A popular insurrection has unfolded in Haiti throughout 2022. These protests are the continuation of a cycle of resistance that began in 2016 in response to a social crisis developed by the coups in 1991 and 2004, the earthquake in 2010, and Hurricane Matthew in 2016. For more than a century, any attempt by the Haitian people to exit the neocolonial system imposed by the US military occupation (1915–34) has been met with military and economic interventions to preserve it. The structures of domination and exploitation established by that system have impoverished the Haitian people, with most of the population having no access to drinking water, health care, education, or decent housing. Of Haiti’s 11.4 million people, 4.6 million are food insecure and 70% are unemployed.
The Haitian Creole word dechoukaj or ‘uprooting’ – which was first used in the pro-democracy movements of 1986 that fought against the US-backed dictatorship – has come to define the current protests. The government of Haiti, led by acting Prime Minister and President Ariel Henry, raised fuel prices during this crisis, which provoked a protest from the trade unions and deepened the movement. Henry was installed to his post in 2021 by the ‘Core Group’ (made up of six countries and led by the US, the European Union, the UN, and the Organisation of American States) after the murder of the unpopular president Jovenel Moïse. Although still unsolved, it is clear that Moïse was killed by a conspiracy that included the ruling party, drug trafficking gangs, Colombian mercenaries, and US intelligence services. The UN’s Helen La Lime told the Security Council in February that the national investigation into Moïse’s murder had stalled, a situation that has fuelled rumours and exacerbated both suspicion and mistrust within the country.
The United States and Canada are now arming Henry’s illegitimate government and planning a military intervention in Haiti. On 15 October, the US submitted a draft resolution to the United Nations Security Council calling for the ‘immediate deployment of a multinational rapid action force’ in the country. This would be the latest chapter in over two centuries of destructive intervention by Western countries in Haiti. Since the 1804 Haitian Revolution, the forces of imperialism (including slave owners) have intervened militarily and economically against people’s movements seeking to end the neocolonial system. Most recently, these forces entered the country under the auspices of the United Nations via the UN Stabilisation Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), which was active from 2004 to 2017. A further such intervention in the name of ‘human rights’ would only affirm the neocolonial system now managed by Ariel Henry and would be catastrophic for the Haitian people, whose movement forward is being blocked by gangs created and promoted behind the scenes by the Haitian oligarchy, supported by the Core Group, and armed with weapons from the United States.
Haiti’s crisis can only be solved by the Haitian people, but they must be accompanied by the immense force of international solidarity. The world can look to the examples demonstrated by the Cuban Medical Brigade, which first went to Haiti in 1998; by the Via Campesina/ALBA Movimientos brigade, which has worked with popular movements on reforestation and popular education since 2009; and by the assistance provided by the Venezuelan government, which includes discounted oil. It is imperative for those standing in solidarity with Haiti to demand, at a minimum: