COLUMN: Haitians are revolting against a US-backed dictator

The Biden Administration is deporting hundreds of people to Haiti despite growing humanitarian crises.

Noah Wright is a sophomore constitutional democracy major at MU. They are an opinion columnist who writes about politics for The Maneater.

The people of Haiti are engaged in mass protests against U.S.-backed President Jovenel Moise. Moise claims his presidential term did not end on Feb. 7, a move declared unconstitutional by the Haitian Bar Federation, the Superior Council of Judicial Power and civil activists. The Biden Administration’s State Department has chosen to support this claim.

Moise has engaged in several authoritarian moves including dismissing the Haitian Congress and every mayor in the country, ruling by presidential decree for over a year and jailing political dissidents earlier this month. He is currently attempting to amend the Haitian constitution to allow consecutive presidential terms and further consolidate power. The National Network for the Defence of Human Rights, a respected Port-au-Prince based organization, has also accused the Moise administration of collaborating with Haitian street gangs in order to retain power through violence and terror.

Haitians have taken to the streets and shut down much of the country’s economy in protest of Moise’s unconstitutional actions and, more broadly, against foreign interference from the United States, United Nations and other western powers. Protestors targeted the U.N. Integrated Office in Haiti, calling for the removal of its director Helen Meagher La Lime who has continued the U.N.’s unflinching support for Moise’s dictatorship.

In addition to the political crisis, Haitians are suffering from mass unemployment, a 60% national poverty rate, the pandemic and the lingering effects of historic natural disasters, such as the 2010 earthquake and Hurricane Matthew in 2016. Despite this turmoil, the Biden administration has deported approximately 900 Haitian migrants seeking asylum, including pregnant women, children and families.

Despite the fact that Haiti has far fewer COVID-19 cases than the U.S., Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are deporting asylum seekers under the public health rule Title 42. This policy allows the U.S. to halt the entry of people or goods into the country under the premise of health concerns. Furthering this cruel hypocrisy, ICE has stated that they will not be testing deportees for COVID-19 before sending them back.

To understand Haiti’s humanitarian crisis and why the U.S. and its allies continue to back its authoritarian leader, one must look to history.

The story of the Haitian people is one of strength and resilience against European exploitation. The indigenous population was decimated in the early days of colonization, causing France to kidnap and enslave Africans to work on the island instead. From 1791 to 1804 enslaved Haitians led the most successful slave revolt in history, becoming the world’s first Black Republic and the second nation in the Western Hemisphere to gain independence.

Colonizers, however, continued to colonize. The U.S. engaged in a military occupation of the country from 1915 to 1934, changed its constitution and wrestled control of Haitian finances into western hands. Since then, the U.S. has continued to back puppet regimes of right-wing dictators that open up the country to foreign investors, allowing the exploitation of Haitian workers on the behalf of multinational corporations.

Haiti is a land of rich natural resources such as oil, gold and copper, yet the majority of its people live in unbelievable poverty. It is yet another example of how modern colonialism and capitalism work. The wealth of the west is a result of theft through violent conquest. It continues to grow through the exploitation of the global south, primarily from the labor of Black people and other people of color living in these “third-world” regions.

Systemic problems require systemic solutions. Capitalism was built on and depends on the racist exploitation of poor workers around the world. In short, the financial situation of countries like Haiti will not improve until the system is destroyed and reparations are paid. Until that day of liberation for the colonized people of the world, those of us in imperial nations like the U.S. must be unrelenting with our solidarity.

We must put pressure on the Biden administration to halt its cruel deportations of asylum seekers and end its support for the Moise dictatorship. Additionally, we can support the Haitian people through direct mutual aid and by raising awareness about the crises facing them.

Decolonization is a long process. The burden is on us, the beneficiaries of colonization, to end it. The status quo is inherently violent, and we must have the courage to face it. _As part of our commitment to social justice initiatives, we at The Maneater encourage you to consider making a donation to Haiti Communitere, a community organization in Port-au-Prince providing housing and healthcare resources for Haitians. The link to donate is https://www.omprakash.org/global/haiti-communitere/donate

Edited by Sofi Zeman | szeman@themaneater.com

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