Imperialist plans for Haiti in tatters

The poorest sections of the Haitian people are now clearly in open organised revolt against imperialism. Armed groups have seized most of Port-au-Prince, and many areas outside the capital are also beyond the control of an impotent central government. Just as the Haitian slave revolt of 1791, the country’s subsequent independence from France and the banning of slavery in 1804, sent shockwaves through slave-owning states, so the emergence now of powerful armed groups channelling popular anti-imperialist sentiment has pushed the leading imperialist powers into renewed and panicked plans for intervention.

In 1825 French imperialism threatened Haiti with a massive assault and forced the new republic to pay a vast indemnity to compensate French slaveowners for their loss of ‘property’. Subsequently the US replaced the French as Haiti’s chief tormentor. For 220 years Haiti has been bled dry by debt repayments and interest charges, with massively reduced payments for its exports, all kept in place by outside political manipulation. Haiti has been made the poorest country in the western hemisphere, with half of the population requiring humanitarian support simply to be able to eat. Today Haiti’s threat to imperialism is again primarily political. The US and other imperialist states could not tolerate a popular government working entirely for the benefit of its people, and so become an inspiration to other oppressed peoples.

To protect their interests in Haiti, the imperialists, led by the US, Canada and France, obtained a UN Security Council resolution in October 2023 for a Multinational Security Support (MSS) force to assist the Haitian police in combatting ‘gangs’. The force was to be led by 1,000 Kenyan police, backed by CARICOM forces from Jamaica, Bahamas, Guyana and Antigua and Barbuda. The financing and logistics were to be provided by the US committing $300m and Canada $120m.

The force’s deployment was blocked by a court in Kenya declaring it unconstitutional to deploy Kenyan police abroad, there being no reciprocal agreements with Haiti. Consequently, five months after the MSS resolution, unelected Haitian prime minister and acting president Ariel Henry went to Kenya and on 1 March, he and Kenyan President William Ruto signed an agreement to allow Kenyan police to be deployed. Benin, Burundi, Chad, and Senegal pledged troops to support the MSS force.

While Ariel Henry was away, the political situation in Haiti entirely escaped the control of the ruling class. The two largest ‘gangs’ (armed coalitions) in Port-au-Prince – the Revolutionary Forces of the G9 Family and Allies, and Gpèp (G-People), both formed in 2020 – agreed a non-aggression pact and demanded that Henry resign. Led by the leader of G9, ex-policeman Jimmy Chérezier, armed groups stormed the largest prisons in Port-au-Prince freeing 4,700 inmates, attacked police stations and laid siege to the port and international airport in what was clearly a political move. They attacked the area where government ministries, embassies, main banks and hotels are located, setting fire to the Interior Ministry building and firing on the presidential palace. The aim was to prevent Ariel Henry’s return and to arrest remaining government minsters. The German ambassador and EU officials were evacuated to neighbouring Dominican Republic, and the US moved out non-essential embassy staff, while bolstering its security with additional US Marines. While these groups as yet represent only a negative reaction to foreign interference, with a limited political vision, what has forced them into action are the underlying basic social demands of the predominantly youthful masses. This is a political powder keg.

Returning from Africa, Ariel Henry’s aircraft had to land in Puerto Rico as Haiti’s international airport was closed to him. Locked out, he formally resigned. A hastily convened CARICOM meeting was set up. While CARICOM is a market arrangement comprising 12 Caribbean Island states plus Belize, Guyana, and Suriname, the meeting included the US Secretary of State, the Canadian Ambassador, UN representatives, France, Mexico, and Brazil. These outsiders decided that Haiti would be ruled by a ‘Transitional Presidential Council’ made up of seven voting members from political organisations and the private sector, and two non-voting members from civil society and the religious sector. The organisations were given a deadline to submit names for the council and had to agree to the MSS deployment.

Some of the parties denounced the Transitional Presidential Council. As the deadline passed no names were published. One of the parties invited to join the Council, Petit Dessalines, led by former Senator and Presidential candidate, Jean Charles Moïse, has rejected the offer. Moïse recently formed an alliance with another former police officer and rebel leader Guy Philippe, stating that they, along with a Haitian judge, should form a three-person council to lead the country. Guy Philippe was instrumental in leading the revolt that secured the coup against progressive President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004. He recently returned to Haiti after serving jail time in the US for money laundering. Guy Philippe responded to the CARICOM initiative, saying ‘no Haitian should accept any proposal from the international community.’ He urged Haitians to take to the streets. G9 leader Chérizier stated: ‘[We] do not care about Ariel Henry’s resignation …We are going to continue the fight for Haiti’s liberation.’

Speaking at a Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro supported this stance and called for regional solidarity, stating: ‘We do not agree with a disguised invasion of any sort … The solution is not another invasion. The solution is for Latin America and the Caribbean to go and embrace, accompany it, truly help it so that Haiti can take its own path and implement its own model.’

With Kenya now stating that it will not deploy its police until there is a government in place, imperialism’s plans for Haiti are in tatters.

Imperialist hands off Haiti!
David Hetfield