By Lautaro Rivara
In the seventh week of protests, and 100 years after the assassination of Charlemagne Peralta, the hero of resistance to the American invasion of 1915-1934, Haitian majorities are mobilizing throughout the country today. In the capital Port-au-Prince they will march, significantly, to the North American embassy, denouncing the continuity of the American interference in the domestic affairs of the Caribbean nation. The Patriotic Forum, a space that brings together more than 62 social movements and political parties, will be mobilized in seven large cities throughout the country: Jérémie, Les Cayes, Miragoâne, Jacmel, Port-de-Paix, Hinche and Mirebalais. The popular organizations, along with other opposition sectors, demand the immediate resignation of President Jovenel Moïse and the resolution of the endless Haitian crisis which continues to deepen, reaching new dimensions with each passing day.
Agricultural and food crisis
On October 18, the Haitian government requested food assistance from the United States in a letter signed by Foreign Minister Bocchit Edmond. Addressed to Secretary of State Micheal Richard Pompeo, the letter states: “I am asking your country, on behalf of the Government of the Republic, for urgent assistance and the corresponding logistical support for its distribution. This assistance could also be part of the important “Food for Peace” programme. With regard to state policies in this area, he added that “the mechanisms put in place, lacking adequate financial resources, have unfortunately not yet produced the expected results”.
The scourge of hunger in Haiti reaches 49.3 percent of the population, according to an FAO report. Today, the ongoing energy crisis, fuel shortages, the paralysis of national transport and the closure of markets make it impossible for peasants to harvest and market their agricultural production, which is now beginning to rot in the fields. Consequently, the rural population is affected by its only means of subsistence, at the same time that food prices reach exorbitant prices in the big cities. Finally, the almost permanent blockade of entire regions of the country and the territorial control by criminal groups prevents the distribution of food and water by international organizations that provide assistance to the most vulnerable populations.
Different sectors warn, however, of the use of the food crisis as an excuse to promote a “humanitarian invasion” of the country, given that the logistical counterpart of the aid requested would be the deployment of U.S. military throughout the national territory. It should be remembered that this would not be the first operation of its kind, if we consider the fact that after the 2010 earthquake, while countries such as the Dominican Republic, Colombia, Venezuela and Cuba sent rescuers, doctors and engineers to help the victims, the United States took advantage of the debacle to occupy the International Airport and deploy thousands of marines throughout the territory.
Political and Institutional Crisis
Parliamentary elections should have been held this October to renew the seats of the country’s senators. However, the seriousness of the crisis, political instability, and the unanimous rejection of a flawed, fraudulent, technically and politically controlled electoral system by the United States and international organizations, meant that the conduct of the elections was not even considered by the government and opposition forces. Since the resignation of former Prime Minister Jean-Michel Lapin, Haiti has had no government. The Constitution itself establishes a hybrid regime composed of a president, in the role of head of state, and a prime minister, in charge of the head of government. If we add to this the fact that the Senate seats expire in January, the country faces a dramatic deepening of the political and institutional dimension of the crisis. Lacking a government and an official budget, Haiti, a semi-parliamentary country, will not have a valid and functioning parliament by the beginning of next year. This will enable de facto, more discretionary decision-making procedures, given that the president would begin to govern the country by decree, without executive or legislative checks and balances of any kind. The delaying strategy of Moïse and his North American allies consists of weathering the storm until January, in order to undermine the already scarce legitimacy of the group of senators opposing the Democratic and Popular Sector.
Security Crisis and Psychological Warfare
A series of well-orchestrated disinformation and psychological warfare operations have been deployed in recent days. Firstly, these manoeuvres have repeatedly claimed that President Moïse has renounced his office. On 29 October, in a short speech posted on his social networks, he confirmed his continuity in power and called again for an impossible dialogue, rejected outright by all sectors of national life. By consummating a strange discursive contortion, attempting to refloat his old image as an “outsider” of traditional politics, the banana businessman began to criticise the political and economic system of which he is nevertheless the highest representative.
Secondly, a series of fake news and missing tweets, attributed to opposition leaders, the traditional newspaper Le Nouvelliste, and well-known journalists in the country, sought to establish that sectors of the conservative opposition nucleated in the Democratic and Popular Sector would have adopted the decision to take up arms in order to force the resignation of the president. The danger of these Rio Revuelto operations is that they intend to provoke street violence, which far from being intrinsic to mass mobilizations, is monopolized by criminal sectors linked to political power, as we witnessed in some horrific shootings that were captured by citizens and uploaded to social networks in recent days. The policy of media terror can only be profitable for those who want to intimidate the population so that they leave the streets, or for those who want to generate a scenario of civil war that would lead to an alibi and an American intervention that would arbitrate the disputes between the different fractions of the national bourgeoisie and oligarchy. The leaders of the social movements have been very emphatic in guaranteeing the peaceful nature of the protests, in rejecting violence external to the process of popular mobilization, and in rejecting all forms of odious intervention.