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Editorial: No imperialist intervention in Haiti

HAITI’S name is a glorious one in the pages of history. It was the site of the first successful revolt against slavery at the end of the 18th century, as black people threw off French colonialism and established an independent state.

While only a small country, those events deserves to be ranked with the French, the Russian and the Chinese as one of the great landmark revolutions in world history.

Imperialism has never forgiven the people of Haiti their impertinence. That is important to remember when considering the Caribbean country’s present plight, with the apparent collapse of state authority, mass hunger and yet another foreign intervention proposed.

Contrary to racist myths, this is not the eternal and unavoidable fate of the Haitian people. It is the consequence of 200 years of imperialist intervention.

Unable to reconcile itself to black freedom, the French state imposed through threat of renewed war a crippling debt burden on Haiti as compensation for slave owners losing their “property.”

This trapped Haiti in a cycle of poverty, as its wealth was siphoned off to Paris for decade after decade. By 1914 a staggering 80 per cent of the country’s budget went on payments to France.

The role of super-exploiter was then taken up by the US, which allowed Haiti to pay off France at the price of renewed debt slavery to Wall Street.

This Washington enforced with murderous military interventions, ruling the country by force to ensure that the debts to US banks were fully serviced. The US controlled Haitian customs, collected taxes and ran most ministries between the world wars.

By the time fiscal control was relaxed in 1947, Haiti was on its knees economically. Nor was that the end of US interference.

It propped up in the name of anti-communism the despotic regimes of Francois Duvalier and his son Jean-Claude, who brutalised Haitians for 30 years.

When Haitians were able to choose their own leadership, they voted for progressive priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who attempted reforms that aroused the hatred of the local elite.

These included greatly improved healthcare and education, doubling the minimum wage, land reform, subsidised food for the poor, cheap housing and entrenching civil liberties.

Aristide was repeatedly ousted in military coups, led by officers linked to the drugs trade and with the connivance of both the US and France. A reign of terror was directed at his supporters.

To add to this sordid record of imperialist exploitation and intervention, Haiti has repeatedly suffered from the consequences of climate change including multiple hurricanes and tropical storms. Other disasters include a massive earthquake in 2010.

There was also a huge cholera outbreak the same year as a result of a United Nations peacekeeping mission dumping waste in a river.

In summary, imperialism and its local allies have crippled Haiti from the outset and have subjected its people to an unending cycle of economic despoliation and repression.

Now a further intervention is proposed, with the US planning to pay the Kenyan government to deploy a “security” mission to Haiti.

The Kenyan judiciary has ruled against the manoeuvre but the government is pushing ahead anyway. Its forces will be in Haiti exclusively as the instrument and proxy of the US.

This will only perpetuate the problems facing Haiti — the lack of effective sovereignty, the denial of democracy and self-determination to the people, and the subordination of its economy to the interests of imperialism and its local agents.

Kenyan intervention at US behest is no solution. Progressives across the world must demand solidarity with the people of Haiti and an end to imperialist interference.

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