Haiti, a country of eternal misery

Haiti, a country of eternal misery

Haiti was the first country in the world to eliminate slavery, achieve independence in Latin America, and create a nation composed of former black slaves. This is all thanks to successive revolutions that ended the notorious slave system of the French colonists in 1804. It is a historical landmark that is often overlooked. Since then, things have not gone well for him.

This Caribbean country, with a population of 12 million and one of the poorest countries in the world, has been the victim of coups, bloody dictatorships, mass killings, occupation by foreign armies, economic devastation, severe natural disasters and successive humanitarian crises.

The chaos that prevails today is not new. In this case, powerful criminal gangs work to terrorize the population and seize political power. Criminal gangs, which engage in extortion, kidnapping, and arms and drug smuggling, control part of the country and 80% of the capital, Port-au-Prince, including the main roads that provide access to the city.

The two largest groups, the G9 and JPYP, launched a major offensive in March against police stations, government buildings and prisons, forcing the resignation of interim Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who took office in 2021 after the assassination of President Jovenel Moise. The administration of the country is now in the hands of the so-called Transitional Presidential Council, which is charged with appointing a head of executive authority who will have the difficult task of creating conditions for holding elections within a maximum period of three months. Years.

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Multinational force

The show of force by the armed gangs poses a challenge to the multinational police force that plans to deploy soon to Haiti on a mission to help restore order and security. “The attack by the criminal groups was a response to the arrival of this international force,” says Colombian Diego da Rein, an expert on Haiti from the International Crisis Group. He adds, “Their main goal is to force the government to issue a pardon for all of them.”

The multinational mission, which received the approval of the United Nations Security Council, is led by Kenya, whose police forces have a long history of violations of all kinds in their country, a fact that does not cause “optimism.” In addition, the Haitian people do not forget the UN mission that lasted from 2004 to 2017 and ended in failure. It was also proven that the Blue Helmets committed sexual assaults against thousands of women and girls, and that the mission was responsible for introducing the cholera epidemic into the country, an epidemic that ended the lives of more than 10,000 people.

The violence that Haiti has witnessed in recent years has led to the internal displacement of more than 90,000 people and the exodus of at least twice that number, especially to the United States, many of them by boat. The neighboring Dominican Republic is building a border wall to prevent refugees from entering. The United Nations estimates that one million Haitians are on the verge of starvation and that more than 1,500 people have died since the beginning of the year as a result of gang violence.

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For days, US Army planes have been landing at Port-au-Prince airport – closed to commercial traffic since the attack by criminal gangs – carrying materials needed to build the fort that will house foreign police forces. “The United States is the international partner with the most influence over decision-making power in Haiti. “It is a strategic area located only an hour and a half by plane from Miami,” recalls Da Rain.

In the midst of the collapse, another player threatens to enter the scene: Russia. The Colombian analyst says: “Moscow is interested in confronting Washington’s power and positioning itself as an important player in the region.” The Pentagon report, leaked to the US press last year, claims that the Russian mercenary group Wagner is “exploring expansion into Haiti.” Another worrying fact for Washington is the presence in the Transitional Presidential Council of the party led by Jean-Charles Moïse, a popular leftist politician with strong ties to Russia. In the demonstrations he organized in his country, Russian flags were raised.

Compensation for settlers

Haiti’s history shows a country that has fallen from grace, with a kind of chronic fatalism. Perhaps the origin stems from the condition imposed on it by France two centuries ago in exchange for recognition of its independence: compensation to enslaved colonists for their losses in property and slave labor. Today it is equivalent to about 20 thousand million euros, not including interest on loans. Delirious personality.

It is an enormous and heavy burden that has burdened the country’s development for more than a century, preventing it from growing at the same time as its neighbors. Haiti canceled its debts to the former colonial power in 1947, becoming the only country in the world where descendants of slaves have repaid their masters over many decades. A shameful historical landmark is often overlooked.

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