Over a thousand kidnappings and more than 8000 murders last year alone; some of the victims decapitated while others buried in shallow graves and doused with acid. One would think of Haiti, “a threat to international peace and security” where thousands of U.N soldiers are supposedly restoring order since 2004 under a host of resolutions by the U.N Security Council. No, it’s Mexico, Latin America’s premier tourist destination where narco-trafficants are waging a merciless war against the authorities. Last week, the man appointed to fight that country’s drug cartels was assassinated in less than 24 hours on the job. Yet, Mexico does not figure among the list of the most dangerous places in the world, which includes Afghanistan, Haiti, Iraq and Pakistan. It makes one wonder what is the criterion that makes a country a dangerous place: religion, race, war, drug trafficking, or poverty index?
The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq explain these countries’ nomination to the infamous list. As for Pakistan, the government itself admits not being in control of a swath of territory bordering Afghanistan. Haiti, however, is another matter. That country has one the lowest crime rates per capita in the Western Hemisphere and, yet, since 2004, it has been branded “a threat to international peace and security” without the benefit of an explanation. To make matters worse, many Haitians, among them the country’s servile politicians, agree with this offensive label. This posture is not at all surprising as incompetence, apathy, and greed are the most conspicuous characteristics of Haitian politicians.
Succumbing to the arrogance and unrestrained power of the U.N Security Council may have been inescapable, but helping the occupiers implement their devious policies is immoral and could be avoided. Haiti’s occupation revolves around implementing three well-defined goals: protecting the interests of the predatory elite and international finance; establishing the mechanisms for a forced integration of the Haitian economy into the unforgiving orbit of neo-liberalism, preventing a popular uprising that could send hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing in all directions. While the first two goals were swiftly implemented, the third remains a question mark, as high unemployment, penury, famine, inflation, despair, and rampant crimes could easily undo the mission’s acclaimed successes, hence the emphasis on the word stability, which has become the gospel of U.N officials and the foreign media.
Although Hedi Annabi, the current overseer of the occupation, made it plain that the U.N does not have a development plan for Haiti and never will, Haitian politicians remain oblivious of the true nature of the occupation, which is a mixture of protecting vested interests and adopting preventive measures that have anything to do with the interests of the Haitian people. Therefore, it is absurd that this occupation is consistently portrayed in the foreign media as a mission of mercy, when its sinister purpose has been laid bare by none other than the U.N official in charge of administering it. The indifference shown by the international community to the victims of hurricanes Fay, Gustav, Hanna and Ike remains a testament to hypocrisy and cynicism, which is no less unforgivable than the apathy and duplicity of Haitian politicians.
After 5 years of occupation and despite the well-orchestrated propaganda campaign of MINUSTAH having liberated Haiti from tyranny and other man-made troubles, the facts on the ground could not be more contradictory. If anything, the country’s economic situation has deteriorated to the point where poorer Haitians are migrating to the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, and Jamaica, in search of better opportunities. More and more Haitian children are suffering from malnutrition and other diseases associated with poverty while the country has become more dependent on the largesse of capricious donors that use coercion, intimidation and repression to further their aims.
Based on these facts, isn’t it the time for a referendum on the occupation? Parliament should take the lead in enacting a bill requiring the government to organize a plebiscite on the matter no latter than three months after its passage. Such bill actually makes sense because the Haitian people would have the opportunity to identify who, among the legislators, are against or in favor of the occupation. As things stand now, the elected officials are hiding behind the fact that the occupation came about before they were elected, which theoretically immunizes them from charges of aiding and abetting the enemy. It is akin to thinking that Toussaint, Dessalines, Biassou and others were not obligated to get rid of slavery because they were born into it. To make matters worse, the Catholic Church, to which the majority of Haitians belongs, is acting as if Haiti’s torments are God-ordained while protestant churches and foreign missionaries are preaching the “gospel of resignation”. The destiny of the country cannot be subordinated to the interests of these impenitent collaborators, gospel of resignation’s peddlers, and arrogant foreigners. Getting paid by the Haitian people and doing the bidding of foreign interests is incompatible with the country’s needs to recover its sovereignty and move forward.
Ending the occupation is a moral obligation for all Haitians that revere the sacrifices of their indomitable ancestors. The current occupation of Haiti is analogous to the Spanish Conquistadors bringing civilization to the Indians in the 15th century in which the latter’s race was the determinant factor that led to their extermination. Unfortunately, it could happen again.