Kick U.N., U.S. and Brazilian Occupation Troops Out of Haiti!LQB Says: Workers Solidarity, Yes!
Military Occupation, No!
The Liga Quarta-Internacionalista do Brasil in the march for solidarity with Haiti called by trade unions
and left groups in Salvador, Bahia, on January 30. Salvador was the site of the Muslim uprising of
1835, a rebellion of the black slaves inspired by the Haitian Revolution. (Photo: Samuel Tosta)
The following article is translated from
a special issue of Vanguarda
Operária (January 2010), published by the Liga
Quarta-Internacionalista do Brasil (LQB), section of the League for the
JANUARY 26 – On January 12 an earthquake measuring 7 degrees on the Richter scale devastated the capital of Haiti, Port-au-Prince, leaving some 100,000 to 200,000 dead or more. Haiti is located on top of a tectonic plate making it vulnerable to this kind of earth quake. It was the worst quake in the country in the last 200 years and according to specialists the most deadly tragedy of all times in the Americas and one of the worst earthquakes worldwide in the last century. The poorest part of the population of the country – itself the poorest country in North, Central and South America – which has already undergone innumerable privations for many decades, on top of this has now suffered this brutal calamity that has left it on the edge of barbarism, similar to the worst tragedies experienced by humanity.
The whole world has been moved and a number of countries have promised solidarity to the long-suffering Haitian population. International news agencies are reporting numbers given by government spokesmen. Britain and Belgium sent sophisticated equipment for rescuing victims from among the rubble of collapsed houses and buildings. China sent a team of rescue specialists, one of the first to arrive in Port-au-Prince, already on the second day after the quake hit. Cuba, which also felt the temblor, which already had more than 400 doctors in Haiti, along with hundreds of Haitian doctors educated in Cuban medical schools, sent another 50 physicians and medicine.
The United States military, however, is preventing aid from reaching needy Haitians. And in this task they are being aided by the Brazilian contingent at the head of the United Nations occupation forces, which are repressing the Haitians, who are accused of being looters and possessing a bag of powdered milk. The international media is showing pictures of people attacking each other in the streets, fighting over a little water or food amid decomposing bodies strewn in the dirt and in the rubble left by the earthquake. Thus in practice, the aid is utterly insignificant, far below the immense needs. “There is a risk of cholera and tetanus and a huge need for mobile medical units,” said a specialist to the Reuters news agency in Port-au-Prince.
Military Occupation Led by the U.S., U.N. and Brazil
But ten days after the earthquake which laid waste to Haiti, more than 12,000 U.S. troops are occupying the airport of the Haitian capital on the pretext of helping to organize the distribution of food and water for the starving and thirsty population. In reality what the Yankees are going for is to turn Haiti into their own protectorate.
International agencies “warn that many homeless or injured Haitians are dying as teams are trying to overcome the chaos and disorganization of the distribution of aid, with some criticizing the excessive American control as part of the problem.”
The NGO1 Doctors Without Borders (MSF, according to its initials in French), complained Tuesday [January 19] that a plane carrying one-fifth of its emergency medical supplies for the survivors of the earthquake was denied permission to land at the Port-au-Prince airport, under U.S. control since last week.”
The Paris-based medical humanitarian agency stated that “the plane with 12 tons of medicines, surgical material and two dialysis machines had to give up landing and was diverted to the Dominican Republic next door.”
Brazil already had 1,270 military personnel in Haiti, and now it is embarking more troops and armament. Thus the total size of the U.N. peacekeeping mission under Brazilian command, known as MINUSTAH, will rise from the current level of about 9,000 to 12,651.
The Brazilian media is glorifying the military occupation and memorializing the Brazilian troops and civilian personnel who died in Haiti in order to build up national pride. But it leaves out the fact that, consciously or unconsciously, they were part of a plan of colonization led by Viva Rio2 and the Brazilian military hoping to make Brazil into a kind of sub-imperialist power in Latin America.
The dispatching of additional Brazilian troops occurred at a time when the government of President Luiz Ignácio Lula da Silva was complaining behind the scenes that the U.S. was not allowing free transit for its troops and planes in the Port-au-Prince airport while at the same time trying to mask and hide the oppression it is exercising over the Haitian people. The Internet site of the Brazilian Health Ministry reports that more than 1,500 doctors signed up to act as volunteers in Haiti and that President Lula freed up some R$15 million (about US$9 million) for the purchase of medicines.
