by Mireille Fanon-Mendès France , Boubacar Boris Diop
For many years, Haiti has been destabilized by a political crisis, to which must be added the humanitarian, socio-economic and security crises, to the point that the current Prime Minister, Ariel Henry, appointed two days before the assassination of Jovenel Moïse, launched an appeal to the international community last September for the establishment of an international armed force to unblock the Varreaux Fuel Terminal held by the G9 Gang in order to ensure the distribution of water, the delivery of medical equipment and to prevent epidemics. This blockade follows the government’s decision to substantially increase the price of fuel.
Extreme poverty affects a large part of the population, cholera has just reappeared, the health and education systems are totally failing, production companies are non-existent. But the IMF, pragmatic and cynical, is counting on the continuous flow of remittances from the diaspora to pay itself back
At the request of the IMF, since 2018, several attempts to reduce state subsidies on petroleum products had brought the country to a halt and pushed the Haitian people into the streets. To contain this popular pressure, the current Prime Minister, in July 2022, decided to respond to the injunctions of the IMF with a view to obtaining, in the long term, a higher tranche of credit with the consequences of yet more economic reforms.
Extreme poverty affects a large part of the population, cholera has just reappeared, the health and education systems are totally failing, production companies are non-existent. But the IMF, pragmatic and cynical, is counting on the continuous flow of remittances from the diaspora to pay itself back. It does not matter that the implementation of structural adjustment policies has already shown its inefficiency in many countries of the South.
The country will continue to sink, its sovereignty will be further eroded, public policies will be further reduced, and the State and its donors will have no problem continuing to infantilize the Haitian people. The only windfall will come from NGOs, some of which benefit from funds donated by donors, to the point that Le Monde, in an article dated January 9, 2020, entitled « How Haiti became the Republic of NGOs »; in a context of poverty, precariousness and dehumanization imposed by certain external actors, the number of gangs in the social and political space has increased and their violence seems to have no limits.
If the international community really wants to help Haiti in ways other than compassionate declarations, it should work for the total and immediate cancellation of the country’s foreign public debt, the abandonment of liberal economic policies while demanding the repayment of the illegal debt paid by Haiti to France as well as the restitution of the 500,000 dollars (at the time) constituting the gold reserves stolen from the National Bank of the Republic of Haiti in December 1914 by the Americans, after ten years of occupation.
If this same international community really defended one of the founding principles of the United Nations Charter, it would demand the effective implementation of « (…) the equal rights (…) of nations large and small » and stop participating in the trusteeship of certain countries by the IFIs -or by their former colonizers- and in the subjugation of States because this calls into question their right to self-determination and their sovereignty, a non-negotiable principle.
In the meantime, the streets are burning and the crisis is weighing even more heavily on the lives of Haitians. The UN Secretary General is following the Prime Minister’s request and is urging the Security Council to send an international armed force to restore order « by force » to ensure essential services.
This call was also echoed by the UN Special Representative for Haiti,Helen La Lime. Is it by sending a foreign armed force that the UN thinks it can defuse the crisis in Haiti? Is this how it can claim to achieve even the first two Sustainable Development Goals by 2030?
By supporting the intervention of an armed force, how will this institution and the international community […] help « to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, ensure access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels » (Goal 16)? The situation in Haiti further highlights the deadly paradoxes that run through this institution and its agencies, but also through the international community, certain NGOs and civil society.
Will this intervention solve the structural problems that Haitians face, even though the majority of them are against any foreign interference? They still remember the disastrous experience of the North American, French or Canadian army who, in the aftermath of the earthquake, came “to help” .
In January 2010, the U.S. forces deployed more than 550 men, reinforcing the military forces already present – some 2,200 Marines – to secure the public space, including the airport, but also the arrival of food aid and NGOs, including USAID, and to allow MINUSTAH to continue its stabilization mission; we know the deleterious role of the latter and its responsibility for the spread of cholera, more than 10,000 people have been victims.
These forces were deployed as part of the U.S. Southcom command, to which Haiti belongs ; its counterpart in Africa is the U.S. Africacom. France was not left out, sending members of the air force and the navy, and working so that European Union deploy the European Gendarmerie Force (EGF) to participate in the security operation.
Armed interventions by one country in another in the name of ‘democracy’ are highly problematic. It is time that humanitarian aid is neither militarized nor used as a pretext for a long occupation of a country
Continue reading at: https://www.cadtm.org/Haiti-which-questions
One may question the relevance of the intervention of foreign armed forces to take charge, in the context of a humanitarian crisis, of the security of a country. Just as armed interventions by one country in another in the name of ‘democracy’ are highly problematic. It is time that humanitarian aid is neither militarized nor used as a pretext for a long occupation of a country.
Since 2001, by dint of having conceptualized the global security, the only response has been to send foreign armed forces on the ground, in most cases in violation of the founding principles of the United Nations Charter. We have seen this in Afghanistan, Iraq, Mali, Burkina Faso and other countries…
Such a decision for the people of Haiti would be catastrophic and could lead to a mass crime during confrontations between this international armed force and the gangs who will certainly not let themselves be dispossessed of their weapons, their territories and their power.
