Success of Haiti’s new council hinges on including ‘gang’ members in talks

By Carlton Joseph

Carlton Joseph

Dozens of US citizens were evacuated from Haiti on a State Department charter flight Sunday, and many others are waiting to be rescued as Haiti remains paralyzed by escalating gang violence and political instability.  Meanwhile, a boat carrying 25 migrants from Haiti was intercepted by Florida officials and turned over to the Coast Guard for deportation, and Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis has deployed soldiers from the National Guard to block Haitians from reaching Florida.  

Jimmy “Barbecue” Chérizier

Also, Biden’s administration is reportedly considering housing any influx of Haitians at Guantánamo Bay, and dozens of democratic Congress members are urging the Biden administration stop deportations to Haiti due to the worsening violence and instability, and to extend temporary protected status for Haitians.   The airport shuttered under siege by gangs amid fighting with police, are severely limiting supplies of food, fuel and water across the city, and in the surrounding area, and United Nations (UN) estimates that Gangs now control 80% of Port-au-Prince. 

This is the state of affairs in Haiti after 109 years of America’s “occupation” and control of Haiti’s political and economic system.  The United States (US), the only hegemon in the world, the country who thinks its manifest destiny is to control the world, the country who believes that their capitalist system should be the only economic system that the world must adopt, has created a failed Haitian State out of a country that led a successful insurrection against French colonial rule in 1804. 

Monique Clesca

The successful Haitian revolution was a defining moment in history, and its effects on institutional slavery were felt throughout the Americas; it challenged the long-held European beliefs about black inferiority and the slaves’ ability to achieve and maintain their own freedom.  Haiti gained independence, but still fights for equality in the minds of the Western powers.  Are American Presidents purposely destroying Haiti in order to confirm their own beliefs that black slaves cannot maintain their own freedom?   

Haiti’s sovereignty was not acknowledged throughout most of the nineteenth century.  France, the United States, and other world powers refused to recognize Haiti as an independent country.  Not until 1862, during the presidency of Abraham Lincoln, in the midst of the American Civil War, that the United States finally recognized Haiti as a sovereign nation.  

After the President was killed in 1915, U.S. troops invaded Haiti and justified its occupation as an attempt to restore order; the unpopular occupation ended in 1934, but U.S. control over Haiti’s finances lasted until 1947.  U.S. troops reintroduced forced labor on road-construction projects and were accused of extrajudicial killings. Later, the U.S. supported the Duvalier family, father-and-son dictators, in their reign over Haiti with brute force until the 1980s.  In the early 90’s, the U.S. removed the democratically elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide twice, over 15 years, because he wanted to deploy “socialists” policies and hopefully relieve the suffering of the poverty-stricken masses. 

The United States, with the approval of the United Nations, stayed in Haiti until the year 2000, overseeing their “democratic government”.  This allowed the American colonization of Haiti, which was an “independent” country, with the United States governing the country, and installing US puppets to mismanage the country.  

Haitians were ecstatic when Obama became president of the US, but after a few years, thousands of angry demonstrators were protesting and chanting “down with Obama” because of US complicity in the Haitian government blatant effort to rig the presidential election.  President Michel Martelly was being forced to resign by pro-democracy groups which included supporters from nearly all the opposition parties and from Haiti’s leading human-rights organizations.  Martelly, agreed to resign while putting together a plan to steal the election and insert his successor, Jovenel Moïse, as president.  The Obama administration abetted Martelly by ignoring the overwhelming evidence of massive vote fraud while American ambassador Peter Mulrean urged Haitians to swallow the results.  This ended the love affair with the first Black US president, Haitians took to the streets because they could not understand how the Obama administration could support such a regime. 

Haitian Americans backed Donald Trump in the 2016 US elections because they were disillusioned with the democratic party, but Trump, upon becoming president, restricted immigration from Haiti and sent thousands back on deportation flights.  President Biden promised a new approach, but has continued to deport Haitian asylum seekers even as the situation in Haiti becomes increasingly dangerous.  In fact, US Ambassador to Haiti, Dan Foote, in his resignation letter 2021, criticized the US for standing by a “corrupt government with gang alliances,” instead of embracing a broad-based coalition of civil society groups, that have their own blueprint for stabilizing the country.

Recently, Haiti’s appointed President, Ariel Henry agreed to resign once a transitional government is brokered by the US and other Caribbean nations (CARICOM).  Hopefully, the US is acknowledging that Caribbean leadership will be essential for coordinating regional and international support to Haiti; however, this “Council” must understand that the idea of a transitional government brokered by outsiders is unacceptable to Haitians.  

Jimmy “Barbecue” Chérizier, a former police officer who leads the G9 Family and Allies, considered to be the most powerful gang leader, and Monique Clesca, the Haitian writer, activist and former U.N. official, should be invited to participate in the Council meetings, or at least have their ideas for developing the country considered in the meetings.  In 2015, the World Bank concluded that Haiti’s biggest political problem is that “a social contract is missing between the state and its citizens,” and suggested that these “gang” members should be included in the discussions will improve the chances for success. 

In the past, the US has appointed gang leaders as presidents of the country, it is time for the Haitian people to decide who should lead them and the model of government they want.

(Trinidad-born Carlton Joseph who lives in Washington D.C., is a close observer of political developments in the United States.)

The perspectives and viewpoints articulated by the columnist unequivocally do not represent or endorse the official stance or opinions of the publication.