SAN JUAN (HPD) — Haiti’s Prime Minister Ariel Henry and 18 members of his cabinet have called for the immediate deployment of foreign soldiers in response to the acts of gangs and protesters that have paralyzed the country.
Fuel, water and other essentials have been in short supply nearly a month after one of Haiti’s most powerful gangs blocked access to one of the main fuel terminals in Port-au-Prince, where more than 37 million liters (10 million gallons) ) of gasoline and diesel are stored, along with more than 3 million liters (800,000 gallons) of kerosene. In addition, protesters have blocked roads in the capital and other major cities to demand Henry’s resignation and protest rising gasoline prices after the prime minister announced in early September that his government could no longer subsidize fuel. gas.
Gas stations and schools remain closed. Banks and grocery stores are operating on limited hours.
The UN Secretary-General has offered the Security Council several options, including the immediate deployment of a rapid action force.
Opponents denounce that Henry wants to use foreign soldiers to stay in power, a leadership he assumed last year after the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse and that many consider illegitimate because he was never formally elected or confirmed to the post by the legislature. . He has not set a date for holding elections, which have not been held since November 2016, but has promised to do so once the violence ends.
Here is a look at past foreign military interventions in Haiti and the impact they have had on the country of more than 11 million people:
HOW MANY FOREIGN MILITARY INTERVENTIONS HAVE THERE BEEN IN HAITI?
Since the early 1900s, there have been at least three major military interventions in Haiti led by the United States and the United Nations.
The United States first occupied Haiti from 1915 to 1934.
Nearly 60 years later, the UN launched a peacekeeping mission in 1993, followed by the arrival of US soldiers in 1994. Another intervention came in 2004. The first of those was to restore President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to the can. The second occurred after a rebellion that dismissed him again.
WHAT HAS CAUSED THE INTERVENTIONS?
Interventions occur at times of great political instability.
Seven Haitian presidents were impeached or assassinated from 1911 to 1915, prompting US President Woodrow Wilson to send Marines to Haiti in 1914. The United States withdrew half a million dollars from the National Bank of Haiti for supposed safekeeping in New York. The formal occupation of the United States began in July 1915 and lasted until August 1934.
In September 1994, the United States sent more than 20,000 troops and two planes to Haiti as part of an operation called “Restore Democracy” during the presidency of Bill Clinton. The goal was to restore Aristide to power, who had been overthrown in a coup in 1991. Aristide had become Haiti’s first democratically elected president a year earlier. A smaller contingent of US soldiers remained in Haiti until the early 2000s, often under the auspices of the UN.
A parallel UN peacekeeping effort was launched in September 1993 and operated until 2000.
Aristide was ousted again in February 2004 in a rebellion originally launched by a street gang. The United States, which had pressured him to resign, kicked Aristide out of the country and sent in soldiers, as did Canada, France and Chile. They were soon replaced by soldiers from the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti, which lasted until 2017.
WHAT IMPACT HAVE FOREIGN INTERVENTIONS HAD IN HAITI?
Robert Fatton, an expert on Haitian politics at the University of Virginia, said that in general, “the occupations did not improve anything in Haiti.”
He noted that the occupation from 1915 to 1934 created a unified Haitian army, which was the country’s dominant force until the dictatorial regime of François Duvalier and after his son, Jean-Claude Duvalier, from 1957 to 1986.
The occupation also established a type of paid forced labor known as “corvée,” in which US officials used Haitian peasants to build roads, railways, and other infrastructure.
“The occupation was very coercive,” Fatton said. “It was also very centralizing and … very racist.”
He said the second 1994 intervention was more popular because it helped reinstate the charismatic Aristide, a former priest who once worked in poor communities.
The invasion led to the creation of the Haitian National Police, which replaced the Haitian army that was disbanded in 1995, although many police officers were former soldiers.
However, there were two failed coups during that occupation and increasing political chaos.
The UN peacekeeping mission from 2004 to 2017 was marred by allegations of sexual abuse by its elements and staff members and that Nepalese peacekeepers introduced cholera into Haiti’s largest river in October. 2010 through sewage from its base. Since then, the UN has acknowledged that it played a role in the epidemic and has not done enough to help combat it, but has not specifically acknowledged that it introduced the disease.
Fatton said that while the UN mission “established a modicum of order” in Haiti, it was a “very repressive organization.”
“To put an end to the gangs, they used methods of force. That left a very bad taste among poor Haitians,” he commented, noting that they live with gangs in poor neighborhoods. “The one who was with the gangs and the one who was not with the gangs suffered equally.”