Haitians and Venezuelans are united by history and common struggle against the US behemoth that seeks to enslave the rest of the hemisphere.
As both Republicans and Democrats continue their plans to install a government in Venezuela that proves more tractable to their neoliberal agendas, we are also witnessing an uprising by the people of Haiti against the ongoing neocolonial control by the United States. The Haitian people are no strangers to the tentacles of United States interventionism, which has been ongoing since the 19-year occupation commenced by President Woodrow Wilson in 1915. The occupation included the seizing and relocation of Haiti’s financial reserves to the United States, as well as a re-write of the nation’s Constitution, which, among other things, allowed for foreign entities to enjoy land-owning rights.
Over time, the actors associated with the U.S.’s stranglehold on Haiti and its right to self-determination may have changed – from Wilson, to Clinton, to Obama – but the strategy and modus operandi have remained consistent. The methodology of synthesized financial manipulation, election rigging and racketeering remains firmly intact.
We are witnessing a pernicious parallel between 1929, when U.S. military forces suppressed a nationwide strike and peaceful demonstrations by firing live ammunition on 1,500 people, resulting in deaths and injuries, and today, when since July 2018 Haitians have been protesting and demanding the ouster of U.S.-backed President Jovenel Moise, who recently ordered police officers to suppress the popular uprising with violent, deadly force.
Resistance intensified beginning Feb. 7 when for nearly one week, the people of Haiti, tapping the primordial spirit of liberation that made the nation the first site of a successful slave revolt in 1791, marched through Port-au-Prince, the capitol city, and other cities, signaling their rage at Moise’s documented corruption and economic mishaps that have stranded the island nation in a circumference of abject poverty and interference from a range of foreign nations and economic bodies like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.
The people’s fury can be traced to the botched relief effort following the 2010 earthquake that led to rigged elections, a deadly cholera outbreak and an attempt to render Haiti a sweatshop for U.S. clothing companies. The Moise regime is beholden to foreign actors who continue to see Haiti as nothing more than a colony, a location to unleash vulture capitalism and a center for extraction and ignore the plight of ordinary Haitian people.
The people’s fury can be traced to the botched relief effort following the 2010 earthquake that led to rigged elections, a deadly cholera outbreak and an attempt to render Haiti a sweatshop for U.S. clothing companies.
The recent revelation that Moise embezzled nearly $4 billion of a loan given to the Haitian government by Venezuela, under Hugo Chavez, may have broken the proverbial camel’s back. And this is also where we see the intrinsic nexus between U.S. intervention in Venezuela and that of Haiti.
Hugo Chavez and government of Venezuela commenced the PetroCaribe Alliance in 2005 in an effort to counter attempts by the United States and other colonial powers to use their economic power and subversion machinery to influence and minimize a project to build a 21st century socialism in Venezuela and throughout Latin America. Utilizing Venezuela’s vast oil wealth, Chavez provided cheap petroleum products and favorable credit terms to the 17 nations who made up the alliance.
When Haiti officially signed Chavez’s PetroCaribe deal under the presidency of Aristide ally René Préval, the United States under President Bill Clinton engendered a war of economic attrition to punish Haiti via draconian disaster capitalism following the 2010 earthquake, which included the fraudulent installation of Michel Martelly, the preferred candidate of the U.S. Pentagon and State Department. The nefarious plans of the U.S. were on full display when Secretary Hillary Clinton travelled to Haiti and threatened to withdraw all aid to the indigent nation if Martelly was not named president of Haiti.
Martelly mismanaged and squandered a massive amount of the capital provided by the PetroCaribe deal. Money that was meant to be used to pay for hospitals, schools, roads and critical water infrastructure was instead utilized to secure Jovenel Moise’s rise to power in 2017. This all not only happened in plain sight of the U.S. government, but also with its blessing.
U.S. sanctions against Venezuela made it impossible for Haiti to repay their loan as part of the PetroCaribe deal, thereby ending the arrangement between the two states in 2017. The cherry on top was a recent vote by the Organization of American States (OAS) in which Moise directed his ministers to join with other reactionary governments in Latin America to support a U.S.-engineered vote declaring Venezuelan President Nicolas Madura “illegitimate.”
In doing so, Moise has in effect created a smokescreen in a feeble attempt to exonerate himself and his U.S.-backed Haitian Bald-Headed Party (PHTK) from blame for squandering billions of dollars meant for the development of Haiti’s people.
But the people can smell the miasma surrounding U.S. intervention in Venezuela and Haiti – and they know more than ever that the fate of both nations is directly tied to global struggle against U.S. contemporary colonialism and imperialism. That’s why Haitians have taken to the streets, defying Moise despite his ordering police to shoot tear gas and live ammunition into crowds of unarmed people. Moise is seeing his grip of power pried from his very fingers as more and more police are defying his order, standing down and refusing to fire on protesters.
The people can smell the miasma surrounding U.S. intervention in Venezuela and Haiti – and they know more than ever that the fate of both nations is directly tied to global struggle against U.S. contemporary colonialism and imperialism. That’s why Haitians have taken to the streets.
Black Alliance for Peace remains in steadfast solidarity with the people of Haiti, whose revolutionary spirit first showed the world what is possible when Africans stand together, organize together and struggle together to remove their shackles and dispatch their oppressors. While far too many Haitians have died under the U.S.’s desire to maintain a Western Hemisphere hegemony, the revolutionary spirit of 1791 lives on.
As anti-imperialist internationalists, the Black Alliance for Peace (BAP) understands the interconnectedness of oppressed peoples’ struggles. BAP declares its solidarity with the people of Haiti in the struggle to end U.S. imperialism in Haiti, Venezuela and all republics of the Caribbean and Latin America.
The people of Haiti are once again attempting to win back their nation. If the people of Haiti and Venezuela are successful in beating back the attempts by the U.S. to impose its control over those two nations connected by history and struggle, it will signal that the era of U.S. imperial control really is coming to an end. This would be a victory not only for the peoples of Venezuela and Haiti but for the world.
This story first appeared in Black Agenda Report.