World in View: Haiti: U.S.-sponsored Intervention or Social Revolution

May 9, 2024

by Eugene Walker

They (the U.S.) are trying to always demonize the Haitian people. They did this a century ago, in 1915, when Charlemagne Péralte organized what were at that time also considered bandits, the Cacos, who had been sort of rural ruffians who would ride into Port-au-Prince and overthrow a government and that sort of thing. But he forged them into a guerrilla force which fought the U.S. Marine occupation of 1915, that landed, was in the country ’til 1934. And they were all called bandits. So, they always have to demonize, criminalize the people’s resistance, and that’s what we’re seeing today when they try to put all the armed groups of Haiti’s popular classes into one bag called “the gangs.”
–Kim Ives, editor of Haiti Liberté.

The economic-political-social crisis that has engulfed Haiti for decades and more, has now reached proportions that are almost beyond words to describe: Killings, kidnappings, sexual violence against women and young girls taking place on an unprecedented level, the formation of roving gangs taking over huge sections of the capital, Port-au-Prince. In the almost two years since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, Haiti has reached unprecedented levels of violence and chaos.


Ariel Henry. Photo: Voice of America, public domain.

The U.S., as so many times in the past, has been maneuvering for months with allies outside the country, seeking to organize an occupying force to pacify and control the situation. This, after selecting and backing Ariel Henry to be acting president. That maneuver reached a dead end, when armed groups took over the airports to prevent Henry from returning to the country from a trip abroad hoping to convince Kenya to send troops to Haiti. Now the U.S. has organized a transition council as an interim governing body—members of the old political class—without consulting the Haitian people. The Council members had to agree to the planned foreign intervention. Once again, as so many times in the past, a foreign intervention even if it has a Haitian cover.

One driving force for intervention has been the dramatic rise of armed gangs taking control of vast swaths of the country. To be sure, many of the gangs are criminal, some controlled by various political forces in the country, others operating independently, and they are doing terrible things. But are all of them “gangs”? Reports have emerged that some may not be, but rather consider themselves revolutionaries and are seeking social transformation.

The gang uprisings are threatening the political class that has long ruled over the Haitian masses. A loose coalition of gangs known as Viv Ansanm, or “Live Together,” now control most of the capital Port-au-Prince. Viv Ansanm’s leader, former police officer Jimmy Cherizier, warned of consequences if the gangs were ignored, “Viv Ansanm is ready to talk. It’s either we are all at the table, or the table gets destroyed with all of us,” he said.

Whether some of those so-called “gangs” are revolutionaries remains to be seen. But what is clear after more than two centuries of foreign intervention—from France to the U.S. and many others that do their bidding—is that no peace or justice has come or can come from such intervention, including the so-called humanitarian one after the massive 2010 earthquake with its enormous destruction. Only social revolution from below in the hands of Haiti’s masses can bring forth a fully human, free society.

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