At a time when the United States had a large part of its military forces tied down in Iraq, Brazil offered to do its “dirty work” by heading up the MINUSTAH, an undisguised mercenary force for military occupation conducted by the United Nations. Now the Brazilian servants have been shunted aside and the U.S. is posing before the world media as good guys who are promoting humanitarian actions, when in reality it is setting up a parallel government in Haiti, as a way of securing the country in its Latin American backyard.
This week, the Jornal do Brasil noted:
“Haiti: aid to the banks was 4,000 times greater than donations. The European Union announced Monday that it would send a total of €429 million (the equivalent over more the US$600 million) of short- and long-range aid to Haiti while the U.S. will donate US$100 million. However, the financial contributions by the European and American countries to the banks during the world financial crisis were 4,000 times greater. Aid to bankers in Europe reached US$2.28 trillion and in the United States came to US$700 billion. Just to prop up the insurance company AIG (International American Group), the U.S. government handed over US$180 million – almost double the amount donated to Haiti.”
The Lula government, for example, has just been bragging about the miserable R$375 million (US$200 million) it has donated to Haiti, which is utterly insignificant compared to the more than R$200 billion (US$1.15 billion) it donated to the Brazilian capitalists in trying to save them from the world capitalist crisis which has shaken the bourgeois world over the last three years. This shows for the umpteenth time that for capitalism and its agents, bourgeois profits are above everything, especially when it comes to saving poor people. But when it’s a matter of saving capitalist institutions, the “free-marketeers” use the entire economic power of the bourgeois state to protect their own.
Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, currently Washington’s principal critic in Latin America, accused the U.S. of occupying Haiti on the pretext of providing aid and sent a military plane loaded with food, medicines and bottled water along with a 50-member rescue team. Bolivian vice president Álvaro García Linera said on January 19 that the U.S. was seeking to establish a permanent military presence in Haiti through sending troops to aid the local population after the earthquake. He stated that its military presence is part of a U.S. strategy to “control the continent.”
However, the “left-wing” governments of Latin America, with Lula in the lead and including Evo Morales of Bolivia and Rafael Correa of Ecuador, also have troops subcontracted to the U.S. and the U.N., maintaining small contingents in Haiti under Brazilian command as part of the cynically named United Nations Mission for the Stabilization of Haiti, a conglomeration of troops from different countries acting as flunkeys for imperialism, as its “capitães de mato” (slave catchers), in repressing the combative Haitian population. This undeniably amounts to collaboration with imperialism by this so-called wave of “left-wing” governments that have been elected to office around Latin America over the last decade which talk of fighting against what they call “neo-liberalism.”
the Power of the Working Class
The “humanitarian” campaigns organized by the bourgeoisie and capitalist countries through the Red Cross are utterly insufficient and hypocritical. These campaigns only seek to massage the egos and vanity of those bourgeois figures who want to pose as do-gooders before the media and world public opinion and who are having a hard time masking their support to the occupation forces stationed in Haiti who are massacring the population and attempting to undermine its capacity for struggle.
The MINUSTAH under Brazilian leadership was no more than an occupation force, characteristic of a militarized popular front that acts as a servant of imperialism, drawing after it Latin American countries with “left-wing” governments like Bolivia, Venezuela and Uruguay. It is necessary for workers organizations to immediately lead campaigns for solidarity with the Haitian people, organizing through their unions donations of medicines, clothes, food and to organize convoys to see that this aid in fact reaches the Haitian population.
More than ever, without abandoning solidarity, it is necessary to fight to build a revolutionary workers party to go forward in the struggle for socialist revolution in this combative Caribbean country, the only country in the world where there was a victorious revolution of the slaves at the turn of 19th century whose effects spread like a trail of gunpowder throughout the Americas, setting off a struggle for the abolition of slavery in the so-called “New World.”This introduction was part of a collection of articles published in Vanguarda Operária by the Liga Quarta-Internacionalista do Brasil and the Comitê de Luta Classista (Class-Struggle Committee) in a genuinely class-struggle campaign to kick the invading troops led by the U.N., U.S. and Brazil out of Haiti.
1 Non-governmental organization, referring to “private” agencies funded by governments, foundations and international bodies to channel (and disguise) official aid funds.
2 Viva Rio is an NGO that has been active carrying out government programs in the shantytowns (favelas) of Rio de Janeiro, often in conjunction with the military police and army units occupying these areas. Since 2005, Viva Rio has been active in Haiti, notably in the Bel Air shantytown, as a “civilian” component of the military occupation.
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