a beacon of light to the world, a challenge to the dread logic of capital & empire.
For this it was punished with foreign interference: coups, invasions, occupations, assassinations.
— Clare Daly (@ClareDalyMEP) October 14, 2022
U.S. Marines, wrote Time at the end of the occupation, “landed at Port-au-Prince and began forcibly soothing everybody.” Thousands of Haitians who resisted were killed. Rape of Haitian women and children by U.S. troops ran rampant and went unpunished. Occupation forces implemented forced labor, Jim Crow segregation, and oversaw the looting of the country’s finances and resources for the benefit of Wall Street banks and investors. All the while, U.S. politicians and press hailed what they called America’s “civilizing mission.”
The U.S. would occupy Haiti until 1934. In the decades that followed, successive administrations in Washington supported Haitian dictators including the brutal Duvalier dynasty. Democracy was finally restored with the 1990 election of then-priest and progressive populist Jean Bertrand Aristide, but a year later he was ousted in a military coup whose plotters included CIA operatives.
Amid calls for an international intervention to restore stability, President Joe Biden, then the junior U.S. senator from Delaware, in 1994 opined that “if Haiti just quietly sunk into the Caribbean or rose up 300 feet, it wouldn’t matter a whole lot to our interests.”
Joe Biden in 1994: “If Haiti—a God-awful thing to say—if Haiti just quietly sunk into the Caribbean or rose up 300 feet, it wouldn’t matter a whole lot to our interests.” pic.twitter.com/iMvSJzg2JU
— A Tulip in a Cup (@queeralamode) July 7, 2021
Then-President Bill Clinton did not agree, and that year his administration secured United Nations Security Council authorization to stage a U.S.-led invasion to “restore democracy” to Haiti. Clinton sent 25,000 troops on a “nation-building” mission, and Aristide was returned to the Palais National. Ten years later, he was ousted in another U.S.-backed coup.
When U.N. troops deployed to Haiti following a devastating 2010 earthquake, they brought more than the stability they were tasked with maintaining. A cholera epidemic traced back to Nepalese U.N. peacekeepers infected more than 800,000 people in four regional countries, killing over 10,000 of them.
A fresh cholera outbreak has been cited by some people seeking renewed intervention in Haiti, but Jozef said that “that itself is a result of the U.N. being in Haiti after the earthquake.”
In related Haiti news, U.S. Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and 15 colleagues—including progressives Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)—this week urged the Biden administration to “immediately extend and redesignate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haiti,” a move that would allow Haitians currently in the United States to remain in the country until conditions improve in their homeland.