[Blackstudies-l] Humanitarian Occupation of Haiti: 100 Years and Counting

Maria Lima lima at geneseo.edu
Thu Jul 30 06:56:30 EDT 2015

   ivetteromero posted: " Tuesday, July 28, marked the 100th anniversary of
the commencement of the U.S. Occupation of Haiti. Mark Schuller (Associate
Professor of Anthropology and NGO Leadership and Development at Northern
Illinois University) writes: “A century after the U.S"    Respond to this
post by replying above this line
      New post on *Repeating Islands*
<http://repeatingislands.com/author/ivetteromero/>  Humanitarian Occupation
of Haiti: 100 Years and Counting
ivetteromero <http://repeatingislands.com/author/ivetteromero/>

*[image: haitie0_z]

*Tuesday, July 28, marked the 100th anniversary of the commencement of the
U.S. Occupation of Haiti. Mark Schuller (Associate Professor of
Anthropology and NGO Leadership and Development at Northern Illinois
University) writes: “A century after the U.S. military invasion of Haiti in
1915, a U.N. 'stabilization mission' continues to compromise the nation's
political and economic sovereignty." [Many thanks to Peter Jordens for
bringing this item to our attention.] Here are excerpts with a link to the
full article below.*

This Tuesday marks the 100th anniversary of the commencement of the U.S.
Occupation of Haiti. On July 28, 1915, U.S. Marines landed on the shores of
Haiti, occupying the country for 19 years. College campuses, professional
associations, social movements, and political parties are marking the
occasion with a series of reflections and demonstrations. Several have
argued that the U.S. has never stopped occupying Haiti, even as military
boots left in 1934. Some activists are using the word “humanitarian
occupation” to describe the current situation, denouncing the loss of
sovereignty, as U.N. troops have been patrolling the country for over 11
years. While the phrase “humanitarian occupation” may seem distasteful and
even ungrateful to some considering the generosity of the response to the
January 12, 2010 earthquake, there are several parallels between the
contemporary aid regime and the U.S. Marine administration.

The U.S. Marines invaded Haiti a century ago ostensibly to restore an order
disrupted by an armed peasant resistance known as the kako and violent
inter-elite turmoil. Between 1910 and the 1915 invasion of the U.S.
Marines, Haiti had 7 presidents. The exploits of the occupying forces were
well documented. Many U.S. troops came from Jim Crow South, and they
brought their white supremacy with them. Racism colored how they saw
elements of Haitian culture and folklore, and in turn how the rest of the
world came to view Haiti.

Apparently less understood is the current military occupation, but like the
U.S. invasion of 1915 it has compromised Haitian sovereignty and provided
impunity for foreign forces. On February 29, 2004, a multinational force
led by the U.S. came to quell dissent following a U.S.-backed regime
change. President Jean-Bertrand Aristide declared he was “kidnapped” aboard
a U.S. military plane, to be dumped in the Central African Republic. Less
overtly imperialistic under a U.N. banner, MINUSTAH (the International
United Nations Mission for the Stabilization of Haiti) took over on June 1,
authorized by U.N. resolution 1542
<http://www.un.org/en/peacekeeping/missions/minustah/mandate.shtml>. The
polyglot that peaked at over 13,000 troops from 54 countries is led by
Brazil, which has been pressing for a permanent seat on the Security
Council. Nonetheless, many in Haiti saw MINUSTAH as serving U.S. interests,
as Haitian NGO worker Yvette Desrosiers declared: “the Americans hide their
face, they send Brazilians, Argentines… he’s hidden but he’s the one in
command!” [. . .]

Why would its mandate be renewed, following the 2006 elections that brought
René Préval and his ruling Lespwa party to power? Colleagues in Haiti
emphasize that the keyword “stabilization” refers to keeping agreeable
leaders in office and quelling dissent. In 2009, activists reconciled their
conflict over Aristide to call for an increase in the minimum wage, from 70
gourdes a day ($1.75) to 200 ($5). Both houses of Parliament voted
unanimously to approve it. However, in a report
<http://www.focal.ca/pdf/haiticollier.pdf> for which he spent only days in
the country to write <http://www.avec-papiers.be/Home/?p=802>, Oxford
economist Paul Collier outlined a strategy of tourism, export mango
production, and subcontracted apparel factories. He suggested Bill Clinton
as U.N. Special Envoy. Clinton and newly-named U.S. Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton met with Préval in support of the Collier Report, and Bill
Clinton publicly questioned the minimum wage increase
<http://www.alterpresse.org/spip.php?article8417#.VbVRS_kzF5M> as
undercutting Haiti’s “comparative advantage” (WikiLeaked documents
<http://www.thenation.com/article/wikileaks-haiti-let-them-live-3-day/> outline
the extent of  pressure applied to keep wages low). In the end, Préval
rejected the 200 gourdes increase
unconstitutionally writing in a figure of 125 gourdes (a little over $3)
for workers in overseas apparel factories. When street-level demonstrations
increased their intensity in response, U.N. troops responded with
escalating force--taking a lead role instead of supporting the police, as
their mandate dictates.

