The future is Haiti’s to build: end US/UN occupation!

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If the Jan. 12 earthquake was a “natural” disaster, salt was nature’s primary weapon — ground into Haiti’s wounds by centuries of exploitation, first from plantation slavery and then capitalist plunder.

France and the United States quite deliberately impoverished Haiti. But they have never been able to quash the fighting spirit of a people who accomplished history’s only successful slave rebellion and established the world’s first Black republic, in 1804.

Today, Haiti’s recovery from the earthquake and its revival of revolutionary power depends on worker-to-worker material and political help, as Haitians rekindle their long-standing political fight against outside exploiters. Critical in that effort is for working-class movements in the imperialist centers to do everything possible to keep the exploiters at bay.

History’s brutal blows. The slave rebellion led by Toussaint L’Ouverture and the 12-year war of independence under Dessalines defeated the three colonial armies of France, England and Spain. Still, French warships extracted a staggering amount of “reparations.” Over the course of a century, former slaves and their descendants paid 70 percent of their national revenues to France, the former enslaver! The U.S. Congress banned trade with the island nation, ganging up with French, Spanish and Portuguese boycotts. In fact, the Republic of Haiti has been blasted by crippling economic blockades in various forms ever since.

The U.S. has always wanted to be sole power in the Western Hemisphere. After defeating Spain and seizing Cuba in 1898, this government targeted Haiti. U.S. troops occupied the country from 1915 to 1934, imposed on Haitians the infamous and despised Duvalier dictatorships from 1957 to 1986, and orchestrated the ouster of democratically elected Bertrand Aristide in 1991 and again in 2004. Since Aristide’s exile, U.S. dirty work has been carried out by Brazilian and Argentina-led U.N. troops (MINUSTAH). And now? More troops, under the pretext of directing a humanitarian mission. They occupied the airport, seaports, and other key logistical places. Doctors Without Borders and others soon found out who was in charge, as their planes carrying medical relief supplies were kept from landing.

No social good has ever come from these interventions. With the U.S. leading the pack, imperialist countries have looted Haiti of rich natural resources, privatized public industries out of existence, attacked labor unions and engorged on the profits from near-slave labor.

It was precisely this intentional impoverishment and criminal lack of earthquake-safe infrastructure that rendered Haiti so vulnerable to the ravages of the Jan. 12 earthquake in the first place.

What Haiti needs. Haiti does not need foreign troops. Or capitalist controlled aid. Or 10,000 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from the U.S. to run their country. It needs tons of food, potable water, medicines, and shelters, and local power over its immediate distribution.

Its long-term needs are just as vital. The country must have high-quality seismic monitoring and earthquake resistant engineering. The technology exists. The hundreds of millions of dollars spent on military occupation by the U.S. and U.N. should instead be used for these social needs.

Haiti needs medical clinics and hospitals, and long-term care for the thousands of amputees. It needs to train generations of doctors, nurses, and health care workers. The imperialist governments can pay for these necessities by taxing their health insurance and pharmaceutical corporations. And the U.S. could follow Cuba’s lead and offer free medical education to Haitian students.

The U.S. and all the countries and major banks in our hemisphere should follow Venezuela’s lead in canceling Haiti’s suffocating foreign debt. Two-thirds of this $1.3 billion debt is owed to agencies like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. They must wipe out this smothering economic burden, inflicted by their high-interest loans in the first place.

Haitian workers must get good wages. There is plenty of work to provide full employment! But those wishing to leave must have unrestricted entry into the United States, and Haitians already here must be allowed to stay without fear of deportation.

How to help. The Freedom Socialist Party (FSP) in the United States and various members of the Revolutionary International Current (CIR) and International Workers Unity (UIT) in Latin America issued a joint declaration of solidarity in support of a recovery rooted in real workers’ democracy.

“We denounce the maneuvers of the super powers and their puppet governments,” the declaration reads, “for taking advantage of the current calamity to increase their military occupation of Haiti, with the excuse of offering humanitarian aid.” The declaration has been translated into Spanish and Creole, and is being distributed in Port-au-Prince. (Read the full text of the declaration here in English or Spanish.)

The Harlem branches of FSP and Radical Women raised $1,100, which has already been caravanned to Haiti by Liga Socialista de los Trabajadores of the Dominican Republic. FSP raised $1,666 at its Black History events in several cities, entitled “The Myth of a Post-Racial Society.” Readers can donate through the website. New York Radical Women has helped coordinate contributions to Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees (contact for more information).

From New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina to the shocks and after-shocks of the Enriquillo fault line in Port-au-Prince, capitalism offers nothing but racism, deprivation and abominable hypocrisy. U.S. workers, women, youth, and students support these same forces in Haiti who strive to rebuild the country through grassroots, democratic structures. Our job is to oppose and expose imperialist interference in a free nation whose revolution, says CLR James, author of the seminal book on Haiti, The Black Jacobins, was of greater historical significance than the American or French revolutions.

Open the borders to Haitian immigrants!

U.S. and U.N. troops out of Haiti!

Defend Haitians’ right to self-determination!

For worker-to-worker solidarity with Haiti!

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