U.S. hands off Haiti! Reparations now!
By any account the situation in Haiti is desperate. What the U.S. has done to Haiti in the past, as well as its current maneuvers, has devastated the country.
Most people in Haiti have no access to clean water, which is essential to controlling cholera. While the disease had been under control for three years, cholera has resurfaced all over the country with 33,000 cases reported at the beginning of March.
The previous cholera epidemic, which raged from 2010 to 2018 with over 1 million cases and 10,000 deaths, was caused by fecal wastes from United Nations troops entering Haiti’s major water supply. The U.S. backed the U.N. in denying responsibility.
Nearly 5 million Haitians regularly miss meals, because they don’t have enough money to buy food. Some people go days without eating. The World Food Program has only enough resources to keep the food scarcity from getting even worse.
In the 1980s, the U.S. slaughtered Creole pigs, then a staple for farmers in Haiti, and destroyed Haiti’s domestic rice and corn production. The U.S. Agency for International Development food programs since then have contributed to mass hunger in Haiti today by undercutting the market for locally produced food.
Fighting among armed groups, including the cops, has led to hundreds of thousands of Haitians being “internally displaced,” as the U.N. puts it — meaning they have no choice but to live in mass emergency shelters.
Almost all the weapons these armed groups have, including advanced high powered firearms and ammunition, come from U.S. gun dealers, mainly in Florida, smuggled in through Haiti’s porous borders with lax enforcement of the U.S. embargo on weapons to Haiti.
The last presidential election was seven years ago; and since Jan. 1, no government official in Haiti has been elected. Acting President/Prime Minister Ariel Henry owes his appointment to the Core Group, which consists of the ambassadors of the U.S., Canada, France and other foreign powers. Henry appoints the mayors and other local officials in the country, as well as ambassadors and other representatives.
History of interference
Here are a few historical examples of how the U.S. has interfered in Haiti’s internal affairs for over two centuries.
President George Washington, an enslaver himself, gave the enslaving class of Haiti $750,000 — a significant sum at that time and the U.S.’s first foreign aid — to put down the rebellion of the people, whom they had enslaved. Haiti’s liberation struggle was victorious in 1804. That same year, Thomas Jefferson, the U.S.’s second president and another enslaver, established an embargo against Haiti that lasted until 1862.
In 1915 some 330 U.S. Marines raided Port-au-Prince and seized Haiti’s gold reserves for the National City Bank of New York, today known as Citibank. That U.S. occupation lasted until 1934.
The U.S. was behind the first coup in 1991 against President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who had won the election with 67% of the vote. Regarding the second coup in 2004, after Aristide had won 92% of the votes, the U.S. supplied the plane that allowed Aristide’s kidnappers to forcibly remove him to the Central African Republic.
The French regime continued to loot Haiti after Haiti’s 1804 Revolution. In 1825 the French rulers sent a heavily armed fleet to extort the Haitian government into paying expropriated French slaveholders for “property lost in the uprising.” Haiti only finished paying the extorted 90 million gold florins in 1947. The French rulers used Haiti’s payments for their own capitalist economic development.
Haiti is owed reparations to replace the resources stolen by the French and U.S. ruling classes. But reparations are also due for the subsequent hardships created by imperialism that continue today.
Every progressive person should be in solidarity with the Haitian struggle for freedom and prosperity. We must demand in unison: U.S. hands off Haiti! Reparations now!