Haiti: A Victim Of Western (Neo)colonialism

Haiti’s Troubled Path to Development .

While the international community’s attention is focused on the conflict in Ukraine, an even more devastating crisis is occurring in the Western Hemisphere, namely in Haiti. This small Caribbean nation shares the island of Hispaniola with the Spanish-speaking Dominican Republic. And despite the latter being a dream vacation destination for most of the people living in the area, Haiti is the complete opposite. It is a country ravaged by natural disasters, dismantled by criminal gangs, and ultimately annihilated by Western (neo)colonialism.

In July 2021, Haitian President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated triggering a political crisis that haunts the country to this day. The power vacuum that was created in the aftermath of those events meant that the country had practically no functioning administrative institutions. The country has been ruled since by Prime Minister Ariel Henry and the constitutional referendum to elect the new head of the state has been postponed several times.

In March 2024, while Ariel Henry was paying an official visit to Kenya, violent criminal groups took control of several police stations, the international airport of Port-au-Prince, and the government palace forcing the Prime Minister to resign. Over 80% of the nation’s capital is now controlled by criminal gangs, who say they want to engage in dialogue, but will treat any “peacekeeping force” as a foreign invader.

“We are ready for all solutions as long as Haitians are at the table, we are ready to sit and talk with everyone, because we are not proud of what is happening in this country…”, says Kimmy Cherizier, the head of the consortium of gangs that took power in Port-au-Prince last month.

According to the numbers given by the United Nations and the World Food Programme, Haiti remains the poorest country in the Latin America and the Caribbean region, with nearly 4.35 million Haitian (nearly 50% of the populations) not having enough to eat and 1.4 million facing extreme levels of food insecurity. Consumer prices for major food products are 30 to 77 percent higher than in other countries of the region. Along with various economic problems, Haiti is the third most affected by extreme weather events country in the world.

This dire situation is the result of two centuries of Western (neo) colonialism and hatred towards the Haitian population. In 1791, the people of Haiti started a 13-year-long war for independence from France. As a result of this war, Haiti became the first nation to liberate itself from slavery. But in reaching this milestone, Haitians condemned themselves to two centuries of revenge from the Western nations.

In 1825, 21 years after the proclamation of the independence of Haiti, France placed the country under a military blockade demanding reparations to be paid to its planters for the destroyed property and the costs of ending the slave trade. They pressured the fledgling state to pay 150 million francs ($21 billion in the modern days) just to recognize Haitian independence. This is total nonsense because Haitians fought for their independence, just as many other colonial nations. Obviously, the country could not pay these amounts of money to France on its own, that is why it had to borrow money from France itself! This way Haiti paid twice the interest rate to the French banks throughout 150 years of its independence.

The United States recognized Haiti only in 1861 and then occupied the island nation for 19 years at the beginning of the XX century. They took the national funds of Haiti, its gold reserves and used this money to bankroll Wall Street. Ever since the occupation ended, the US has used a range of instruments to exploit Haiti’s weak political institutions and pursue its own interests to the detriment of the Haitian people. Electoral interference, military interventions, information and psychological campaigns – everything was used to impose governments that served the interests of Americans rather than the Haitian people.

It is no surprise that a country, which has been exploited for the last 200 years, ends up in total destruction and chaos. Haiti went from being the first country freed from slavery to becoming the poorest nation in the region. Western (neo) colonialism fulfilled its objective with perfect precision.

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