At an Oct. 17 UN Security Council meeting, world leaders discussed Haiti’s request for an international force to help the country end the violence sending it toward a total collapse.
Port-au-Prince — On the day the United Nations officially began considering sending an international armed force to Haiti, hundreds of Haitians took to the streets of the capital to commemorate the 216th anniversary of one of Haiti’s Heroes of Independence, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, using the significance of the observance to shout “no” to foreign troops.
“First, everything was under control,” said Samuel Jules, a Delmas resident who sees the international community’s involvement as a ploy.
“Then in less than two weeks, the same government made a request for military aid,” Jules said. “Already, American military ships have arrived. It seems that the international community was just waiting for this call to come to desecrate the Haitian soil.”
With placards decrying intervention and a character actor dressed up in a Dessalines costume rode on a horse, the marchers streamed down roads from Cité Soleil through Delmas and Pétion-ville.
Meanwhile, the Oct. 17 UN Security Council status meeting on Haiti took place, moved up from Oct. 21 due to the urgency after Haiti’s Prime Minister Ariel Henry and 18 officials requested last week “the immediate deployment” of a specialized armed force to stop armed gangs across the country. The meeting followed a series of intervention activities topped by the arrival of a US Coast Guard cutter to patrol Port-au-Prince’s shores.
During the meeting, the organization’s member states looked at the specialized joint force idea along with several other options proposed by UN Secretary-General António Guterres.
“This deployment of international forces would ensure the free flow of water, fuel, food and medical supplies from major ports and airports to communities and health care facilities,” Guterres said via his letter to the council. “Once again, the most vulnerable sectors of the Haitian population are the most affected and the priority of the international community must be to save lives.”
In a report Gutteres detailed some of the violent scenes committed by armed gangs in Haiti. He recounted gruesome atrocities perpetreted by these gangs including one in which a woman was sexually assaulted on top of her husband corps in front of her three children. After the crime, the criminals set the house on fire.
Other countries, however, have already expressed reservations about committing troops once more to Haiti. Notably China and Russia have said they are cautious given the bad reputation of foreign missions in Haiti that have never achieved the framework set by the U.N.
“Do you believe that a hastily drafted document, once approved by the Security Council, will magically rid Haiti of all its problems,” Polyansky asked. “Sanctions must not become an obstacle to the provision of socio-economic assistance to the country, nor stifle the seeds of the national political process.”
As for the military intervention of the international community, the two countries wonder if such a force will be accepted by the local political parties and the population.
Reactions mixed about foreign troops on Haitian soil
The prevailing, though not unanimous, sentiment against intervention appears to be most acute in political and activist circles. One third of the senate and political parties in the Montana Accord have condemned the request and called for Henry’s resignation.
Some, like Jules, have said Haiti’s crises are a ploy to draw in foreign forces in the first place.
“In our opinion, is it really to secure the country that the international community wants at all costs to send soldiers to Haiti,” Jules asks. “We the ‘bossales’, we say in the face of this military intervention: freedom or death.”
While the majority of vocal Haitians are against intervention, a few people have said assistance from abroad seems sensible.
Jean Gardy Forge, radio host and member of the Mouvement Cri du Sud or Call for the South Movement, blames the crisis on the current government and the political opposition parties’ inability to offer any alternative plans, “while people have continued to die from insecurity.”
“Today, we must stop the hypocrisy and let the white [people] come and put an end to the insecurity,” Forge said. “Truth be told, I’m putting off my nationalist clothes so that I can find some peace to be able to move around so that hunger doesn’t kill me.”