Haitians Demand that THEY Choose Government – not US

By James Patrick Jordan

Trying to understand the complexities of Haiti and its struggle for real democracy can be difficult. However, the most basic point to grasp is this: since the US directed overthrow of President Jean Bertrand Aristide 20 years ago, Haiti has endured relentless electoral interference, exploitation, invasion, and occupation by or on behalf of the United States government and its allies. The result has been a flood of North American weapons, the proliferation of paramilitaries, economic despair, disease, and the construction of US funded jails where people have starved to death waiting to see a judge. Haiti is a country that is in collapse under the leadership of a US selected government the people did not choose.

The airport in Port-Au-Prince is currently under siege and President Ariel Henry is not being allowed to return to the country. People are demanding Henry’s resignation and new elections. Henry had been on a trip to Kenya to counter the growing opposition to that country’s direction of a new invasion force proposed by US President Joe Biden. At last report, Henry is stranded in US-occupied Puerto Rico.

Armed groups also recently attacked Haiti’s National Penitentiary as well as a prison at Croix des Bouquets. An article for  Black Agenda Report talks about the inhumane conditions in Haitian prisons which were restructured and funded by the US government and American Corrections Association. Between September 2021 and 2022, an estimated 80 to 100 inmates died from hunger in Haitian jails. In the National Penitentiary, inmates do not have adequate access to sanitary facilities and must buy bags in which to relieve themselves. Eighty-three percent of Haitian prisoners are pretrial detainees who have not even seen a judge, some waiting for years without charges formally brought against them. People have starved to death in legal limbo for crimes as petty as stealing a rooster.

Corporate media and US government spokespersons try to dismiss what is happening in Haiti as a crisis caused by “violent gangs.” This is a severe oversimplification of the problem that only serves the interests of those who wish to exploit and control Haiti for their own ends. Reducing the crisis to a nebulous conflict with “armed gangs” is a racist attempt utilizing code language to stereotype Haitians. Haiti is suffering from chaos generated by foreign occupation and criminal and paramilitaries groups sponsored by Haiti’s oligarchy and business and political leaders propped in power with US aid. We have heard of various instances that armed conflicts have been resolved through local negotiations, only to have the peace broken by an influx of these groups sent in to disrupt the resolutions.

But the other side of the story is that there is massive popular resistance going on. Haiti is experiencing an uprising for real democracy and an end to foreign control. The demands that Henry resign, that Haitians be allowed to hold free elections, and that US sponsored invasions and occupations must end are not the demands of “gangs,” but of the people.

The current President of Haiti, Ariel Henry, was chosen in 2021 by the CORE group, made up of ambassadors from the US, Canada, France, Germany, Spain, the European Union, and Brazil, along with representatives from the Organization of American States and the United Nations. He was picked to lead the country following the assassination of President Jovenal Moise. Henry is implicated in helping plan that assassination, but he has refused to cooperate with the investigation. Henry also was a participant in the coup against President Aristide.

The US has backed the Henry government until now, but realizes its strategy has failed and the Henry government is likely to fall with or without US backing. The US State Department has finally called on Henry to resign and begin the transition to a new government. The sincerity of the call is dubious and appears to be an attempt by the US to gain back its control and facilitate a new government that will continue acting as a proxy for US dominance. At the same time that it calls for Henry to step down, the White House presses to deploy its proposed multinational invasion force led by Kenya. That force will be there to protect US hegemony, not to guarantee a transition to fair elections. There have also been contingencies discussed for deploying an elite unit of US Marines.

However, US plans are showing multiple cracks. US policies in Haiti are being reconsidered and even opposed outright around the world and at home. The Biden administration has pledged up to $200 million to support the multinational force. However, funding has been held up by House Republicans who question the costs. Estimates say the price tag could rise as high as $500 or six hundred million. Republicans opposition also maintains that there has not been enough time to sufficiently raise and train the invasion force.

While Republicans express these concerns, they do not question the idea of invasion and interference. In fact, it was the International Republican Institute (IRI), one of the four core institutes of the National Endowment for Democracy, that primarily coordinated the overthrow of Aristide in 2004. The IRI and CIA trained Guy Philippe to lead the coup. Following the coup and its aftermath, Phillipe went to the US. He was later arrested for charges of money laundering linked to Colombian narcotraffickers. Philippe was released last November after six years in custody and deported to Haiti. He has announced his intention to run for president.

On the Democratic side, there has also been some resistance to Biden’s policies. A contingent in the House released a statement in December, 2023 calling on President Biden to change course, writing that, “Another armed foreign intervention in Haiti will not result in the necessary Haitian-led transition to a democratic government, rather it risks further destabilizing the country, endangering more innocent people, and entrenching the current, illegitimate regime.”

While there is reason to oppose US intervention in Haiti, one must ask the question: is any solution in sight? History has taught us is that the Haitian people are quite capable of independence and self-governance. The problem is they are repeatedly slapped down by the US, France, Canada, and their allies. Haiti still is being punished for freeing itself from slavery 220 years ago.

In the recent meeting of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), Nicolas Maduro, President of Venezuela, declared, “We do not agree with a disguised invasion of any sort. The solution is not another invasion […]. The solution is for Latin America and the Caribbean, to go and embrace [the country], accompany it, truly help it so that Haiti can take its own path and implement its own model.”

We can be certain Haiti does not need another US orchestrated intervention. Haiti needs self-determination, and for that to happen, the US and its proxies must leave.



We encourage our supporters to visit the Haiti/Americas page of Black Alliance for Peace for excellent updates and analysis.