Exploiting Haiti through the Global Fragility Act

Port-au-Prince, Haiti, June 19, 2023 — Mother feeding her baby, among more than 165,000 homeless Haitians beset by gang violence, government corruption and hurricane disasters, in a city of nearly three million people. PHOTO: Ralph Tedy Erol / Reuters
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The United States has had its claws in Haiti for a century and isn’t about to let go. Foreign domination has destroyed this Caribbean country, the first Black republic in the Western Hemisphere, established by a slave uprising in 1804. Today, a deeply broken Haiti is at the top of the list for reinvasion and reoccupation by a new U.S. plot — the Global Fragility Act, passed by Congress in 2019.

U.S. priority? Shield assets. This country has always treated Haiti like a colony. Its low-wage sweatshops produce garments for Walmart and Target. These are Haiti’s principal exports. Overseas mining corporations rob the island’s natural resources. Since local agriculture and industry were destroyed by free-market capitalism, vendors now flood Haiti with American oil, crops, and manufactured goods. Heads of state are chosen by neo-colonial rulers from abroad.

With the global reach of Russia and China advancing, Washington wants to keep these competitors from gaining a foothold in “its” territories, especially in the nearby Caribbean. Haiti is the first test for a new act passed in 2019 designed to keep subjugated nations under Uncle Sam’s thumb and the U.S. as top economic dog. The Global Fragility Act (GFA) targets the most vulnerable nations. Couched in humanitarian terms, it promises a new approach that prioritizes “partnering” with Haitian civilians, to “stabilize conflict-affected areas and prevent violence and fragility.” It emphasizes diplomacy and improved coordination between agencies.

But the real intent is to intensify private enterprise and collude with development banks that provide loans to wannabe capitalists. GFA safeguards local government leaders who are friendly to U.S. capitalism. It provides for economic sanctions to control oppositionist Haitians. It also grants funds for the corrupt Haitian National Police (HNP) and opens the door to foreign military actions.

Haitians’ grim existence. Haiti, long the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, is struggling under disastrous conditions. Armed gangs rule many neighborhoods in the capital, Port-au-Prince. Cultivated by the political elite to intimidate rivals and deliver votes, these thugs now rape, kidnap, and murder to control city roads, bus services, and utilities. The infrastructure has been devastated by earthquakes and floods. Many areas have no electricity, running water or fuel. Famine and cholera stalk the land. Economic collapse threatens as factories close, and the youthful population flees the country.

The government is dysfunctional. There are no elected representatives. The reviled prime minister, Ariel Henry, rules in the interests of the rich and overlords who appointed him. They’re named the Core Group — an international coalition of foreign overseers from the U.S., Canada, France, Germany, Spain, Brazil, and the United Nations! Henry rules through paramilitary squads and gangs that work with the police.

Using gang violence as a justification, the White House is building a case for reoccupation. Its agent, Ariel Henry, has called for foreign intervention. In October 2022, Mexico and the U.S. presented a resolution to the United Nations Security Council for a “multilateral effort” to deploy a “rapid action force.” Tied up with the war in Ukraine, Washington, D.C., is pressuring Canada or Brazil to head up the effort. So far there are no takers. However, both Canada and the U.S. are sending weapons and armored vehicles to the despised Haitian National Police (HNP). The United Nations has called for international “peacekeepers” to bolster the HNP.

Haiti for Haitians. In the spirit of their revolutionary slave ancestors, Haitians are fighting back. On the streets, inhabitants have taken up machetes to fight the armored gangs and paramilitary squads. Frequent mass protests call for the resignation of Ariel Henry. On occasion, a Chinese flag is flown as an anti-U.S. statement.

There is renewed union activism in the garment industry. Maquiladoras have been downsizing or closing shop, some because of the chaos in the country. In one case, a plant shuttered overnight, the owners absconding with workers’ wages and severance pay. Labor protest won them a settlement. Then, an industry-wide strike in 2022 led to a modest wage increase for the absurdly low-paid workers who are struggling with steep inflation.

As an “Open letter to President Joe Biden” posted at haitiwatch.org in 2021 states: “The Haitian people [are] leading a legitimate fight for radical change of the political, economic, and social in favor of the disadvantaged popular masses, opposing the mafia system setup to only guarantee the imperialist powers, multinational corporations, and corrupt local elites’ interests.”

Given that American policy is responsible for the dire conditions that Haitians are fleeing, the Biden administration’s persecution of refugees is appalling. More than 25,000 Haitians have been deported since Biden took office. Racism fuels the degrading treatment of these migrants. And new rules on immigration will only compound this bigotry. (See “Biden’s new brutal immigration policies.”)

Justice requires that Americans denounce the imperialistic cruelty of the U.S. government and support the will of the Haitian people, in Haiti and in this country. Haitians must have control of their lives and their nation. Human rights activists should mobilize in solidarity with the descendants of the bold freedom fighters who abolished slavery on this island.

Support these demands from the Haiti Action Committee:

  • No to U.S. and U.N. military intervention in Haiti
  • U.S. stop supporting Ariel Henry in Haiti
  • U.S. stop funding/training Haitian national police
  • U.S. stop deporting Haitian refugees
  • End U.S./ U.N. occupation of Haiti!
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