By Haiti Action Committee
The following is a statement issued by the Haiti Action Committee on March 2, 2019, in support of the Haitian people’s struggle for human rights and democracy in their own country. Fighting Words is publishing this statement in solidarity and support of the Haitian people.
We, the undersigned, stand in full solidarity with the struggle of the Haitian people for human rights and democracy. We salute them for their courageous resistance on the streets, facing teargas, bullets, torture, and extrajudicial killings by the corrupt regime of Jovenel Moise and Jean-Henri Ceant. On the 15th anniversary of the U.S.-backed coup in Haiti, we join our Haitian brothers and sisters in demanding the uprooting of this regime and the restoration of genuine democracy. We denounce the U.S. government — together with the U.N. occupation forces in Haiti — for installing and maintaining this regime. We demand an immediate end to U.S. and U.N. support for the repression of the people’s movement in Haiti.
The U.S. government has a long history of sabotaging the struggle of the Haitian people for democracy and human rights. The U.S. government opposed the Haitian revolution and supported the French government’s punishing extraction of “restitution” from the Haitian people after they declared independence from France in 1804. Between 1915 and 1934, the U.S. government militarily occupied Haiti, consolidating its neo-colonial domination over the country. From the 1950s through the 1980s, the U.S. government propped up the Duvalier dictatorships that kept Haiti “open for (U.S.) business.” Then, after the people of Haiti successfully struggled to establish democracy, the U.S. government supported two violent coups against the elected governments of Jean Bertrand Aristide — the first in 1991 and the second in 2004. Since the 2004 coup, the U.S. government — joined by the French and Canadian governments, euphemistically referred to as the “international community” — has played a key role in facilitating the military and political occupation of Haiti by U.N. forces. These occupation forces have committed/ perpetrated gross human rights violations. During this period, thousands of Haitians, particularly those associated with the popular, grassroots “Lavalas” movement for democracy — have been killed or subjected to horrific conditions of incarceration as political prisoners.
The most recent regime installed by the U.S. government is that of Jovenel Moise, swept into power in the November, 2016 elections orchestrated under U.N. occupation and sponsored by the U.S. government. Despite overwhelming evidence of fraud, the U.S. government immediately heralded the elections as legitimate and proceeded to lavish the regime with financial and diplomatic support while U.N. forces have trained its brutal police. Braving tear gas, bullets, and torture, the Haitian people took to the streets, protesting these fraudulent elections in mass demonstrations that occurred on a daily basis. This past summer, the demonstrations exploded into a general strike across the entire island, protesting the regime’s involvement in the Petrocaribe scandal, its brazen looting of public funds, and the deepening immiseration of the population. To stifle the people’s movement, the regime has relied upon targeted assassinations of student activists, massacres, and repression by foreign mercenaries.
Despite these tactics, the people’s movement has only continued to build, culminating in massive protests throughout this February. “Chavire chodyè a” (overturn the cauldron) has become a slogan of the movement, demanding not only the resignation of Jovenel Moise, but an uprooting of the entire, corrupt system. As Fanmi Lavalas — the political party of the poor majority and the leading force in the pro-democracy movement — put it in a press statement, “Crisis and Resolution,” issued on November 15th, 2018:
The population is rejecting the usurpers who have derived their power from the fraudulent elections and who have discredited themselves with multiple scandals involving corruption and impunity….Fanmi Lavalas Political Organization continues to stand firmly with the Haitian people to “chavire chodyè a” (overturn the cauldron). No cosmetic solution will bring an effective and lasting solution to the crisis in which we are plunged. This system has run its course. It cannot be patched up. It must be changed.
In place of this regime and system of power, the people’s movement is demanding the formation of a progressive interim government that can clean up corruption, stop impunity, regain the missing Petrocaribe funds, invest in public infrastructure and alleviate suffering, as well organize truly fair and free elections.
This is a crucial moment for all who care about human rights to stand in solidarity with the people of Haiti. This requires both supporting their dynamic struggle for national liberation and pressuring the U.S. government/U.N. occupation forces to stop violating Haitian sovereignty. Solidarity also requires overcoming the blockade on real information about the struggle in Haiti. When the corporate media bothers to focus on Haiti at all, in the absence of a natural disaster, it provides distorted and limited coverage that frequently perpetuates racist stereotypes. Moreover, progressive media outlets and organizations all too often ignore Haiti. Such marginalization of the struggle in Haiti is particularly inexcusable given the centrality of the Haitian revolution and the Haitian people in supporting liberation efforts throughout the Americas, from Simon Bolivar’s struggle to the abolitionist movement in the U.S. Together, we join with the Haitian people in affirming that “tout moun se moun!” We salute them for their courage and will demonstrate — through our words and actions — that they do not struggle alone.
Haiti Action Committee, March 2, 2019
You don’t extinguish a flood. You can try to hold it back, to dam it up, but dams break and the flood moves on greater than ever.