World in View: Haitians demand self-determination

November 11, 2022

From the November-December 2022 issue of News & Letters

by Eugene Walker

Freedom. We are not a state of the United States. We are not provinces of the United States. We are a country. We are a republic. They cannot give us orders. This time, we do not need them. If Ariel Henry does not resign and the bank officials don’t change their minds, we will make a revolution in the country.

—Moise Jean-Charles, former Haitian senator and presidential candidate

When the U.S.-imposed non-elected, illegitimate government of Ariel Henry decided to raise highly subsidized fuel prices in September, all hell broke loose. Mass protests occurred everywhere, particularly on the streets of the capital, Port-au-Prince. The major fuel depot for the country has been blockaded, neighborhoods are cut off from other neighborhoods, schools and hospitals have been shut down, food and water shortages are everywhere, and armed groups occupy some neighborhoods.

NEOCOLONIALISM ANGERS MASSES

Recent demonstration in Port-au-Prince against rising food and fuel prices. Photo: World Food Program

The higher fuel prices were only the spark that ignited the explosive situation that has been building. For the last 15 months anger has been growing, beginning with the assassination on July 7, 2021, of President Jovenel Moise. Ariel Henry was quickly maneuvered into the presidency under the direction of the Biden Administration. Over the months, the U.S. continued to support Henry even in face of growing opposition of the Haitian masses, who, as usual, were never consulted.

A major reason for U.S. support: Henry has allowed the U.S. to massively deport thousands of Haitians immigrants from the U.S., who were fleeing the poverty and violence in Haiti. This has exacerbated Haiti’s present crisis. Dan Foote, Biden’s ambassador to Haiti, resigned last fall due to this despicable policy.

Now the U.S. has gone to the UN with two Haiti resolutions: one sanctioning particular gangs; another seeking armed intervention in Haiti with or without the UN. The first resolution passed, the second has not passed yet.

PEOPLE ORGANIZING AGAINST GANGS

There is no doubt that the gang violence is horrific, with murders and rape being used as a means of violent intimidation. There are differences on the question of gangs. Anti-gang gangs are forming to protect citizens from the gang violence that elites in Haiti are supporting to suppress growing social protest. Some anti-gang gangs are said to be talking of revolution.

What is clear is that international armed intervention—the U.S. and Canada have already sent armored vehicles—is only supported by a Haitian ruling class losing its control, not by the Haitian masses who are striving for a new beginning without outside intervention.

There is a dual, contradictory reality occurring in Haiti. On the one hand is the U.S.-imposed, illegitimate government of Ariel Henry, supported by almost no one, enabling violent criminal gangs to terrorize and murder Haiti’s citizens. On the other hand there is the developing social movement of Haitians created by numerous groups: anti-gang gangs who are armed to protect people, teachers’ groups, trade unions, women’s organizations and on and on.

Their call is straightforward and profound: Henry must go! No outside intervention, especially from the U.S. and UN! Many are calling for full social revolution.

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