by Marty Goodman, published on Socialist Action, March 23, 2021
On Feb. 28, thousands of Haitians marched through the capital, Port-au-Prince, and other cities across the country to demand that the de facto President Jovenal Moïse and his corrupt crony capitalist blood-stained oligarchy step down.
A relentless, arrogant U.S. imperialism is putting its money – once again – on this Haitian dictator who came to power in a 2015 election so fraudulent that it had to be done over. Moïse refused to step down on Feb. 7, 2021 as required by Article 134.2 of the 1987 Haitian Constitution mandating that presidents must leave office on Feb. 7 after five years in office.
Protests met with mass repression
Typical placards at the February protests read, “U.S., UN and OAS: Hands Off Haiti” and “Haiti Can’t Breathe” and many other slogans that score U.S. imperialism and Haiti’s ruling elite. On Feb. 1 and 2 a general strike called by trade unions and supported by a diverse range of opposition organizations paralyzed Haiti. The giant weekly demonstrations that followed were met with clubs, tear gas and bullets wielded by Haitian soldiers trained by the U.S. – remnants of decades of U.S./UN occupation.
Human rights attorney Mario Joseph, who heads the International Lawyers Office spoke out against the police repression in a Jan. 27 press conference.
“The corrupt PHTK [Haitian Bald Headed Party] government has weaponized the PNH [Haitian National Police] to use bullets, tear gas, physical aggression, arbitrary arrests, and imprisonment to crush popular protests,” (Haiti Liberte, 2/3/21)
The giant anti-Moïse mobilizations were initiated by capitalist opposition forces but have taken on a popular character. Anger has been focused on Moïse but also on the generalized corruption, inequality and dire poverty that has been Haiti’s fate under the thumb of U.S. imperialism for more than a century. To this day, Haiti remains among the poorest nations on earth with a U.S.-dominated economy replete with near slave wage sweat shop factories enforced by systematic repression. Seventy percent of the working age population is unemployed; inflation stands at 23.4 percent; food insecurity affects more than 4 million out of a population of 11 million.
Dozens of civic organizations, attorneys and judges, trade unions, peasant groups, and student organizations insist that the de facto president must leave office as per the Haiti’s constitutional requirements. Moïse, who ran as the candidate of the rightest PHTK says he will not step down until Feb. 7, 2022, citing the year he spent as Haiti’s transitional president when he organized a re-run of the fraudulent election that he “won” in 2015. With a mere 18 percent of the re-run vote in 2016 he took office on Feb. 7, 2017.
Moïse was the hand-picked favorite of the previous Haitian president Michel Martelly, 2011-2016. Martelly, who told the world “Haiti is opened for business,” had his first election campaign boosted through the active imperialist intervention of President Barack Obama’s Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, then the U.S. earthquake relief representative in Haiti in 2010, oversaw a multi-billion dollar “aid” program mired in scandal, corruption, mismanagement and racist arrogance. Of the $billions contributed from nations and relief organizations around the world, little went to the Haitian people not to mention to rebuild the virtually leveled Haitian capital. With approximately 3 million people affected the 7.0 earthquake was the most devastating natural disaster ever experienced in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and among the poorest in the world. Roughly 250,000 lives were lost. 300,000 were injured and 1.5 million forced to live for years in makeshift camps devoid of water, electricity and basic social services.
The Clinton’s pressure on Haitian election officials “persuaded” them to promote Martelly’s run-off campaign, enabling this mob-linked candidate to win. The insidious role of the Clintons, which included pressuring legislators to keep down Haiti’s minimum wage, was revealed by Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange.
Moïse’s would-be personal dictatorship
Striking back at his critics, Moïse has threatened to impose his own constitutional amendment, itself an unconstitutional act. His proposal would essentially give him control of Haiti’s parliament and its electoral council, while granting him direct control over the army, which would in turn is slated to be granted immunity from prosecution over its heinous deeds, past and present.
Will parliament block Moïse? Not a chance since there are only ten remaining elected officials in the entire country! Moïse has already dismissed the entire parliament, as well as local mayors. He has dissolved the Supreme Court and arrested its top justices!
Despite the generalized Haitian outrage at Moïse’s dictatorial proclamations, the despot has received the outright support of U.S. imperialism, with the Biden administration continuing Trump’s policies without missing a beat. A Biden spokesperson made this clear at a Feb. 5 U.S. State Department press conference on Haiti stating,
“In accordance with the OAS position on the need to proceed with the democratic transfer of executive power, a new elected president should succeed President Moïse when his term ends on February 7, 2022.”
In addition, the Biden administration has not criticized Moïse’s “referendum” that would essentially establish Haiti as a one-person dictatorship. Similarly, U.N. representatives, referring their still occupying forces, have indicated that they will assist Moïse in conducting the “referendum.” And the same with the U.S.-compliant Organization of American States (OAS) that hustles Latin American votes for Washington including casting critical votes condemning Venezuela, despite Venezuela’s granting Haiti $4 billion in petroleum credits to aid its poor. An official Haitian audit revealed that vast amounts of donated relief funds were pilfered by Moïse and his associates before he assumed the presidency.
Biden continues Trump Haiti policies
Amy Wilentz, a contributing editor at The Nation magazine and a longtime Haiti observer, wrote that the director of the UN’s Mission for Justice Support in Haiti and a U.S. diplomat, Helen Meagher La Lime, is seen by Haitian protesters as “a symbol of UN support for Moïse.” Wilentz wrote that Meagher La Lime,
“…continued the UN’s almost unstinting support of Moïse.” She added, “Meanwhile, we have Joe Biden continuing Trump’s support of Moïse – a real slap in the face to the Haitian Americans who voted for him with high hopes.” (The Nation, 3/1/21)
After several U.S. Senate and House members urged the State Department to reject Moïse, a Biden spokesperson stated on Feb. 8, “The situation remains murky.” A State Department spokesperson claimed on Feb. 12, that there was a “remarkable lack of popular response to calls for mass protests in recent weeks.”
