Haiti: Protests hit 10 years of U.N. occupation

The United Nation’s Minustah force took over the occupation of Haiti 10 years ago, on June 1, 2004, after the United States, with help from France and Canada, carried out a coup d’etat. They kidnapped popular President Jean-Bertrand Aristide on Feb. 29 and sent him on a U.S. plane into exile in the Central African Republic.

Minustah forces currently total 6,600 soldiers. Most come from Brazil, as does their commander.

Although Haiti’s Parliament has never legally approved Minustah and the situation in Haiti wasn’t a threat to peace and regional stability, this hasn’t stopped the U.N. from recently announcing that Minustah will continue until its “job is done.”

Progressive political groups in Haiti like the Dessalines Coordination believe that Minustah’s real “job” is to ensure that Haiti remains subservient to imperialism, particularly U.S. imperialism.

According to June 4-10 Haïtí-Liberté, “The vast majority of the Haitian people now demand [Minustah’s] immediate unconditional departure.” The fact that Minustah troops were the vehicle for cholera breaking out in Haiti four years ago, which has caused more than 800,000 illnesses and over 8,000 deaths, has only deepened the Haitian people’s desire to see Minustah gone.

One of the propaganda justifications for Minustah was that it would help Haiti restore democracy and establish the rule of law.

Under the direction of President Michel Martelly and Prime Minister Laurent LaMothe, this is how the rule of law operates: On May 30, Senator Moïse Jean-Charles was at the prison in Arcahaie, a small town north of Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital.

Jean-Charles went there to see Rony Timotée, a spokesperson for the grassroots organization Patriotic Force for the Respect of the Constitution (FOPARC). Timotée had been arrested for “disturbing public order” on May Day.

When Jean-Charles presented his official permission to visit Timotée at the prison door, the guards shut it in his face and one of them in a mask punched him. As Jean-Charles went to the justice of the peace to swear out a complaint, the judge slipped out through a back door. (Radio Kiskeya, May 30)

Sen. Jean-Charles held an impromptu press conference in front of the prison. He said, “For some time now I have said that we are faced with a dictatorship. Some did not want to believe me. But today the dictatorship is clearly before us. He hit me in front of everyone.” (Haïtí-Liberté, June 4)

Timotée was released June 4, the day before a massive demonstration in Port-au-Prince called by his organization and others to demand the resignation of President Martelly, an end to the vast corruption running through his government, and a fair and free election.

Tens of thousands of people came out for the protest, showing the deep anger in the Haitian people over their current situation. This is in a city where electricity and telephone service are scanty for working people, hundreds of thousands still live in tents four years after the 2010 earthquake, and most jobs are day to day.

FOPARC and the Patriotic Movement of the Democratic Opposition are calling for another massive demonstration on June 10.

This stubborn string of massive demonstrations, along with political maneuvering from all sides, is shaking Martelly’s hold on power.