End the Occupation of Haiti
Haiti was left to bleed while greedy capitalists plotted relief-camouflaged investments. France, Haiti’s colonizer was asked by a group of intellectuals reimburse the crushing “independence debt” it imposed on Haiti nearly 200 years ago. An open letter to the French president says the debt, now worth more than €17bn (£14bn), would cover the rebuilding of the country after a devastating earthquake that killed more than 250,000 people seven months ago. The authors of the letter argued that if France repays the money it would be a solution to the shortfall in international donations promised following the earthquake.
The debt dates back to when Haiti, then St Dominique, was France’s most profitable colony thanks to slavery. In 1791 the slaves revolted, and in 1804, after defeating Napoleon’s forces, they founded the world’s first independent black republic. But after independence, French slave owners demanded compensation. In 1825 the French monarch Charles X demanded that Haiti pay a independence debt” of 150m gold francs – 10 times the fledgling nation’s annual revenue The original sum was reduced but Haiti still paid 90m gold francs – about €17bn today – to France. It was still paying off this debt in 1947. In 2004, a lawsuit launched by Haiti to recover the money was abandoned when France backed the overthrow of the government. Campaigners say the debt was illegal even in 1825, because when the original demand for compensation was made slavery was technically outlawed.
Their letter says: “The ‘independence debt’, which is today valued at well over €17bn … illegitimately forced a people who had won their independence in a successful slave revolt, to pay again for the freedom.”In 2003, when the Haitian government demanded repayment of the money France had extorted from Haiti, the French government responded by helping to overthrow that government.”
France’s actions are seen as “inappropriate responses to a demand that is morally, economically, and legally unassailable”. In light of the urgent financial need in the country in the wake of the devastating earthquake of January 2010, it was only just to claim restitution.
Once more in 2010, the United States occupied Haiti. The first occupation began during the administration of the questionable Nobel Peace Prize laureate President Woodrow Wilson in 1915. It was countered by an armed insurrection that grew to include over 40,000 Haitian fighters who regularly engaged the US marines. The insurrection was eventually trampled over and crushed. Haitians fought back repeatedly and ended the occupation and a return to sovereignty with legislative and presidential elections. The occupation formally ended in 1934.
A treaty was forced on Haiti that created the post of US High Commissioner, to run the country alongside its hand-picked “Haitian” president. The idea then was the same as now: all Haiti’s economy should serve the US, and nearly all US dollars paid as wages in Haiti should return to the US. For more than three decades, the occupier also collected taxes from Haitians that amounted to 40 percent of the gross domestic product.
Clinton saw in the earthquake of 2010 his opportunity to become the new US High Commissioner of Haiti. Hardly anything in his approach was novel, except for his recruitment of Latin Americans to support his project. Argentina, Brazil and Chile were offered the chance to get prestige on the world scene and assemble a repressive force away from the prying eyes of their nationals by training and modernizing their armies on Haitians as their unsuspecting victims. These countries became the “ABC” core of the United Nations (de)Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH): the only UN “peacekeeping” force in a country that is not at war.
With an army in place, Clinton set out to wrest economic control of Haiti. Within four months of the earthquake, he formed the Interim Commission for the Reconstruction of Haiti (CIRH): a strictly pay-to-play group of officials/rich businessmen from the MINUSTAH countries and others who agreed to contribute armed personnel from their countries or money After some arm twisting and bribery, the Haitian parliament was forced to declare a state of emergency for 18 months during which Clinton and his CIRH gang could do as they pleased with regard to reconstruction, without risk of liability.
By then, Clinton and his cronies had began to search for another way to continue their economic stranglehold on the country, and this would include a suitable Haitian President: specifically, one who would be popular with the young but lack patriotism. They found their man in the vulgar musician Michel Martelly. His election became a mere formality after an electoral commission excluded from participation the Fanmi Lavalas party, which commanded 80 percent of the electorate. Observers from Caricom and the Organization of American States (OAS) legitimized the results despite countless irregularities and ballots from only about 20 percent of the electorate. Such are the conditions under which Michel Martelly was (s)elected President of Haiti.
Clinton tried to push on Haiti a series of constitutional amendments, nearly all of which aimed to centralize the government so that the country would be more easily controlled via its executive branch. In particular, the Haitian Supreme Court, normally appointed with the input of communal assemblies, would be replaced by Constitutional Council of Martelly appointees. All local judges, mayors, and departmental governors would also be replaced by Martelly appointees. Finally, the president would be allowed to serve consecutive terms instead of being limited to non-consecutive ones of five years. After the parliament refused to ratify those changes, it was not dissolved. Such things are no longer done in this era of humanitarian imperialism. The constitutional amendments were simply imposed on the country by presidential decree, and the parliament was allowed to atrophy from a neglect to hold legislative elections.
Soon after the installment of the Martelly-Lamothe regime, the electrical grid and running water services began to be dismantled in Haiti’s major cities. This had the effect of depressing land prices in areas coveted by government officials as well as creating a reason to solicit aid funds. Martelly appointees – some with criminal records – began to ransack and even destroy Haiti’s city halls and local courts. Peaceful protests against these insults met with violent attacks, initially from MINUSTAH and later, from a rapidly growing and increasingly militarized Haitian police force.
Yet more egregious recent actions by the Martelly-Lamothe regime have included: the appropriation of Haiti’s offshore islands by the tourism ministry by decree, followed by the imprisonment and suspicious death of activists who had opposed the land grabs; an agreement to grant the collection of Haiti’s customs taxes to a private Swiss company for 10 years, without discussion with the parliament.
Protests throughout Haiti have reached fever pitch. Some municipalities Despite public support from Bill Clinton, his protégé Laurent Lamothe was forced to resign his post as Prime Minister on December 13, 2014. Michel Martelly, who is also supported by Bill and Hillary Clinton, will probably go the same way. The international communityrecently began to cry that the country is entering a crisis, because the failure to hold elections will cause the dissolution of the parliament on the second Monday of January 2015. Coincidentally, Monday, January 12, 2015 will also be the fifth anniversary of the earthquake: a day for stocktaking, for sure. Clinton’s paltry achievements in reconstruction will not fare well.
Haiti is not entering a crisis, it is emerging from one. If the international community wishes to conduct legitimate business with Haiti, then Clinton’s damages must first be mended. Elections must be held at the earliest possible date for all local officials (mayors, judges), the legislature, and a new president. A prime minister must be appointed, and a supreme court must be seated. With regard to Haiti, the expressions “constitutional crisis” and “political chaos” from the international community have usually been threats to declare a failed state and propose governance by the UN or receivership by the US. Such threats are hardly worth anyone’s notice. It is quite unwise for the UN and US to presume that they would fare better than Napoleon in an attempt to take Haiti by force.
There is no other choice for the Clintons but to leave Haiti, together with their international cohort of parasites, including MINUSTAH, the NGOs and USAID. If Bill Clinton has peddled to his rich friends parts of Haiti that never belonged to him, then let this be his personal quandary. A series of legal actions relating to embezzlement, corruption and money they laundering are already being taken against Martelly’s family and Lamothe; Clinton might well get caught in the same net. Contracts entered into during the period of runaway larceny by the Clinton-appointed Martelly-Lamothe regime deserve no more respect than the purchase of one’s stolen watch on a street corner. Haiti is not for sale: not in bulk, not in retail.