Imperialist hands off Haiti!

Protest against violence and kidnappings in Haiti

As violence continues to rage across Haiti and instability grows, US imperialism fears the situation could spiral out of control. Gangs, armed by the ruling class, are extending their control and criminal abuse outside the capital while engaging in bloody wars in an escalation of violence. At the same time the US fears growing resistance from the working class against the intensifying social crisis, the corrupt and incompetent government and foreign intervention. It is therefore manoeuvring to attempt to build a broad and obedient government - backed with an armed proxy force - to protect its interests.


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Haiti resists US intervention

For two months hundreds of thousands of Haitians have taken to the streets to protest against poverty and foreign intervention on the island. Protests exploded in mid-September following acting President Ariel Henry’s announcement that subsidies on petrol, kerosene and diesel would be reduced in line with IMF demands. This took place in the context of widespread poverty, corruption and violence in the country caused by decades of US interference. Haitians responded to the cuts with mass protests and disturbances nationwide, including blocking the country’s main fuel terminal, Varroeux, in the capital Port-au-Prince. On 16 October the situation escalated as the US and Canada sent armoured vehicles and other military supplies to crush the mass anti-government demonstrations.


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Haiti’s president assassinated as imperialism hovers

Protester in Haiti with a t-shirt showing Jean-Bertrand Aristide

On 7 July, the Haitian president, Jovenel Moïse was assassinated. His hand-picked prime minister, Claude Joseph, was temporarily installed in his place. One of Joseph’s first actions as interim president was to call upon the US to send soldiers to ‘maintain stability in the country. On 19 July, Joseph stepped down following pressure from the United Nations and the Organisation of American States (OAS), to be replaced by Ariel Henry who called for ‘unity’ and promised new elections, with public support from the United States. While the circumstances surrounding the death of Moïse, apparently at the hands of a group of Colombian mercenaries, remains murky, there is no doubt that behind the scenes the hand of US imperialism is at work to control the future of Haitian politics, as it has done for more than a century.


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Imperialism leaves Haiti unprepared for potential coronavirus outbreak

Haiti’s decades-long domination by US imperialism has left it defenceless in the event of a widespread Covid-19 outbreak. At time of writing, official figures suggest that 234 Haitians have been infected with Covid-19 and 18 have died. These low figures, however, are unlikely to reflect reality, as the Ministry of Health has said that fewer than 500 people have been tested for the virus so far, and almost no testing has been carried out in rural areas. The potential for a wholesale disaster is very real. Jacob Dexter reports.


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Haiti protesters take aim at imperialism

Haitians protest against the theft of PetroCaribe funds

On 1 November 2019 thousands of Haitians mobilised for the 100th anniversary of the murder of Charlemagne Péralte, an anti-colonial resistance fighter from the period of the 1915-1934 occupation by the United States. Their placards bore messages denouncing the government and imperialist puppeteers. The demonstrators denounced the US’ recent offer of ‘food aid’, which has historically been used to undermine development in Haiti. JACOB DEXTER reports.


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Haiti: rebelling against imperialism

Haiti protests 2019

The ongoing protest movement on the streets of Haiti, which began in February, escalated in June and July. What started as street protests has evolved into mass strikes and roadblocks, effectively paralysing the country for days at a time. The thousands of demonstrators have been met with violent, lethal repression by state forces, who have killed at least nine people so far and injured dozens more. JACOB DEXTER reports.


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Haiti: another year of pain

One year after the 12 January 2010 earthquake that killed 230,000 people and left 1.3 million people homeless, approximately one million people still live under makeshift tents and tarpaulins, close to half of whom are children. Of 180,000 destroyed homes, just 2,074 have been repaired. Of an estimated 1,268 displacement camps at least 29% have been forcibly closed: people are evicted and then search for other camps. Rubble covers much of the capital, Port-au-Prince; less than 5% has been removed, heavy lifting equipment having been withdrawn last summer. Rebuilding the airport remains the only major effort undertaken. Disputes over land ownership and plus property speculation combined with an influx of international aid workers have pushed rents beyond the reach of Haitian people who consequently have no alternative other than to remain in camps. Studies show that 40% of displacement camps do not have access to water, 30% have no access to toilets of any kind, 44% of their inhabitants drank untreated water and over 50% of children in the camps go without any food whatsoever for at least one day a week. Rape is described as ‘endemic’ in the camps.


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Haiti: independence not dependence

Haiti has gone from the headlines but its people are still in great need. The Haitian government estimates the death toll of the 12 January earthquake at 230,000 people. Three million Haitians, a third of the population, have been severely affected by the earthquake and over 1.1 million Haitians are homeless, living in refugee camps. Two million people need food aid. Diarrhoea and urinary infections are rife, as is malnutrition. Heavy rains came in mid-March, threatening dengue fever and malaria.


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Haïti: Évacuez les troupes!

Annulez la dette !

Mercredi 20 janvier 2010, 12h 38

L'ampleur du désastre haïtien se révèle peu à peu. Le séisme du 12 janvier a causé près de 200 000 morts et la destruction de Port-au-Prince, la capitale. Les anti-impérialistes doivent maintenant dénoncer les responsables de ce désastre. Bien que personne ne puisse empêcher un tremblement de terre, les états ont les moyens de limiter l'ampleur des dégâts et de mettre en place des infrastructures permettant une réponse efficace. En Haïti, l'absence de prévention et de moyens d'action a eu des conséquences dramatiques. Cependant, la principale responsabilité de ce désastre incombe bien moins à l'état haïtien, dramatiquement appauvri, qu'aux responsables de sa paupérisation : l'impérialisme de manière générale, et plus particulièrement l'impérialisme américain. Haïti est l'exemple typique d'un état sous dépendance étrangère, constamment contrarié et mis en difficulté par ceux qui souhaitent garder son territoire et son peuple sous contrôle.


