Haiti

There is a manmade element to the catastrophe confronting Haitians. The country doesn’t just happen to be poor; it has been made poor and kept poor. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, with the worst infrastructure and a people most vulnerable to disaster and disease, because of the machinations of imperialism. Although the earthquake could not be avoided, the scale of death and destruction clearly could have been avoided.

In the face of mass demonstrations against the fraud in Haiti’s elections the Provisional Electoral Council of Haiti has been forced to declare René Préval the winner and the next president of Haiti. The masses have come out onto the streets in celebration, justifiably jubilant and euphoric at their victory. However, these elections have solved none of the problems the Haitian masses face, and the reactionary opposition has not been completely defeated. What is needed now is determination and vigilance against the forces of counter-revolution.

Mass demonstrations have erupted in Haiti over the manipulation of the results of last week's election. René Préval, the front runner, and the choice of the overwhelming majority of the Haitian people, has seen his percentage of the votes fall from as high as 65% to 48%, just under the 50% needed to avoid a run off. The vote tallies are clearly being manipulated and the Haitian people have had enough.

After 12 years of upheavals, war, carnage and betrayals, the revolution which broke open in 1791 in Saint-Domingue finally succeeded in abolishing slavery and achieved independence in Haiti. This revolution was the consequence and the prolongation of the French Revolution. Its successive stages, marked by numerous shocks and turnarounds, was largely determined by the flux and reflux of the French Revolution.

Eight months after the overthrow of Jean Bertrand Aristide and the occupation of Haiti by UN troops, the puppet regime of Gerard Latortue has shown its true colours. The mass media claim that gangs of Aristide supporters from the slums are attacking the Haitian police and UN forces. In reality these “terrorists” are the poor and working class supporters of former president Aristide who are fighting back against mounting repression and reprisals from the coup-installed government.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell paid a visit to Haiti yesterday, Monday April 5, in an attempt to legitimize the new regime and stop the spread of instability in the region caused by the coup that overthrew Jean-Bertrand Aristide at the end of February. His visit, if anything, has further inflamed the situation and will only lead to further instability.

Jean-Bertrand Aristide stepped down as President and left Haiti early in the morning on Sunday February 29. Shortly thereafter the US announced that it was sending in marines to help 'stabilize' the country and make way for a UN 'peacekeeping' force. The UN Security Council also decided that it will send a multi-national 'peacekeeping force' for at least three months as well as a 'stabilizing force' that it will send later in the year. These developments clearly demonstrate the reactionary role played by US imperialism in the region and far from solving the crisis in Haiti it is setting the stage for further unrest and instability in the whole area.

Haiti celebrated the 200th anniversary of its independence on January 1, 2004. The history of Haiti is a long history of colonial struggle against imperialism and has recently been the scene of deep political and social unrest. It is not yet clear what the outcome of the situation in Haiti will be, what is clear however, is that the workers and peasants of Haiti can only rely on themselves to solve the problems they face.