In some cases, though, what is most confusing is that there are those who should know better who are still ready to believe that this time this orchestrated intervention can set things right. No, the US and its proxies aren’t suddenly the good guys come to the rescue. US policies are the root of the crisis in Haiti.
By James Patrick Jordan
We have received several emails responding to alerts by the Alliance for Global Justice about the imminent re-invasion of Haiti. These have included legitimate concerns, confusions, and questions. In some cases, though, what is most confusing is that there are those who should know better who are still ready to believe that this time this orchestrated intervention can set things right. No, the US and its proxies aren’t suddenly the good guys come to the rescue. US policies are the root of the crisis in Haiti.
But not everyone has the historical memory of the fabricated interventions and wars in Vietnam, Nicaragua, Granada, Iraq, Libya…or Haiti in 2004, ad nauseum. For them, it’s easy to understand the confusion. This is worsened by the context of deep-seated US racism and xenophobia. We are trained to fear Black people and Black anger—especially when that anger has been seething so long and so justifiably in Haiti.
We must not forget the constant propaganda and psyops that circulated around those who defended colonialism and Apartheid in South Africa or among the proponents of Jim Crow in the Southeast USA. Repressive state violence was justified as necessary against people presented as “savage”, “backward”, and in need of the hard and paternalistic hand of Western civilization to rescue them from themselves. Why should that racist narrative be any different for Haiti? It isn’t. The US has always claimed its policies and interventions in Haiti have been necessary for the country’s own sake.
The people of Haiti are rightfully upset after twenty years of outrageous abuse and humiliation following the overthrow of the popular government of President Jean Bertrand Aristide. Since that intervention, Haiti has been denied democracy. First, it was subject to sham elections in which the most popular political party was outlawed at US insistence. Now, what government there is in Haiti is unelected, a puppet of the US, Canada, and France. Nevertheless, the corporate mills of US propaganda reduce the anger in Haiti’s streets to nothing less than a massive outbreak of “gang” violence.
But no one mentions that since Aristride’s overthrow, Haiti has been inundated with more arms than ever in its history. Nor does anyone talk about the many truces and agreements worked out by “gangs” only to be obliterated after foreign governments and private entities channel yet more weapons into the hands of less truce-minded actors.
What is happening today in Haiti is the result of years of history. In the 1980s, Haiti was able to grow all the rice it needed and provide for most the nutritional needs of its people. Then, the US did two things that crippled the nation’s economy and decimated its rural farmers. It pressured the country to kill all its Creole pigs because of fears that an outbreak of the swine flu might affect US farmers. Then, in the name of “humanitarian aid,” Haiti was flooded with cheap, US grown and subsidized riced, plunging the country’s agricultural sector into freefall.
In the 1990s, even when the Clinton administration acted to restore Aristide following the first of two coups, they did so only after wrestling neoliberal concessions. But those concessions were not enough. In 2003, a new coup against Aristide was orchestrated by the International Republican Institute and supported by the other core institutes of the taxpayer funded National Endowment for Democracy. What came next was the bloodiest period of political violence in Haiti in 200 years.
With all the distortions and misinformation that we hear anytime that Haiti is mentioned these days, it is easy to understand that people are confused. But the most confusing thing of all is the idea that another US promoted and sponsored invasion and occupation might – this time—be different and make things better. That is an absurd and ahistorical idea we must not only question, but resist.