Despite opposition by many Haitians, members of the Haitian diaspora, and faith groups, the UN Security Council approved sending a multinational armed force, led by Kenya, into Haiti. The following article was published in the November-December 2023 issue of NewsNotes.
On September 21, International Day of Peace, the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns joined faith leaders and members of the Haitian diaspora in a National Day of Action to Support the Haitian People. Participants from across the United States traveled to Washington, DC to meet with members of Congress and advocate for nonviolent solutions to the violent crisis in the Caribbean country.
Haiti has been overrun by criminal gangs since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse on July 7, 2021. In October, 2022, de facto Prime Minister Ariel Henry requested to the UN for armed foreign intervention.
Participants in the National Day of Action asked Congress not to support sending foreign troops to Haiti and instead to pursue four main objectives:
- Restore security in Haiti by stopping the flow of weapons and sanctioning collusion between gangs and Haitian elites.
- Restore democracy in Haiti by ending U.S. support for the corrupt and anti-democratic regime ruling Haiti, and by supporting a Haitian-led transition
- Fight rising hunger in Haiti by supporting local Haitian farmers.
- End deportation, abuse, and discrimination against Haitian and other Black migrants.
During visits with lawmakers and in a panel discussion on Haiti at the annual conference of the Congressional Black Caucus, participants heard repeatedly about plans for foreign military intervention. A proposal by the United States and Ecuador for a Kenyan-led international force was before the United Nations Security Council. When critics mentioned that foreign military intervention in the past had been disastrous, and that Haitians were concerned that the invitation was to protect buildings and not vulnerable people, panelists were quick to dismiss the concerns, but offered no explanation of why.
The day after the National Day of Action, prominent Haitian-American organizations NHAEON and FANM sent an open letter to President Biden stating their opposition to PM Henry and to the plan for armed intervention. “(We) strongly oppose your Administration’s proposed international military intervention in Haiti ,” the letter reads.
“Any military intervention supporting Haiti’s corrupt, repressive, unelected regime… will further entrench the regime, deepening Haiti’s political crisis while generating significant civilian casualties and migration pressure,” the Haitian-American advocacy groups wrote. “If the U.S. is genuinely interested in stabilizing the political situation to avoid a catastrophic humanitarian crisis in Haiti, it will start by ceasing to prop up the corrupt government and allow the emergence of a consensus transitional government with the legitimacy to decide how the international community can contribute…”
The letter continues “We are confident that, given a chance, our brothers and sisters in Haiti will come together to develop a solution to the political crisis. Over the past three years, groups across the spectrum have gathered, often putting long-running political disagreements aside, to agree on practical, promising plans for a transitional government. But each time, the de facto authorities defeat the promising effort by refusing any compromise.”
The letter then echoes the call for the United States to stop the flow of guns to Haiti. The authors also cite a letter to the African Union from at least 60 civic groups within Haiti expressing similar concerns and opposition to the armed intervention.
Despite widespread opposition from faith groups and civilian leaders in Haiti and the Haitian diaspora, on October 2, the UN Security Council approved the plan for armed intervention. The Kenyan-led Multinational Support Mission would not be a UN mission, but rather it would be funded by individual Member States, with the United States committing to contribute $200 million.
The deployment of the mission has been delayed by legal complications in Kenya. On October 9, Ekuru Aukot, a former presidential candidate, filed a petition claiming that the Kenyan constitution bars President William Ruto from deploying the force without the approval of the country’s legislature. Opposition lawmakers agree, and the National Assembly has not yet scheduled a debate on the matter. A Kenyan court has suspended the deployment until at least November 9.
Faith in Action
Ask Congress to restore security and democracy and support food security in Haiti, and welcome Haitian immigrants to the United States. https://mogc.info/Haiti-Day-of-Peace