Since October 17, the Security Council has put in place, through resolution 2653, a regime of sanctions against gang leaders, including the most powerful, the G9+ and allies, as it was done in 2017 against Mali and recently against Russian oligarchs. Isn’t it inconsistent to propose identical solutions to totally different situations?
On the one hand, the military in the context of a coup d’état, oligarchs in the context of an illicit war – with regard to International Law, in particular Article 2§4 of UN Charter-, and on the other hand, gang members in the context of an internal crisis, even if it is dramatic! Why not send an international armed force to all countries where gangs are present?
To return to this request for armed intervention, it will certainly not solve the impact of the gangs on the lives of Haitians, nor the problem of illegitimacy of the Prime Minister nor the imperiousness of the public services.
If the country is confronted with the reign of gangs, this is not new; thus, at the time of the fall of Jean Claude Duvalier, in 1986, the armed gangs were transformed into paramilitary structures and became an important actor in the social life of the country, and a privileged interlocutor of the power.
Some gangs are protected and financed by members of the police and successive governments, which allows them to currently control more than a third of the country and sometimes completely certain neighborhoods of Port-au-Prince.
Such a decision for the people of Haiti would be catastrophic and could lead to a mass crime during confrontations between this international armed force and the gangs who will certainly not let themselves be dispossessed of their weapons, their territories and their power
For the time being, the armed forces ready to ‘rescue‘ Haiti, the first black republic to free itself from enslavement and colonization, do not seem to be on site, but this could be done soon. Representatives of the United States and Canada state that « today, American and Canadian military planes arrived in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, to transport essential security equipment purchased by the Haitian government. The equipment includes tactical and armored vehicles, as well as supplies. The equipment delivery was part of a joint operation involving aircraft from the Royal Canadian Air Force and the U.S. Air Force ».
With, no doubt, a number of military instructors and intervention forces in their aircraft bunkers.
If necessary, the Dominican Republic will be able to lend a hand to this intervention mechanism, since it has just acquired a series of vehicles and military class aircraft, as the President, Luis Abinader,pointed out last 9 October: “We are making a very important purchase in different areas, both for the air force and the army, to strengthen our country’s defense capabilities” .
In view of the mistreatment of Haitian migrants in the Dominican Republic, it is easy to see the real purpose of these military purchases; a wall of more than 200 kilometers long has been under construction since the beginning of this year. « This retaliatory and surveillance equipment will be useful », as the President of the Dominican Republic states, « to take care of our territory and to let the world know that the solution to the problem of Haiti is the collective work of the international community and not only of the Dominican Republic ».
For the time being, the Dominican state is simply hunting down, abusing and relentlessly chasing Haitian migrants in order to comply with the will of the United States to stem the flow of Haitian migrants. This crisis can also provide them with a potential means of pressure on other Caribbean states tempted to follow the examples of Brazil, Chile and Colombia. It also gives them the right to dream of adding a new star to their flag, after Puerto Rico.
All of this is consistent with the desire to add a humanitarian component to their military doctrine, even if it means calling into question international law and international humanitarian law. In spite of these dangers, the United Nations, in spite of their totally contrary objectives, do not seem to be able to oppose this deadly project. Proof if it were needed that there is an urgent need to reform this international institution which only serves the interests of the dominant.
Meanwhile, Haiti and its courageous people struggling for a sovereign and independent country, suffocates under structural crises, seeks solutions questioning both the terms of solidarity and international aid that cannot be satisfied with imposing models, questions the role of the UN and its agencies and questions the posture of the international community, which adopts an overhanging position towards the Haitian people; Here continues to be expressed both the coloniality of power and the coloniality of Being over a country that was the first to found a black republic.
Is Haiti being unconsciously punished for this insult to white supremacy? One has the right to ask why the founding principles of the United Nations Charter are almost inapplicable there. Let us not forget that all this is happening, while the international community launched in 2015 a decade for people of African descent to fight against structural racism.
This is why the near silence of Afro-descendants and Africans about the situation in Haiti does not cease to question; would this country have already passed to the other side of reality ?
Breaking through the wall of invisibility and indignity installed by the system carried by white supremacy supposes first of all to demand the setting up a collective decolonial process for reparations for HaIti to which will be associated the demand for the restitution of the colonial debt money and the return of the stolen gold
It is however clear that what is happening to Haitians speaks to what is happening to Africans and Afro-descendants everywhere; one must pay close attention to the way in which the Haitian people’s right to self-determination and sovereignty is being treated; it informs how this right, acquired in the blood and tears of those who fought for independence, is currently being deregulated and unstructured by the liberal financial system and transnational corporations. It also underlines the fact that structural racism is still present in all the interstices of a system that does not cease to deny the dignity of Africans and Afro-descendants.