Charnette Frederic and Marleine Bastien | Haitian Diaspora strongly opposes military intervention
T his is an open letter to President of United States Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken from the National Haitian-American Elected Officials Network and leading Haitian-American Civil Society Organization FANM. The Haitian Diaspora vehemently opposes the proposed military intervention that aims to strengthen a corrupt and illegitimate government, which foments gang violence in Haiti.
Dear President Biden and Secretary Blinken,
The National Haitian American Elected Officials Network (NHAEON) and Family Action Network Movement (FANM) in Action write to strongly oppose your administration’s proposed international military intervention in Haiti. Any military intervention supporting Haiti’s corrupt, repressive, unelected regime will likely exacerbate its current political crisis to a catastrophic one. It will further entrench the regime, deepening Haiti’s political crisis while generating significant civilian casualties and migration pressure. If the US is genuinely interested in stabilising the political situation to avoid a catastrophic humanitarian crisis in Haiti, it will start by ceasing to prop up the corrupt government and allow the emergence of a consensus transitional government with the legitimacy to decide how the international community can contribute.
The current unconstitutional de facto government, led by Prime Minister Ariel Henry, has been ineffective and inept in governing and providing basic security to protect vulnerable Haitians. This regime has dismantled Haiti’s democratic structures while facilitating and conceding control of the country to many gang leaders. The PHTK governments did not run a fair or timely election. They have created a prevalent culture of corruption that deprives the government of the necessary funds to support the Haiti National Police and provide basic governmental services to the Haitian population. At least 21 Haitian officials linked to the PHTK Party face international sanctions for corruption or ongoing gang violence in Haiti.
Harvard Law School and several Haitian human rights groups concluded in their 2021 study that many Haitian government officials have colluded with allied gangs to attack opposition neighbourhoods, and their constant attacks have contributed significantly to widespread and politically motivated gang violence that constitutes crimes against humanity. For example, many gangs are currently operating in Haiti and controlling the country with the support of PHTK officials. The gang operations have displaced over 150,000 people due to their constant violence. PHTK corruption has looted Haiti’s entire economy: inflation has exceeded 20 per cent for three years, and over half of all Haitians face hunger, including over 100,000 children facing severe malnutrition. As a result, many capable and vulnerable Haitians are fleeing the country to avoid political persecution.
REJECTION OF DE FACTO REGIME
A letter from at least 60 Haitian organisations and individuals to the African Union urges the rejection of the de facto regime’s call for assistance from the international community to send foreign forces to Haiti. Many Haitians oppose any foreign intervention, and such a proposal is unlikely to gain any popular support to pursue gangs entrenched in neighbourhoods affiliated with the de facto regime. They will likely engage in significant firefights in hostile, densely packed urban neighbourhoods, leading to significant civilian casualties.
The US must immediately stop propping up the unconstitutional de facto regime to stabilise Haiti’s current political crisis and encourage the building of a consensus government to move Haiti toward embracing a democratic process. Dr Ariel Henry came to power not through a democratic process but through a declaration by the Core Group, which the US leads. The State Department insists that Dr Henry must be part of any transitional government. Dr Henry has used the US’s indifference to clinch power and continues to veto any proposed consensus to create an inclusive transitional government without him. The State Department continues to promote Dr Henry’s December 21 accord as a viable path forward, even though not a single political party won more than one per cent in the last elections, and the accord is broadly rejected as another unconstitutional power grab for the PHTK. If your administration were to withdraw its support for Dr Henry, he would have been forced to negotiate with Haitian civil society and other groups toward a peaceful solution to Haiti’s current political crisis.
We are confident that, given a chance, our brothers and sisters in Haiti will come together to develop a solution to the political crisis. Over the past three years, groups across the spectrum have gathered, often putting long-running political disagreements aside, to agree on practical, promising plans for a transitional government. But each time, the de facto authorities defeat the promising effort by refusing any compromise.
In addition to ceasing to prop up the current regime, your administration can contribute to security in Haiti by blocking arms shipments to Haiti and enforcing accountability for weapons traffickers and those profiteering from the violence in Haiti. Haiti does not manufacture guns and ammunition, but they originate from the US and continue to destroy many lives, including US.
In summary, these are the actions for your administration:
• No military intervention and/or UN-led mission in Haiti
• Withdraw support for the de facto Dr Ariel Henry regime
• Support the establishment of a legitimate transitional government
• Block and investigate arms shipments to Haiti
NHAEON and FANM in Action thank you for your prompt consideration of our requests. Although Haiti’s problems are complex, we are confident that the country can immediately begin its journey back to the democratic process with your genuine support. We look forward to working with your administration to help change the trajectory of Haiti’s political situation in both the long and short terms.
Charnette Frederic is Chairwoman of NHAEON, which is the largest network of Haitian-American elected and appointed officials organisation in the US. Marleine Bastien is Executive Director of FANM in Action, whose mission is to work toward an inclusive, equitable, and just society for all. Send feedback to email@example.com