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US intervention in Haiti would be a disaster – again

No sooner had the blood dried on the floor of the bedroom of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse than calls for US involvement began. The Washington Post editorial team issued a statement calling for "swift and muscular international intervention." Political commentator David Frum, who was a speechwriter for the then US administration who helped sell the Iraq war. President George W. Bush quickly added his voice to the chorus, warning that "what happens in Haiti does not stay in Haiti". Within hours of the president's assassination, the idea of ​​a formal request from one of the struggling factions of the gutted Haitian government for the use of US forces had solidified.

This would be a terrible idea for many reasons. At the moment, the administration of US President Joe Biden does not seem ready to comply: On Saturday, an anonymous senior government official told the Associated Press that "the US currently has no plans to provide military aid" – despite the FBI and Homeland Security The officers are expected to assist with the investigation. White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Monday the application was still "under review". By abandoning a failed nation-building project in Afghanistan, the White House is unlikely to look like it is tackling any other project in the Caribbean.

But most of the people discussing this topic are asking the wrong question. It's not about whether the US should meddle in Haiti after the first presidential assassination in more than a century. The United States is already heavily involved. The questions are how this participation at least helped to create the conditions for the crisis that now encompasses a country of 11.5 million people, and what to do with that reality from now on.

The first US invasion of Haiti was more than a century ago – with the last assassination of an incumbent Haitian president. It came at a time when the United States was increasing its own global ambitions. By the turn of the century, US forces were busy invading most of Central America and Mexico and annexing thousands of Pacific islands, including Hawaii and the Philippines, in an effort to expand US trade and political influence around the world. In the 1910s, US elites began targeting Haiti – the second oldest independent nation in America and the first to abolish slavery worldwide.

Ever since Haiti gained independence from France in a slave revolution that peaked in 1804, the very idea of ​​a republic ruled by self-liberated blacks has shuddered the white world. The United States ignored its own Monroe doctrine against European interference in the hemisphere when France, at gunpoint, imposed crippling compensation on the Haitian government in 1825 to borrow massive amounts from French, German and US banks.

Under the pretext of ensuring the repayment of these loans (particularly those of Citibank in New York), a team of US Marines landed in Port-au-Prince in December 1914, encumbered the Central Bank of Haiti and took half of the country's gold reserves Nation in a vault on Wall Street. The Haitian President resigned from grace. His successor, Vilbrun Guillaume Sam, incurred public anger for willing to deal with Americans, perhaps giving them control of Haiti's customs houses, which sparked a rebellion in the north. When Sam executed suspected conspirators against him in the capital Port-au-Prince, her angry relatives chased him to the French embassy and hacked him to death.

US President Woodrow Wilson used the assassination that fueled his politics as a pretext for a full-scale invasion. His aides insisted that military control was necessary to ensure peace, stability and prosperity for the Haitian people. The US Marines invaded, crushed two waves of insurrection, and then occupied Haiti for nearly two decades with a mixture of paternalism and brutality. ("Occupation" was the official term US officials used to describe what they were doing in Haiti – a euphemism to avoid being accused of direct colonization of a "European nature".)

The occupation brought neither peace nor prosperity to Haitians. But it achieved the main goals of the Americans: to keep out European influence, to help build profitable US export companies, to fill the coffers of Citibank and other US banks, and to create a customer state to protect a vital sea route to the newly built Panama Canal. Along the way, the Marines replaced Haiti's army with a militarized police force and resumed unpaid forced labor at gunpoint to build a road system to ensure military and commercial control.

It also set the stage for everything that has happened in Haiti since then. Although then US President Franklin Roosevelt (who served as a naval officer himself during the occupation) formally withdrew the Marines in 1934, the United States remained an omnipresent and dominant force in the Black Republic. Remarkably, during the dictatorship of François "Papa Doc" Duvalier from 1957 to 1971, there was a low point in US interference in Haiti, which presented itself as a necessary ally against communism, especially in neighboring Cuba, and did not convince US officials of this to criticize vigorously and downright supports his brutality towards the Haitian people.

His son and successor, Jean-Claude Duvalier (better known as "Baby Doc") enjoyed the support of the US government, particularly the Reagan administration, until he was overthrown in a nationwide rebellion in 1986 US Air Force C-141 Starlifter, the Reagan and George HW Bush administrations tried unsuccessfully to administer a revolving door of military governments. When Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a leftist redistribution president, rose in the first free elections after the dictatorship in 1990, Aristide was overthrown in a coup by Haitian officers, some of whom were on the payroll of the CIA.

Aristide was recovered in 1994 in a US military invasion ordered by the then US Army. President Bill Clinton (in exchange for the exiled president who pursues pro-US economic policies), only to be found in a second coup in 2004, the instigators of which were supported by elements of the George W. Bush administration and the International Republican Institute by Senator John McCain to be overthrown again. When Aristide flew into exile aboard a US-chartered plane, George W. Bush ordered another US invasion, undertaken with the help of the Canadians and French. Soon afterwards, invading forces handed over military control to a UN peacekeeping force, which controlled Haiti militarily until 2017. Her follow-up mission only started two years ago.

