No to U.S. intervention in Haiti
The General Council of the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union, meeting in Statutory Session on Saturday February 28th, discussed at length the crisis in Haiti. The General Council expressed its solidarity with the Haitian people who have had to battle like no others in the Caribbean for their freedom.
It was the Haitian people who defeated the system of slavery and won their emancipation in an epic struggle which began in 1791 and ended with Haitian Independence in January 1804. Haiti thus became the first independent nation in the Caribbean. It is noteworthy that in their struggle against slavery and for independence the Haitian people defeated the most powerful nations at that time - France, Spain and Britain.
Throughout the years after Independence, the Haitian people have had to continue their struggle against foreign intervention and repressive economic relations with major powers. It is to be remembered that the United States invaded Haiti in the early 20th century and occupied the country for almost 20 years. Since that time the US has always sought to impose undemocratic arrangements on the Haitian people. France, on the other hand, demanded that Haiti pay “compensation” for winning the war against slavery ! This “debt” became an onerous burden on the newly independent nation.
It is therefore extremely disturbing to witness both the US and France interfering once again in the affairs of Haiti and imposing their settlement on the Haitian people. It was totally wrong for the US, France and Canada to determine that President Aristide was “unfit to govern”. Only the Haitian people could have decided that.
It is also very clear that the US “set up” Caricom in that the agreed position for a resolution of the crisis was unilaterally altered by the US to the effect that a precondition for any United Nations or multilateral peace keeping intervention was for President Aristide to leave office. Having pressured President Aristide out of office the US is now agreeing to a multilateral military intervention. This is really a sham since the US and Canada, and perhaps France, already have sent troops into Haiti. Any Caricom involvement at this stage would only seek to legitimize a fait accompli by the US. Caricom therefore ought not now to be involved in any military intervention - peace-keeping or otherwise, unless this is under the direct auspices of the United Nations and with a command that excludes the US, France and Canada.
The OWTU is of the view that only a democratic, political solution can achieve long lasting peace and development in Haiti. This solution can only be arrived at through a process of dialogue by the Haitian people and only the Haitian people. Any involvement of external forces or governments in that dialogue will not only invalidate the process, it will be an attack on the sovereignty of Haiti, which sovereignty the Haitian people value dearly given their unique struggle for independence.
Seek to have the United Nations organize a peace-keeping force
Caricom should therefore seek to have the United Nations organize a peace-keeping force under its direct jurisdiction and excluding any command by the US, Canada and France. This peace-keeping force should have as its only role the prevention of violence and the eventual disarming of all groups in Haiti. All the Haitian political (not military or paramilitary) forces, including the Lavalas movement of President Aristide, should then seek to establish, by consensus a transition government which would facilitate a process of very broad-based and inclusive national dialogue towards solutions for the economic, social, political and environmental problems of their country. The UN, with Caricom, playing a key role should then support those solutions with whatever material, financial and technical assistance is requested.
We call on Caricom Heads who will meet in Emergency Session tomorrow, Tuesday 2nd, to consider our proposals and to ensure that we do not simply act in a manner that gives legitimacy to the US interests.
2004 March 1
Errol K. McLeod, President General