The Gender Security Project
Say “No” to Foreign Intervention in Haiti to Kill our People: We Stand Ready for Peaceful Transition
By Harvey Dupiton
Mothers wait with their children to be vaccinated at a UNFPA-supported hospital in southern Haiti. Credit: UNFPA/Ralph Tedy Erol
An unrelenting series of crises has trapped vulnerable Haitians in a cycle of growing desperation, without access to food, fuel, markets, jobs and public services, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) warned last week.
Talks of an inevitable U.S. military intervention in Haiti are brewing within diplomatic circles. Without any constitutional or legal authority, our Haitian de facto government gave the green light for special forces to be sent to Haiti to combat our poor people-forgotten, jobless, left with no other choice for survival but the gang violence and insurrection ravaging the country.
The last time the Haitian community was misled into the proposition of a surgical strike, as it was called, under the guise of assistance, was in 1994, 28 years ago. Our Haitian president at that time was the culprit behind that betrayal of our constitution.
At his urging, the U.S. led 20,000 American troops into our sovereign land supposedly to uphold a fledgling democracy, but instead resulting in the dismantlement of our Haitian military and the breakdown of our society.
Our Haitian president said the U.S.-led invasion was to be a quick fix. However, let us not forget that this military operation violated our constitution and the United Nations Charter. The mission quickly became a prolonged United Nations peacekeeping and peacebuilding operation.
Twenty-eight years later, our country is in ruins like never before, right under the surveillance of the United Nations. Our Haiti of today has become a country of beggars, where the government is entirely at the mercy of foreign assistance.
There are no viable institutions left; the political establishment in Haiti exists only on paper as shell organizations, with a parliament out of commission and a powerless judiciary branch. Even more alarming is that the replacement police force to the military is overrun and in despair, having ceded control to violent street gangs.
Those of us in the diaspora want to help our country. Still, this reminds us of another failed nation-building experiment in Afghanistan. There is a lesson to be learned in all of this. Democracy can neither be interrupted nor forced upon a country.
These days, it is with shame that we admit to our African friends and our neighbors from Cuba how we have failed our country, each of us living in the diaspora, simply by our inaction. To them, Haiti, having gained its independence over 218 years ago, was a beacon of hope for the enslaved.
It would be foolish to think that Haiti’s problems are simply that of the gangs. Our Haitian leaders are responsible for the carnage and violence in the streets. They will do anything to get into office. Yet, these wannabe leaders cannot deliver as promised, often betraying the public’s trust, and pointing the finger of blame to absolve themselves of their failings.
We have been failed and disappointed so many times by our leaders of late. Haitians are fed up with their leadership and the broken political system that brought them to power. Today, people are taking to the streets to say enough is enough.
The majority are young people under the age of 25. They are ready to die at the hands of foreign troops, if need be, to take their country back. Haitians are resilient and are willing to pay the price with their lives. Behind the crime of opportunity, they commit in the absence of a law-and- order government, these are ordinary citizens who have been marginalized if not totally abandoned, and left disillusioned.
We call for solidarity to say no to the proposed intervention in Haiti.
We condemn the Haitian de Facto government for inviting foreign troops into our homeland against our people. We view this as an act of cowards, which is shameful, unpatriotic, and treasonous.
We, at United Nations Association Haiti, represented by the diaspora, are ready to provide the transition leadership our country desperately needs to get out of this crisis and beyond.
Our action plan is threefold:
• On the question of security stabilization, a more peaceful approach to a forceful intervention would instead involve honest discussions with those occupying the streets. If they are not the chief problem behind the senseless violence and the terrorizing kidnappings, then they must be part of the solution.
• Secondly, to address the concern of food security, we propose massive relief assistance as the centerpiece of our community engagement strategy. There are enough resources within our diaspora community to do without begging.
• Lastly, on the most critical issue of future elections, we are prepared to take a different and unique approach to make fundamental adjustments to our democratic system, which might alleviate the chronic political instability seen in Haiti and throughout the African continent.
We seek to find answers from the science driving our elections in the last 36 years. 1987 was the year we adopted a new electoral law. It was a significant piece of legislation that officialized our departure from dictatorship and military-backed ruling to a new democratic order.
Somewhere along that reversal of order lies the fault lines that explains why our elections since, look more like the reality TV show, American Idol, than a construct grounded in institutional checks and balances.
Haiti can no longer afford divisiveness but must embrace a path to stability and institutional norms. To get our next election right, Haitians may be required to welcome amends wherever necessary to achieve a democratic process that reconciles popular will with stakeholder confidence.
We call on the Haitian community and all friends of Haiti to work with us. This is our opportunity to take our country back. This is your chance to be actively involved in the major decisions of your country.
We call on the United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, to respect the sovereignty of Haiti. There is no justification for intervention. There is not a Responsibility to Protect (R2P) a de facto government from its own people.
We seek a peaceful solution for our country and the Haitian people. That is the Future We Want. That is the future we should all deserve.
We stand ready to provide the leadership Haitians will trust to emerge out of this stalemate and move our nation forward united.
It is time to right the wrongs.
Harvey Dupiton is President, United Nations Association Haiti (NY); Chair, NGO Committee on Private Sector Development (ECOSOC NGOs); and former UN Press Correspondent, NTS News (Haiti)
This post first appeared on IPS News.