As anti-government protests rage on in Haiti, 5 American military veterans reportedly in possession of automatic weapons, pistols, satellite phones and drones have been arrested.
The revelation is striking within the context of anti-corruption protests that have gripped the nation, leaving multiple people dead. The protests have targeted President Jovenel Moise who stands accused of misappropriating development loans made by Venezuela to Haiti after 2008. He has allegedly done this whilst 60% of the population live on less than $2 (£1.53) a day.
Yet the protests also are reported to have had a distinct anti-American imperialist shade. Flags of the United States have been burned in the streets and protesters have alleged that Moise is a puppet of Washington. Head of the protest group Bronson told reporters, “We would like to declare a complete split-up with the US, we are fed up with the American occupation, we can’t tolerate it anymore”
The claims and qualms of the Haitian demonstrators do have credence and not just from the revelation that there are armed Americans on the island. In 2004 right wing paramilitaries, trained by the United States military, overthrew liberation theologian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide in a brutal and bloody coup. The coup was led by head death squad director Guy Phillipe who is currently imprisoned after being found guilty of taking bribes from drug smugglers.
US meddling in Haiti is however, nothing new. The US, albeit slightly begrudgingly, backed and financially supported the despotic regime of François “Papa Doc” Duvalier who acted as a viscous bulwark against communism. The tyrant made clear his anti communist credentials stating…
“Communism has established centres of infection . . . No area in the world is as vital to American security as the Caribbean . . . We need a massive injection of money to reset the country on its feet, and this injection can come only from our great, capable friend and neighbour the United States.”
Papa Doc embarked on this anti-communist crusade through the use of the notoriously heinous murder squad known as the Tonton Macoute, which has a near mythical presence due to their directorship from Vodou leaders. It is believed that 60,000 Haitians were murdered in acts of state terror that received financial support from the US. The extermination squad became infamous for their public displays of their murdered victims as a warning to Haitian society.
Intervention by the American war machine goes back even further than the regime of Papa Doc. From 1915 to 1934, US military forces occupied Haiti fearing that anti-American sentiment in the country endangered US economic imperial interests, especially the Haitian American Sugar Company. US president Woodrow Wilson, who ironically made a famous speech listing the right to self-determination as an essential term for peace, wished to destroy the Haitian constitution and replace it with one that guaranteed American financial control.
America, it seems, has always had a vested interest in Haiti. It is highly unlikely with the current instability that the US would refrain from involvement in the nations politics. The discovery of armed white foreigners in a different land harks back to the plots of neo-fascists in the 1980 Bolivian Cocaine Coup, the 1981 “Bayou of Pigs” Operation Red Dog and the 1994 Bophuthatswana crisis. With protests showing no signs of stopping and anti-American sentiment gaining traction, the meddling of the American Empire in Haitian affairs cannot be discounted. For history has shown that the US is ingrained in the very roots of Haitian politics.
Sam Glasper is TPN’s foreign affairs commentator and studies at Manchester Metropolitain University.