Growing mass anger in Haiti

By G. Dunkel
June 9, 2023

Millions of Haitians regularly don’t get enough to eat. They have access only to dirty, contaminated water. The turmoil of their struggle for survival has resulted in more than 1,630 people killed, wounded or kidnapped in the first three months of 2023, according to the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti.

Schools were closed for months. When they opened, kids had to walk for hours at a quick pace to get to school on time, since the high price of fuel has made public transportation unaffordable for their parents.

Hospitals and clinics often close when their staff is kidnapped or harassed.

Police have arrested more than 2,700 suspected criminals and seized dozens of weapons since January. But this campaign didn’t hamper the spiraling violence.

The international big business media tried to blame all these problems on the conflicts of heavily armed gangs, which they report are engaged in kidnapping, extortion, robberies and pillage galore, to such an extent that cops were overwhelmed.

The truth is the historic impoverishment of Haiti and its current turmoil stems from the hostility of French colonialism and the U.S. slavocracy to the 1804 Haitian Revolution –– which ended slavery –– and the continued exploitation of Haiti, mainly by U.S., French and Canadian imperialism acting under the cover of the United Nations.

The corporate media ignore what the U.N. mission did from 2004 to 2019. They never mention how U.N. occupation forces introduced cholera into Haiti — twice. They ignore where these heavily armed gangs get most of their weapons — from U.S. gun dealers in Florida and Texas.

From March 2004, when the U.S. and France occupied Haiti after the U.S. engineered a coup against President Jean Bertrand Aristide, to June 2004, when they managed to put a U.N. fig leaf on their occupation, to October 2019 when the U.N. “peace” mission officially ended, several billion dollars were spent by the U.N. on quashing popular sentiment in Haiti –– disguised as promoting “peace.”

This mission, which the U.N. calls MINUSTAH, had nothing to do with peace. It was a 15-year mission of occupation, humiliation and massacres. It created the framework for the deadly chaos that currently afflicts Haiti.

Reaction to the chaos

Jean W. Pape is a prominent Haitian doctor and a full professor at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York, with strong ties to the Bush faction of the Republican Party. On June 1 the New York Times published Pape’s opinion piece; its intention is to promote another U.S.-led intervention in Haiti.

After laying out the security situation in Haiti, Pape asserts: “it has become clear to me that we can’t do it alone. Haitians cannot overcome this crisis . . . without foreign intervention.” He pleads for “the world to send in soldiers.” He does admit that most of the weapons used in Haiti come from U.S. arms dealers.

Leaflets calling for a “grand march” for Haiti in Washington at the end of July popped up in Haitian neighborhoods on the same day Pape’s piece appeared in the Times.

In another development in Haiti, a movement called “bwa kale” began at the end of April. Then a group of neighborhood residents grabbed a small busload of gang members from the cops who had just arrested them. The residents released the driver and his assistant. According to reports, the bwa kale group burned the remaining 14 gang members to death.

Since that event, bwa kale has spread to many neighborhoods, and some 160 gang members have been killed. Many Haitians compare bwa kale operations to the dechoukaj movement, after a popular uprising ended decades of dictatorship with the departure of Jean-Claude Duvalier in 1986.

Currently, neighborhood groups are handing out machetes and setting up checkpoints to keep gang members out.

According to a New York Times report June 3, there has been a very sharp reduction in kidnapping and killing following the killings of gang members. The Times proclaims concern about vigilantism, that is, the self-organization for combat within the community independent of the police, and speculates about a potential reaction from the gangs.