How US influence contributed to a modern Haitian uprising

A demonstrator gestures near a barricade during a protest against Haiti's President Jovenel Moise, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on February 14, 2021

Sam Glasper

Sam Glasper is a writer and Marxist-Leninist from County Durham in North East England. He is a Master's graduate from Durham University, where he read Political Theory. He is a member of the revolutionary communist group Red Fightback and a union member of the Industrial Workers of the World.

15th March 2021

Jeanty Junior Augustin / Reuters

The Moïse government within Haiti faces continued criticism from the Haitian people over a spate of austerity measures, introduced with the help of the IMF over the past 5 years. These measures have in recent years included the hiking of gas prices up to 38 percent to US$4.60 per gallon. The measures, and other such impositions like it, were inflicted on Haitian working people in spite of the fact that the average income for a Haitian is a mere 5 US dollars a day

 

The Haitian masses though have not taken the IMF backed sanctions lying down. They responded to such economic reforms by Moïse with pitched battles against the Haitian institutors. The protestors have also specifically targeted and burned down numerous buildings they see as connected to the current corrupt order in Haiti. In recent times a police station in the Artibonite region was set on fire, as were a courthouse and government tax offices in Petit-Goâve, whilst a policeman was killed in the Delmas 83 neighbourhood outside of Port-au-Prince. 

 

When focus is applied to the current batch of Haitian resistance, a consistency also emerges from the imagery of the protests. The protestors are seen to be consistently burning the flag of the United States of America. The reason may not seem obvious at first, yet the people of Haiti have long seen the connection between their own country’s woes and the history of US influence in their country.

 

American black ops and economic measures have plagued the island even since the overthrow of the US backed Duvalier dynasty in the mid-1980s. The democratically elected president Jean-Bertrand Aristide was ousted in 2004 by right wing paramilitaries with US assistance. Leaked information in 2011 showed the Obama administration fought to keep Haitian wages at 31 cents an hour when the Haiti government passed a law raising its minimum wage to 61 cents an hour. Even as recently as 2 years ago, heavily armed former Navy Seals were captured in Haiti as riots inflamed against corruption once more. The incident was eerily reminiscent of the failed, so called, Operation Red Dog where American Klansmen and Canadian Neo-Nazis attempted a coup in Dominica with motivations including white supremacy as well as economic benefits.

 

The term “Yankee Imperialism”, an analysis formulated by Turkish Maoists including those such as Mahir Çayan, best describes US policy towards the island even to this day. The policy is a neo-colonial one. It is one which places emphasis on the role of the comprador bourgeois (localised upper-class elements in colonised nations) who collaborate with American authorities to ease the day-to-day management of imperialism whilst also requiring the hard use of force by the American imperialists themselves in order to quash dissent during times of crisis (Çayan, 2017). The American government, be it Democrat or Republican, has continually enforced this policy to the general detriment of the Haitian working masses.  

 

With this analysis at hand, the reasoning behind US president Biden’s decision to support Moïse’s claim to hold another year in office becomes evident. Whilst at the same time giving vague comments on fresh elections sometime next year, the US has essentially given Moïse a blank check to target his opposition in that time frame thus cementing his rule. The president currently rules with decree with only a third of the country’s senators in office and removed judges throughout the country. American commitments to the island seem to remain set on Moïse for now in spite of US reservations about his rule. This is likely because of the distinct anti-American, anti-imperialist nature of the protests which, if successful, would see American businesses negatively affected by a redistribution of resources. The consistent targeting of US companies in organised arson attacks showcase this very point, no doubt putting fear into the minds of many American businesses with assets in Haiti. 

 

Throughout its history, Haiti has remained a sore spot for American foreign policy. In spite of continuous repression, both economic and military, the people of Haiti have resisted with all their might against foreign domination. The current uprising is yet another moment of this continuing history, one which places the coloniser against the colonised. With violence rising and Moïse remaining in place, the people in Haiti are unlikely to give in easily as repressive measures begin to be enforced once more. Even more so, they will neither forget nor forgive the American government for the role it has played in the island’s subjugation. Haitian resistance has held strong in the nation since the days of the successful slave revolt that freed the country from white colonial rule in the 18th century. This precedent of protest is set to continue against the forces of American finance and Moïse well into the future as the current government attempts to cling to power. 

 

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