Editors note: Over the last several months a rebellion has been taking place in Haiti. It is not being covered in the U.S. press but it is important that people in the U.S. understand the roots of their discontent.
During July 2018, the Haitian government under former Prime Minister Jack Guy Lafontant announced a series of austerity measures, which would prove disastrous for the majority of impoverished and working people.
Rather than address the structural character of the economic problems emanating from the dependency upon unequal terms of trade and international relations with the industrialized capitalist states, the Lafontant government along with President Moïse sought to address these contradictions by enacting draconian measures which only benefit imperialism.
Robert Roth, an educator and co-founder of Haiti Action Committee, wrote on the situation: The protests were sparked by the government’s announcement that it would reduce or remove subsidies on fuel, leading to a rise of 38% in the price of gasoline, and that the price of kerosene would jump 50% to 4 dollars a gallon.
The uprising spread across the country and lasted three days. Port-au-Prince was brought to a standstill. Protesters set up barricades in the streets, burned tires, and attacked stores owned by the rich. Luxury hotels in the Petionville area were sacked by angry demonstrators.
In the immediate aftermath, the government rescinded the price increases (for now), and Prime Minister Jack Guy Lafontant—the same official who announced the fuel price hike—resigned. And a squad of United States Marines was sent to Port-au-Prince, supposedly to increase security at the United States Embassy, but also to send Haitians an ominous warning of what was to come should the protests continue.”
Since this time period anger has mounted. Instability within the government hampers the capacity for any coherent and consistent efforts to find solutions to the problems the masses are grappling with on a daily basis.
Historical role of imperialism in the Haitian crisis
The policy of Washington towards Haiti has not fundamentally changed since the acquisition of its independence 215 years ago in 1804. Between the time of national liberation and establishment of a Black Republic, the United States has been hostile towards the people.
During the time frame of 1804 and 1862, the United States government refused to diplomatically recognize Haiti. After the Civil War, the U.S. and Haiti exchanged diplomats. And after the Civil War there have been numerous attempts to recolonize the country. For 19 years (1915-1934), Haiti was occupied by the U.S., which imposed Jim Crow laws, including the lynching of Black people.
Successive national dictatorships including Francois (Papa Doc) and Jean-Claude (Baby Doc) Duvalier in the mid-to-late 20th century were propped up by U.S. imperialism and its allies. February represented the 33rd anniversary of the mass uprising, which led to the overthrow of the Baby Doc Duvalier in February 1986.
When Haitians elected the people’s candidate Jean-Bertrand Aristide for the first time in 1991 and later after being taken back into the country by the U.S. Marines in 1994, right-wing military coups were engineered in an effort to maintain foreign hegemony from Washington. As Haiti was celebrating the bicentennial of its founding in 2004, another counter-revolution was organized and ensured through the invasion of thousands of United States, Canadian and French troops.
Aristide was kidnapped by NATO forces and taken illegally to the Central African Republic while his Lavalas party was targeted for repression. Only a campaign of worldwide outrage created the conditions for the ousted president to gain political asylum in the Republic of South Africa under an African National Congress government.
The devastating earthquake of 2010 killed and displaced hundreds of thousands of people. Despite grandiose pronouncements by the U.S. under former President Barack Obama that tens of millions of dollars in humanitarian aid would be forthcoming, the reconstruction needs of Haiti were utilized for further exploitation and financial fraud.
Haitian people must be allowed to determine their own destiny outside the domination of western imperialism. The masses have proved to be formidable opponents to the imperatives of Washington, Ottawa and Paris.
Abayomi Azikiwe is a journalist and editor of the Pan African Newswire.