Global crisis || Can the UN bring stability to Haiti? • IS A
The United Nations is currently debating whether to send a non-UN military force to “bring stability” to Haiti. Ariel Henry, Prime Minister of Haiti, pleaded with the UN to send a “specialized” task force to eliminate the gangs. The United States and Mexico are the main voices of support for this military intervention, which seems extremely likely.
Haiti is in a state of complete social chaos. Gangs are numerous in cities as well as in rural areas. The most influential gang, the G9, led by Jimmy “Barbecue” Chérizier, blocked the main fuel depot in Port-au-Prince, on which the inhabitants depend. Many are left without electricity. Nurses and doctors rush to ration the few days of fuel that remain.
Now the US imperialist bloc is preparing to make matters worse by posing as the “police force” of the capitalist world. It was the grip of US imperialism on the island that led to this horrific situation in the first place. The Haitian working class faces a crisis so extreme that the only way out requires a total liquidation of the current Haitian political regime and breaking the neocolonial subjugation of the island by the United States by breaking with capitalism.
Life situation pushes young people to the brink
The average Haitian worker faces the immense crisis of food insecurity, high prices for basic necessities and constant threats of violence. Many found themselves unemployed when COVID shut down factories and supply lines. Haiti’s mighty garment industry – employing more than 60,000 workers – has laid off tens of thousands during the pandemic. While avoiding the brunt of the pandemic in terms of actual COVID cases/deaths, most simply did not have the money to prepare for this international inflation crisis, which in Haiti is around 30%.
The majority of the Haitian population is under 25 years old. Faced with almost no other option but to join the growing mass of unemployed or take dead-end jobs, many young Haitians are turning to crime for a living. Kidnappings for ransom are so common in the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, that they have become an industry in their own right. There have been more than 628 kidnappings this year, an average of two to three a day.
These gangs have taken a political advantage with young people joining their ranks. The largest confederation of gangs, the G9, and its leader Jimmy “Barbecue” Chérizier demanded the resignation of Ariel Henry in exchange for the lifting of the blockade. Chérizier is a former Haitian police officer who indiscriminately attacked Haitian protesters and working-class communities. While the militant anger of Haitian youth toward political elites forces Chérizier to embrace populist rhetoric (murals of Che Guevara adorn the walls of neighborhoods under his control), he is no friend of the downtrodden.
Without a real expression of the organized Haitian working class with a clear mass political organization with concrete demands, these gangs will continue to grow in membership and influence. Haitian workers are using class struggle tactics to find a way out of this situation, such as nurses striking to demand more funds and an end to gang violence. Without more strikes of this nature, many young Haitians will flock to these gangs to regain control over their lives, only to be used as tools by politically connected gang leaders like Chérizier, or as an excuse by the capitalist class to crush the dissent.
Dependence of the Rotten Haitian State on Imperialism
Ariel Henry’s call for resignation overshadowed by gang violence has been a blessing for Haiti’s political elite. Henry became Haiti’s interim president after the assassination of Jovenel Moïse last year, which created a power vacuum between rival political cliques. Henry canceled his initial plans for an election after taking power and publicly questioned the need for such elections, causing the anger of the Haitian masses to spill out into the streets. There was back-to-back eventsincluding general strikes led by various unions, calling for Henri’s resignation. The Haitian state has responded with outright repression using a mixture of police and gangs to violently suppress protesters.
The Haitian political elite is in utter disarray, with many having no idea how to get out of the current dilemma. It’s clear that elections are probably not on the cards anytime soon, as Ariel doubles down on his position. It is the same situation under Moses, when he refused to step down from his presidency and continually postponed election after election. The purpose of these regimes is to ensure that Haitian exports to the United States continue unimpeded, not to improve the lives of ordinary Haitians.
The fact that Haiti is trapped in neocolonial subjugation to the United States and other imperialist powers diminishes the power of its domestic capitalist class. Haiti’s business elites depend on raw materials and energy like fuel and agricultural products like rice to keep their profits afloat. What they offer in return is a young workforce that can be pushed to the brink of exploitation. Haitian garment workers make clothes for more than 60 American fashion companies and are forced to face sexual harassment with no way to fight back.
Calls for military intervention in Haiti are not new. Last year, Colombia did so at a meeting of the Organization of the Americas, the right-wing Pan American organization led by the United States. Both the United States and Canada have a long history of military intervention in Haiti. The former have regularly intervened in the affairs of the island since their initial occupation from 1915 to 1935. The longest period that US imperialist forces have not been launched directly on the island is when it was under the control of murderous dictators like Papa Doc and Baby Doc. This is the fate of neo-colonial countries under capitalism – either to live under total repression or in total chaos.
Ariel Henry attempts to compensate for the Haitian state’s weakness in crushing dissent by calling in an international military force to do so, while targeting rival political gangs. It should be clear that sending an international military “stability” force to bring “peace” to the island has only ever achieved its opposite.
UN peacekeepers who operated in post-earthquake Haiti committed sexual violence and introduced cholera on the island, creating an epidemic that resulted in the death of thousands of people. At present, the non-UN military operation that the bigwigs of the UN are thinking of will mainly involve the United States and Canada. These are the two nations that have benefited enormously from their enslavement of Haiti.
A non-UN military force will not solve this crime and poverty crisis in Haiti. In reality, the situation will get worse as these foreign military forces wreak havoc among the working people and the poor of Haiti. The only way out of this hell is through the initiative of the Haitian working class and the oppressed masses.
Desperate need for mass organization
Tens of thousands of people are still protesting against Henry’s government and the twisted political elite despite the chaos and violence surrounding them. Henry’s demands for resignation and the holding of fair elections are placed at the center of this movement. Behind these demands is the desire of the Haitian working class for stability, a higher standard of living and peace. The Haitian government and its imperialist masters have fought and will continue to fight against the Haitian working class every step of the way towards realizing these demands.
The recent mass strikes and demonstrations in Port-au-Prince are important developments but are limited in that there are no mass organizations leading the struggle. This weakness allows gangs like the G9 not only to discredit the broader movement to force Henry out of power, but also to direct the violence of those same gangs against protesters. The UN investigating whether to send military personnel or equipment to the deadly Haitian police, should sound the alarm for the Haitian working class. Now is the time to launch a mass working class party to organize committees to fight and defend against foreign military violence and gang attacks.
A mass party of the Haitian working class would be an excellent tool in the context of calls for new elections. This would mobilize Haitian youth into an active political project that seeks massive social change to overcome their dire living conditions. Such an organization must be rooted in the active Haitian labor movement and the massive union of garment workers who have staged impressive demonstrations of action this year, flexing the muscles of the organized working class.
The strength of the Haitian working class, when properly harnessed, is the most potent force in the struggle for democratic rights. But to achieve lasting peace and put an end to the misery of the Haitian masses, a struggle must be waged against capitalism itself. That is why such a new mass political force must arm itself with a socialist program, which aims to remove the commanding heights of the economy from the hands of local and foreign capitalists and hand them over to democratic public ownership. This way, production can be planned based on need, not plunder and profit. Of course, such measures would meet with fierce resistance from the imperialist powers. Repelling them would require deepening and extending the struggle throughout the region and fighting for a voluntary and egalitarian socialist federation of the Caribbean within the framework of a socialist Latin America and a socialist world.