Haiti, on the verge of an armed intervention
Santo Domingo, DR
The emotional appeal of the Prime Minister of Haiti, Ariel Henry, for the international community, to help that country in the face of the social, economic, and fuel crisis, the appearance of cholera, and the onslaught of gangs is an indirect appeal for armed intervention.
It is a bitter pill that no Haitian president has ever swallowed in the circumstances more or less similar to those of today, as in 1915 after the assassination of the incumbent president, Vilbrun Guillaume Sam, who had taken refuge in the French legation, where mobs arrived and lynched him.
Or many years later, in 2004, the constitutional president, Jean Bertrand Aristide, was supposedly kidnapped by American commandos and forced to leave the country, leaving behind the military who tried to avert a humanitarian, political and social crisis.
However, Henry would not dare to directly endorse the possibility of foreign intervention for fear of what public life and history may have in store for him today, even though the politician, appointed on the eve of Jovenel Moïse’s assassination, has failed.
The intervention would dictate Henry’s departure, to be occupied by one of the many ambitious people behind the mobs that take to the streets of the country every day and who, as in the case of Gonaïves, where independence was signed on January 1, 1804, raise the flag of Russia.
With that country’s war against Ukraine and mid-term elections just over a year away, President Biden is not in the best position to encourage intervention in Haiti unless another powerful “friendly” country, Canada, carries some of the burdens.
Yesterday it was reported in Washington that a group of senators and congressmen, among them former presidential hopeful and senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Edward Markey, and Congresswoman Maxine Waters, demanded in a letter to President Biden the establishment of a government that adheres to Haiti’s constitution.
The Dominican side, which has long been burdened by the situation in Haiti and is threatened by both monkeypox and cholera, resurfacing in the western part of the island, should, without compromising too much, accept intervention as the lesser of two evils.
The situation in Haiti described days ago by former U.S. Ambassador to Haiti (2012-2015) Pamela White, a diplomat with known ties to the Haitian community and with interest in the future of that country, is heartbreaking because it sums up the gravity of the crisis with total nakedness.
The diplomat recalls having seen the ups and downs of the crises in the country since the earthquake of 2010 when millions of Americans contributed money that was squandered and caught by official sectors. Also, corruption and gang warfare as is happening now.
“I have never seen anything like the breakdown of civility that is the current situation in Haiti,” says the former ambassador, stating that “Haiti is a failed state,” where there is no legitimate government, no parliament, and no judiciary, with a weak police force unable to stop the gangs.
The condition of a “failed state” has been mentioned on many occasions by Dominican political and social sectors; some are called “nationalists,” who observe with great concern the deterioration experienced by the neighboring country and businessmen.
A short time ago, a group of businessmen invited a journalist whose writings show great interest in the Haitian issue. They wanted to know what possibility this country, the Dominican Republic’s second-largest trading partner, had of overcoming the already critical situation.
Commenting that Haiti was not, as they say, a failed state, he cited the case of other countries linked to the Diaspora, such as Ethiopia, which has had a protracted crisis and disparities with its neighbors in the Horn of Africa and internal guerrillas. Nevertheless, it has improved its economic levels.
Another country mentioned was Guyana, a Guyanese trio nation (British, French, and Dutch), whose abulic capital, Georgetown, was a quiet exile for diplomats but today has a buoyant economy due to oil discoveries off its coast. In contrast, Haiti is a failed state.
Haiti is believed to have significant oil deposits on its northern coasts and substantial gold deposits in the mountains, which together provoke the gluttony of foreign companies in both sectors and the country’s economic class, which seeks wealth rather than power.
Military intervention in Haiti would have to be prolonged, as much or more than the one ordered by the United Nations in June 2004 that ended in October 2017. At that time, the banditry was a political and social crisis; now, it was all the usual plus armed gangs.
Disarming the gangs cannot be done by the Haitian National Police, who a couple of days ago could not dislodge from the Verreaux fuel terminal the gang of Jimmy Cherissier, “Barbecue,” who has vowed to maintain his control until fuels go down.
No matter how many requests the international organizations and the Diplomatic Corps have made publicly, the situation in Haiti is getting worse every day. Disarming the armed groups, bringing the political actors to an agreement, and improving the economic and social situation would take years.
The last Minustah military intervention also left a lot of bitterness. The regiment from an eastern country, Nepal, apparently left cholera in the rivers of the Haitian countryside, which caused many fellow citizens to be contaminated with cholera bacteria when drinking water.
The regiment sent by Uruguay ended up being blamed for multiple rapes of Haitian maidens who gave birth to Uruguayan children who were left without fathers. Although the South American country recognized the situation and asked for forgiveness, it was simply one of the consequences of the intervention.
History tells the story of the excesses that the American interveners caused in the neighboring country, which bravely faced the arrival of the American soldiers in the villages. As I have said, the case of the young rebel Charlemagne Peralte is documented in many books, Encarta Africana, and two paintings by the artist Philomé Obin.