US and French intervention in Haiti: More militarism and chaos

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Since the beginning of the year the population and working class of Haiti have been prey to murderous conflicts between the armed bands of President Aristide, the 'Chimeras', and the rival opposition clans with a drug trafficker, former police commissioner, Guy Philippe, at their head. Having conquered the towns in the north of the island, the armed opposition attacked the capital Port-au-Prince. After several days of bloody rioting and pillaging the American and French governments, who support the Haitian opposition, were eager to send several thousand soldiers, with the blessing of the UN, into this part of the Caribbean in order to chase the Aristide clan out of power and to re-establish 'democratic order and civil' peace and to 'protect the population'.

All these justifications are nothing but lies! Haiti is a prime example of bourgeois cynicism. Like Africa, Haiti is ravaged by famine and epidemics: 70% of the population is unemployed, 85% of the population lives on less than 70 pence (1 Euro) a day. The average life expectancy in 2002 was less than 50 years as opposed to about 70 in the other South American and Caribbean countries. 40% of the population have no access to the most basic care and the rates of infection with HIV and TB are the highest in Latin America. Infant mortality is twice as high and half the children under 5 go hungry. The situation is worsened by the western powers who have promised credit and aid which has never been paid. "After the legislative elections contested in 21 May 2000, the United States, the European Union and the international financial organisations have frozen the aid promised to Haiti. This veritable embargo overtook the most vulnerable population on the whole continent, the people which is the poorest, whose economy, environment, and social tissue is the most fragile" (Le Monde Diplomatique, July 2003). To this sombre picture of crushing pauperisation is added the riots and confrontations between pro- and anti-Aristide forces which have left hundreds of dead. These victims have been added to the long list of extortion and massacres committed by preceding regimes, supported by the western democracies, from the bloodthirsty Duvalier, father and son, and their 'Tontons Macoutes' militia, to the generals and military governors who have succeeded each other since the island became independent in 1804. Haiti is sinking into ever more chaos and disorder. It is in the hands of armed gangs and their political representatives who organise all sorts of trafficking: drugs, arms and the organisation of human traffic in illegal migration. Given this level of barbarism, which dramatically illustrates how capitalism is mired in decomposition, it is legitimate to ask what interest the great powers could have in intervening militarily in Haiti. Contrary to what the leftists say, the great powers are not intervening in Haiti to keep the enterprises and banks going. This is secondary as the economy and the state in this part of Santo Domingo are in a state of collapse. We are no longer in the 19th Century, when the European powers fought over the riches of the Caribbean. We are no longer in the 20th Century when the division of the world into military blocs necessitated the absolute control of this region by the American bloc faced with the Soviet bloc and its influence in Cuba. Today it is not the control of Haiti in itself which justifies the intervention of the great powers, but the fact that the United States wants to maintain its grip on the Caribbean to control the growing tide of refugees arriving on the coast in Florida; at the same time it is trying to maintain its influence in this zone, which it regards as its back yard, faced with the European powers, especially France, which, in the Bicentenary year of the independence of Haiti (a former French colony) has been trying to contest the US in this zone. Since the collapse of the Eastern bloc, Uncle Sam has, in the defence of its leadership, been challenged by its old allies from the Western bloc. Already in 1994, it was the opposition from France, Germany and Russia to UN sanctions against Iraq after the first Gulf War which, among other things, pushed Bill Clinton to make a demonstration of force in Haiti. He sent 20,000 soldiers to 'restore democracy' in Haiti and the United States reinstalled President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the very leader they would chase from power a few years later.

Today the priest of the slumdwellers, Aristide, is implicated in the lucrative drug trade and has proved himself as corrupt as other figures in the Haitian bourgeoisie. He has been sacked by his American and French godfathers. Despite the protests from South Africa, from the Community of the Caribbean and from some Democrats in America, who are clamouring for an international inquiry into the undemocratic eviction suffered by their 'pet', the United States has continued to remind one and all that it calls the shots. One more time, military intervention does not have the objective of restoring 'civil peace'. And despite Bush and Chirac's mutual congratulations for their excellent co-operation in Haiti, the only point on which these gangsters agree is that it was necessary to intervene militarily. For the rest, it is competition that dominates and every man for himself is the only policy in operation, even if that generates even more chaos and massacres for the civilian population. Each will attempt to put its own men in government. For the moment it seems that the United States has seized the advantage in this imperialist rivalry: "In ringing the bell for the end of the party for Guy Philippe, who they had supported, the United States imposed itself as the sole masters of the game in Haiti. They have removed Aristide, made his armed opponents surrender, put their own men in the key sectors of the administration. And, in addition, they have excluded France from the final outcome of the crisis in which Paris had, until then, played a role of the first importance" (Liberation 5 March).

The military intervention in Haiti demonstrates once more the worsening of military tensions between the great powers and the irrational character of these policing operations from the economic point of view. The dispute between the White House and the Elysee Palace over the 'spoils' of Haiti is within the framework defended by the ICC on this increasingly irrational aspect of the tensions and wars in capitalism. "War is no longer undertaken to further economic goals, or even for organised strategic objectives, but as short term, localised and fragmented attempts to survive at each other's expense" ('Resolution on the international situation' International Review 102). The semblance of government that the American bourgeoisie is trying to set up cannot resist the fratricidal wars of the different Haitian clans for long, and we are entitled to ask whether Haiti is not to become another mess for Uncle Sam, all the more since the maneuvres of France and the other competing powers will only make it worse. This is how capitalism lives. Under the pretext of democracy and humanitarianism, in reality it exacerbates the imperialist contradictions, feeds chaos and plunges the population and the proletariat into total destitution.

Donald, 20/3/04