On anniversary of historic victory, the challenges Haiti faces today

Depiction of Battle of Vertières

November 18 is the 219th anniversary of the Battle of Vertières, which sealed the victory of the Haitian Revolution, a glorious victory for the oppressed of the world. The enslaving class of Haiti was crushed, and it was made clear that the enslavement of human beings for the profit of a few was destined to end.

Haitian army members — half of whom were born in Africa — in four frontal assaults drove the French army, considered the best in Europe, from the field. Jean-Jacques Dessalines, the leader of the Haitian army, magnanimously gave the French army 10 days to leave.

In the over 200 years since the Haitian victory, the world’s imperialists have not ceased attacking Haiti for this “original sin.” And the attacks have grown more intense in the past year since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in 2021.

The United States and its junior partner Canada have openly intervened in Haiti’s internal affairs, charging prominent politicians with supporting armed groups — which the U.S. and Canada invariably call “gangs” — and offering big rewards for the capture of the “gang” leaders responsible for the kidnapping of U.S. citizens.

Canada, in coordination with the U.S., has responded to the request of acting Prime Minister Ariel Henry for foreign intervention by soliciting CARICOM (Caribbean Community) for its support. Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, the prime minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, told a local news site “such a move by any country could be seen by the Haitian people as propping up a government that the majority of Haitian see as illegitimate.” (tinyurl.com/32a455tt)

Spread of cholera, deportations, hunger

United Nations troops, part of a “peacekeeping” mission occupying Haiti, introduced cholera into Haiti Oct. 10, 2010. Nationally, a total of 820,000 cases of cholera, including 9,792 deaths, were reported between October 2010 and February 2019, when the Haitian public health system brought it totally under control.

The first new cases of cholera were reported Oct. 2 in Cité Soleil/Port-au-Prince, an area where the government and Haiti’s health system has great difficulty operating because it is broken up into competing neighborhoods, each controlled by different armed groups. So far eight of Haiti’s 10 departments have reported cases.

The acute hunger that 1.8 million Haitians face, according to the U.N.’s Food Program, makes cholera more deadly.

Given the economic devastation that earthquakes and hurricanes and a general lack of development have caused in Haiti, it is no wonder that the number of interdictions — immigrants on a boat stopped by the U.S. Coast Guard — has climbed to 139 this year, as compared to 54 in 2021.

Since September 2021, the U.S. has deported over 20,000 Haitians.

Currently the Department of Homeland Security has extended the Temporary Protective Status for Haitians until 2024. Bureaucratic restrictions make it difficult to get it, but it is a grudging recognition of the popular pressure to relieve the suffering of Haitians and Central Americans.

The Dominican Republic (DR) shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti and occupies the eastern two-thirds of the island. It is more prosperous than Haiti, and Haitian immigrants and their descendants supply much of the manual labor in its sugar and tourism/hospitality industries.

From Aug. 1 to Oct. 30, the DR deported around 50,000 Haitian immigrants, Dominicans of Haitian descent and Black Dominicans to Haiti. On Nov. 14, a coalition of progressive organizations and parties in the DR, including the Socialist Workers Movement, issued a statement and began a campaign “to vigorously reject the structurally racist policies, more and more authoritarian and which violate human rights, of the Dominican Government, particularly their mass deportations.” (blackagendareport.com)

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