By Rachel Foster
On July 7, unidentified mercenaries posing as DEA agents entered the house of Haitian president Jovenal Moïse and shot him 16 times, killing him. The assassination comes in the context of Haiti’s deepening economic and political crisis compounded by the Coronavirus pandemic, as well as mass protests against Moïse’s presidency, which have included armed anti-government factions in the cities. Haiti’s prime minister, Claude Joseph, has declared a state of siege and requested military intervention from both the US and the United Nations (UN).
Moïse was a capitalist mainly known for exporting bananas and owned several companies. Elected president in 2016, the exact end date of his five-year term was under dispute between competing factions of the bourgeoisie. The opposition claims his term ended this past February, but Moïse refused to abdicate. He predicted coup and assassination attempts shortly before his death.
Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the Western hemisphere, with 60% of its people under the poverty line. It has been firmly under the thumb of US imperialism ever since the US directly occupied the country from 1915 to 1934. The US, assisted by the UN, has cycled between military interventions, economic sanctions, and conditional ‘aid’ to keep the country under its economic and political domination. As a result, the country suffers from high inflation, unemployment, a lack of basic resources and a host of other problems.
The last 13 years have seen recurrent crises and mass protests in Haiti. Mass protests started in 2008, caused by food shortages, a cholera outbreak, and a farcical round of elections. In 2010, a magnitude 7.0 earthquake devastated the country, followed by Hurricane Matthew in 2016, with the disastrous government responses to both leading to further rebellion. Since 2018, there have been periodic protests, initially caused by rising fuel prices which later escalated into political struggle against Moïse’s increasingly reactionary rule.
In response to the current political crisis in Haiti, US imperialism seeks to portray itself as the bringer of order and democracy to the country. In fact, the continued super-exploitation of Haitian labor and theft of natural resources by the US and other imperialists, aided by their political lackeys in the Haitian ruling class, are the source of the misery of the Haitian people. The US uses brute military force to achieve its aims in the country, as it did in the 2004 coup against President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
The monopoly media has circulated numerous articles in the wake of Moïse’s assassination, pondering how stability and order can be restored to the country after military occupations and ‘humanitarian aid’ have been an abject failure. They have promoted vague answers like finding a way to dispense aid without it going into the pockets of government officials or ‘developing’ its economy through more imperialist trade.
Haiti was the first Latin American country to achieve independence from European colonialism after escaped slaves led and won a revolutionary war against France in 1804. In the past decade, Haiti has seen a heroic resistance of the people against their ruling class who sell out the country to US imperialism. By taking this further to carry out a new democratic revolution, targeting the entire system of imperialist domination and the landlord-bureaucratic state that upholds it, they can liberate themselves from the exploitation at the root of their misery.
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