by Claudio Testa
Socialismo o Barbarie
Although UN troops have been occupying the country for six years, the USA has decided to engage in a second invasion of its own, without even going through the farce of “consulting” previous occupiers.
In 2004 a joint US-Canadian-French military intervention, under the pretext of “maintaining order”, brought down president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, leader of the national-populist Fanmi Lavalas. Then, as is customary, the blessed UN entered, to legitimise the imperialist assault. The Security Council voted for the creation of MINUSTAH (from the French, Mission des Nations Unies pour la Stabilisation en Haiti).
That time, both to avoid continent-wide and international protests, as well as to free up more US troops for Iraq and Afghanistan, the UN voted that the dirty work should be performed principally by Latin American troops. The “progressive” Brazilian president Lula pushed to the front of the queue, followed by his friend in Argentina, the “national and popular” Néstor Kirchner.
Thus MINUSTAH, commanded by Brazil and with the participation of troops from Argentina and other “progressive” governments like those of Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia and Ecuador, defending the colonial occupation of Haiti. MINUSTAH also had troops from France and a smaller number from the USA. Since then, under its protection, have followed a series of puppet governments reporting direct to the US embassy in Port-au-Prince.
But now US imperialism appears to have decided to cast aside its MINUSTAH subalterns, without even bothering to tell them about it. First, it sent troops which took control of the airport at gunpoint. Then the marines invaded by air and sea. As to ensure there was no doubt as to what they were doing in Haiti, the White House announced that its troops were not coming to carry out “humanitarian tasks”, but “to guarantee security”.
So brutal was it that France (which continues to see Haiti like a colony), Brazil (which commanded MINUSTAH) and the European Union expressed their outrage. The USA, after taking control of the airport, closed it to non-US planes. From that point no plane, not even those of Brazil, France and other MINUSTAH countries, could operate without US military permission. France worried that the Port-au-Prince airport had been converted into “an annexe of the United States”. Brazil, whose 1700 troops lead the UN contingent, declared that it would not cede its mandate to any other country.
But it was not up to them. Ultimately Lula and Sarkozy walked away with their tails between their legs. Washington’s reply, beneath some diplomatic pleasantries, was a sharp ‘no’: it would continue doing as it saw fit.
After the coup d’état in Honduras and the establishment of seven military bases in Colombia, the direct military occupation of Haiti by the USA shows clearly the imperialist intervention in Latin America.
“Security” for who?
The USA’s direct military intervention to “maintain order” has several causes.
First is the geopolitical reason: that US imperialism considers the Caribbean as a kind of lake or interior sea of the USA, and it has rights over everything within. This is, for example, one of the main reason why no US government has managed to reach a modus vivendi with Cuba, given its intolerable degree of independence.
Within the Caribbean, Haiti has always been considered and treated by the USA like a colonial protectorate under its ownership, even if France has shown slave-holder attitudes for longer than the White House. Victim of a US military occupation from 1915 to 1934, the majority of its governments since have been bloody dictatorships backed by Washington, such as those of “Papa Doc” Duvalier and his son “Baby Doc”, lasting from 1957 to 1986.
So it is not strange that the White House’s reflex has been to send in the marines.
This impulse reaction has also been particularly strengthened by the politico-social situation before and after the earthquake.
The truth is that the “government” of René Preval – a former collaborator of Aristide and ex-leader of Fanmi Lavalas, today totally sold out to US imperialism – practically disappeared with the quake. Not only did it bring down the presidential palace, but the government itself. One correspondent described this situation aptly: “The government, which in the first few days met in the open air, has now practically disappeared and the power vacuum created in the country is more than obvious. Indeed, may believe that with the massive influx of troops, it will be the USA who holds the reins.”
But this “power vacuum” created by the quake and Preval’s absolute inability to deal with the situation, comes dangerously soon after the significant rise in workers’, students’ and peasants’ protests against occupation and the puppet government in 2009.
Indeed, one of the motives behind the invasion of Haiti is to “guarantee security” so that this “power vacuum” does not end up being filled by an alternative, independent of imperialism.