During this time, the Haitian governments were continually weakened by the United States and its allies providing aid to their own aid groups and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The NGOs performed most of Haiti's government functions on an ad hoc basis and basically ineffectively. This weakening was often deliberate: an annual report by the US Agency for International Development after the 2004 coup boasted of ending programs previously aimed at "strengthening the country's police, judiciary and electoral machinery" under Aristide, and Instead, pass the money on to private organizations and the US-based aid groups.

That story, along with the United States' long history of instigating coups and planning assassinations of foreign leaders in other locations, has led some to wonder whether any element of the US government was involved in Moïse's death. Those questions were compounded over the weekend by a report by the Miami Herald that the killing arrested 17 Colombian nationals and two Haiti-born US citizens who claimed to have been recruited by a Florida-based security firm whose owners allegedly "claimed to be." Having connections with or "having worked directly for US authorities."

But beyond that there is no evidence. Very little is known about the attack itself – including whether and to what extent the Colombians or their self-appointed Haitian-American translators were involved in the murder at all. Questions include the exact time of Moïse's execution, who pulled the trigger, who ordered the killing, and who will ultimately benefit from it. Moïse had few allies and many enemies among the Haitian people. He had broken trust with several members of Haiti's tiny, affluent elite who had historically shown a tendency to use contractual force to get their way. In other words, there are many suspects around Washington.

In addition, Moïse was widely viewed as a US ally who owed his presidency to another round of US electoral interference. In 2010, after the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti, a bipartisan coalition of Obama administration officials and Republican senators insisted that Haiti go ahead with a presidential election for which the country was in no way prepared. When the first round of results showed a less pliable candidate at the top, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton flew to Port-au-Prince to demand that the results be discarded, and right-wing populist Michel "Sweet Micky" Martelly – a pop singer, who boasted of close ties to anti-Aristide forces and Washington and promised to do so Facilitate foreign investment ventures – get back on track.

Five years later, in 2015, Martelly named Moïse as his successor. Haitians were so unfamiliar with the skinny businessman that his posters were nicknamed "Banana Man" – a reference to a plantain export project he ran in rural northern Haiti – to distinguish him from another candidate with a similar name. It seemed like Martelly wanted to refer to Moïse as a Dmitri Medvedev-like placeholder: to keep his seat warm and keep his inner circle out of jail amid corruption allegations until the former pop star was able to run again five years later. (Under the current Constitution of Haiti, presidents cannot serve consecutive terms.) Moïse appears to have won through a combination of fraud, the incumbent president's publicity efforts and an extremely low turnout.

After his tenure, Moïse shocked many by overseeing a more violent repressive regime than his mentor. When a report by the Inspector General accused him, among other things, of personally embezzling a large part of the Venezuelan oil credits amounting to 2.2 billion US dollars, which were earmarked for the reconstruction of Haiti after the earthquake, protests against corruption broke out across the country . Moïse and his leadership unleashed terror and allowed violent gangs, the police and parts of the remobilized Haitian army to carry out vicious massacres aimed at intimidating the population.

As a study by the International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School summarized earlier this year, “the brutal killings, rape and torture of civilians” under Moïse's administration “appeared to follow a widespread and systematic pattern that government and organizational policies control and continue to drive repression ”. Communities at the forefront of the government opposition. "

Meanwhile, Moïse refused to hold elections, effectively dissolved parliament and refused to elect a successor in time for the end of his constitutional term, which should have ended in February. At the time of his assassination, there were only 10 elected officials in the Haitian government. The head of the country's Supreme Court, who according to the constitution should have been the next in line, died of COVID-19 shortly before Moïse's murder. This evisceration of the government led directly and in many ways predictably to the power vacuum that has now arisen.

The Trump administration, in power for almost all of Moïse's terms in office, made his dictatorial tendencies possible through sustained positive support, even when former US President Donald Trump himself denounced the Black Republic as a “shithole”. Biden continued the government's policies, backing Moïse's biased argument that his term should be extended for an additional year as the election that put him in power – an election overseen by his political sponsor – was due to widespread fraud allegations was delayed.

It is hard to imagine how, in the face of this tremendous support, the US government would want to disappear Moïse or resort to murder to bring him out of power. But looking back at Haiti's “American Century”, the deeper contours of the crisis become clearer. Just as Wilson's marines did not have to directly kill a president to trigger the first Haitian occupation of the United States in 1915, no part of the US government had to be directly involved in Moïse's assassination for Haiti's current crisis to emerge from US dominance in 2021. This Fostering supremacy with even more direct interference, particularly in the form of yet another US military invasion, will only keep the cycle going. Whatever the answer to Haiti's acute crisis, it has to come from Haiti: not the English-speaking business elite with its close ties to US executives, or the corrupt political class that elevated the United States for decades. It has to come from the Haitian majority: the ethnic classes who are the first and last victims of the ongoing struggle and who inevitably have to pick up the broken pieces afterwards.

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