Imperialism comes to Haiti with a Black face

Photo: A UN police officer in Haiti. Credit: U.S. Marine Corps/Rawpixel

The first wave of UN-backed Kenyan police officers has arrived in Haiti with around 400 landing in Port-au-Prince. Meanwhile, mass mobilizations have covered the streets of Nairobi, Kenya opposing an IMF-backed finance bill that would have further choked Kenya’s economy and exacerbated existing crises of living standards for the Kenyan people. Demonstrations opposing the finance bill have been met with intense police violence resulting in 200 injured, over 20 people massacred and many arrested. Kenya’s population is rising up against the finance bill and rejecting a deeper plunder into crippling poverty. 

While an internal crisis unfolds at home, Kenya’s President William Ruto is willfully helping the United States and its allies lead another foreign intervention in Haiti to quell any popular movements and resistance under the guise of a “commitment to Pan-Africanism,” security and peacekeeping.

Kenya leads the fourth foreign intervention in Haiti

The Kenyan police in Haiti will be joined by officers from the Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Benin, Chad and Jamaica, totaling 2,500 officers. According to the UN Security Council, the deployment, costing $600 million annually, will be carried out in phases. So far, the UN-administered fund for the mission has received only $18 million in contributions from Canada, France and the U.S. However, the U.S. has pledged a total of $300 million in support. 

The arrival of the Kenyan officers marks a continuation of foreign military intervention in Haiti, following the UN’s 2004-2017 failed “peacekeeping mission” marred by allegations of sexual assault by its troops and staffers. Furthermore, peacekeepers from Nepal were blamed for introducing cholera into Haiti’s largest river in October 2010, resulting in the death of over 10,000 Haitian people. Although the UN has acknowledged its role in the epidemic and the lack of sufficient effort to combat it, it has not explicitly admitted to introducing the disease.

It’s proven that foreign intervention by historical imperialist bodies have caused financial strangulation, structural instability and stagnation in Haiti. Additionally, international organizations have expressed concerns over the deployment of Kenyan police officers given their own human rights abuses and allegations of police brutality in Kenya during demonstrations. 

If these countries wanted to help Haiti, they would get rid of the oligarchs who fund the paramilitary groups on the ground, take away their control of the ports where the weapons and drugs are coming from, have severe investigations for their corruption scandals, and hold them accountable to their crimes against the Haitian people. There has never been a project to support the Haitian people in building much-needed infrastructure like schools, roads, hospitals, and housing. Instead, they come to terrorize the population, protect the interest of the Haitian elite and maintain a social order that benefits U.S. imperialism. The solution to anything related to Haiti has always been brutal force and intervention.

Popular uprisings against the 2024 finance bill in Kenya 

The same police officers being deployed to Haiti are also violently cracking down on the popular mobilizations against the finance bill approved by Kenya’s MP’s earlier in June. For over a week, thousands of Kenyans took to the streets of Nairobi against an IMF-backed finance bill that included new levies on basic commodities such as bread, vegetable oil and sugar. While demonstrations took place, Kenyan police officers fired live bullets and teargas into crowds of hundreds outside of parliament and arrested dozens which included social justice movement organizers. 

On June 26 during a television address, President Ruto announced his withdrawal of the finance bill. His withdrawal is indicative of the mass protests that swept the country in opposition to a deeply unpopular bill put forth by members of Parliament. At this stage, it is unclear what the new amendments to the bill will look like and Ruto’s statement indicates there will be further proposed austerity measures. Regardless, this is a clear victory for the Kenyan people. 

President William Ruto’s staunch support and defense of the West

On June 24, Biden designated Kenya a “’major non-NATO ally”’ making it the fourth African nation to receive this designation. Other major non-NATO African allies are Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia. Biden first announced the decision in May when he hosted Kenyan President Ruto at the White House for a lavish state visit, the first by an African head of state since 2008. This designation greenlights the sale, export and grant of defense services, articles and training to Kenya from the U.S. Kenya’s strategic location on Africa’s eastern coast, natural harbor, modern transport corridors linking it to the Great Lakes region and tech-savvy and ethnically diverse population of 56 million make it attractive to the U.S., as it seeks to counter Russia and China’s growing influence and collaboration in Africa.

President Ruto may tout himself as a staunch pro-Western ally, but he is demonstrating himself to be merely an extension of U.S. imperialism in the Caribbean. Imperialism is historically rooted in exploitation and subjugation, causing immense suffering across continents. The Kenyan government by extension wants to diminish the sovereignty and self-determination of Haitian people while preserving the neo-colonial interests of the U.S. Despite the Kenyan government’s attempt to cozy up to the U.S. and other Western allies, they have been met with fierce opposition by popular mobilizations on the ground in Haiti and Kenya. 

Haiti has solidarity within Kenya itself. This real Pan-African solidarity comes from the fight for Haitian sovereignty against another Western-backed intervention. In this new phase, organizations and people’s movements have to continue fighting against all U.S./UN interventions in Haiti! 

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