The U.S. government has finally found a country in the Global South willing to lead a U.N.-approved intervention “to assist Haitian police in restoring security.” Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed Aug. 1 on X (formerly Twitter): “We commend the government of Kenya for responding to Haiti’s call.”

Sign reads, “Down with American occupation!” Port-au-Prince, 2023.  Photo: Moleghaf

Since Kenyan President William Ruto met President Joe Biden on an official state visit in early March, it took more than five months to resolve the deal.

Haitian popular organizations quickly expressed opposition to the new intervention.

As chair of the U.N. Security Council for August, the U.S. intends to hold a vote authorizing Kenya to send 1,000 police officers to Haiti towards the end of August and to lead a multilateral force now being formed.

These Kenyan police will not be under U.N. command. The U.N. has zero popular support in Haiti; it introduced cholera into Haiti twice, and its troops have a reputation for brutal treatment of Haitian protesters.

The cost of U.N. operations in Haiti from June 2004 to October 2017 was estimated at $7 billion, and Haiti still is the most underdeveloped country in the Western Hemisphere.

Only 43% of Haiti’s rural population has access to potable water. (World Bank) Some 24% have access to sanitation in urban areas and 10% in rural areas. (U.S. National Library of Medicine) Every statistic that reflects the living conditions of the Haitian people — from health care to education to wages and working conditions — indicates that life for the people is horrible.

It’s this misery, this nearly total deprivation of vital resources for living that underlies all the political and social instability and all of the violence and conflicts that are so evident in Haiti.

Imperialist justification for this occupation

In the past 30 years, the United States has been involved in at least 10 military interventions in Haiti, none of which have helped the Haitian people.

Nobody in the current Haitian government has been elected; it’s been years since elections were held. Ariel Henry has been acting as prime minister because he is a leader of the PHTK (Haitian Tèt Kale Party). The PHTK was put in power in the 2010 elections through the personal intervention of Hillary Clinton, then U.S. secretary of state.

Since the Core Group, whose major members are the U.S, Canada, and France, still supports him, Henry can act as Haiti’s de facto prime minister.

Beginning in January 2023, Henry began calling for international assistance for his besieged police, who were being outgunned and outfought by the armed groups that started to seize whole neighborhoods in Port-Au-Prince as bases for large-scale kidnapping and extortion. These gangs relied on the weapons, especially sniper rifles and belt-fed machine guns, that they were able to smuggle into Haiti from Florida despite the rather porous U.S. weapons embargo.

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres backed up Henry’s call, especially after the armed groups started hassling U.N. agencies like the World Food Program and UNICEF.

This transnational military intervention by Kenya, so firmly backed by the United States, is putting an African face on an imperialist plot. Big business is drooling over Haiti’s mineral wealth, but the capitalists need to control the Haitian people. Haitians are starting to get into the streets in the Bwa Kale movement to confront the gangs and to demand a transition to real democracy.

Reactions opposing this military intervention

Since Haitian Prime Minister Henry has been calling for foreign help, politicians like Canada’s Justin Trudeau or Secretary of State Blinken can pretend that their intervention is a noble response to Haiti’s call for help. The New York Times has published opinion pieces along the same lines. Given the tumultuous situations in Haiti, the big bourgeois sources are being cautious.

The Black Alliance for Peace, which has a close working relationship with the progressive anti-imperialist group Moleghaf (National Movement for Liberty and Equality of Haitians for Fraternity), issued a strong statement in April, which says: “As we have continually stated, the ‘crisis’ in Haiti is a crisis of imperialism, a crisis initiated in 2004 by the United States, France and Canada, and consecrated by the United Nations. No decision about Haiti should be made by those who not only do not represent the people, but have also consistently harmed them.

“Once again, we demand the disbanding of the Core Group, the removal of the BINUH [United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti] office from Haiti, respect for the sovereign rights of the Haitian people, and no more foreign interference in Haiti!

On Aug. 3, the organization reinforced its position, stating: “The Black Alliance for Peace condemns in the strongest possible terms Kenya’s proposal to lead what amounts to a foreign armed intervention in Haiti.”

The Haiti Action Committee issued its statement at the end of July just before the official announcement of Kenyan cops/soldiers was made, but when it was certainly pending: “Stand with the Haitian people! Oppose foreign intervention in Haiti!”

The Aug. 3 editorial of Haïti-Liberté newsweekly concluded: “No one should entrust the country to the imperialist powers. Only the organized popular masses will be able to stop this cycle, this hemorrhage in which the political class … has plunged the country. The Haitian popular masses as a whole must say NO to this fool’s bargain undertaken between the United States and the President of Kenya William Ruto.” (haitiliberte.com)

On Aug. 2, WNYC, the National Public Radio affiliate in the New York City area, interviewed two members of the community: Ricot Dupuy, the co-founder of Radio Soleil, a Haitian radio station in Brooklyn, and Maryse Cadet, the president of the Association for the Children of Regnier, Haiti.

Dupuy said, “The U.S. entered Haiti in 1915, and they stayed there for 19 years. And then you have a series of interventions by the United Nations. That was supposed to give us a Haiti free of gangs, free of political persecutions, and things intensified, things got worse. So foreign intervention has never been good for us. In fact, foreign intervention is why, to a great degree, why we are where we are.”

Cadet told WNYC, “Basically everybody that is in Haiti, period, is afraid for their lives. It’s like they go to sleep at night, they don’t know if they’re going to be alive tomorrow.”

G. Dunkel

G.Dunkel@workers.org

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