Amid widespread national condemnation and rejection of the de-facto Prime Minister and acting President Ariel Henry’s request for international military assistance to curb gang-related violence in Haiti, a delegation of the US government visited the country to evaluate Henry’s request.
The delegation, headed by Assistant Secretary of the State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Brian A. Nichols, arrived in the capital Port-au-Prince on Wednesday October 12, and left the next day. During its two-day visit, the US delegates met with PM Henry, as well as leaders of the Montana Group.
Nichols, through a tweet, reported that he “met with the Montana Group to discuss the urgent need to address the cholera outbreak and fuel blockade that are impeding the humanitarian response,” adding that “stakeholders must urgently develop consensus on an accord leading to improved security, elections, and prosperity for all Haitians.”
Nichols also reported he met with “Haiti’s Government leaders, including Dr. Ariel Henry, to reaffirm our commitment to help address the cholera epidemic and the insecurity impeding that response.”
Nichols added “the US will continue to stand with Haiti to urgently stem the outbreak of cholera and help restore security to ensure that lifesaving assistance reaches those in need. We remain committed to working with Haitian & International partners to support Haiti.”
Prior to the visit, the US Embassy in Port-au-Prince, through a statement, reported that the delegation would “assess how the US government can continue to provide various forms of assistance and promote accountability for those responsible for criminal acts.”
The US Embassy also reported that “as an additional sign of resolve and support for the people of Haiti, the US Coast Guard will deploy one of its major cutters to patrol offshore Port-au-Prince.”
On Thursday October 13, the spokesperson for the US National Security Council, John Kirby, in response to questions raised by journalists in this regard, said that Washington is studying the request “in coordination with its foreign partners.”
Last week, on October 5, reportedly after members of a criminal gang blocked access to the main fuel terminal, limiting the operation of hospitals and water treatment companies amid a resurgence of cholera in the country, Henry, in an address to the nation, expressed his intention to request the help of the international community to deal with the humanitarian crisis caused by gangs. On October 9, Henry, through an official letter to the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, asked the UN to intervene militarily in the country.
The request generated widespread criticism among civil society organizations, political and social leaders, and citizens in general, who warned that it paves the way for another foreign military occupation of the country.
Several pointed out that previous military interventions didn’t resolve anything in Haiti, but further deepened the crisis and caused great pain to Haitians. They stressed that the Haitian people already have a solution to the crisis facing the country, the Montana Agreement, but it requires the US, the UN, the OAS and the Core Group to stop interfering.
Following the assassination Haiti’s de-facto President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021, over 70 trade unions, social organizations, popular movements and political parties came together and formed the Commission to Search a Haitian Solution to the Crisis (CRSC) to figure our an answer to the political crisis facing the country. In August 2021, they reached a consensus and signed an agreement on a plausible people-centric democratic transition formula out of the crisis. It was decided that a transitional government, headed by a new interim president and a new interim prime minister, would govern the country for two years, recover it from the deepening institutional crisis caused by the ruling far-right Haitian Tèt Kale Party (PHTK) administration, rebuild the society, and then organize elections for the next government. This agreement is known as the Montana Agreement.
On January 30, 2022, Haiti’s National Transition Council (CNT) elected economist and former governor of the Bank of the Republic of Haiti Fritz Alphonse Jean as Haiti’s new interim president, and former senator Steven Irvenson Benoit as the new interim prime minister. The duo was set to administer the country for a transitional period of 24 months, beginning this February 7, 2022. However, the process was blocked by the US, the UN, and the Core group, which sided with the Henry government and its allies, and supported his call to organize elections by the end of this year. The Henry administration has failed to keep its words and has blamed it on gangs that it activated.
Many have criticized that with the request for foreign troops, using the cholera epidemic and the gang violence as pretext, Henry wishes to remain in power, where he was put and held up by imperialist powers, the US and the UN.
For the past two months, the people of Haiti have been on the streets to protest rampant inflation and currency devaluation, demanding Henry’s resignation. These protests intensified this week following his request for foreign military support. The people of Haiti are demanding that the international community respect their sovereignty, their right to self-determination, and stop interference.