Moïse’s mass murder and repression
The day after Moïse was supposed to step down, he awarded his sweatshop millionaire pal, Andy Apaid, a large plot of land to help produce Cola-Cola, ceding to Apaid about 8,600 hectares (over 21,000 acres) of farmland in the departments of Artibonite and Central Plateau. Haiti Liberte reported on Feb. 17 that
“In a country where nearly 40 percent of the population suffers from food shortages, this large tract of land would be used to produce stevia as a sweetener for the benefit of the multinational Coca Cola.”
Jacqueline Charles, a Haitian reporter for the Miami Herald, reported on Jan. 14 some of the grizzly details of Moïse’s rule:
“Between 2018 and 2020, at least 10 massacres have been perpetrated in Port-au-Prince, the most dangerous city in the country, resulting in the murder of 343 people, the disappearance of 98 others, and the gang rape of 32 women. Two hundred and fifty-one children have been orphaned because of these bloody events.”
In just one incident in 2018 in La Saline, Charles reported, after conducting extensive interviews, that “government-allied gangs killed at least 70 people to retaliate against anti-government organizing in the neighborhood.”
The New York City-based Haiti Liberte’s Feb. 3 issue reported, “Two principal wings of Haiti’s constantly uniting and the fracturing opposition – the Political Direction of the Democratic Opposition (DIRPOD) and the Dessalines Children Platform (PPD) of former Sen. Moïse Jean-Charles – along with a smaller, newer coalition known as the National Front for Democracy (FND), announced the Terrace Garden Final Accord, which created the National Commission for the Establishment of the Transition (CNT). An outlier in recent years, the Lavalas Family party of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, did not sign the accord.” None of these “opposition” groups signal that they will oppose any aspect of capitalist rule. None are democratic workers formations; none are consistently anti-imperialist and certainly not revolutionary. Despite vague populist statements from the PPD, they are all capitalist parties.
Haiti still awaits the building of a revolutionary socialist party of working class fighters. Such a party would join in the day-to-day struggles of the Haitian masses, but with the understanding that the misery in Haiti will not end without a revolution transformation of Haitian society.
Biden’s racist Haitian deportations
In campaign speeches, Biden promised a 100-day moratorium on deportations, a promise cynically made in Miami’s Little Haiti community. This promise, as with most of Biden’s campaign pledges, turned out to be yet another lie as Biden has followed Trump’s use of a Title 42 federal order that justifies rapid deportations as a health measure amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
ICE knows exactly what deportees to Haiti face. Buzz Feed reporter Hamed Aleaziz, (March 3), revealed that Department of Homeland Security internal documents acknowledge that deported Haitians “may face harm” due to violent crime and political instability.
In a March 16 dispatch, Steve Forester, Immigration Policy Coordinator for the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, wrote, “Today’s flight (the 20th to Haiti since Feb. 1, with four last week expelling hundreds, including scores of children) is to a nation where Administration officials acknowledge that deportees ‘may face harm.’” Forester refers to editorials in The Miami Herald, the New York Times and the Washington Post calling for stopping the deportations, and urging that Haiti’s TPS (Temporary Protective Status) be maintained so that proposed expulsions will be immediately terminated.
Forester asserts, “These Haiti expulsions of virtually anyone who crosses the (Mexican) border seem to be the very intentional Biden-team policy, not rogue ICE behavior.”
The expulsions are blatantly racist, a continuation of the historic double standard in U.S. immigration policy toward Haitians, in particular, in comparison to the carte blanche asylum received over decades by the mostly white, anti-communist, Cuban so-called “refugees.” The racist deportation policy continues to this day for Haitians fleeing the most brutal of U.S.-backed dictatorships.
In a statement released Feb. 9, the organization Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees, said,
“We are outraged by the discriminatory deportations that continue to be carried out by ICE in the midst of this global coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic and while there is a serious political crisis in Haiti, and a surge in kidnapping terrorism by government-backed gangs. In the same week that President Biden signed an executive order to launch a task force to reunite families separated by the Trump administration, this administration is deporting Haitians, including children and infants, in record numbers.”
On March 8, 2021, the Biden Administration announced that it would designate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to eligible Venezuelans in the United States. This could allow over 320,000 Venezuelans to remain in the United States with legal standing. Once granted, their TPS status would last for up to 18 months.
Clearly, the Biden administration is using Venezuelans in the U.S. as part of its regime change propaganda barrage, massive sanctions and other war moves against Venezuela, all aimed at once again securing that nation’s vast oil reserves for future U.S. corporate plunder.
U.S. Hands off Haiti!
U.S. Troops Out Now!
No to All Deportations!
*Featured Image: People stage a demonstration demanding that President Jovenel Moise to give his resignation in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, on February 14, 2021. (Sabin Johnson / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Marty Goodman is a former board member of the Haitian Refugee Center of Miami. He witnessed the fall of Haitian dictator “Baby Doc” Duvalier in 1986 and was an official election observer in the 1990 election of former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. He opposed the US/UN occupation of Haiti and is a member of the ‘Black Lives Matter in the Dominican Republic’ committee. Goodman is also a member of Socialist Action.