Cultura y conciencia

Haiti in Revolt

Notis, NewsNelson SantanaComment
  • All the major mainstream media outlets in the US are focusing on the chaos and violence without providing context.
  • Dominican progressive groups expressed solidarity with the Haitian people and their struggle. Read the statement in Spanish here.
  • The weekly newspaper Haïti Liberté offers more background on the popular revolt in Haiti here in French. 

July 17, 2018

A popular revolt broke out in Haiti on July 6 when the government of Jovenel Moise, from the center-right Parti Haïtien Tèt Kale (PHTK), ordered a fuel price hike, triggering massive and spontaneous street protests. Moise is a close ally of former president Michel Martelly.

In addition to the gas hike, the government also moved to cut food subsidies, an unpopular measure that affects millions of people in Haiti.

Activists are blaming the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for the latest government measures. In fact, the IMF, whose “primary purpose is to ensure the stability of the international monetary system,” according to its website, requested that the Haitian government cut the food subsidies as part of an adjustment plan that would only benefit the business sector.

Sugar cane workers in Dominican Republic rally in front of Haitian embassy in solidarity with the Haitian people./Photo credit: unknown. 

Sugar cane workers in Dominican Republic rally in front of Haitian embassy in solidarity with the Haitian people./Photo credit: unknown. 

As the protests escalated, the government swiftly reversed course and put the IMF-imposed austerity plans on hold.

The latest outburst of street anger resembles the 2008 food riots in Haiti. The fact that both the government and the traditional media in Haiti failed to read the public mood prior to the revolt shows the continuous disconnect that exists between Haiti’s corrupt political class and ordinary people.

In a recent visit to Haiti, ESENDOM observed the state of government neglect created by a local elite and a political system that only benefits the wealthy few. Haiti continues to lack basic services like healthcare, education and even garbage removal.

Meanwhile, the US-media, which has always imposed a media blackout in Haiti, insists on focusing on the chaos and violence as though the mass revolt was devoid of any political context.

Government officials scramble to find a solution to the situation. A vote of confidence took placed on Saturday, forcing the prime minister to resign.

Colonial Past, Colonial Present

However, as some revisionist historians and even fewer media outlets have pointed out, the issue is one with historical roots. Haiti’s current economic woes are the result of European and United States collusion.

In a 2010 article by the Committee for the Elimination of Illegitimate Debt (CADTM, for its French initials), Eric Toussaint and Sophie Perchellet recounted the historical roots of Haiti’s debt while pointing out the role of recent historical events like the first US occupation of Haiti:

[Haiti] inherited the ransom France demanded for independence, amounting to 150 million francs (that is, France’s annual budget at the time). Debt became the neo-colonial instrument used to maintain access to this country’s many natural resources.”

“The payment of this ransom is therefore the founding element of the Haitian State. In legal terms, this means that it was contracted by a despotic regime and this contract was used against the interests of the people. First France, then the United States, whose sphere of influence expanded to Haiti from 1915, are entirely responsible for this.”