Haiti: Formula for catastrophe

Kenyan soldiers prepare for Haiti. Photo: Brian Inganga, Picture Alliance

The UN Security Council approved Washington’s initiative to send a multinational military force of Kenyan majority to Haiti, whose declared objective will be to control the violence unleashed by gangs and reestablish minimum levels of security in the island nation. It is estimated that around 200 criminal groups operate in Port-au-Prince alone, controlling between 50 and 80 percent of the capital’s territory, with such brutality that inhabitants must pay for the mere fact of crossing a street, and citizens who dare to raise their voices are massacred before a mixture of impotence and complicity of the police agencies.

It is undeniable that Haiti is in the midst of perhaps the worst crisis in its troubled history: the Legislative and Judicial powers are de facto dissolved, while the Executive is illegitimately occupied by Prime Minister Ariel Henry since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in 2021. There are barely 10,000 police officers for 11.5 million inhabitants, and their meager number is worsened by the lack of equipment, the lack of training, and the aforementioned ambiguity of their loyalties. Virtually all economic or civic activity is paralyzed by crime, and around 200,000 people (i.e., almost 2 percent of the population) have been displaced from their homes by criminals, 10,000 of them in the last few days. In short, institutions exist only on paper, and the State is a mere ghost, a fiction that does not even cover the appearances of fulfilling its functions.

In this infernal context, the worst thing that could happen to the Haitian people is precisely the arrival of a new contingent of blue helmets, a body that is discredited on a global scale and, in this country, has a disastrous record of human rights violations, abuses of power and reproduction of the scourges they were intended to combat. It is solidly documented, for example, that at the beginning of this century, members of the armed branch of the UN created a system of prostitution in which they obtained sex (often with children as young as 11 years old) in exchange for the food that the international community sent to alleviate the famine.

The “peacekeeping” soldiers operated with such lack of scruples and certainty of impunity that they carried out this sex trafficking in front of the presidential palace. Even when they meant no harm, the presence of the blue helmets has had devastating effects: almost a million people fell ill, and more than 10,000 died in the cholera epidemic of 2010-2011, caused by Nepalese soldiers’ latrines discharging feces into the Meye River. The health emergency was of such magnitude that more cases of the disease were recorded in this small country than in the whole of Africa.

To make matters worse, organizations and popular movements that contacted this newspaper point out that the gang violence is encouraged by Henry’s regime in order to prevent the calling of elections.

According to Camille Chalmers, leader of the leftist Rasin Kan Pèp party, the gangs are Henry’s response to the popular mobilizations of 2020. In such circumstances, it is clear that a military occupation force sent to reinforce the spurious administration will only deepen the misery of the Haitian people and consolidate the cancellation of democracy.

The international community, and in particular the powers that have plundered Haiti for centuries, have a moral duty to bring all possible help to a people languishing under hunger and barbarism, but a new military adventure is the antithesis of the solidarity required by the inhabitants of the eastern portion of the island known as Hispaniola or Santo Domingo. A true support is the promotion of development, the direct and uncorrupted delivery of basic necessities, and above all, the empowerment of the population against the mafia regime that has taken over the territory.

Source: La Jornada, translation Resumen Latinoamericano – English

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