National Sections of the L5I:

No UN-US or French military intervention in Haiti

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The United Nations Security Council is debating a call by its Secretary-General, António Guterres, for "armed action" to free up Haiti’s main port and create a humanitarian corridor to solve what he calls "an absolutely nightmarish situation". Officials of the Biden administration say the president is considering the option of utilising troops from the US' closest allies in Latin America, in large part because of the mass rejection by Haitians of previous North American “boots on the ground”.

In 2010, there was an intervention by US marines, supposedly to facilitate the delivery of aid after the terrible earthquake. In practice their main activity was to prevent looting, which, in many cases, was simply hungry people trying to get food. The US troops alienated the Haitian population, who accused them of sexual harassment and racist attitudes. It is clear that the people of Haiti do not wish for, or support, another armed bogus humanitarian intervention.

Certainly, the economic situation in the country is appalling. Jean-Martin Bauer of the UN’s World Food Programme says that nearly half the population, 4.7 million people, now face acute hunger. In addition, the country faces an outbreak of cholera, due to the shortage of clean drinking water. In the last outbreak, a decade or so ago, after the earthquake, 10,000 people died. Bauer says:

“We also have 19,000 people who live in Port-au-Prince's Cite Soleil district who are facing what we'd call a food catastrophe. Recent data suggests that 1 out of every 5 children in this neighbourhood is affected by acute malnutrition.” 75 percent of the country’s young people are unemployed.

Haiti’s government finances have long been bankrupt, for various reasons, ranging from rampant corruption to tiny tax revenues which are only 5.6 percent of GDP. (France’s ratio is 45.4 percent.)

The question of the gangs is also far from insignificant. Armed gangs control half the capital and have blocked the main fuel terminal in the capital Port-au-Prince, since last month and severed access to aid routes across the country. Obviously, Haiti needs supplies of food, fuel and clean water. Certainly, the country does need “law and order” in order to safely transport food supplies and medical teams to areas presently cut off. But this must be generated from within the masses of people themselves, at grassroots level.

Real order and peace will not come through foreign troops who have only made matters worse during their many previous interventions, not least because providing humanitarian aid was never their prime concern.

Moreover, the gangs are a result, not the cause, of the country’s terrible problems. These derive from the country’s splintered political elite, who blocked any democratic and social solutions to Haiti’s poverty, and who armed and funded the gangs. But behind this corrupted Haitian elite lies Western imperialism, particularly the USA but also France, Canada, Spain, and others who have stolen the country’s natural resources rather than developing the country.

The Western media focus mainly on the issue of the gangs but over recent months, and several times over the previous decades, the country has seen huge waves of street protests to which they paid much less attention. The latest took place last year and over the past months, both against soaring fuel and food prices, and to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Ariel Henry who has no democratic mandate.

He was effectively installed by the Americans after the “mysterious” assassination of president Jovenel Moise in July 2021 by professional hitmen whom, many Haitians suspect, were organised by figures from the USA and Colombia. Moise belonged to a right wing neoliberal party, and in 2017 re-established the army, which had been dismantled in 1995 after a series of bloody military coups.

The new force had only around 500 soldiers, and was vastly outnumbered by the gangs, whose numbers are estimated now to be between 20,000 and 30,000. Haiti’s police force, numbering around 15,000, is pitifully armed. So Moise allied himself with some of the gangs to suppress popular opposition street protests against his austerity measures.

One of the biggest gangs is G9, whose full name is "G9 Family and Allies", led by a former policeman, Jimmy Cherizier. It is, as its name suggests, a collective of nine gangs based in the capital and whose forces have blocked the country’s biggest fuel terminal, demanding $50 million to distribute petroleum products, creating large shortages across Haiti. Cherizier is a bitter opponent of Henry and insists his gang is in reality a political movement, he gives interviews in front of a poster of Che Guevara.

Haiti has a long history of US military interventions and occupations dating back to the early 20th century, the first lasted for 30 years. The USA supported the notorious Duvalier dynasty, "Papa Doc" and "Baby Doc", between 1957 and 1985. Then, the CIA sponsored a military coup in 1991, which overthrew the country’s first democratically elected President, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. When the military junta faced a popular uprising in 1994, 20,000 US-sponsored "peacekeeping" troops occupied Haiti. Their objective was not, as they claimed, to restore democracy, but to prevent pro-Aristide forces from seizing power.

Aristide’s left populist party, Fanmi Lavalas, won elections again in 2001 with an ambitious programme of social reforms, similar in many ways to those of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez. But, when he tried to implement them, he was sabotaged by the domestic elite and by the US government who generated a civil war and Aristide’s kidnapping and removal in 2004.

A far from insignificant motive for these coups was the determination of the USA to prevent any radical “experiments" like those in Cuba or Venezuela and also control of Haiti's natural wealth. It has large, untapped, oil and copper reserves plus deposits of uranium, and the world’s second largest reserves of iridium.

In the face of another planned intervention by US or UN forces, socialists and internationalists in the USA and Europe should demand:
No military operations on the island by outside forces.

An international relief effort – to provide food, fuel and medical supplies but without strings and under the control of Haitians themselves.

Socialists worldwide should support the struggle by the country’s proletariat – including the huge numbers of urban poor, against the corrupt elite and against US imperialism.

Haitians, who have demonstrated in huge numbers against successive corrupt and repressive governments, need to create their own grassroots democracy in the form of councils of delegates from the workplaces, in the shantytowns and countryside. These should monitor and organise the distribution of emergency supplies to those most in need of them. Such councils will need to create defence militias able to restore and keep order for the people.

Based on them, a workers' and peasants' government could be established, which could conduct elections to a constituent assembly, overthrow the local oligarchy and wrest the country from the stranglehold of imperialism.