Chaos in Haiti

Thirty years ago, a U.S.-led multinational force of some 25,000 troops landed in Haiti backed by air support and air-craft carriers to restore calm and order. Over the years, not much changed or improved. Today, Haiti, just 700 miles from Florida, again teeters on the precipice of collapse, with large parts of the country under the control of armed gangs, and with prime minister Ariel Henry stranded in Puerto Rico.

Haiti is a country on the island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean Sea, east of Cuba and Jamaica, and south of the Bahamas. It occupies the western three-eighths of the island which it shares with the Dominican Republic. Haiti is the third largest country in the Caribbean, and has an estimated population of 11.4 million, making it the most populous Caribbean country.

With its deteriorating economic situation, Haiti has experienced a socioeconomic and political crisis marked by riots and protests, widespread hunger, and increased gang activity. The Biden administration has little appetite for a new rescue mission and instead remains focused on conducting a proxy war in Ukraine and on helping Israel defeating Hamas and the Palestinians in the Gaza strip. The Biden administration has urged the Haitian prime minster Henry to appoint a transitional council to pave the way for new elections and help bring in international peacekeeping forces.  

Haiti has recently been convulsed by killings. Kidnapping have skyrocketed and warlords now control about 80% of the capital, Port-au-Prince. Having freed thousands of convicts from the country’s prisons, gang leaders have said that they now aim to remove Henry from power.

Haiti’s latest descent into chaos began after the 2021 assassination of president Jovenel Moise made it possible for Henry, the prime minster, to take power as gangs strengthened their hold on the country. The U.S. has backed Henry because there are few alternatives, but the U.S. has done little to encourage him to prepare for new elections. Many Haitians lay some of the blame for the worsening chaos on the U.S. and the international community.

It is clear that Haiti needs help before the country falls deeper into anarchy. It seems odd that the Biden administration is not more involved in the situation. The fact that Haiti is a close neighbor and with a long history of U.S. involvement, the inaction is noteworthy. Much of the past involvement might bare some of the responsibility for the chaos as the U.S. has encouraged, enabled, and empowered criminal and incompetent leaders.

The Biden administration announced that the defense department was pledging $100 million to Haiti and will provide airlifts and medical aid. Haiti, one of the world’s poorest nations, has rarely been a foreign-policy priority for Washington, and this is the case once again. Maybe things would have been different if Obama was the president given his focus on helping countries linked to colonial pasts, or maybe the Clintons would like to get more involved again. Haiti is after all dear to them given that they spend their honeymoon there. But Biden does not have any anti-colonial feelings and he did not spend his honeymoon in Haiti like the Clintons. Instead, in 1977, Joe and Jill went behind the Iron Curtain to Hungary, where they spent time by the Balaton Lake and in Budapest, meeting with communist officials, journalists, and dissidents. So, Haiti will have to wait until the situation gets even worse.

The Biden administration’s priorities are questionable, and as a result, many countries are suffering. The obsession with Ukraine and NATO is both costly and creating unnecessary tensions and risks. There will eventually be more international involvement in Haiti and maybe the U.S. will get more involved eventually. For now, though, chaos and anarchy will continue to reign in Haiti and the situation will most likely get a lot worse before it gets better.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *