Reprint from Volume 36 Issue #9 of The Worker newspaper - published by The Workers Party U.S.A
Background Material on U.S.-Led Imperialist Aggression and Death Squad Control Established Over Haiti
October 6, 2022-Across many generations, U.S. imperialism repeatedly invaded and occupied Haiti while robbing the resources and super-exploiting the labor of the people.
From 1915 to 1934, U.S. marines occupied and directly ruled Haiti. Before leaving the marines installed a puppet government, financed and armed by U.S. imperialism. In 1957, U.S. imperialism and the Haitian elite brought the François Duvalier (‘Papa Doc’) dictatorship to power in order to crush the rising democratic and social movements of the masses. Aided and trained by U.S. imperialism, the Duvalier family created their own fascist special police, the infamous Tonton Macoutes, to terrorize the masses and suppress any popular organization or struggle.
Through this death squad fascist terror, the Duvaliers not only amassed huge personal wealth but also helped the U.S. multinational corporations mercilessly exploit the Haitian people. U.S. agro-businesses, producing coffee, sugar, cocoa, castor beans and other cash crops for export, all but laid waste to the fertile Haitian soil; U.S. aluminum producers completely pillaged the enormous bauxite deposits once found in the country. After plundering the country's natural wealth, U.S. corporations set up daughter assembly plants in such sectors as garments, electronics, baseballs, games, sporting goods, toys, footwear and leather.
In 1986, the Haitian people toppled the Duvalier family regime. This revolution unleashed a tremendous democratic and social movement. Less than 5 years later, Jean Bertrand Aristide was elected President based on an agenda of genuine reforms set by the people themselves.
U.S. imperialism responded by organizing a CIA coup d'etat in September, 1991, and bringing to power a regime of former Duvalierists and other death squads linked with the Haitian elite. For 3 years, a reign of terror was imposed on the Haitian people. Finally, under intense international and internal pressure, the U.S. returned Aristide as President, although Haiti was forced to disband its army and accept an economic program of "structural adjustment" dictated by the IMF and the international bankers. This included the requirement that the government's first budgetary priority remained paying interest on an external debt of $1.2 billion, contracted mainly during the Duvalier regime.
Nevertheless, during Aristide's tenure, the Haitian people carried out important reforms, including doubling the minimum wage and investing in schools and hospitals. During that time Haiti also successfully strengthened protections against the denationalization of state-owned resources.
In the second half of the 1990s, with the help of a U.S. controlled military authority nominally in the hands of the United Nations, the U.S. government carried on an overt and covert destabilization campaign against the country. The U.S. government prevented Haiti from receiving some $650 million in multilateral and bilateral aid committed for economic development, education, health care, water and road construction, etc. For example, the U.S. government prevented the Aristide government from receiving a previously approved loan of $193 million from the Inter-American Development Bank.
While trying to strangle the Haitian economy, U.S. imperialism - through the National Endowment for Democracy and the International Republican Institute - financed and organized opposition forces devoted to overthrowing the constitutional government. The Organization of American States worked to legitimizing the high-handedness of U.S. intervention on the cynical pretext of "human rights protection" and "election monitoring."
The primary two of the groups organized to overthrow the constitutional government were the Convergence Démocratique and the Group of 184. The Group of 184 was composed of the Haitian elite and headed by André Apaid, Jr., a supporter of the Duvalier dictatorship and surviving owner of one of Haiti's largest sweat factories, Alpha Industries.
The Convergence Démocratique joined together paramilitary death squads and CIA operatives. Among others, these included Louis Jorden Chamblain, on the payroll of the CIA and a convicted killer and organizer of witch-hunts against supporters of Aristide and Lavalas party members; Guy Philippe, a member of the military government brought to power through the CIA-organized coup in 1991 and a leader of several armed attacks against Aristide supporters; Ernst Ravix, commander of paramilitary death squads.
In February, 2004, the Pentagon deployed thousands of U.S. Marines, allowing paramilitary gangs to enter the capital and forcing President Aristide into exile. Witch-hunts and massacres by CIA-backed and U.S. Marine protected paramilitaries overran the country in the immediate aftermath of the coup d'état and continue to this day. The U.S. State Department also established a permanent police infrastructure under its authority and again nominally handed over military control to the UN. Billions of dollars from the U.S. budget have been poured into military and police training and integration with U.S. security architecture, the reversal of reforms which curbed imperialist influence, and the establishment of so-called "rule of law" that bars many indigenous political initiatives - including those geared towards the buildup of an independent local capitalist class or towards cutting the thousands of threads of foreign ownership, investment and neo-liberal debt which enmesh Haiti in oppressive colonial relations of economic domination and subjugation. The constitution imposed as a result of the 2004 U.S. Marines invasion even outlaws nationalization.