Some argued that it was fortunate to have over 11,000 soldiers on the
ground to assist in logistical support in the earthquake response. However,
the troops provided only minimal logistics in rebuilding. Moreover, the
quality of their construction work was called into question following an
outbreak of cholera in October, barely nine months after the earthquake.
Infected U.N. troops stationed outside of Mirebalais spread their fecal
matter in leaky sewage from the base, which ran into Haiti’s major river.
Within days, the outbreak spread to the entire country
<http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/17/7/11-0059_article>. In addition to
this epidemiological evidence, genetic evidence
<http://mbio.asm.org/content/2/4/e00157-11.abstract> pinpointed troops from
Nepal as the source. Despite overwhelming scientific evidence, the U.N.
claimed immunity for an outbreak that has killed over 8,500 people
four years and continues to kill. Lawyers from the Institute for Justice
and Democracy in Haiti <http://www.ijdh.org/> and the Bureau des Avocats
Intérnationaux sued the U.N
<http://www.ijdh.org/cholera/cholera-litigation/>. on behalf of the victims
and their families. However, in January 2015, days before the fifth
anniversary of the quake, a judge confirmed the U.N.’s immunity
While this represents the most egregious invocation of their immunity, it
was also confirmed following several cases of sexual abuse
against U.N. troops.

A Haitian proverb declares konstitisyon se papye, bayonèt se fè: “a
constitution is made of paper, a bayonet of iron.” In other words, the pen
is not mightier than the sword. In reality during occupations, the pen is
pushed by the sword. During the 1915 U.S. Marines Occupation, Franklin
Delano Roosevelt bragged to have personally written the Haitian
constitution--formally adopted in 1918--which opened up land for foreign
ownership, and formalized the linguistic hegemony of the ruling classes by
naming French as the only official language. Paving the way for U.S.
agribusiness interests such as United Fruit to buy up tracts of land, the
1918 constitution allowed foreign investors and local merchants to
monopolize foreign trade while expropriating thousands of peasant farmers.
But it also triggered a massive kako rebellion.  In response, marines
placed the mutilated body of Charlemagne Péralte, who they identified as
the resistance movement’s intellectual author, on display in a public
square--a warning to others.

Constitutional changes were also introduced during the contemporary
occupation. In addition to advocating the rejection of the minimum wage
increase, Bill Clinton and the U.N. are also credited for introducing
constitutional reforms. Haiti’s 1987 constitution
<http://www.sdn.mefhaiti.gouv.ht/lois/CH87/CH_TM.php> was the culmination
of what Fritz Deshommes
<http://www.alterpresse.org/spip.php?article11007#.VbVVSfkzF5M> called a
re-founding of the nation. Passed with over 90% of the vote on March 29,
1987, the constitution guaranteed liberal political rights, like freedom of
press, religion, and assembly, as well as social rights, such as education
and housing. In addition, the constitution elevated Haitian Creole as an
official language alongside French. In a country reeling from 29 years of
the Duvalier dictatorship and wary of centralized executive power, the
office of Prime Minister, to be ratified by Parliament, was established.
Power was also shared in the Territorial Collectivities, including 570
communal sections.

However, since the start of the occupation some of these provisions have
been reversed by controversial new amendments passed under opaque
In April 2010, parliament had voted to dissolve itself to make way for the
Interim Haiti Reconstruction Commission (IHRC), co-chaired by Bill Clinton.
When Parliament came back in session in 2011, the first task laid out for
them was ratification of amendments to the constitution. President Michel
Martelly, the winner from the second round of an election with record low
voter turnout <http://www.electionguide.org/countries/id/94/> of 22%--less
than half the previous 2006 elections--pushed for the ratification. He was
joined by several foreign agencies, apparently keen on naming the Permanent
Electoral Council
a top-down, rushed process that advantaged the current government. Amidst
all of this confusion, it was not clear what the final version of the
amendments was, and only the French version was published. [. . .]

[Photo above: Marines during the U.S. the occupation of Haiti, which began
a century ago in July 1915. (USMC Archives / Creative Commons)]

For full articles see Schuller in NACLA Report on the Americas
https://nacla.org/news/2015/07/28/humanitarian-occupation-haiti and in
Counterpunch, in

*See excellent related articles here: *

“The Long Legacy of Occupation in Haiti” by Edwidge Danticat, *The New

“One Hundred Years of American Occupation in Haiti” by David Kroeker Maus,
Antillean Media Group,

“US Interests in Haiti’s Natural Resources Led to Invasion” by Margaret
Mitchell Armand (*Boston Haitian Reporter*)

“Haiti Marks 100th Anniversary of U.S. Occupation” by Jacqueline Charles
for *Miami Herald. *See

“The US Occupation of Haiti Continues to This Day” by Jonathan Leaning;
  *ivetteromero <http://repeatingislands.com/author/ivetteromero/>* | July
30, 2015 at 12:49 am | Tags: Haiti <http://repeatingislands.com/?tag=haiti>,
humanitarian aid <http://repeatingislands.com/?tag=humanitarian-aid>, U.S.
occupation <http://repeatingislands.com/?tag=u-s-occupation> | Categories:
History <http://repeatingislands.com/?cat=678> | URL: http://wp.me/psnTa-lKk

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