On October 15, Haitians protesting this year’s automatic renewal of the Security Council mandated-occupation of their country were viciously attacked by U.N troops apparently indignant at their lack of gratitude toward the mission. This incident, more than countless others, epitomizes the real purpose of the occupation: submission through intimidations and coercions. For starters, Haiti is not a country that started a war and lost, something that would warrant the occupation, but a victim of naked military aggression. Moreover, the notion that political instability, incidentally instigated by many western powers, makes Haiti a “threat to international peace and security” only highlights the lack of credibility of the U.N Security Council.
When one thinks of nuclear proliferation; religious and narco-terrorism that have cost thousands of lives in the last five years, and the haphazard rush by emerging powers to secure raw materials for their economies in faraway lands, a development which could easily trigger expansionism and military confrontations with the established powers, it is evident that the U.N Security Council is barking at the wrong tree. As Haitians would say “Konsèy Sékirité-a kité kò-a, lap krié devan sèkèy-la.” Moreover, given the illogical premise of the Security Council mandated-occupation of Haiti (threat to international peace and security), the outcome cannot possibly be one that satisfies both the interests of the Haitian people and those of the international community, which are obviously murky.
In destroying a nascent, albeit imperfect, democracy in Haiti by force on February 29, 2004, the international community, in the eyes of many Haitians, abdicated its role as an impartial arbitrator that can bridge the country’s political-economic divide. The arbitrary imprisonments, the extrajudicial killings, the bombing of Sité Solèy on June 6, 2006, the disappearances of supporters of the exiled president, Jean Bertrand Aristide, and exclusion of his party from the electoral process, which took place under the occupation, cannot conceivably be a winning formula to building democracy. 6 years and counting, indiscriminate use of force against peaceful protesters remain the preferred method by which U.N troops exercise control over the population, as the October 14 incident indicates. By contrast, protests were allowed under the Lavalas government (2001-04) which the international community considered undemocratic and autocratic, a fabricated justification for the February 29, 2004 invasion. In this case, maladi moun-sa yo soufri-a, sé pa li yo di doktè-a, because what else can explain the contradictory course in implementing their stated goal.
Exactly what kind of Democracy do these people have in mind? Is it one in which the notion of human rights pertains to the right hands and feet of the majority of Haitians? From the implementation of the IMF’s onerous privatization directive that practically destroyed Haiti’s peasantry to the expropriation of the government’s prerogatives by the foreign-led Haiti Reconstruction Fund (HRF), everything undertaken by the international mission has been detrimental to the majority of Haitians. Haiti is so dysfunctional under the occupation that one presidential candidate is staking his campaign on restoring the now-defunct Haitian military, which at one point consumed 40% of the country’s budget. Unless the man plans to embark on military adventures to confiscate the riches of neighboring countries, which would make sense, I do not see how he can rationalize his thoughtless idea and persuade a majority of Haitians to go along with it. Perhaps, his foreign handlers, in anticipation of their eventual departure, forced or voluntary, put him up to it.
One of the core principles of Democracy is the right to protest, which provides a voice to the voiceless against perceived or real abuses by those in power. Protests started the French and Russian Revolutions, 1789 and 1917 respectively, and remained a powerful weapon against entrenched power structures that excluded those at the margin of society. In Haiti, where a purported attempt by the U.N at building democracy has been in motion since February 29, 2004, the right to protest is anything but. Instead a reign of terror under the aegis of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) has descended upon the Haitian people. Young Haitian women are raped by U.N troops; opponents of the occupation have disappeared or arbitrarily imprisoned, and, with the banishment of Fanmi Lavalas, the country’s largest political party from the political process, the political system has become ever more exclusive.
In democratic countries and those moving steadily toward embracing democratic ideals, the right to protest provides the disaffected or excluded with a powerful voice that sometimes resonates in the corridors of power. For that reason, protests are viewed with suspicions by oppressive entities, notwithstanding the fact that historical precedents validate the correlation between repression and upheavals. Perhaps, the Security Council, supremely confident in its unchallenged authority and might, considers such possibility farfetched. If that assertion was valid, the now-defunct Soviet Union (1917-91) would not have disappeared the way it did.
Aptly, the Security Council’s doctrine of preventive intervention or responsibility to protect civilians clearly was inappropriate in Haiti’s case, which was purely political, thus required a political solution, as there was no genocide or mass killings, which would have warranted the country’s occupation under Chapter VII of the U.N Charter. Despite the generic statements occasionally emanated from the U.N, it is unmistakably clear that building democratic institutions in Haiti is not, never has been nor will ever be, the goal of the occupation. Simply put, the endeavor is a testament of the Security Council’s abuse of its unchallenged authority.
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