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Haiti – a history of oppression

In Haiti we see in microcosm the forces that threaten the species with destruction. Not the natural forces that inflicted the earthquake but the social and political forces that magnified its impact and which brought Haiti to ruin long before the fault line ruptured: the forces of capitalism, colonialism and imperialism.

When Christopher Columbus and a band of Spanish gold seekers landed on Haiti’s north coast in 1492 there were perhaps 500,000 Taino Arawak people on the island of Hispaniola. By 1548 there were fewer than 500. The Spanish colonialists enslaved them, forced them to work in gold mines and supply food. Those who refused were hunted down by dogs, mutilated, raped and killed. Others died from influenza, smallpox and typhus.


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Haiti recolonised

The earthquake that struck Haiti on 12 January measured 7 on the Richter scale, releasing energy equivalent to a half-megaton nuclear bomb, 500,000 tons of TNT. By 28 January estimates of deaths reached up to 200,000 people. In Port-au-Prince there are 500,000 homeless people in 447 improvised camps. People around the world, seeing the devastation, have donated generously to help them. But on 23 January Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive said that 90% of the people in camps had received no aid. US imperialism has moved quickly to recolonise the country. Trevor Rayne reports.


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Haiti: troops out! Cancel the debt!

En Français

As the magnitude of the disaster in Haiti becomes apparent – perhaps 200,000 dead, the whole of the capital Port-au-Prince devastated as a consequence of the 12 January earthquake, so anti-imperialists have to hold those responsible for this calamity to account. No-one can prevent earthquakes, but states can create conditions where the scale of destruction that follows is limited, and where there is an infrastructure which can support effective relief operations. It is obvious that neither existed in Haiti so that the consequences of the earthquake were all the more horrific. But the primary responsibility for this lies not with the desperately impoverished Haitian state, but with those who caused this impoverishment: imperialism in general, and US imperialism in particular. Haiti is the epitome of a dependent state, its development deliberately obstructed by the US to keep it and its people in subjection.


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Imperialist coup d’état in Haiti

FRFI 178 April / May 2004

On 19 February 2004 the democratically elected President of Haiti, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was forcibly removed from office in a coup instigated by the US and French governments. Aristide was forced to the Central African Republic were he spent several days without recourse to friends, family or lawyers before finally being able to move to Jamaica. His presence back in the Caribbean has angered the US and the Haitian interim government of Prime Minister Gerard Latortue who claim his presence in the region could raise tension in Haiti. So far Aristide has turned down an offer of asylum from Nigeria though Jamaican officials unofficially claim he will go to South Africa which has indicated it would accept the former leader. Unrest, political killings, looting and violence are now widespread across Haiti. ANDREW ALEXANDER reports.

These latest events can come as little surprise. Haiti has suffered a history of for-eign-backed coups, imperialist plunder and meddling, despite being the first Caribbean country to have had a successful slave rebellion which overthrew the yoke of colonial oppression 200 years ago. Throughout the 19th century the fledgling republic struggled under a series of tyrannical and ineffectual leaders as the elite jockeyed for power. There were 22 heads of state between 1843 and 1915 when the US deployed soldiers and marines to protect US economic interests after it had created the professional military force, the Gard d’Haiti, to rule.


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Haiti: end the UN occupation

The 7 February presidential election in Haiti took place two years after the imperialist-backed coup of 19 February 2004, which saw popularly elected president Jean-Bertrand Aristide forced out of the country. The election took place under a brutal UN occupation, in place since the coup. Despite this, the imperialists’ favoured candidates failed and Aristide ally Rene Garcia Preval won. Preval’s test will be how he deals with the occupation, and subsequently the poverty and oppression faced by the Haitian masses.

Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere and second poorest worldwide. Its Gross Domestic Product is below $12 billion – around 20% of what Tesco made last year. 80% of Haitians live in abject poverty and nearly 70% depend on the agricultural sector, made up mostly of small-scale subsistence farming, employing about two-thirds of those with jobs. Two-thirds of the population is unemployed, the average wage is $2 a day, and over half are illiterate.


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Cuba and Haiti: socialism or poverty

FRFI 178 April / May 2004

Haiti is Cuba’s closest neighbour in the Caribbean. The two countries share a common history of sugar plantations, slavery and colonial exploitation. Both have had wars and revolutions to overthrow their colonial masters. The revolution in Haiti in 1804 against the French established the world’s first black republic. In Cuba the 19th century wars of liberation against the Spanish colonialists finally culminated in the revolution of 1959 that threw out the US imperialists and their puppets who had usurped the Spanish role. Yet the paths then taken by the two countries have been very different, as JIM CRAVEN reports.

In the late 1950s, conditions for the vast majority of both the Cuban and the Haitian people were appalling. Infant mortality in Haiti was 170 deaths per 1,000 live births and life expectancy was just 47 years. Cubans were marginally better off, with infant mortality at 60 and life expectancy 59 years. Only 3% of rural Cubans had running water; only 4% had meat to eat; health and education services were virtually non-existent.


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