How the U.S. acts to create and exploit Haiti’s misery

By G. Dunkel
March 14, 2024

Bulletin: Ariel Henry resigned March 11 as Haiti’s prime minister.

Political tensions in Haiti quickly sharpened at the end of February when all the multidimensional crises afflicting that country coalesced. The two coalitions of armed groups that had been competing with each other came together to demand de facto Prime Minister Ariel Henry resign.

Port- au- Prince, Haiti, March 2024. Prime Minister Ariel Henry resigned March 11.

They backed up this demand by trying to seize the airport and the main seaport in Port-au-Prince, as well as attacking the headquarters of the Haitian National Police and the Ministry of Justice.

Henry had been traveling in Africa, trying to drum up more support for the plan to send Kenyan cops to reinforce the Haitian National Police. With the airport closed, Henry couldn’t return to Haiti by air, and the Dominican Republic — which shares the island called Hispaniola with Haiti — refused to let him land there. His plane wound up in Puerto Rico.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken had a few “tense discussions” with Henry, according to the U.S. State Department, urging him to resign in favor of a presidential council that would set up elections. The last elections of any kind held in Haiti were in 2016.

Through the power and influence of the Core Group, headed by the United States, Henry was appointed to and kept in his de facto post, because he was a reliable tool of U.S. and world imperialism. Now these same forces want to replace the acting president. If Henry resigns, he will be subject to investigation on his role in the assassination of his predecessor, Jovenel Moïse.

A March 6 editorial in Haïti-Liberté points out: “It is obvious that no prospect of a positive outcome for the working masses and their families is on the agenda. The country is paralyzed. Institutions are running out of steam. The rotten and corrupt regime is falling apart. All the cynicism and corruption of the clique headed by the monstrous Ariel Henry have been unmasked.”

CARICOM, the community of Caribbean nations, is holding an emergency meeting in Jamaica March 11, to which the United Nations and the U.S. have been invited, to see if CARICOM can come up with a resolution to Haiti’s crises.

There is a major media campaign brewing to try to justify foreign intervention in Haiti. The Washington Post describes the bodies on the streets. The TV networks are concentrating on the violence (5,000 people killed in 2023), hunger and lack of  education and health care.

Given the Haitian people’s nearly total rejection of foreign troops, however, sending foreign troops to Haiti is a hard sell. The Pentagon and its counterparts in other countries appear to be reluctant to pursue this course, but the media is making a case in favor of intervention, should the imperialists decide there is no alternative.

Long history of U.S. meddling

Even before Haiti became independent, while its masses were still struggling with the colonialists who had enslaved most of them, the United States intervened. The first U. S. president, the enslaver George Washington, directed his secretary of state, the enslaver Thomas Jefferson, to grant the enslavers of Haiti $700,000 — a vast sum at that time — to put down the rebellion of enslaved Haitians.

Giving foreign aid to the French enslavers failed to defeat the revolution. Haiti won independence in 1804, becoming the second country in the Western Hemisphere to win independence from European colonialists. France put off recognizing Haitian independence until 1825; the U.S. government recognized Haiti only in 1862 during the U.S. Civil War.

In the 220 years since the 1804 victory, during which the U.S. intervened multiple times, occupying Haiti with troops, Haitians continued to resist.

Looking at what has happened since 2004, the Haitian revolution’s 200th anniversary, provides a handle on what is happening now.

Jean-Bertrand Aristide had been reelected with 92% of the vote in 2000, but the U.S.-dominated Organization of American States challenged the count. Using this as a pretext, and with the connivance of the CIA, Aristide’s opponents started an insurrection in February 2004. That Feb. 29 the U.S. kidnapped President Aristide and put him on an Air Force jet to the Central African Republic.

The United States wanted Aristide gone. He had gained national prominence by denouncing the Duvalier regime’s corruption and malfeasance. But he went further; as president, he pushed for increasing the minimum wage, for providing public transportation and for no-fees education.

Aristide had also pushed for France to provide Haiti with $21 billion in reparations for forcing Haiti to pay money to the French regime starting from 1825 and ending only in 1947, for the loss of its enslaved workers, freed by the Haitian Revolution.

In the past 20 years, there has only been one transfer of power from a Haitian elected president to another, in 2011. For over a decade, Haiti’s parliament has lacked a quorum, because not enough elections were held to fill its seats. For a quarter of that time, there has been no elected president in office.

But the Haitian masses remain in the streets, calling for Henry’s ouster and fighting for justice and self-determination.