Haiti: Neocolonial Model Country

Stephen SeftonHaiti’s history and current situation closely mirror the political and economic realities of the history of Latin America and the Caribbean since independence. Patterns of foreign intervention and the sell-out collaboration of national elites to impose their rule over impoverished majorities still persist. Sooner or later, popular rebellion has always arisen by those majorities, seeking national liberation, struggling to implement emancipatory policies, often under constant neocolonial siege and attack.

Since the 1990s, the United States, Canada and France have intensified their intervention to undermine and destroy Haiti’s independence and sovereignty. In 2004, overthrowing the legitimate government, they imposed a military occupation by a multinational UN force accompanied by numerous foreign non-governmental organizations. This system of foreign occupation and neocolonial administration by international institutions and organizations marginalized the national government.

It oversaw repeated rigged elections to install puppet governments incapable of responding to the needs of the population even in normal times, much less in the face of the terrible, massive natural disaster of the 2010 earthquake. The so-called “international community” has shown a total inability to improve the living conditions of the people of Haiti. Just as they allowed the pro-Nazi regime in Ukraine to attack their Russian-speaking population, in Haiti they have allowed the security forces of President Henry’s illegitimate government to attack the impoverished population of the capital Port-au-Prince.

It is important to see these contemporary events in the context of the country’s history. In Haiti for the first time in history, a slave population succeeded in overthrowing the system of colonial rule. The imperialist countries have never forgiven Haiti for that defeat. After declaring independence in 1804, the country was divided between a kingdom in the north and a republic in the south around the capital Port-au-Prince. The republic supported Simon Bolivar with resources in order to carry out his liberation campaign in South America. France, the colonial power, only recognized Haiti as an independent country in 1826, in exchange for extorting with threats of military aggression a huge indemnity in return for the loss of its territory and slaves.

Throughout the 19th century Haiti suffered constant internal conflicts and, until 1874, frequent armed conflicts with the Spanish part of the eastern part of the island, the Dominican Republic. Since 1892 a prolonged dispute between Haiti and Germany provoked the application by the United States of the Monroe Doctrine and finally the invasion of the country by the Yankee Marines in 1915. Just as the invaders in Nicaragua assassinated national hero Benjamin Zeledon, in Haiti the U.S. invasion assassinated national hero Charlemagne Péralte. Also similar to the military occupation of Nicaragua, the Yankee occupation of Haiti lasted until 1934.

Since the departure of the U.S. Marines, a period of unstable governments and repeated coups d’état ended in 1956 with the election of François Duvalier, who imposed a family dictatorship, supported by the United States, which lasted until 1986. Another period of political instability followed with constant imperialist intervention, which intensified when Jean Bertrand Aristide won the 2000 elections with 92% of the vote and 80% of the deputies in the legislature. Immediately, the United States and its allies implemented a regime change process to ensure the failure of the new government and punish the people of Haiti for their overwhelming support for human-centered reform policies for the benefit of the impoverished population.

Haiti is currently immersed in another acute crisis following the July 2021 assassination of President Jovenal Moise by Colombian mercenaries hired by local bourgeoisie leaders aligned with the U.S. and allied governments. The assassination of President Moise together with another destructive earthquake in August 2021 and the austerity policies of the de facto president Ariel Henry further deepened the critical situation of the population. The crisis has generated extreme citizen insecurity in the form of the proliferation of armed gangs and organized crime. In the same way that factions of the Haitian oligarchy have manipulated the political situation to favor their interests, they also pay their criminal allies to attack popular forces that threaten their power and control.

FRG9 leader Jimmy Cherizier addresses a crowd of supporters in Port-au-Prince’s La Saline neighborhood. Image: John Wesley Amady

Preeminent at the moment as a figure capable of uniting the large and most impoverished sectors of the population in Port-au-Prince is a former policeman Jimmy Cherizier, who has developed a movement called the G9 Revolutionary Forces. This movement is an alliance of armed gangs defending their neighborhoods against brutal attacks by criminal groups allied with the national police in the service of the oligarchy. It is an expression of the nationalism of the impoverished classes against the sell-out ruling class. It works in a practical way to improve the living conditions of the population in their neighborhoods where there have been repeated incidents in which abundant testimony from the victims affirms that the national police have acted to destroy their houses with machinery, set fire to others and even a school. Government security forces support their allies among the criminal groups and allow snipers to shoot at the population of the neighborhoods controlled by the G9 Revolutionary Forces.

In this whole sorry state of affairs one sees the patterns of neocolonial intervention and psychological warfare. They call Cherizier and his comrades “bandits” or “criminals”. They said the same of General Sandino and Comandante Carlos Fonseca for defending their impoverished populations and demanding better living conditions for them. As in Nicaragua, so in Haiti the human rights industry falsifies the truth in order to mobilize international opinion in favor of foreign intervention. They claim falsehoods while omitting the testimony of hundreds of victims against figures aligned with the government. Organizations such as the National Human Rights Defense Network and Fondasyon Je Klere are funded by the same U.S. and European entities that funded the failed coup attempt in Nicaragua.

At the end of 2020, the U.S. Treasury imposed some Magnitsky Act coercive measures against Cherizier, just as it has applied similar measures against leading political figures in Venezuela and Nicaragua. Media disinformation is constant and completely blatant in its use of half-truths and omissions. In this regard also, as in Nicaragua and Venezuela, the United Nations plays a shameful role through the false reports of the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINU) which fuels calls for a new foreign military intervention in Haiti. His false testimony went so far as to encourage the UN Security Council to blame Jimmy Cherizier for the crisis in Haiti, as if the repressive policies of President Ariel Henry, the collaboration of his police with criminal groups and the austerity policies imposed by the IMF had nothing to do with it.

As Russian representative Dmitry Polyanskiy said at a January meeting of the UN Security Council, “…Haiti is also experiencing a crisis as a state caused in large part by political engineering by external forces and neo-colonial policies…this prevents our colleagues in the Council from calling things by their real names”. This comment also corresponds to the Final Declaration of the seventh CELAC summit of January 24. The Declaration, instead of demanding that the investigation of the assassination of President Jovenal Moise and the attacks by the Haitian police against its own population be carried out, treats the de facto Haitian government, possibly complicit in the assassination of the previous president, as the legitimate interlocutor of a people who reject it.

Similarly, the Declaration approves the official document of the Haitian government ‘National Consensus for an Inclusive Transition and Transparent Elections’ although it has been widely rejected by the country’s political parties, the main national media and the vast majority of the population expressing themselves in social networks. The CELAC Declaration proposes to help the Haitian security forces even though they routinely collaborate with the same organized crime against which the Declaration contemplates supporting a multinational military force.

This lack of consistency on the part of the CELAC Final Declaration in relation to the issue of external intervention in Haiti indicates the undue influence of the United Nations. As our Comandante Daniel commented in his recent meeting with the Iranian Foreign Minister, “If the United Nations, its General Assembly has already voted countless times with 90% of the votes to suspend the blockade and nothing happens, what does it mean? That the United Nations is in the hands of the Yankee empire”. This is the reality not only of the situation in Cuba but, perhaps even more urgently, in Haiti as well.

In Haiti, the United States and its allies have succeeded in imposing a system of neocolonial tutelage as they wanted to do in Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela. In Nicaragua they tried in 2018. They could not, nor will they be able to. In Haiti the people are resisting, but it remains to be seen if they can advance in their struggle to regain their stolen sovereignty.

* Thanks to Haiti Liberté and Black Alliance for Peace for information used in this article.

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Solidarity with the Haitian People’s Struggle: We Reject the CELAC Declaration on Haiti. No to Military Intervention.