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Haiti: Imperative need for class struggle in the face of a devastating political and social crisis
STATE OF EMERGENCY AND CRIMINAL GANGS IN THE SERVICE OF THE GOVERNMENT
On March 17, the Haitian government declared a state of emergency in various parts of the capital to fight gangs, after clashes that left four policemen dead; it said the state of emergency could be extended. If the resurgence of crime in recent months is undeniable in a country ravaged by misery, it should be noted that to maintain itself in the face of growing anger of proletarians and the broad masses, the government of President Jouvenel Moïse has resorted not only to "classic" police repression but also to criminal gangs that engage in various armed exactions and crimes: in 2018 these gangs massacred more than 70 people and committed numerous rapes in the Saline district of the capital; from 2018 to 2020 there were more than 10 massacres committed by these pro-government gangs in the capital, which resulted in more than 300 deaths. No doubt the government will use the state of emergency to strengthen its power.
Moïse had won an initial election in 2015, but it was annulled due to "massive fraud"; he was finally elected in November 2016 – with about 10% of the electorate. His term should have ended on February 7 of this year, but he decided to stay on for another year based on various legal arguments.
Although he claimed to be close to former U.S. President Trump, he received the unequivocal support of the Biden administration for his claim to power (and that of the UN and the European Union). Supported by most of the big families of the Haitian bourgeoisie (as well as by the capitalists of the Dominican Republic for whom Haiti is the second largest foreign market), Moïse had benefited from the help of the Obama administration to gain access to the presidency: what dictates this attitude of American imperialism, regardless of the president in office, is above all the interests of American companies established in the country's free trade zones where the proletarians are subjected to savage exploitation (1).
Moïse's term coincided with a serious social crisis in the country; the World Bank reports that 60% of the population according to official estimates lived in 2012 below the poverty line (income of less than 2.5 dollars per day), 25% of which were in "extreme poverty" (less than 1.2 dollars); according to a UN report, nearly one third of children are malnourished: "food insecurity" affects 4 million people (out of 11 million inhabitants). Unemployment and underemployment affect 60% of the active population, with 80% of employment in the informal sector. The latest official figures show inflation at over 23%, while the salary increases provided for in the budget for civil servants are generally much lower. As for the minimum wage, which does not exceed 3 euros per day (250 gourdes), it is generally not respected...
In addition, the economy, which was already in recession in 2019, should have experienced in 2020 according to IMF estimates a decline in GDP of 4%.
The discontent caused by this catastrophic social situation has been aggravated by the revelations of the Petrocaribe scandal: aid provided by Venezuela in the form of low-cost oil deliveries was misappropriated; none of the planned projects saw the light of day and a judicial investigation established that from 2 to 4 billion dollars have ended up in the pockets of political officials, businessmen, former presidents and the current president!
These revelations provoked numerous demonstrations from 2019, violently repressed, to protest against corruption and demand the resignation of the president.
With parliament out of office since the beginning of 2020 (parliamentary elections were not held), Moïse is governing by decree. He wants to hold a referendum to amend the constitution and hold new elections at the end of this year - something the opposition is contesting and demanding his departure.
A GENERAL STRIKE WITH INTERCLASSIST ORIENTATIONS
In early February, the trade unions united in the "Collectif des syndicats haïtiens pour le Respect de la Constitution de 1987" (Alliance of Haitian Unions for the Respect of the 1987 Constitution) called for a 48-hour general strike; this call, supported by the opposition parties, was widely attended. The demands were an end to the climate of violence and impunity and the departure of Moïse. The spokesperson for the Collectif Syndicat called on "all sectors" of the country to help remedy the "systemic crisis" facing Haïti.
But the concertation of all the classes can only be done to the advantage of the exploiting classes and to the detriment of the exploited classes! Indeed, the systemic crisis which strikes the country, or rather which strikes the proletarians and the poor masses, is due to the capitalist system: without fighting it, by associating on the contrary with the capitalists, it is impossible to remedy it! The Haitian proletarians have learned in their flesh that bourgeois democracy with its elections is only a sad comedy, just as much at the service of the ruling class and its imperialist sponsors as was the Duvalier dictatorship.
Salvation cannot come from a good constitution and a "true" democracy, from the replacement of Moïse by a honest politician – the opponents have played the ridiculous farce of appointing a "transitional president" without any power: these bourgeois and petty bourgeois above all do not want to question capitalism and their perspectives are only traps intended to calm the anger of the exploited.
The general strike showed the strength of the proletarians, who are capable of dragging the poor masses behind them; but it also showed that this strength is hijacked by the bourgeois and petty bourgeois opposition parties to serve a replastering of bourgeois domination and the rescue of Haitian capitalism.
It is indispensable to break with this orientation imposed on the proletariat by the trade unions, agents of the collaboration between the classes. The only way out lies in the uncompromising struggle in defense of the class interests of the proletarians and the exploited masses, independently and against all the possessing classes and their henchmen.
In order to resist the capitalist system and in the perspective of overthrowing it, the proletariat in Haiti will have to take the path of struggle and class organization, making a complete break with interclassism and collaboration with bourgeois forces – and it will have to find the support of the proletariat of the imperialist countries, which bears the responsibility of fighting the actions of "its" bourgeoisie in the dominated countries.
(1) Having escaped the clutches of French colonialism by defeating the Napoleonic armies that came to re-establish slavery, Haiti then fell under the thumb of American imperialism, which was notably the pillar of the Duvalier dictatorship (1957-1986). The re-establishment of democracy has not changed anything. Wikileaks revealed the interventions at all levels of former US president Bill Clinton, in his position as UN "special delegate" for Haiti following the terrible earthquake of 2010, and his wife Hillary, Obama's secretary of state, in the country's internal affairs; among other things, they opposed the increase in the minimumwage continuing the policy of George W. Bush’s government to work “closely with factory owners contracted by Levi's, Hanes, and Fruit of the Loom to aggressively block a paltry minimum wage increase for Haitian assembly zone workers, the lowest paid in the hemisphere" https://www.thenation.com/article/archive/wikileaks-haiti-let-them-live-3-day/ Democrats and Republicans are equally pro-imperialist and anti-proletarian parties.
International Communist Party
April, 8th 2021
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