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News > Latin America

Haitian Opposition Questions US 'Mediation' Amid Crisis

  • Local residents carry the casket of a man shot dead during anti-government protests in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

    Local residents carry the casket of a man shot dead during anti-government protests in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. | Photo: Reuters

Published 2 March 2019

The United States' track record of meddling in Haiti hasn't lead to any positive outcome in the past, and the Haitian opposition isn't betting on it this time.

The Haitian opposition questioned United States mediation of the ongoing crisis, and argued that Under Secretary of State David Hale’s visit to the country Friday would not improve the situation.

RELATED: Haiti Cancels Carnival As Protesters Demand End To Corruption

Under Secretary Hale arrived Friday to the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, under the pretext of meeting with the head of State Prime Minister Jean Henry Ceant and other political, economic, and civic leaders of the country to reach an agreement on inclusive dialogue around the current challenges of the Caribbean nation.

According to the U.S. embassy in Port-au-Prince, Hale is in Haiti to "promote an inclusive national dialogue on the current economic and political challenges facing the country. His visit reaffirms the commitment of the United States to work with Haitians for a safer, more prosperous and more democratic future."

"I appreciate the availability of the government of the United States to facilitate the search for an inter-Haitian solution to the socio-political crisis." Haitian President Jovenel Moise wrote on Twitter.

Just under 60 percent of Haiti’s population lives in poverty. The Caribbean nation still suffers from major infrastructural damage caused by hard-hitting hurricanes and earthquakes over the past 12 years. However, its political corruption has also been implicated in keeping the country in continual economic and political dysfunction.

“Fundamental to the pervasive problem of poverty in Haiti is the long history of political instability and the lack of governance. Corruption and misuse of public funds have resulted in a decline in the quality of all public services, … and the provision of basic infrastructure,” the World Bank said.

For months, protesters have demanded justice in the alleged irregularities in the Petrocaribe program amid increased inflation.

Opposition leader Andre Michel told Reuters that "the fight will continue ... we will continue to seek the president's resignation, and we need to have a PetroCaribe probe because we need to end the corruption in this country that has allowed a small minority to get majority of wealth.”

The opposition's concerns about U.S. meddling is well-founded. Haiti was the first Black republic after a successful 13-year Haitian Revolution started in 1791, ended with Haiti's independence in 1804.

The United States, fearing that the rebellion in Haiti would ignite a similar revolt in the U.S, refused to trade with Haiti and would not recognize it as a sovereign nation Haiti until 1862.

The United States then invaded Haiti in 1915 and occupied the country until 1934, holding veto power over all Haitian government decisions during that time.

"Haiti has been ruthlessly exploited by Western powers many times in its 200 years of independence," Madison Smartt Bell, an English professor at Goucher College in Towson, Maryland, Louverture biographer and author of a trilogy of novels about Louverture and the slave revolt, told USA Today in a recent article.

Along with the exploitation of people, ecological exploitation predates Haitian independence. "When Columbus' crew got there, though they thought they were in paradise, they went about destroying the place," Bell added.  

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