In the wake of a devastating earthquake in Haiti, Washington has seized the opportunity to strengthen its grip on Haiti—not only politically and economically, but militarily as well.
The U.S. military has deployed naval vessels, military jets, and more than 2,000 marines and 3,000 soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Infantry Division. An additional 10,000 U.S. soldiers arrived in Haiti on Jan. 18.
U.S. military intervention in Haiti is nothing new. U.S. forces occupied the country from 1915 to 1934. Military intervention has been an effective weapon for wealthy U.S. corporate interests to maintain and expand their dominance in the Caribbean.
U.S. imperialism has been the number one enemy of the people of Haiti in the last century, picking up where Spanish and French colonialism left off. Through decades of occupation, countless interventions and financed coups resulting in the removal of the democratically elected Jean Bertrand Aristide—not once, but twice—the United States is the last place that our sisters and brothers in Haiti expect to receive help from.
Colonial invasion masks itself as humanitarian mission
If the goal is humanitarian aid and relief, why is the U.S. government sending armed soldiers and its most destructive vehicles of war into Haiti? Why are colonial instruments being deployed instead of doctors, firefighters, and the other desperately needed aid that the people require?
This type of “humanitarian aid” is in sharp contrast, for instance, with the aid sent by Cuba: a team of 60 doctors and health technicians with medical supplies to meet up with the more than 400 Cuban specialists that were already in Haiti before this crisis.
Since 1998, Cuba has sent ten tons of medications to Haiti, as well as having sent 6,000 doctors, paramedics and health technicians to work there. In the past 12 years, 450 Haitians have graduated as doctors, free of charge, from Cuban colleges.
This contradiction cannot be overlooked. The Cuban government sends doctors and medicine; the U.S. government sends marines and paratroopers; Venezuela sends firefighters and rescue specialists; the United States sends an aircraft carrier with supporting ships and aircraft plus a guided-missile cruiser and a guided-missile frigate.
Remember Katrina! Remember Aristide!
Right-wing think tanks are pouncing on what they see as a great opportunity for U.S. strategic interests in the region—and the White House is listening. The Heritage Foundation’s The Foundry, setting aside the suffering of the Haitian people to focus instead on military and strategic considerations, recommended that Obama “reach out to a senior Republican figure, perhaps former President George W. Bush, to lead the bipartisan effort for the Republicans.” The suggestion itself is sick enough; that the White House has actually done just that is appalling.
The Bushes, father and son, were respectively at the center of the 1991 and 2004 coups in Haiti that twice overthrew the democratically-elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. For Obama to rehabilitate Bush by granting him the role of a great humanitarian is not only an insult to the people of Haiti, but also to the people of Afghanistan and Iraq. They all know too well Bush’s brand of humanitarianism.
We cannot forget the role Bush played in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in the New Orleans and the Gulf Coast region. Negligence of infrastructural needs combined with lack of planning and resource allocation for evacuation and relief left nearly 300,000 families homeless and thousands dead. Those trying to survive were hunted down by the state. The decision to select Bush for this role should be seen for what it is: the political rehabilitation of the man whose policies at home and abroad only led to death and destruction.
Their interests are not ours
The role of U.S. soldiers and marines will not be to aid the Haitian people in one of their most trying times. Their role will be to safeguard the interests of U.S. capital and quell any political unrest that is guaranteed to surface as Haitians scramble to survive amid the rubble.
The New York Times reported that “… at least 10,000 private organizations perform supposedly humanitarian missions in Haiti, yet it remains one of the poorest countries in the world.” This amounts to one NGO for every 900 Haitians.
These NGOs are essentially businesses that receive vast amounts of “humanitarian aid”, which in turns goes toward expenses such as the often lavish salaries and benefits for their executive directors, assistant directors and staff; costs of maintaining offices; etc.
The U.S. military has taken control of all airports and naval ports in the country and determines what is allowed to come into the country and leave. The Financial Times reported on Jan. 17 that Alain Joyandet, the French co-operation minister, told reporters that he had protested to Washington after a French medical aid flight had been turned away by U.S. forces in control of the airports. People trying to leave Haiti have complained that U.S. forces are giving preferential treatment to U.S. citizens.
Coast Guard ships have also been deployed to ensure any Haitian that attempts to flee the island will be captured and returned.
It is important that all soldiers, sailors, airmen/women and marines that are sent to Haiti understand the role assigned to them by the Pentagon brass and the Washington politicians, and that they refuse to carry out any violence against the people on the devastated island.
March Forward! demands an end to the occupation of Haiti by UN and now U.S. forces, and fully opposes the expanded efforts of U.S. colonialism to further subjugate the people of Haiti.
The people of Haiti deserve real aid: medication, doctors, firefighters and other specialists. Cuba, Venezuela and others have set the example. The U.S. pledge of $100 million to the grief-stricken nation is criminal—a pittance compared to the nearly $500 million per day that are spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
End the colonial takeover of Haiti! Real emergency relief now!