The Suffocation of Haiti: Neocolonialism, Violence and Foreign Interference


Since its independence, Haiti’s way forward has been obstructed by repeated interventions by foreign powers as well as by recurrent crises. Flagrant human rights violations have plunged the country into unprecedented poverty, and the peasants, the pillars of the island’s economy, have been cast into oblivion and misery.

During the Human Rights Council’s 55th session, the CETIM spoke in defense of the promotion of human rights in Haiti, in particular the rights of the Haitian peasants, analyzing the deep seated causes of the serious and systematic violations of such rights throughout the country.

Following its declaration of independence in 1804, Haiti not only was forced to pay “reparations” to its former French colonial power (150 million francs in gold), but also underwent a long period of isolation by the colonial powers. Also, there followed numerous foreign military interventions (by the United States, among others), for the colonial system saw itself threatened by the world’s first independent black republic to have abolished slavery. Strangled from birth by a colossal debt, permanently threatened and isolated, the country has been unable to realize its economic potential and has dealt with a multidimensional systemic crisis where human rights are violated on huge scale.

For several decades, criminal gangs have held sway in Haiti even as they have been manipulated by the political power brokers. Today, these gangs control the national highways as well as 60% to 80% of the capital. Murder, rape and pillage are the marching orders of these gangs, plunging the country into terror and poverty. In 2023, several thousand persons were killed and/or kidnapped, 130,000 persons were displaced in the greater Port-au-Prince area, and almost half of the Haitian population was suffering from food insecurity. The economic and social structures are broken as small businesses and schools close, aggravating unemployment and de-schooling. At the same time, the people’s access to vital services is thwarted.

In this context, the peasants are among the primary victims of human rights violations. Although family peasantry is the most promising solution to social and economic problems, it is ignored, its basic needs unmet, for it has no access to clean water, to electricity, to health care, to technical assistance, and to agricultural infrastructure. It suffers from malnutrition whereas it supplies its products to the country. The marketing of agricultural products has become impossible in the current climate of terror. Moreover, peasants’ lands are being confiscated by foreign industrial interests that dream of “making Haiti a capitalist country, a platform for exports to the American market”. Peasants have been arrested and tortured for trying to oppose these land-grabs.

For the past decades, the many interventions carried out under cover of the United Nations, to “end human rights violations” and “aid” Haiti achieve stability, have been a resounding failure and have left irreparable aftereffects. The country is under the guardianship of the “Core Group”, created in 2004 and comprising, among others, the United States, Canada, France, Germany and Spain. This guardianship violates the Haitian people’s right to self-determination, their right to life and their right to live in dignity. The CETIM calls upon the states involved in this guardianship to cease their interventions, to respect the independence of Haiti and the human rights of its people, to facilitate a democratic transition, and to support agricultural production by protecting the rural populations.

For the CETIM’s full written statement

Watch the video of the CETIM’s oral declaration subtitled in English:

Categories Articles Haiti HUMAN RIGHTS Newsletter Rights of peasants
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